Bûche de Noël

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without chestnuts in all their forms. Here is one of my childhood Christmas desserts a sumptuous bûche de noël. The lightest sponge with whipped cream and candied chestnuts, decorated to look like a Yule log it is the ideal dish to prepare in advance for a stress-free Christmas feast. 

Special equipment: Box grater.

 Bouche 2 MAIN IMAGE

Ingredients Required

For the sponge biscuit (Genoise)
4 Egg whites
60g Caster sugar
4 Egg yolks
60g Plain flour
15g Unsalted butter, melted
For the butter cream
70g Caster sugar
50ml Water
3 Egg yolks
30ml Water
240g Unsalted butter, room temperature
30g Dark Rum
200g Candied chestnuts, roughly chopped (plus a few whole ones for decoration.)
For the soaking syrup
40g Caster sugar
40ml Water
25ml Dark rum

Cooking Method

For the sponge biscuit

Pre heat the oven to 180˚C. In a mixing machine on full speed, whip the egg whites gradually adding the sugar until they reach soft peaks. Reduce the speed to medium and whisk in the egg yolks.

Remove the bowl from the machine and sieve in half the flour and with a spatula gently into the whipped egg whites. Repeat for the remaining flour trying to keep as much air as possible in the mixture. Pour in the melted butter and mix. Line your pastry tray with silicone paper, place a little of the mixture under each corner of the paper to secure it to the tray and pour in the mixture. Using a small palette knife, spread to 1cm thickness. Cook in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes, until a light golden colour is reached and it springs back to the touch (*1).

Remove from the oven and leave on a wire rack to cool.

For the butter cream

In a small saucepan bring the sugar and the 50ml of water to 121˚C. Using a whisking machine, whisk the yolks and the 30ml of water for 5 minutes on full speed until light and aerated. Turn down to a medium speed and pour the sugar syrup halfway down on the side of the bowl making sure it is away from the whisk otherwise it will simply spray the hot sugar syrup around the bowl rather than onto the egg yolks.

This hot sugar syrup will partially cook the egg yolks giving you a silky, stable sabayon. Reduce the speed to medium and the machine for 3 minutes to allow the mixture to cool to around 25˚C. On a slow speed add the rum then gradually add the soft, room temperature butter. Whisk on full speed for 3 minutes to generate a little more lightness and volume (*2). At this stage you can add the chopped Chestnuts. Reserve one third for filling the Buche and the rest will be for decoration.

To build the bûche

In a small saucepan bring the sugar and water to the boil, take off the heat and add the rum. Using a pastry brush, evenly soak the sponge. Place the sponge upside down onto a clean tea towel and peel away the greaseproof paper.

Spread one third of the butter cream over the soaked sponge, then roll the sponge into a tight roll 30cm long; start by folding over the top edge towards you by about 1cm then use this to roll the log up making sure that it is tight all the way through (*3).

Wrap the log into a cylinder shape and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Unwrap the Buche and place it on a serving dish or cake board. Carefully trim each end to give you a straight side. Evenly spread the remaining butter cream all over and using a fork, mark the cream to give the impression of a log. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To serve

Dust with a little cocoa powder, Slice the end off the Buche and place it in the middle on top so you can see the inside of the Buche to give a sawn off log effect. Garnish with a few chocolate flakes by scraping your knife down the length of your chocolate bar and a few whole sweetened chestnuts.


Alternative dessert recipes:

* Mince pies

* Christmas pudding

* Galette de rois

Recipe © Raymond Blanc 2014.

Photograph © David Griffen 2014.