I am a bit embarrassed to say that I have never made a bûche de noël before, so I was a little nervous about trying the Stump de Noël recipe from Baked Explorations. The recipe looked a bit involved, and I decided to make the cake for our holiday party. I take a couple days off from work to do all of the party prep work, so that provided me with some extra time to devote to the project.
First, I made the buttercream frostings, since they must be chilled before the cake is assembled. To make the base buttercream, you whisk egg whites and sugar in a bowl set over simmering water until the sugar dissolves. Then you whip the mixture along with vanilla until glossy, and slowly incorporate room temperature butter. You mix a portion of the buttercream with some melted chocolate to make chocolate buttercream, and incorporate malt powder and crushed malt balls into the remainder to make malt buttercream.
The chocolate cake is made from egg yolks, sugar, melted chocolate, espresso powder dissolved in hot water, vanilla, egg whites beaten with cream of tartar, melted butter, flour, cocoa, and salt. You divide the cake batter between two large jelly roll pans and bake. Once the cakes are baked and cooled, you turn them out of the pans, frost each cake with malt buttercream, and then cut each cake in half lengthwise. You take one of the long strips of cake and roll it up, and continue adding on the additional strips of cake and rolling until you have a quite sizable 6-inch-tall roll (if you use the prescribed 12-inch by 17-inch cake pans, you will have 68 total inches of cake wrapped up in your finished cake roll!). I wish that I had trimmed the edges off of the cake, as they were a bit dry and cracked during rolling. During the rolling process, long vertical cracks appeared on the cake's surface, such that the outside of the cake roll bore a striking resemblance to the rough and furrowed texture of tree bark even before I frosted it. I frosted around the outside of the entire roll with the chocolate buttercream (but not the top, so the spiral would still be visible); there was just enough frosting to get the job done.
this frozen pumpkin mousse recipe). I thought it would more or less resemble dirt, and I was happy with the way the stump looked when I served it.
I liked this cake so much that I am planning to make it throughout the year, and not just at Christmastime. The stump is something truly special, and people who tasted it (or even just saw it) at our holiday party were still talking to me about it days afterwards. If you're looking for a showstopper holiday dessert, look no further!
Recipe: "Stump de Noël" from Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, recipe available here at Baked Sunday Mornings.