French,  Sweet

Spelt yule log (bûche de Noel) and an unidentified thigh thief

I can’t believe I’m admitting to this, but our Christmas lunch was stolen by an unidentified creature. We had put the guinea fowl, which had been slaughtered, plucked and frozen by our neighbour in November, to defrost on top of a very tall fridge in the grange. At the time, it was the proud owner of two wings and two thighs. Anyway, bad plan because when I went to get it the next morning it was minus a thigh. As we don’t have a cat, I can’t imagine what sort of animal could have climbed a slippery surface that high; it definitely wasn’t Hugo because he suffers from vertigo. My money’s on a carnivorous giraffe. Admittedly there aren’t many in Southwestern France, but it’s the only thing that makes sense. Luc, my husband, was all for cooking and serving it as an amputee delicacy, claiming that the cooking process would kill any lingering giraffe germs, but I put my foot down and we located a beautifully intact capon in a shop in the village, conveniently open on the 25th December no doubt in case of such incidents.
This ‘bûche de Noel’, which is similar to a roulade, is the traditional French Christmas dessert. It should be kept under lock and key IN THE HOUSE until you’re ready to eat it!
For the sponge:
4 free-range eggs
180g cane sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
160g spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Raspberry jam to fill
Preheat the oven to 200°C and prepare a Swiss roll tin by lightly greasing and lining the base and sides with a large sheet of greaseproof paper, pushing it into the corners. Beat the eggs, vanilla extract and sugar together until thick and creamy and then add the spelt flour and baking powder, incorporating well. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake in the preheated oven for nine minutes. Once baked, remove from the oven and immediately roll into a spiral on a floured-surface. Unroll and spread generously with raspberry jam. Roll again and set aside.
For the butterceam icing:
125g butter, softened
60g cane sugar
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons of coffee powder, diluted in two teaspoons of water
Pour the sugar into a saucepan, lightly moisten with a few drops of water and cook for about six minutes, stirring constantly. Stop just before the mixture caramelises. Beat the egg yolks and add the hot sugar little by little until the mixture whitens. Beat the butter well and gradually add the egg yolk/sugar mixture. Finally, add the coffee, incorporating well. Cover the rolled cake with the buttercream, spreading with a spatula, decorate with walnuts and glazed cherries and leave to cool for at least an hour in the fridge before serving.


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