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Monday, December 29, 2008

Vive les Daring Bakers!

Oh la la, this month's challenge was a doozy.

Oodles of cream, chocolate, nuts, more chocolate and more cream. The Daring Bakers kept the festive spirit alive and well with a gorgeous and cheery challenge direct from France.

This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux. They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand. The original recipe can be found on their blogs.

First of all, kudos to the hosts Hilda and Marion this month for kindly advising all of the Daring Bakers on the forum. It's a big job each month. Not only did Hilda and Marion actively listen and answer all questions, but they deserve extra credit for translating everything into English from French. This month's challenge turned into a virtual cultural exchange and I loved the openness that it encouraged.

This picture is a shot of my -20 degrees Celsius light box.... it was a lot of work but I pulled a few strings and managed to have white snow cover everything. Those beach chairs belong on the Mediterranean coast but they have shivered their way through 17 Canadian winters.

In the spirit of cultural openness fostered by the French connection I decided to decorate my Yule Log with a lovely flowing Noel written on top. My son was a bit puzzled that I didn't chose Merry Christmas or the Italian "Buon Natale".

Well honey, mommy is only so talented and Noel is a lot shorter. Joyeux didn't even make the cut. But, I covered all my cultural bases by .... "posing my Yule Log on Italian beach chairs outside on a freezing Canadian winter day."

Try writing that sentence on the top of a cake.

The cultural exchange on the forum provided a lot of discussion and the liveliest discussion concerned measurements. Measurements are an exercise in the theory of relativity because they are neither universal nor clear to everyone.

Each of our gorgeous bakers comes from a different measurement tradition. Metric fluid measures, metric weight measures, British imperial, and American imperial were flying around the forum like an explosion in a physics lab. Every month, this hot topic needs to constantly be clarified. Luckily, we have some of the best and most helpful bakers in the entire world (no exaggeration) who patiently explain conversions and direct bakers to great resources.

Lessons Learned

1) There is such a thing as too much chocolate. I almost didn't have a second helping of my Yule Log.

2) This is the second time I have made a frozen creme brulee and each time it was a little too frozen for my taste. Even though there was plenty of fat and I had no problems making or cooking it, I would omit the creme brulee portion as the flavour was frozen and the texture was disappointing.

3) The mousse was gorgeous and silky but a fruit flavour for the mousse would offset the overwhelming chocolateness of the dessert. Not that I'm complaining about the chocolate, but one member of my family barely finished their dessert and (gasp) didn't want seconds. That's just not natural. My flavour choice would be different the next time... or I have to choose chocolate over my hubby.

I am in so much trouble.

4) I enthusiastically over worked the ganache so it was the same colour as the mousse instead of a dark chocolate layer. The subtle caramel flavour from the caramelised sugar was lovely but I have to learn to lay down my beaters at the end of a task.

Would I make this again? Yes, with a few changes of flavour and omitting the creme brulee. This challenge scored a solid nine out of ten for my family so it goes into our family recipe box.

Scroll through the Daring Baker's blogroll and look over the other Yule Log creations.


Gluten free conversion will follow later this week.


veganpower said...

Waouw, les photos sont sublimes ! La neige, c'est trop adorable !
Très jolie bûche, j'aime la mise en scène sur le siège dehors, c'est so cute :)
Le glaçage est parfait aussi !
Bravo !

Renee said...

Noel! I love your Noel on your Yule Log! It is gorgeous! Thanks for the pictures of the snow - we don't see that often in Georgia!

oonsky said...

Compared to my log, yours is sooo gorgeous! I learned the hard way,but it's worth the effort. Loved the inscribed Noel on the log and the snow...all the best for the new year!

Claire said...

I LOVE your noel!!! It looks wonderful...much better than anything I would have done. :-) Glad your tasters enjoyed it. Mine would not have gotten a 9/10...maybe a 6 from my dad...he wasn't a fan! Yours is just beautiful!

Olga said...

Such pretty decorations! I especially like the photo with the snow.

Andreas said...

Ouuhh, nice writing.
And I didn't even manage to get a smooth surface of the log. ;)
I agree to Lesson #2. The creme brulee does need some extra time to reach a nice texture.
I also agree that Hilda and Marion did a Santa-like job of providing advice on the forum.

Anonymous said...

