Friday, December 24, 2021

The Trials of the Yule Log

Einstein once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. That said I am certifiably insane, with the crown, the sash, and the apron (in this case.) 

Most people who know me are aware that I love to cook. I am very  fearless in the kitchen. Many years ago I decided that I was going to be a bit adventuresome and bake a fairly complicated Lemon Doberge cake - for a family reunion no less. The recipe consisted of 3 pages of directions and 14 ingredients. It required one to make a lemon custard, a fluffy moist white cake, and delicate lemon frosting. 5 hours later when finished one would have a delicious 7 layer cake with deep yellow lemon custard between each layer, covered in a white frosting with bits of lemon zest. One would also find one's self seeking long term counseling.

Fast forward, I, in some moment of total dementia, decided this year to make a Chocolate Yule Log. I'd never made one before. I had seen them in magazines and tasted wonderful ones made by professional bakers. It is a chocolate cake that looks like a log. How hard could it be?

I did my research into recipes and found 3 I liked. After reading through the 3 I saw that I preferred the cake by the Pioneer Woman's recipe, the filling by Bon Appetite, and the chocolate ganache from Delish's site. I prepared a shopping list, procured the necessary ingredients, and assembled the various pots, pans, and dishes I thought I would need. My Chromebook was relocated to the kitchen counter with all 3 web sites open. 

The first part was to make the cake. I measured out all of my ingredients and commenced. I whipped the 6 egg whites in one bowl. While doing so I combined the dry ingredients - the flour, cocoa, the sugar, and baking powder into a 2nd bowl and added the vanilla. Next, according to the screen, I added the egg yokes to a 3rd bowl and started the mixer. I checked the recipe, "Once the mixer starts with the egg yokes, slowly add the sugar and vanilla, before the flour mixture ...." At that point I looked in horror at the bowl containing the combined dry ingredients with the sugar, cocoa, etc . I panicked. Was this the correct cake recipe? 

Checking, yes, this was the correct one. However I realized that I had incorrectly read the instructions for the Bon Appetite cake recipe in preparing the ingredients, and was now reading the correct recipe of the Pioneer Woman to mix the ingredients. 

Back to the mess at hand. In vane, I tried to scoop the sugar off the top of the cocoa mix. Somehow I managed to get a 1/4 cup of sugar contaminated by a bit of cocoa into the egg yokes. How badly did I really want to make this cake after all? The thrill of the experience was long gone. But somehow I got all the ingredients into the mixer, (not necessarily in the correct order), prepared the batter, and got it into the pan. Looking at it as I slid it into the oven, I noticed it was a light brown color, not the rich dark color shown in the lovely photographs. Oh well.

On to the next step. Scanning down the page . . . "Cake", "Filling" , "Meringue Mushrooms"." Meringues? What bloody meringues?  Who knew mushrooms were part of the yule log?

Back and forth I flipped between the 3 recipes. In getting ready to the prepare the filling, I started gathering the ingredients:  "Whipping cream, Sugar, Cream Cheese, Sour Cream . . . " Wait, there was no sour cream or cream cheese in the recipe. I shortly realized I was reading the recipe for Delish's filling, not Bon Appetite's. This cake was slowly developing a multiple personality issue. 

I was able to to get the filling put together, sans cream cheese and sour cream. I'll spare you the remaining sordid details. 2 Dishwasher loads of pots, pans, and in-sundry utensils I had managed to bake the cake, add the filling, and get it into the 'fridge to chill for several hours before icing it. I had also managed to bake a batch of meringue mushroom pieces to be assembled in accordance to paragraphs 10-12 of the recipe. I delayed assembling those until the morning.

Wait, paragraphs 13-14 refer to "Sugared Cranberries". Great, if I read further no doubt I'll find the "Marshmallow Bunnies" that certainly live on the log with the mushrooms and the cranberries. No doubt a plain Chocolate Roll without the woodland features would taste just as good. A little late now.

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