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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: THE YULE LOG, A TRADITION EVERYONE CAN ENJOY!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

THE YULE LOG, A TRADITION EVERYONE CAN ENJOY!







   Burning Yule logs is a tradition dating back long before the birth of Jesus. In pre-Christian times, the Yule log was burned in the home hearth on the winter solstice in honor of the pagan sun god Odin, known also as the Yule Father or Oak King.
The winter solstice, known amongst pagans as Yule or Gwyl Canol Gaeaf, falls on December 21 or 22, whichever is the shortest day and longest night of the current year. The Yule festival symbolizes a battle between the powers of light (Oak King) and powers of darkness (Holly King). A Yule log, typically a thick branch taken from a oak tree, would be burned in the hearth beginning on this night as a celebration of the Oak King's triumphant defeat over the Holly King.






Burning the Yule log




    The traditional Yule celebration would begin at dawn with the cutting of the oak branch, which was then ceremoniously carried into the house. Lit by the father or oldest member of the family, the Yule log would be left to burn for the next 12 days. When evening arrived the family would gather for dinner, which would typically included mutton, goose, pork, beef, special Yule breads, porridge, apples, sweets, nut and Yule ale.
As Christianity spread throughout Europe the traditional Yule celebration became associated with the celebration of Christmas and the birth of Jesus, the Yule
Father being replaced with Father Christmas. In Serbia, the Yule log, or badnjak as it is called there, is cut and burned in the hearth as part of its Christmas festivities. In years past, the head of the family would go into the forest on Christmas Eve morning to cut down the badnjak. Before bringing it home he would take the log to the church for a special blessing. In more recent years, the badnjak ins usually gotten at marketplaces or form the churches.





Oak King




    The Yule log is a part of French tradition as well, especially it's Yule Log Cake or Buche de Noel. This traditional Christmas dessert is made from a sponge cake that has been baked in a shallow pan. After baking, the cake is filled with a creamy frosting, rolled up into a cylinder, and frosted with the remaining frosting along the top and sides so as to resemble a tree log. A small portion of the cake is usually cut off and placed alongside or on top of the larger piece in order to reveal the bark-like appearance of its insides. For some bakers, adding meringue mushrooms for that extra woodsy look not only enhances the realism of their Yule log but also is a lot of fun. "The Bouche de Noel" is a very favorite, traditional French cake during the holidays.
The creation of this culinary Yule Log, now baked throughout the world, dates back to Napoleon I. A stern believer that cold air caused medical problems, Napoleon issued a proclamation requiring households in Paris to keep their chimneys closed during the winter month, preventing resident from burning the Yule log.






Yuel log cake or Buche de Noel




    French bakers invented the Buche de Noel as a symbolic replacement. In England, according to the Pennsylvania Forest Stewardship Program, On Christmas Eve, members of the household ventured into the woods to find and cut a great tree, preferably an oak. Size was important, because the Yule log had to burn throughout the twelve days of Christmas. Once cut, the log was dragged home with much celebration. As many people as possible grabbed onto the ropes to help pull, because doing so was believed to bring good luck in the new year. Even passersby raised their hat in tribute.
The Yule log was dragged to the hearth of the great open fireplace, a common household feature in old England. The log was lit with a scrap of burned log carefully preserved from the previous year, a practice that ensured the continuity of good fortune not only from year to year, but also from generation to generation.










    As a Christmas tradition, burning the Yule log eventually spread from England to America. It's more popular fame as a tradition in the U.S., especially in New York, comes in the form of a televised Yule log broadcasted first in 1966 at the WPIX television station in New York when Fred Thrower, the then General Manager for the television station, brought the tradition of burning the Yule log into viewers homes. Inspired b a Coke commercial he had seen depicting Santa Claus in front of a fireplace the previous year. Thrower, and then WPIX-FM programming director Charlie Whittaker, created the Yule Log, a Christmas program featuring an actual Yule log burning in a fireplace. The crackling wood fire, accompanied by the music of Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis and others, played non stop for two hours on Christmas Eve. Filmed at Gracie Mansion, the Yule Log was Thrower's Christmas gift to New Yorkers who hadn't a home hearth. The program aired continuously from 1966-1989.






