Red Velvet Buche de Noël

I made a Red Velvet “Buche de Noël” for Christmas. It turned out well.

The icing I had made the evening before became thin when I tried beating it to make it smooth. It was still cold from the fridge. So after I got the other brunch dishes finished so the family could start eating, I made another batch. That meant a quick spread of the crumb coat, then a quick assembly. It was cut the minute I put the platter on the table…unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture untl it was mostly gone!

I based the recipe on one I’ve been making for years—it’s an old recipe for a cake that has grown in popularity —at least in the US—since cupcakes have emerged as a miracle dessert—again. Who knew so many people would spend so many clams for an old standby? Cupcakes were what moms sent to school for class parties when they didn’t send brownies.

I’m not sure how Red Velvet Cake came to be at the top of the flavor chart: perhaps all the influence from cooking shows and TV chefs. (The Southern part of the US is where it seems to have originated)

The recipe I have is from a woman my mother worked with when I was growing up. The woman, whose name was possibly Virginia, always made a Red Velvet Cake for another co-worker’s birthday, a tradition started before my mom was hired. Mom would bring a few pieces home for us kids to share. The cake was all right; the frosting, divine! When Virginia retired, she gave Mom a copy of the recipe.

I used to make it for my little sister on her birthday, which is February 13th.

Since cake rolls are usually more of a sponge-type cake, with little fat, and whipped egg whites folded in, I modified the recipe to reflect that.

The exact same recipe for the Red Velvet Cake I’ve always made (first time I’ve seen it somewhere other than the recipe my Mom had, since there are so many variations) can be found here: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/11432-red-velvet-cake–or I can post it if anyone has a request.

How to make the Buche as I did:

1, Make 1/2 original recipe using 2 eggs, separated.

2. Beat the butter and sugar, add egg yolks one at a time beating well. Then continue as the recipe says except at the end whip the whites till soft peaks and fold into the batter.

3. Bake in a jelly roll pan -10×15- lined with buttered parchment, and sprinkled with cocoa powder. I baked it at 350 for 12 minutes. Moist but a bit dry around the edges. I’d start with 8–10 minutes. Or reduce the temperature.

4. Roll warm cake up in the parchment, integrating the parchment. Let it cool to room temp on a wire rack.

cooling…dum de dum dum

5. Make a whole recipe of the frosting recipe to fill and frost the outside.

White Milk icing aka Ermine icing

6. Carefully unroll the cake. It may split— but frosting covers everything! Spread about 1/3 of the frosting in center, leaving a 1/2-inch edge for spread when rolling it up. Place it seam-side down. Frost with a thin layer of icing as a crumb coat and let sit for 15 minutes in refrigerator.

Spread with icing, not too much.

7. If desired, cut a small piece at an angle to affix to the side to look like a knot or bit of branch. Frost the entire cake.

Second coat of icing after crumb coat set…looks more like a crutch than a log…

8. For the bark: spread 6 oz. melted bittersweet chocolate on a piece of parchment paper. Chill in refrigerator a few minutes until firm. Roll the parchment paper up to break the chocolate up. Layer or shingle the pieces over the icing, for the bark-on-fallen-log look.

9. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired, to represent snow.  You can decorate with meringue mushrooms, and carmelized sugar strands as well. It was so rainy and wet this year that I decided not to do either. They would have collapsed in no time.

Next time I’m going for a slightly lighter texture becoming a sponge roll, and for ease of rolling (this is still in experimental stage):

  1. Use oil instead of butter. Maybe 1/4 cup canola or other vegetable oil for 1/2 recipe.
  2. Use 3 eggs, separated. Follow the recipe as modified for the Buche, with beaten egg whites folded in at end.
  3. I researched other cake roll recipes for the baking temperature and they had it at 350°F/177°C<>, I would try baking it at a lower temp, probably 325°F. Or simply take it out sooner. Depends.

P.S. Something happened to the original post. I had to redo the whole thing.