I think perhaps I should change the name of this blog to Lisa’s occasional forays into Daring Baking. These days I only ever seem to post once a month – for the DB event. I’m sure no one who knows me needs the excuses – Kolya’s been teething and learning to crawl, I’ve been shooting TV ads and juggling the fair bit of work and play that always dominates Cape Town summer. Plus, somehow I haven’t been gripped with inspiration for cooking lately. The upshot is that my extra weight from the pregnancy has evaporated, which never really hurts, especially with TV castings – and social stuff – hitting full December throttle. But, I swear, the Daring Bakers are determined to slap a bit of butter back on these hips. Because this month’s offering is nothing short of excessive.
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.
Until this challenge was announced, if you said “yule log” to me, I pictured a chocolate Swiss roll, with maybe a buttercream filling and a thin chocolate coating on the outside. And, I must admit, I pictured a store-bought, unremarkable thing (invariably the Woolies version – aka M&S to those of you in the UK). I had never heard of the French version, known as a buche; nor had I heard of the entire family of cream desserts, known as entremets, to which this calamitous piece of confectionery belongs. I had never heard of a dacqoise, which forms the meringue-like cake layer of the buche. Nor had I heard of gavottes, the lacy French biscuits we were supposed to make as an ingredient for the feuillette (never heard of one of those either). And I had never worked with gelatine. Are you getting the picture here? I used to think I knew my way round dessert. This time I was clueless.
Let’s start with the recipe. It has six parts. Each of the six parts has an array of variations. I printed out the recipe. It was 19 pages long. I kid you not. This recipe is so long and complex that the only reason for posting it here would be to knock your socks off that I (and the other brave folk of the Daring Bakers) actually completed the task. But, to be sensible, I’m just going to link to the recipe, which you can find here (it’s the Daring Bakers December recipe).
The bottom line was that you had to do all fo the six parts:
- almond dacquoise (a meringue-like cake layer)
- chocolate ganache (made using a specific caremel technique)
- mousse (this kind of envelopes all the other layers; the original is a dark chocolate mousse)
- feuillette or praline crisp
- creme brulee
- chocolate icing
So I told a friend I was planning to make this outrageous thing for Christmas lunch. It was three days before the last book club of the year. She said, Why don’t you make it for the book club. I thought, yeah, let’s do a trial run for the book club. So. Not only did I make this crazy dessert. I made it twice. Now, some of my astonishing fellow Daring Bakers made it more than that – notably those like Gfron1 who are professional confectioners. There ain’t nothing professionally confectionish about me, so I think twice will be it. The first one I did in a loaf pan, and stuck to the original recipe (except for flavouring the creme brulee with lemongrass, on a whim, which I would describe as dumb and pointless in a dessert of such extraordinary chocolatey richness). The Christmasey one I did in a round cake tin, went for vanilla rather than chocolate mousse, and went for an orange-vanilla-and-chocolate theme: orange zest in the dacquoise, orange liqueur in the ganache and mousse.
Round 1, early this month. Even though it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing thing I’ve ever done, I think I have won enough brownie points with the book club to excuse me for going AWOL for an entire year and forgetting to buy books this month.
Round 2, Christmas lunch at the Hoffenbergs. Red rose petals cover up a myriad of icing disasters…