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.


  • apuginthekitchen

    My goodness, now thats a mystery I bet you wish you had a video camera in there that would have caught the culprit. It would not be a horse or cow, they are not carnivorous, I don’t think. Maybe you had a visit from a fox or raccoon? I love your yule log, have never used the yolks for buttercream, I love that, going to give it a try my next cake. Happy New Year and I bet that capon was delicious, btw what did you do with the maimed guinea fowl?

    • The Healthy Epicurean

      Isn’t it a mystery? I think that a fox would have taken the whole thing instead of just the thigh. Plus, the door to the grange was shut, which rules out anything bigger… The plot thickens 😉 The yolks in the buttercream make it beautifully shiny in consistency and rich. The capon was really good and we roasted the maimed guinea fowl for Hugo, who was absolutely delighted !!

      • apuginthekitchen

        Well maybe that was Hugo’s plan all along, he is a very clever boy! I can’t wait to try your buttercream, I get very excited when I find a new recipe. How would you make it chocolate? Add melted dark or cocoa powder, do you know?

        • The Healthy Epicurean

          Yes maybe you’re right – maybe Hugo engineered the whole thing! I think to make chocolate buttercream I’d replace the coffee powder with cocoa powder. If you use melted chocolate and egg yolks it might be a bit too rich? I don’t know though, worth a try perhaps… Do let me know how you get on and which you use.

  • Eat Your Veg

    Oh I do love a good mystery?! And at least Hugo benefited from the incident. I first made a Buche de Noel last year (as a guest post for Anneli actually) and the kids went crazy for it. So was under duress to make another this year, of the choccie variety. A Buche makes for a good alternative to the traditional english christmas pud, for those incomprehensible people who don’t do christmas pud (my kids included).

    • The Healthy Epicurean

      Hi Louisa – a mystery indeed! Bûche does make a nice alternative to Christmas pudding which, although I love, can be a bit rich. I hope you had a good Christmas back in the UK. At least you don’t have thieving giraffes over there 😉 !

  • Butter, Basil and Breadcrumbs

    Oh, this made me laugh. Not because of the thigh misfortune…but because my husband would seriously think it would be safe to cook, thinking the germs would be killed during the cooking process. Lol.. I would have put my foot down too. It certainly does make one wonder what on earth would have stolen only a thigh. I agree, it could only be a giraffe. 🙂
    What a lovely yule log, and the raspberry jam is the perfect filling. Yum.
    Thank goodness the giraffe didn’t get that!! That would have definitely been grounds for “giraffe as the dinner” the next evening!!
    Happy New Year!! <3

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