I am across the pond visiting my parents and family for the holidays. The holiday season is simply beautiful and festive in Europe and felt a million times more than in Los Angeles. Inspired by my surroundings, today I am featuring a blast from the past! I made this Bûche de Noël a couple of years ago. So is anyone going to give it a try this year? It’s really really good!!!
You may wonder what the heck does Bûche de Noël has anything to do with Persian food. I would wonder that too if I were you, but I have a very good and legit answer to that question.
Once upon a time when I was a little girl I used browse through my mom’s cookbook and look at all the appetizing pictures. There were precisely two pictures that were forever imprinted in my memory. One of them is the picture below:
Can anyone guess which popular Persian cookbook this picture is from? It is safe to say that most Iranian women that I came across growing up had a copy of this book. It was a must in every household.
I have to confess that this was by far the most ambitious recipes I have ever made. It took two tries and a lot ofpatience. But in the end, I have to say, it was all worth it.
Let me begin by saying that my mom is an accomplished baker. She can bake amazing things. When it comes to baking recipes I trust her completely. So when I announced my ambitious plan to finally try and make the log, she immidiately reminded me of what she has said as far back as I can remember. Don’t follow Mrs. Montazami’s recipes for sweets. So she sent over her recipe and I went to work.
The first time I made it, the cake sheet was way too sweet and it came out too dry because the oven temperature that I was told to bake it in was a bit too low. And no one told me to spray the parchment paper…I ended up over baking it a bit and consequently it fell apart when I wanted to roll it. But honestly, it was not all a loss because it made making the whole thing much easier the second time. My mom suggested doing a couple of things differently and by God, this time I made it all the way to the end!!
Let’s get this baking party started!
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp corn flour
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup almonds
2 tbsp powdered sugar
Spiked Simple Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp rum
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp powdered sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup chocolate chips
Separate egg whites and yolks.
Whisk egg whites with the 2 tbsp of powdered sugar…
…until you get white peaks. Set aside in a separate bowl.
Beat egg yolks with sugar…
…until it turns into a lighter color such as above.
Place almonds in a food processor and grind.
Place corn flour, regular flour, and almond meal in a bowl.
With a whisk, or fork, mix together.
Add to the sugar and egg yolk mixture.
Mix until well incorporated.
Take one third of the egg whites and gently fold into the egg, sugar and flour mixture. Gently fold in the rest.
Initially, the batter is going to be pretty dry. However, as you fold in the egg whites it becomes easier to manage.
Place parchement paper in a cookie sheet and spray generously with “Baking Spray.” Spread the batter as evenly as possible onto the cookie sheet. It is very important that the batter is spread as evenly as possible. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes.
In the mean time moisten a clean towel with water. The idea for it is to be moist, not wet.
When the cake sheet is baked it should be a nice pale golden color. Place the moist towel on top of the cake while it is still hot.
Gently, and I mean GENTLY, roll the dough onto itself.
Let the rolled cake sheet stand rolled up in the towel for one hour until it cools down completely.
In the mean time make the simple syrup by placing water, sugar, vanilla, and rum in a pan. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. This should only take a few minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool down.
Gently unfold the cake sheet and generously spread the simple syrup all over the cake. Try to do this as evenly as possible making sure that the cake is moistened all over but not wet. Carefully fold again in the towel. Let stand for about half hour. Then gently unfold and moisten the cake sheet again.
Now on to the filling. Whip the whipping cream with powdered sugar.
Gently unfold the cake sheet and spread the whipping cream on about 2/3 of it. Save 1/3 of a cup of whipped cream for later.
Here comes the tricky part folks!!!! GENTLY, CAREFULLY, PATIENTLY begin rolling the cake sheet. Use parchment paper when rolling.
You may have little accidents along the way as seen above. Don’t get discouraged! It’s OK! it will all be covered! That’s what I told myself the whole time!!!
Gently keep on rolling as tightly as possible.
Spread the whipped cream, that is pushed out during the rolling, evenly across the cake before finishing up the rolling process.
Take the parchment paper and roll it around the cake sheet roll.
Take the end and pull to tighten up the cake sheet roll. Roll the cake sheet (rolled in the parchment paper) in the towel again making sure that the ends are sealed. Place in the fridge for two hours.
For the icing we will make a Ganache. Warm up the whipping cream. Remove from heat. Add chocolate chips. You can add either bitter-sweet or milk chocolate. I personally like bitter-sweet chocolate so that is what I used. If you really want to get fancy, you could also add some rum to your Ganache.
Mix well until all the chocolate is melted. Let it all cool down to room temperature.
Assemble the log before icing. With a serrated knife cut each end of the cake sheet roll. Then cut one small portion of it diagonally, as shown above.
Spread the saved whipped cream on the diagonally cut end of the smaller piece. The whipped cream will serve as glue.
Attach the piece to the log. It is best to place seam side down. Kindly pretend that you didn’t notice my little boo boo here!!! I repeat it is all OK because lucky us, it is all going to be covered!!
Spread the chocolate Ganache all over the log.
This takes a little while and a bit of patience. I found that it was easier to cover the whole log with chocolate, then place it in the fridge for about half hour.
Go back and place more chocolate. Try to smooth out the top as much as possible.
With the back of a fork trace the top of the log. Cover and place back in the fridge until ready to serve!
And voila! There you have it! Decorate the log to your taste…
Not bad for a first try!!! The cake sheet should be nice and moist. The whipped cream should have a hint of sweetness. And the Ganache should be nice and firm by now and simply heavenly! The three are such a delicious combination.
And there you have it people!!! Le Bûche de Noël, in the foreground and the inspiration in the background.