So I joined this super group of Daring Bakers. The whole reason I started a blog was because I wanted to join this really cool group of bakers who stretch themselves with exciting and difficult pursuits. They have secret rituals too. And a really cool logo. Its like a cross between two of my favorite things. Baking and James Bond. It is entirely possible that I may have been humming dum da da dum da da da dum da da dum, (the James Bond theme song) while I read our super secret instructions. To make a Yule Log.
Of course making a yule log has never been high on my list of things to do while trying to get everything else done before Christmas. I mean, really, I make a ton of Christmas cookies to send to my friends, and now apparently to the Brain's good referral sources, and then I try to make a gingerbread house. And we can't forget the sauerkraut balls. And frankly, rolling up a cake sort of scared me. After watching Tyler Florence screw up rolling a cake on Iron Chef America (love that show) I was more than nervous that the cake would crack up and die.So I soaked it brandy. OK maybe soaking isn't right. I brushed the outside of the cake with brandy and then I flipped it over and brushed the other side. Then I rolled it up around a dishtowel on one side and parchment paper on the other and left it for the night because I completely forgot to take the butter out of the fridge and let it get super soft and squishy so the frosting/filling would turn out OK. Cold butter = ruined frosting. There's a lot of Daring Bakers who could tell you that. The next day, the butter was soft, the frosting came together beautifully. The cake unrolled and rolled back up again. I was SO relieved!
Then came the hard part. The meringue mushrooms. Perhaps I've mentioned the effects of humidity in my cozy little house. It makes things squishy. Meringue mushrooms are not supposed to be squishy. I made the tops and the bottoms and they were great. I put a couple together with melted chocolate and satisfied everything would be OK, I went to bed. The next morning I went to take a shower and brushed my robe against the tray of mushroom bottoms and realized I had half a dozen mushroom parts stuck to my robe. They were tasty, but they were squishy. I reread the recipe and realized I was supposed to store them in an airtight container. So I stuck them back in the oven for a while and then popped them into a Ziploc. Problem solved.
I happily decorated the log with snowflake sprinkles and some cacoa nibs (like little wood chips) and my meringue mushrooms. I like to think its like a log in winter.
And now came the SUPER challenge. Today was my grandmother's 90th birthday party. In Michigan. We live in Ohio. 2 hours away. (well the way we drive). So now I had to transport this log. And not kill it. I stuck toothpicks in it so the cling wrap wouldn't mess up the frosting. I packed spare mushroom parts and the leftover frosting.
I held it carefully in my lap the whole drive up. I may be stretching the truth here, I did fall asleep after Toledo for a couple of snores. Once here I unwrapped, fixed a couple mushrooms and tidied it up. After cracking several jokes with my sister G about wanting to see my log, we declared it done. I'm pretty darn pleased with myself. I thought that there was the distinct possibility that I would completely bomb this challenge. Whew!
You can get the recipe for the Yule log here. The only changes I made is that I stuck the mushroom parts together with chocolate and later frosting, and I added 2 oz. of melted bittersweet 62% chocolate to the buttercream because my sister M was annoyed at the lack of chocolate in the yule log.
Check out the rest of the Daring Bakers here. There's something like 300 people posting about Yule Logs between today and tomorrow.