I’ve talked about my aversion to fussy dessert decorations before. I’d rather bake something pretty into a cookie than spread sugary goop on top of it. Still, there are some occasions that call for gussied up desserts – and all of these occasions are holidays. Birthdays aren’t the same unless somebody has gone to at least enough effort to stick a candle into a cake. Christmas is the other big holiday where you might (just might) find me spiffing up a dessert with something festive. This year I’ve tackled the ultimate of elaborately decorated Christmas desserts: The Yule Log. Only my version is a Simple Yule Log that sparkles with just a bit of sprinkles.
I’m sure you’ve seen the extensively detailed Yule Logs I’m talking about. French versions, known as Bûche de Noël, can be purchased in fine bakeries like Pierre Herme for more than 600 dollars. But even home cooks can produce some stunning logs if they have the patience. There are plenty of very impressive cakes adorned with meringue mushrooms and buttercream fern fronds. From snowmen and snails to little elves with axes – the Yule Log can be a woodland delight. I’ve even seen deer tracks dashing through confectioners’ snow and everything up to and including rabbit poop. If it’s adorned a forest floor then it’s been candied and snuggled up next to a log made of cake.
Simple Yule Log
Well my Simple Yule Log isn’t quite that intricate. However, like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree, I’ve learned to see the beauty in this cake through its simplicity. It’s made with a very basic chocolate-spice chiffon cake base and standard chocolate frosting. It took me no more time to assemble this Simple Yule Log than a standard layer cake. The decorations I’ve used are festive, but subtle. The frosting is applied in long parallel stripes that form ridges where they meet – resembling tree bark without requiring calipers and modelling tools.
It’s quite possible to use my Simple Yule Log as a starting point for something much more elaborate. If you have the patience, there’s room for a whole forest floor full of winter wonder. As for me, I’m happy with a few sprinkles and a dusting of chocolate curls. GREG