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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Culinary School - Session 55: Buche de Noel and Fraisier

Culinary School: Session 55 (12.26.14)

Buche de Noel and Fraisier

Wait, Christmas is over? Says who?!

Belated Merry Christmas, in cake form: the Buche de Noel.  As one of the most iconic (and whimsical) holiday pastries, it is a "must" on the syllabus for Advanced Cakes, which commenced this session with the introduction of several enriched sponge cakes.

So what if we were a day late with our Buche de Noel? 

This chocolate Buttercream covered, rolled sponge cake won't taste any worse now that Christmas is over. Moreover, Jacques Torres was demo-ing these cakes weeks ago at school. And rumor has it that Epicure Daniel begins manufacturing these cakes months in advance of the holiday season in order to meet demand.

...so there really isn't an off-season for these edible, fallen logs.

Buche de Noel

- Ingredients Running Tally -

We're back in action, now that those mini-portion Petits Fours are behind us. 

Buttercreams and Egg Foams -- cows and chickens, beware!

Ingredients used to date (12.26.14):
  • Flour: 23,200g
  • Eggs: 12,450g (249x)
  • Sugar: 14,380g
  • Butter: 13,940g
  • Milk/Cream: 12,610g

- The Recipes -


Buche de Noel

A traditional holiday cake made to resemble a fallen log.

The cake for the Buche de Noel is an enriched sponge made with significantly more butter than a simple Genoise. The result is a richer, moister cake; however, baking powder is sometimes necessary to maintain sufficient leavening strength.

The cake is covered with a thin layer of flavored Buttercream (in this instance, a delicious cherry compote) and rolled.

The cakes are decorated in a whimsical manner. Chocolate Buttercream is used to create a bark-like exterior. Meringues are often formed in the shape of mushrooms or mini snowmen. Marzipan leaves... royal icing holly berries... people go crazy.   

Focus Techniques:
- Using chemical leavening in an enriched sponge cake. While air whipped into eggs remains the primary leavener of enriched sponge cakes, the additional fat and sugar content make it useful to add some chemical leavening to help give lift to the denser batter.
- Forming a sheet of sponge cake into a roll. It is helpful to use a sheet of parchment paper to achieve a tight, even shape when rolling the cake. Cracks often occur when the cake is too dry, an indication that it was baked too long or that it may require more cake wash.
- Piping decorative meringue mushrooms. Melted chocolate makes for an effective glue when attaching the base and tops of meringue mushrooms.

Cherry Compote Buttercream

Sponge Cake Covered with Cherry Compote Buttercream

Milk Chocolate Buttercream

Buche de Noel



A Fraisier is traditionally made with fresh strawberries and a basic Genoise & Buttercream. This version uses another enriched sponge cake - this time with significantly more sugar and milk added to the basic batter. This version also replaces traditional Buttercream with a vanilla Mousseline (German Buttercream), which is a mixture of Pastry Cream and Butter.

Topped with a pale green layer of marzipan to resemble the top of a strawberry, this cake is extremely rich given the amount of Buttercream or Mousseline the comprise the filling.

Focus Techniques:
- Making Mousseline. As an alternative to a straight Buttercream made with an egg white meringue and butter, a Mousseline, or German Buttercream, uses Pastry Cream as the base. Although it is often referred to as a "lightened" Buttercream, the product is quite dense and rich.
- Preparing a cake mold with fresh fruit. A Fraisier should prominently feature a ring of strawberry halves that line the cake mold. In order to best display the fresh fruit, the slices are pressed alongside the outer ring of the mold. Sponge cake and Mousseline are then used to fill in and around the fruit. This ensures that the strawberries are front and center when the cake is unfolded from the acetate-prepared ring molds.

American Milk Sponge Cake

Strawberry Lined Cake Mold for Fraisier

Fraisier Fitted with Sponge Cake

Fraisier Side View - Sponge Cake with Strawberries and Vanilla Mousseline

Fraisier Angled View - Sponge Cake with Strawberries and Vanilla Mousseline

Fraisier Top View - Sponge Cake with Strawberries and Vanilla Mousseline

Next - Session 56: Lemon Chiffon Cake

Previous - Session 53: Lemon Cookies and Cornet Piping & Glazing

Take a look at the full syllabus

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