Buche de Noel Recipe




Picture of Buche de Noel Recipe





Total Time:

        9 hr 23 min



Prep:

     1 hr 0 min



Inactive:

          8 hr 0 min



Cook:

       23 min
Yield:
       12 servings
Level:
Intermediate

Ingredients

Walnut Biscuit:

  • 5 eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 100 grams granulated sugar
  • 25 grams granulated maple sugar
  • 125 grams cake flour, sifted
  • 3 ounces toasted walnuts, finely chopped

    Directions

    Pastry Cream
    • 4 large egg yolks
    • 55 grams cornstarch
    • 40 grams sugar, plus 75 grams sugar
    • 75 grams maple syrup
    • 2 tablespoons whiskey (recommended: Jack Daniels)
    • 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
    • 2 cups milk
    • 28 grams butter
    • 1/2 teaspoons salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon maple extract
    • 1 cup heavy cream

    Buttercream:

    • 113 grams sugar
    • 3 large egg yolks
    • 1 whole egg
    • 1 to 2 tablespoons whisky (recommended: Jack Daniels)
    • 1/4 teaspoon maple extract
    • 12 ounces butter, room temperature

    Sugared Cranberries:

    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 2 cups cranberries (cannot have been frozen)
    • Candied walnuts, store-bought
    • Candied orange peel, store-bought
    Maple Tuiles
    • 225 grams butter, at room temperature
    • 350 grams maple syrup
    • 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 240 grams egg whites
    • 225 grams all-purpose flour
    • Luster dust, optional

    For the walnut biscuit:

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a half sheet pan, line with parchment paper, butter the paper and dust with flour.
    Whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Beat in both sugars and whip to a stiff, glossy meringue.

    Alternately fold the cake flour and egg yolks into the meringue in 3 batches, starting and ending with the flour. Fold in the nuts.

    Spread the batter evenly in the pan, and bake until the cake is pale gold, the center springs back when you press it lightly with your finger, and the edges start to pull from the sides of the pan, 10 to 12 minutes.

    For the pastry cream:

    Whisk the yolks, cornstarch, and the 40 grams sugar in a medium bowl; the mixture will be very thick, but try to whisk enough to remove most of the lumps.
    Put the 75 grams sugar in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until dark brown; don't worry if it crystallizes a bit. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the maple syrup, then whisk in the whisky, turn up the heat, and let simmer for 1 to 2 minutes to boil off the alcohol.

    Whisk the milk and vanilla bean scrapings into the caramel mixture and bring to simmer. Slowly whisk about half of the hot mixture into the yolks, then whisk that mixture back into the pot, bring to a boil, whisking, and cook, still whisking, until thickened. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, salt and maple extract. Pour into a shallow dish, press plastic wrap onto the surface, and chill until set and very cold, about 4 hours.

    Beat the cold pastry cream in a standing mixer until smooth. When ready to use, whip the cream until it is very stiff, then beat into the pastry cream. Chill until ready to use.

    For the buttercream:

    Put the sugar in a medium pot and add enough water just to moisten; use your fingers to wet the sugar evenly. Bring to a boil. While the sugar is heating, start beating the yolks and egg in a standing mixer with the whisk attachment.
    When the syrup reaches about 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer (softball stage), pour it into the yolks with the mixer still running, taking care not to pour it onto the whisk.
    Beat until cooled to room temperature. Beat in the whisky and the maple extract.

    Cream the butter in another mixing bowl using the paddle attachment. Beat in the cooled egg mixture until smooth. You can use it right away, or chill it overnight; if you chill it, rebeat when you are ready to assemble the cake.

    For the sugared cranberries:

    Have a cookie sheet or shallow dish and a slotted spoon next to the stove.
    Put the sugar in a medium pot and add enough water just to moisten; use your fingers to wet the sugar evenly. Add the cinnamon stick.

    Bring to a boil, add the cranberries, and immediately pull from the heat. Transfer the cranberries to the cookie sheet with the slotted spoon. Cool.

    For the maple tuiles:

    Cream the butter, maple syrup, vanilla bean scrapings and salt until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat in egg whites until smooth. Beat in the flour. Let the batter rest and hour or so at room temperature, or overnight in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before baking.
    Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with a silpat. Using a stencil, smear the batter thinly on the silpat and bake until dark golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the pan while still warm. If you want to shape the cookies, put them over a bottle or rolling pin while warm; let cool. If desired, brush lightly with luster dust.

    Assembly:

    Turn the cooled cake onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper with a long side near you. Spread the chilled pastry cream evenly over the surface, leaving a 2-inch border across from you. Using the parchment paper to lift, roll the cake as tightly as possible. Set seam side down on a platter or large pan, and chill for an hour or so.
    Frost the cake with the buttercream, smoothing the surface so it looks like bark.

    Decorate with candied cranberries, walnuts, orange peel, and tuiles.