Too much chocolate? That's a very rare thing, so this must have been some dessert. Unfortunately for me, I ran out of time during the holidays to make this. Yours turned out very nicely. I like the Noel on top (plus, it's my wife's middle name).

Jenny said...

That is lovely - but I must ask... Where did you get that white stuff surrounding your log? We've had rain, rain, wind, and more rain around here lately! :-)

Amy said...

Wonderful job ordering up the outdoor light-box; you do some great string pulling!

Such a lovely Yule Log.


Lis said...

Simply gorgeous, my love! And since you arranged such glorious (I use that term VERY loosely) weather for your photos, maybe you can also "undo" as well?? Maybe point your weather creating finger down south and abolish anything white, grey, fluffy, icey and/or slushy for the next 4 months?? Thanks!

Way to go!

Hilda said...

You get the loveliest, most gracious challenge post award which really made me smile and your log is beautiful (with a perfect Noel written on it). We actually went with very elaborate (like Pierre Herme elaborate) on this one with the layers but they usually don't have this many so omitting the creme brulee would give you a more regularly-eaten log. Thank you for being so kind to me and Marion in your write-up. Have a Happy New Year!

Anne said...

Oh, yours is so pretty! The chocolate is so shiny and I'm very impressed with your neat handwriting. Love the picture of it with the snow-covered lawn chairs! :)

Chahira Daoud said...

Joyeux noel , cherie!!
Your log looks awsome with your lovely chic handwriting , great job!!
You did remind me of the dish washing nightmare of this challenge!!That was the worth part in it!!
I have to look from now for volunteers to wash the next challenge's dishes.
Your picture made me afraid, what is this cold???We are arranging to move to canada!!
I will stop saying that Alexandria "Egypt" is cold,, we have never seen ice!!!
Oh my god!!
Wish you all the best !
Happy new year dear!
Take care , it is toooooo cold !!!

~Chris~ said...

That is one fine looking log!
I had to laugh at the 'laying down the beaters' though. :)

Jude said...

Haha at the icebox comment. Wish I had that much clout :)

Aparna said...

Your log looks so pretty. And the message is short and sweet. Also love the way you covered all your cultural bases.:D

Best wishes for a Happy New Year.

Anonymous said...

I was just telling my husband we could use a little more snow because it works so much better than a light box. How funny! Your dessert looks fabulous too. Happy New Year!

Laura Rebecca said...

Very, very pretty! I especially love your "yule log in the snow" pic.

Loie said...

It looks lovely! And I agree about it being a little too chocolatey, as I made the original recipe too. I certainly didn't want a second helping!

Tina said...

Your yule log is simply adorable! I love it!

Namratha said...

Gorgeous pics and your log is perfecttt! :)

jillian said...

Looks perfectly neat and festive! I love your writing.

Elle said...

Very festive and pretty...but you are right, it was almost too much chocolate. Love the writing.
Thank you (and Gianni)for all the help with tracking those who did the challenge. Y'all are great!

Madam Chow said...

I think it looks fabulous! Next time I'll have to remember to dust some nuts along the bottom edge of my buche - it looked pretty bad down there, but by the time I was "decorating," I was at the end of my rope!

breadchick said...

So pretty and lovely, especially with the decorations!

Gretchen Noelle said...

What a lovely log! The writing on top just makes it. And the layers look perfect as well. Great job!

Sara said...

This is so pretty! Great photos in the snow. :)

Joy said...

What a great looking log! I'm impressed with your icing - I wouldn't even be able to do the 'n'!

minisuperbias said...

beee-autiful log! I love the writing :)

Vera said...

Mary, your log looks gorgeous! I also don't think the brulee was the best part. I thought if I could only replace it with a gelee insert and just chill and not freeze the whole thing.
Happy New Year to you and your family!

Anonymous said...

WOW!!! It looks great and you photographed it near the snow which is what I did myself :)

Passionate About Baking said...

one pretty looking log...& I love the setting, & the gorgeous Noel. Just beautfiul!! Had to stop by here, before the 5 above & 5 below...THANK YOU for being such a hard owrking daring baker. I introduced ginger in my creme brulee. It was the most beautiful & involved dessert I have ever made!
Have a great 2009 Mary! Cheers Deeba

Arlette said...

Very nice looking Buche, I am sure the taste is amazing too.

seems we both have the same amount of snow!!!!