Okay, making a Bûche de Noel isn’t a new thing around my house. I decided this should be a tradition in 2014, when I realized that as a (then new) father, I needed to take Christmas over the top always so that my kid(s) would have the most magical winter memories EVAR.
Behold, the 2014 (and my first ever) Bûche de Noel!
It was rich, the sponge was a little dry, and I’m pretty sure that when I presented it to my family they found it all a bit much since it wasn’t an existing tradition. To be fair, my dad had just passed away and our Christmas baking event that year was the saddest on record. I believe I decorated my gingerbread men to look like the dead characters from Game of Thrones.
Fast forward one year. My 2015 Bûche de Noel was inspired by the Great American Baking Show, you know, the cheap knockoff of the British masterpiece that still thankfully stars Mary Berry. I made a sponge, it didn’t work, I made another, it did. I was afraid to roll too tightly and PLOP, the cake unrolled, leaving one big round lump of a log without a pretty swirl inside sitting on a pile of whipped cream.
2016 has been a little different, though. I actually learned how to bake this year. I started with easy breads, I’ve dabbled with cakes, and had more success than failure all around. I actually understand which dry ingredients are raising agents, and the basics of how to put things together to some extent. I haven’t used a box or a mix in a year, and making things from scratch doesn’t intimidate me in the least. I’d like to think I’ve even learned a little bit about style.
I started to look for a recipe, I usually use the Sorted Food recipe, but I did have a look at Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, only to turn away in disgust at the idea of chestnut puree. I would have looked at Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake, however it was across the room and I had just run a half marathon. I decided at that point that I would make two, one for work, and one for home, and change the flavors and decor a bit.
BEHOLD the 2016 Bûche de Noel(s)!
My “home” Bûche de Noel this year was a Swiss Roll filled with Irish Whiskey spiked whipped cream, with two snowflakes stenciled on top in icing sugar. No buttercream icing this year. In the past I’ve found it quite heavy and it makes the cake a bit too rich. Especially in combination with the whipped cream filling.
My “work” Bûche de Noel was the same sponge, but rather than a boozy whiskey filling, it had vanilla whipped cream, and a single snowflake stenciled on top.
I’ve become slightly famous at work for baking things that people don’t normally bring to “potluck” events. I guess most people don’t want to mess with yeast or measuring ingredients. So much the better. Eat my baked goods. Be impressed. Give me a raise! Amirite?
Three years on, I’d say this Bûche de Noel tradition is going strong, and I think this year’s edition certainly demonstrates that I’ve learned a bit more about baking than I ever knew before.