Christmas dinner at my in-laws’ is traditional. We gather around mid-afternoon at my husband’s childhood home, exchange presents, and then sit around the table and enjoy a true Newfoundland Jiggs dinner. I love the smell of turkey in the oven; as I write this I can almost smell the turkey as we enter my in-laws’ house.
My mother-in-law cooks the dinner and I insist on bringing the dessert. A traditional Newfoundland dessert fit for a Jiggs dinner is a partridgeberry pudding served with warm rum sauce. The pairing is unmistakeable. But sometimes it’s good to switch things up, bring new traditions in, or try out a tradition that is as old as any tradition, like a Buche de Noel – better known as a yule log.
The history of the Buche de Noel reminds me in many ways of the hardy men and women in outport Newfoundland. I could picture them cutting down an old white birch to bring in to the house to burn in the hearth for light and warmth – driving out the cold evil spirits and the dark souls that hold one back. While they sat around the burning log with warm feet and rosy faces they made plans for the best harvest of crops and fish in another few months when the land and sea spring alive again – theirs hearts full of hope and their souls eager for more.
This year a Buche de Noel will grace our table stained in red wine and gravy, drippings and crumbs and a whole lot more of joy and laughter. I hope you make one too.
Buche de Noel (revised)
For chocolate sponge-
- Eggs: 3 at room temperature
- Confectioner sugar: 1/4 cup
- Flour: 1/2 cup
- Coco powder: 2 Tbsp
For cream filling-
- whipping crem: 2 cups
- Confectioner sugar: 1/4 cup + more for dusting
- Coco powder: 2 tbsp
- Instant Coffee: 1/2 tsp
- Semi sweet chocolate chips: 1/2 cup
Meringue mushrooms: find recipe here.
- Pre heat oven at 450F.
- Line a jelly roll approx 9 inch by 14 inch tray with parchment hanging from both ends.
- Mix flour and coco powder together, then run it through a sieve to get rid of all lumps.
- Whisk the eggs and sugar together until doubled in size, pale and glossy.
- Mix the flour by sprinkling a table spoon at a time by hand using a rubber spatula, taking care not to deflate the egg sugar mixture.
- Spread cake mixture on prepared baking pan. Even out with rubber spatula.
- Bake for 10 mins.
- While the cake bakes, line a kitchen towel with more parchment. Sprinkle confectioner sugar over paper. Set aside
- Once the sponge is baked, leave it to cool for a minute or two, then invert the cake pan over the sugar dusted parchment lined with the kitchen towel.
- Now gently roll the kitchen towel very loosely and let the cake cool.
- To make the cream filling, beat the whipping cream, sugar, coco powder and coffee till it holds soft round peaks.
- To make the bark, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave at microwave at 1 min intervals and mixing till chocolate is melted and uniform.
- Spread the chocolate in a thin layer over a parchment and let cool in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- When the cake cools, unroll from kitchen towel, peel and discard parchment, then spread half of the prepared whipping cream and roll it back again and refrigerate for 10 mins.
- Once ready to assemble, cut the log into half.
- place one portion on the serving plater and spread some of the whipping cream on top.
- Cut the other log diagonally and place each piece on the main log attaching on the diagonal side, then spread whipping cream on each additional piece covering the entire sponge.
- Take chocolate bark from fridge, peel parchment and break the chocolate lengthwise to form pieces that resemble tree barks.
- Attach the barks on the whipping cream and run a fork on the open ends of the log to make look like growth rings.
- Attach a few meringue mushrooms to give it a whimsical feel.
- Dust with coco powder and serve at room temperature.