Chocolate Peppermint Buche de Noel, British Baking Style
A Christmas Failure
The Christmas Season came too quickly for me. We lost our 17 year old feline child (grandmother), and, through loved ones and workplaces, I got sick the weekend before Christmas. It was all happening too fast–missing connections with friends, buying gifts last minute, and failing miserably in my attempt at posting Christmas baking recipes for the 12 Days of Christmas.
I was determined to make a Buche de Noel, more commonly known as a Yule Log. I only discovered the joy of peppermint bark a few years back, and hoped to combine the chocolate peppermint phenomenon with a beautifully rolled roulade.
The Yule Log Tradition
I learned much of traditional British (and often French) holiday bakes from the British Baking Masterclass, which I watch and revisit religiously from September to the holidays, and likely once or twice during heat waves so I can dream of snowy winter days and a warm hearth. Yule Logs / Buche de Noel began to attract my attention.
The Buche de Noel came from France, but the thing itself is a Celtic tradition (burning the yule log at the winter solstice, then becoming Christmas). The rest is quite basic: jelly roll cake, cream inside to lighten the whole feel, and a ganache/buttercream on the outside made to look like a yule log. Variations abounded, and the British soon considered it their tradition…then America comes knocking on the door faster than you can say “longstanding Christmas tradition.”
This recipe is a copy of a Mary Berry chocolate and cream yule log, which I adapted slightly, changing the simple whipped cream inside the log to a sweetened cream spiked with peppermint schnapps. Additionally, I made the chocolate ganache that covers the log with milk chocolate peppermint bark.
I made this recipe twice…due to the fact that I rolled the roulade the long way the first time, and the ganache was far too thin, since I spiked the ganache mixture with more schnapps. However, the second time I made it, I rolled it the seemingly correct short way (more rolls become visible), but it was so short that I left it as a single log, and did not cut off a second branch. Perhaps the original was better.
Next Year…next year
Next time, I do believe I would like to make the peppermint bark that covers the log from a more completely peppermint bark material, producing a white log. Additionally, it might be a great challenge to give up the draw towards a buche de noel and instead offer up a stump cake, which sounds far less beautiful word wise, but, looks wise, makes for more opportunity for natural detail. Christmas 2020, I’ll be ready for you.
Regardless of my regrets and setbacks (the Mary Berry ganache using the chocolate peppermint bark was much thicker, but still I think I would much prefer a pipe-able buttercream), this is a delicious little cake, and the peppermint cream is both festive and the star of the roulade.
- When folding in the sifted flour and cocoa, do not over mix and add in segments so the cake is not overworked.
- Make sure to roll the cake in parchment paper or a clean dishtowel while the cake is very warm, so it sets up and remembers its shape.
- Refrigerate the cream so it spreads well, yet doesn’t seep out when rolled.
- Refrigerate the ganache (or buttercream if using as bark) completely, so, whether a thin ganache or piping buttercream, it stays on the cake.
Chocolate Peppermint Buche De Noel (Yule Log) (adapted from Mary Berry’s Chocolate Buche de Noel)
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 Cup sugar
- 1/2 Cup self-raising flour
- 1/3 (plus one tablespoon) cocoa powder
- pinch salt
Peppermint Whipped Cream
- 2 Cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 tbsp confectioners sugar
- 2 tbsp peppermint schnapps
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
For the chocolate/peppermint bark ganache:
- 14 Oz peppermint bark (milk chocolate or dark chocolate backed used)
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 Cups heavy whipping cream
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a swiss roll tin or 13 x 9 baking tray with parchment paper (I am determined to locate the foil backed parchment paper used in the British Baking Show, since regular parchment doesn't stick to the corners very well. I ended up using foil and spraying with Pam.)
- Cream the eggs and the sugar until light and fluffy. Sift in the flour, salt, and cocoa in 3 segments, while gently folding in each time, making sure not to over mix.
- Pour into the tin and spread evenly. Bake for 8-10 minutes, 12 at the most. You should be able to touch the cake gently, and it should have a bit of bounce.
- When less than five minutes out of the oven, sprinkle confectioners sugar over a clean piece of parchment paper. Flip the cake over and onto the sugary parchment paper.
- Per Mary Berry, slice (not too deeply) an inch or so from the edge of the cake all the way across (length wise or width wise, depending on your preference). Take the parchment and tuck it into the groove, carefully but tightly rolling the cake over itself, wrapping with the paper as you go. Once a roll, let sit and cool completely. Completely.
- Prepare the chocolate ganache: Over a medium heat, add the whipping cream to a saucepan and allow to heat just under boiling.
- Melt in the butter on a lower heat and remove from heat, adding in the chocolate peppermint bark and mixing until the chocolate and cream is completely incorporated and shiny.
- Refrigerate until cool and thick enough to pipe. If you prefer a proper buttercream, have at it.
To Make the Peppermint Whipped Cream
- In a mixer, combine the cream and confectioners sugar until soft peaks/cream has been accomplished. Add in the vanilla and schnapps and whip until combined. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.
- Carefully unroll the cake. Spread the whipped cream over the top, all the way to the edges, even if some slips out. Without the paper, start to re-tuck the center of the cake edge in and tightly fold the cake over and back into its rolled formation.
- Either cut the very edges off, or cut one edge and diagonally cut one small branch off,re-attaching it along the edge of the cake. Pipe or spread/pour the ganache,depending on the consistency. Mine was more of a spread/pour and immediately set to freeze. You can use a fork to achieve the bark like textures.
- I blitzed some candy cane and sprinkled over the cake instead of confectioners sugar to emphasize its peppermint flavor. I kept it frozen until Christmas, although it lost some of its texture in that time. Luckily, the flavors work great and both versions tasted delicious.
- I have no idea how my swirl went backwards in the very center of my second Buche de Noel, but it tasted great all the same!