Thursday, December 23, 2010

A story from Christmas past...

There are certain foods that just say "Christmas" and in our family that is Buche de Noël... or Christmas Log.  Many years ago when I was a teenager I made this recipe which was included at the bottom of an ad for Fry's Cocoa.  It was such a hit that forever after I was asked by my family to make it on a yearly basis.  One Christmas, 20 years ago in fact, I had a rather unfortunate series of events take place and the cake almost didn't get made.  It is a rather funny tale, so grab a cup of tea or some eggnog and come for a stroll down memory lane.

It was the first year that I was in my own place and I suppose in an effort to be organized and to keep a good home, I decided that I would keep my dry ingredients in mason jars.  All lined up on the counter they stood... flour, sugar, salt, oats...  I felt organized and prepared to make the annual Buche de Noël.  I preheated the oven, combined the ingredients to make the cake, and while the cake was being baked I prepared the whipped cream based frosting... I took the cake from the oven, and rolled it in a tea towel as instructed.  I was so excited to be making this Christmas dessert in my place... and I think in my excitement I rushed the process slightly and forged on to ice the cake... only the cake wasn't quite cool enough and as I iced the cake, the whipped cream melted!  There in front of my eyes was a disaster in the form of a chocolate melted mound!

Not to be put off, I went to the shop to buy another set of ingredients for a second cake.  This time I would be careful... take my time and not rush the process.  The second cake was made, rolled and cooling.  The second batch of frosting was made and waiting for the cake to cool... this time it would be perfection.  With the cake completely cooled I iced the cake.  The lush whipped cream frosting made with sugar and Tia Maria was probably the best part of the cake!  As I poured the frosting over and carefully spread the last of the icing into place I left a dollop in the bowl as a treat.  There the cake was made and as I took my finger to lick the last of the delicious frosting from the bowl.....ACKKK!  Yuk! Whoooa... that tastes terrible!  What did I do wrong?  How can it be?  Oh no, I had put salt instead of sugar in the frosting!  ...and thus cake #2 was placed in the bin and once again I was faced with disaster and another trip to the store.

Most people would have given up... thrown the towel in... called it quits, but determined I was not to be beaten by the Fry's Cocoa cake, I proceeded to try again!  A third batch of frosting and a third cake in the oven... surely this would be the end of the disaster streak... right?! ....Wrong!  Can you guess what happened?  No, I couldn't believe it either, but the element in my oven decided it could go on no more and blew.  There in the oven stood a half burnt / half raw cake...and thus cake #3 went in the bin.

So with frosting #3 in the fridge, and no cake to frost, I figured I might as well carry on.  After the repair man fixed the oven, a fourth cake was made and cooled.  The frosting was ready and tested for salt content.  Finally the Buche de Noël was complete! 

I haven't made the Buche de Noël many times since that fateful Christmas... in fact I've probably told my story more!  But this year, I geared up the courage to dust off the recipe and I'm very pleased to say I got it right the first time!

If you fancy a go yourself... here is the recipe (courtesy of Fry's Cocoa)

Fry's Swiss Roll

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tsp vanilla

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.  Beat eggs in a small bowl until thick and lemon coloured.  Gradually beat in the sugar.  Stir in water and vanilla.  Blend in sifted dry ingredients at lowest speed on mixer.  Spread batter in a greased and waxed paper lined 15" x 10" x 3/4" jelly roll pan.  Bake in preheated 375ºF oven for 12 minutes.  Invert cake immediately onto tea towel dusted with cocoa.  Peel off paper.  Roll up cake and towel together, starting at short end.  Cool on wire rack seam side down.  Makes one cake.


Combine 2 cups of whipping cream, 1/2 cup of cocoa, 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of coffee or chocolate liqueur.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.  Whip cream until softly stiff.  Unroll cake, and spread 1/2 the whipped cream over cake.  Re-roll cake and frost with remaining whipped cream. Garnish as desired.

Until next time...


Jen said...

What a sweet story! That must be some cake to bake 4 times in one day! Hope you have a merry Christmas!

Tammy said...

Now that is what I call determination. I did the salt rather than sugar thing once to apple crisp. Funny how that can happen. Merry Christmas!!

Helen said...

looks delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe.
Question, which software do you use to illustrate your photos?
Seasons greetz!

YankeeQuilter said...

I made one of these last year with my was sooo good. You are right about the frosting being good on its own (had to drive my brother out of the kitchen since he was stealing spoonfuls of it while we were trying to frost the roll!)

ps...the package arrived about 10 minutes ago! It is the calendar and since it is cold here today I am going to let myself have a cup of cocoa (aren't all diets canceled until Jan 2?)

Thank You!

Rachel said...

The power of persistence! What a great story... and a great recipe. It looks and sounds delicious. Thanks for giving me a chuckle :) Merry Christmas!

Shasta said...

Wow I admire your persistence. The cake looks like it was worth the effort. Thanks for the recipe.

Kitty said...

I don't know that I'd have had that much reslience! Well done to you - your cake looks wonderful. x

Jackie said...

How funny! I must commend your determination. I would have quit after try #2!

JoQuilter said...

A great story and it went well with my morning cup of coffee in Bellevue Iowa USA

Thimbleanna said...

What a great story! That cake looks gorgeous -- very worthy of however many attempts to get it just right. I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas!

Karen said...

Oh how sad! I can't believe you kept going. I also made a fantastic Buche de Noel one year and everyone loved it, especially me, but no one's asked me to make it again. This year, we bought one from a local family bakery and it was delicious!

Anonymous said...

LOL oh no! After a while it becomes a matter of pride. I WILL make a successful cake if it kills me!