    Ingredients

    Walnut Biscuit:

    • eggs, separated, room temperature
    • 100 grams granulated sugar
    • 25 grams granulated maple sugar
    • 125 grams cake flour, sifted
    • 3 ounces toasted walnuts, finely chopped

    Directions

    Pastry Cream
    • 4 large egg yolks
    • 55 grams cornstarch
    • 40 grams sugar, plus 75 grams sugar
    • 75 grams maple syrup
    • 2 tablespoons whiskey (recommended: Jack Daniels)
    • 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
    • 2 cups milk
    • 28 grams butter
    • 1/2 teaspoons salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon maple extract
    • 1 cup heavy cream

    Buttercream:

    • 113 grams sugar
    • 3 large egg yolks
    • 1 whole egg
    • 1 to 2 tablespoons whisky (recommended: Jack Daniels)
    • 1/4 teaspoon maple extract
    • 12 ounces butter, room temperature

    Sugared Cranberries:

    • 1 cup sugar
    • cinnamon stick
    • 2 cups cranberries (cannot have been frozen)
    • Candied walnuts, store-bought
    • Candied orange peel, store-bought
    Maple Tuiles
    • 225 grams butter, at room temperature
    • 350 grams maple syrup
    • 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 240 grams egg whites
    • 225 grams all-purpose flour
    • Luster dust, optional

    For the walnut biscuit:

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a half sheet pan, line with parchment paper, butter the paper and dust with flour.
    Whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Beat in both sugars and whip to a stiff, glossy meringue.
    Alternately fold the cake flour and egg yolks into the meringue in 3 batches, starting and ending with the flour. Fold in the nuts.
    Spread the batter evenly in the pan, and bake until the cake is pale gold, the center springs back when you press it lightly with your finger, and the edges start to pull from the sides of the pan, 10 to 12 minutes.

    For the pastry cream:

    Whisk the yolks, cornstarch, and the 40 grams sugar in a medium bowl; the mixture will be very thick, but try to whisk enough to remove most of the lumps.
    Put the 75 grams sugar in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until dark brown; don't worry if it crystallizes a bit. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the maple syrup, then whisk in the whisky, turn up the heat, and let simmer for 1 to 2 minutes to boil off the alcohol.
    Whisk the milk and vanilla bean scrapings into the caramel mixture and bring to simmer. Slowly whisk about half of the hot mixture into the yolks, then whisk that mixture back into the pot, bring to a boil, whisking, and cook, still whisking, until thickened. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, salt and maple extract. Pour into a shallow dish, press plastic wrap onto the surface, and chill until set and very cold, about 4 hours.
    Beat the cold pastry cream in a standing mixer until smooth. When ready to use, whip the cream until it is very stiff, then beat into the pastry cream. Chill until ready to use.

    For the buttercream:

    Put the sugar in a medium pot and add enough water just to moisten; use your fingers to wet the sugar evenly. Bring to a boil. While the sugar is heating, start beating the yolks and egg in a standing mixer with the whisk attachment.
    When the syrup reaches about 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer (softball stage), pour it into the yolks with the mixer still running, taking care not to pour it onto the whisk. Beat until cooled to room temperature. Beat in the whisky and the maple extract.
    Cream the butter in another mixing bowl using the paddle attachment. Beat in the cooled egg mixture until smooth. You can use it right away, or chill it overnight; if you chill it, rebeat when you are ready to assemble the cake.

    For the sugared cranberries:

    Have a cookie sheet or shallow dish and a slotted spoon next to the stove.
    Put the sugar in a medium pot and add enough water just to moisten; use your fingers to wet the sugar evenly. Add the cinnamon stick.
    Bring to a boil, add the cranberries, and immediately pull from the heat. Transfer the cranberries to the cookie sheet with the slotted spoon. Cool.

    For the maple tuiles:

    Cream the butter, maple syrup, vanilla bean scrapings and salt until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat in egg whites until smooth. Beat in the flour. Let the batter rest and hour or so at room temperature, or overnight in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before baking.
    Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with a silpat. Using a stencil, smear the batter thinly on the silpat and bake until dark golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the pan while still warm. If you want to shape the cookies, put them over a bottle or rolling pin while warm; let cool. If desired, brush lightly with luster dust.

    Assembly:

    Turn the cooled cake onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper with a long side near you. Spread the chilled pastry cream evenly over the surface, leaving a 2-inch border across from you. Using the parchment paper to lift, roll the cake as tightly as possible. Set seam side down on a platter or large pan, and chill for an hour or so.
    Frost the cake with the buttercream, smoothing the surface so it looks like bark. Decorate with candied cranberries, walnuts, orange peel, and tuiles.

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