The mighty buche?
In years gone by there were probably only two ways to have a Yule log on your Christmas menu. The first involved the tricky process of making your own Swiss roll. You would generally make a light sponge base by whisking together eggs and sugar before gently folding in some cocoa powder and flour. The mixture would be spread into a large shallow tray and baked. That was the easy part. Or the Genoese-y part, if you will. The problem most people had was when they tried to do the rolling up afterwards. A complicated business involving turning out the cake onto tea towels lined with greaseproof paper and scattered with caster sugar. Then while the cake was still warm from the oven you would need to quickly trim the edges with a knife and roll the whole kit and caboodle up into a cylindrical parcel and leave it to cool. This was supposed to ensure the cake kept its shape when you unfurled the roll to fill it with jam and cream. Only when you tried to open it out the tendency was for the cake to crack. Or even worse to break up into pieces. You ended up having to use the jam and cream filling to try to glue all of the bits back together. I sometimes wonder if that is where the idea for Buche de Noel came from. Having the thick layer of chocolate buttercream slathered on afterwards was perhaps a convenient way to cover up the complete disaster you had made of the cake. Though it was still better than the second option for your Christmas table. Some folk might rather go without than buy a shop-bought Yule log. I know I wood.
I may have mentioned it before but just lately I’ve been having a few problems getting my Bundt cakes to leave the tin in one piece. Out of the last six Bundts that I have made, only two have been anywhere near good enough. I would have taken pictures to show you my misfortune but I didn’t feel it was necessary. We all know what a pile of crumbs looks like. Not wanting to waste anything, I try wherever possible to come up with recipes to use the remnants. But there are only so many times you can make cake crumb truffles, tarts or cookies before it starts to get repetitive. The majority has ended up being tossed outside as bird food. Honestly. The birds around here are having a field day. They flock in from miles away. They are dining on such fancy fare that they’ve started to adjourn to the drawing-room afterwards for a snifter of port. I could swear that a couple of the greedy old crows have developed gout. Thank goodness this Irish Cream Yule log worked out OK. I didn’t fancy throwing that outside. It’s not that I worried about our feathered friends getting tipsy on the booze. It’s just I’ve lived here for most of my life and in all that time I’ve never once seen a woodpecker.
Give us the good oil.
Shop bought cake release sprays, liquids and pastes usually cost a fortune. When I started my obsession with Bundt cakes I managed to find a really good recipe for cake release paste from the Whimsical Bakehouse. It worked almost every time and I even put the recipe on my blog. It served me well for a long time. But being from Yorkshire the most important factor was that it saved me a good amount of money. Now we humans are problem solvers by nature. We will patiently work things through until we find the solution we need. So when my cakes began sticking I wrote a list of everything that could be the cause. Maybe it was because I was baking my cakes for too long. Or conversely for not long enough. Perhaps it was because some of my tins were second-hand or that the non-stick coatings were wearing thin. Could it be that different tins needed different coatings? Butter and flour for tins with a dark non-stick. Vegetable oil and flour for silver non-stick. Sometimes. Surely. It is likely to be nothing more than the recipe being just plain wrong. I even started to wonder if it was because the weather had turned wintry and the cold was affecting the cakes being turned out. I’ve gone over every minor detail in my mind but the nearest I can come to finding the answer is this. I used to buy a brand of solid vegetable oil called Trex but our local supermarket has stopped selling it. I had to change over to using a different type called Crisp And Dry. They are both solid vegetable fat so it shouldn’t make a blind bit of difference. But it does. Or at least that’s what I’m hoping. Because I have had to do the unthinkable and fork out for ready-made cake release. I can only cross my fingers that it works. Otherwise – as we say here in Yorkshire – I really will be in lumber.
A tin to bake it in.
It might seem a little unnecessary to have a Bundt tin dedicated entirely to making a Yule log. So it goes without saying that this recipe can be baked in any NINE cup tin. That’s two and a quarter litres in English money. The Nordic Ware Yule Log tin is not cheap I will grant you. But when you think of how much time and effort you are saving on the old-fashioned way of making your Buche de Noel. It’s got to be worth it surely? And besides. If you are anything like me you won’t need much persuading. Look at how pretty it is. And because it’s a specialist tin for the Christmas holidays if you wait until the January sales there are usually plenty to be found being sold off at greatly reduced prices. The only downside is that you will have to wait for almost the full year before you can use it for baking. I should mention that you don’t have to go overboard on the liqueur either. I know Bailey’s is the Irish Cream we are all most familiar with but the supermarkets all seem to sell own brand versions at a fraction of the cost. Just make sure that you make this cake a day or two in advance to give the flavours a chance to develop. So if you are new to Bundt baking or even if you are a seasoned professional. I hope you will try branching out with this recipe. It’s so tasty, your loved ones will think they’ve got the luck of the Irish. Now here’s that recipe… Enjoy.
Irish Cream Yule Log.
* I have written the recipe out below as it should be made. Though I must admit. After having so many stuck cakes and in a fit of temper/laziness – I just measured everything into the mixer bowl and beat it together using the paddle attachment. First on a low speed to combine. Then on a medium speed until smooth. It worked out OK but as you can tell from the pictures, there were a fair few air bubbles in the finished cake.
- 310g Self Raising Flour.
- 50g Cocoa Powder.
- ¼ tsp Salt.
- 220g Greek Yoghurt.
- 80ml Irish Cream Liqueur.
- 220g Margarine.
- 300g Caster Sugar.
- 3 Large Eggs.
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract.
- 20g Icing Sugar.
- Position a shelf in the centre of the oven. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4. Grease and flour the Nordic Ware Yule log (this recipe is enough for a 9 cup Bundt tin).
- Sift together the flour, cocoa and salt. Set aside.
- Stir together the Greek yoghurt with the Irish Cream liqueur until combined. Set aside.
- Cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition.
- Add the vanilla extract and beat to combine.
- Gently fold in the flour and yoghurt mixtures alternately until just combined, taking care not to over mix. (Flour, yoghurt, flour, yoghurt and ending with flour).
- Spoon into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Try to push the mixture up the sides of the tin a little to leave a dip in the centre if you can. This should help the cake to rise more evenly when baking.
- Bake for 60 minutes or just until the cake is pulling away from the edges of the tin slightly and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool in the tin for at least 15 minutes before carefully turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Dust with icing sugar just before serving.