Joyeaux Noël or Happy Christmas to everyone out there!
First off I'm terribly sorry I've been away from this site for so long because I was so busy running tests and tests and more tests. And for what? This year's yule log of course!! I'm so pleased and proud with how it has turned out because to be honest, I was frantic and actually stressed making it since this is my first real test by myself in the sense that I had to change so much of a recipe and wasn't sure if it would even work out. I was incorporating flavours which I wasn't sure would work because it wasn't an already-done-tried-and-tested-before flavour combination.
My family would know how pissed and angry and pressurized as hell I was because knowing me, I'm a perfectionist and any imperfections of my work would send me slamming doors and drawers around the house.
I knew I got the flavours down when I ran a small test and had my sister give me feedbacks. The problem was how it looked aesthetically. I wanted it christmas-y, but at the same time minimalistic because I'm tired of those over decorated old classic yule logs.
Second problem: This was the first time I was making a cake for my entire (meaning my aunts uncles cousins nephews cousins on the other side of the family etc.) for our annual Eng Christmas dinner since I came back from Paris and I wanted to show them just how much I've grown and learnt as a pastry chef, and to showcase my take on desserts elevated onto a new modern level. I mean, I used to make old classic log cakes made out of sponge and buttercream just rolled up and forked with chocolate to make it look like "wood" and then placing christmas decorations all over and dust it with snow powder. Don't get me wrong I still love those log cakes (especially the one my mummy makes) but my job isn't to stick to the norm but to push boundaries and always create. So this was a huge deal for me and yes, naturally I wanted it as perfect as it could be.
Oh and my stress level increased when my brother's friend wanted to order one too.
Crazy I was but I even purchased an air compressor and spray gun because I wanted the effect of visual textural contract. When you have that, that in itself is already a level beyond.
First thing that comes to mind when I think of Christmas is indulgence and spices. I love the spices of Christmas and its sinful desserts. So taking those inspirations, I created this bûche that incorporations pears, caramel, vanilla, and speculoos. Since I didn't have a good speculoos recipes, I've created one that is almost as good as Lotus' brand if I may say so myself. Unfortunately I'm running severely low on my speculoos spices which can only be purchase in Belgium so I'm freaking out slightly here.
My adorable glistening dewy holly berries!
9 components to this year's log cake:
ganache montée caramélia + caramel
pears poached in liquid caramel and vanilla pods
reserved caramel pear syrup for the soaking syrup
sablé pressée speculoos
tempered chocolate piece and leaves
white chocolate shell
chocolate holly berries
red and white chocolate spray
I loved how the sweetness and freshness of the pears cuts through the creaminess of the caramel ganache montée. Also the white chocolate shell makes this cake stand out from all others because it provides texture and the spiced biscuit base for crunch. A well rounded and light yule log makes this the best dessert to have after a hearty heavy Christmas dinner.
I was so worried about its presentation because even up till the day before I had completely no idea how I wanted it to look like. I knew it was there taste wise but I needed something to match up to its flavour profile. I probably changed it's design at least 4 times. As usual. because I go with the flow as I work, this was how it looked like on the last day itself. I'm so happy with it and what makes it even better is everyone loved it and all my hard work paid off. That's all that matters at the end of the day. There is nothing that makes me happier than knowing people loved the cake I made.
This is not your ordinary Bûche de Nöel for sure.
But it was also by far the most challenging cake I've ever made. Oh it's almost impossible to do quality pâtisserie from home!! Ridiculously hard but I'm glad I came out alive. I still have a long way to go in terms of running tests like J but for now, I'm completely satisfied, ready and hungry to learn more.
The velvet effect you get from spraying your cake with a layer of chocolate and cocoa butter.
Pastry never fails to impress and fascinate me.
And I know I know, enough with the white. I promise I'll shift away from all that white soon. ;)
In the mean time, have a lovely Christmas and blessed New Year to all! 2014 is bound to be even better!
Signing off from Paris
// P.S I didn't manage a photo of the x-section as they were both meant to be given away but my brother's friend did so here it is directly off of Instagram! + a few additional Christmas decorations of their own! //