For years we have been making Bûche de Noël for D's birthday. This year is no exception, we were just a few days late.
My Christmas Babe's Bûche De Noël Parade
D's birthday is two days before Christmas and it's a tradition that he gets a Bûche De Noël as his cake. This year he turned twenty. Two decades. How did that happen?!
Below are photos of his many, many bûche. The top left photo was the very first one I made for him...for his second birthday. And we have made one every year since. Well, I skipped his fifteenth birthday because we were on a plane to Denmark that day. And there was the year that his birthday coincided with our Mateo family Christmas, so my cousin who is an exquisite baker made his bûche that year.
This year we were out of town for his actual birthday and I asked if we could do a belated cake. He agreed. I also wanted to do a souche instead of a bûche Souche means 'stump' or the part of the tree that stays in the ground - upright - after you cut the tree down while bûche means 'log'.
All the Flavors of Christmas
This year's creation: layers of gingerbread with candied lemon and eggnog cake with chocolate-crunchy peanut butter ganache with chocolate bark and meringue mushrooms.
Eggnog Cake Layers
1/2 cup eggnog
10 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or paste
2-1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup butter
3/4 cup organic granulated sugar
Also needed: three 6-inch cake pans, parchment paper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and line baking pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
Blend together flour and baking powder in a small mixing bowl.
Place eggnog and cardamom pods in a small saucepan. Heat the milk until it is steaming, but not bubbling. Remove pan from heat and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain out the cardamom pods and whisk in the vanilla paste.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until lightened and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Alternate between adding half of the flour mixture and half of the milk mixture until combined. Repeat, then divide the batter evenly between the three prepared pans.
Place pans on a baking sheet and in oven. Bake for 38 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes before inverting to cool completely on a wire rack.
To make the chocolate bark, melt and temper your chocolate. Lay a piece of parchment paper on top of a baking sheet. Take a pastry brush and paint a strip of chocolate as tall as your cake - or higher. Repeat until you have enough strips to cover the cake. Place the sheet in the refrigerator to harden completely.
Place a cake layer on your serving platter. Add a dollop of ganache. Repeat until you have stacked all five cake layers. Whip the ganache until it is lightened and fluffy. Then frost the sides and the top of the cake. Reserve some whipped ganache to "glue" the bark to the outside of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Then decorate with meringue mushrooms.
And that's a wrap for my 2023 birthday Souche De Noël. I'm not sure what we will do for 2024, but it will be delicious!