One of my very favorite Christmas traditions is making the yule log I bring in for my coworkers. A buche de noel is one of those lovely dishes that appear somewhat complicated and time-consuming, but is in fact incredibly simple and fun to make. This was the first year I tried to bake a vegan buche de noel, and simply made substitutions in the recipe I've used for years. After some tweaking, and a somewhat unsuccessful attempt at using rice-milk whipped cream as filling (NOT recommended unless you like your logs rather flat and puddly), I came out with a tasty and foolproof recipe. The jellyroll: 1 cup flour 1 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar 1 tbsp and 2 tsp Ener-G egg replacer 1/4 cup and 2 tbsp warm water 1 tsp vanilla 3 tbsp room temperature water First things first: whisk together the warm water and Ener-G in a small dish until are the clumps are gone and it starts to foam nicely. Next, preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 10x15 in jellyroll pan with Earth Balance or the like. If you don't have a jellyroll pan, don't sweat it. Fold up a sheet of aluminum foil and wall off 10 x 15 inches in a regular baking pan, using the Earth Balance to make it stick. Grease both the pan AND aluminum foil, then line with wax paper, and grease that, too.
Like so! The nonstickiest of nonstick.Next, sift the flour, baking powder and salt together three times. Set aside.In the bowl of a mixer, beat the Ener-G mixture, gradually adding sugar til completely combined and frothy. Beat in vanilla and water. Add flour mixture in thirds, blending completely each time. Once smooth, pour into prepared pan, and use a spatula to spread the batter evenly into all the corners.Bake for 12-15 minutes. It won't brown at all, so just go by the firmness in the middle.Before the cake is out of the oven, prepare to roll it up. Place a clean dishtowel, a smooth cotton one, preferably; definitely not a fluffy one, flat on the counter and dust it heavily with powdered sugar.
While the cake is baking, prepare the espresso buttercream frosting:
1/3 cup Earth Balance, softened
1/4 cup vegetable shortening (I use Crisco sticks)
2 tbsp instant espresso dissolved in 1 tbsp warm almond milk (or soy, potato potahto)
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted.
Cream the Earth Balance and shortening together til combined and fluffy. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar and beat til smooth. Add the cocoa and espresso (Note- if you don't have instant espresso, brew SERIOUSLY strong coffee and use 1 tbsp of that), then the rest of the sugar and beat til smooth. If it seems a bit too wet, add more sugar. If too stiff, a dash of almond milk. It's buttercream, you probably know the drill.By now the cake should be ready. Take it out of the oven and let it sit for just a minute or two before inverting the pan onto the sugar-dusted towel. Gently peel off the wax paper. Then, sprinkling copious amounts of sugar on the towel as you go, gently roll up the cake and towel together:
Make sure you use tons of sugar anywhere the towel touches cake. As long as you do that, unrolling it after it's cooled is a breeze.
Once you've rolled it up completely, set it on a board or plate someplace to cool.
All that's left to make is the filling, a basic vanilla buttercream.
1/4 cup Earth Balance, softened
1/4 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco again)
1 tsp vanilla
1.5 - 2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
2 tbsp almond milk (more/less as needed)
Same protocol as before: cream Earth Balance and shortening, add vanilla and sugar, cream 'til smooth and add almond milk until you get the consistency you'd like.
Once the cake feels cool (depending how chilly the place you let it sit, it should take 20-30 minutes to cool properly), gently unroll it from the towel and roll each end part of the way back up to keep it from cracking.
Spread the vanilla buttercream and roll up as you go.
Place it seam side down on whatever you'll be serving it on (this particular cake I brought down to Jersey with me, so I just frosted it in the tupperware) and frost each end with espresso buttercream, sealing off the vanilla filling.
Frost the rest of the cake, and use a metal offset spatula or a butter knife to create a bark effect:
Some people leave their cake like that, or use a fork to create an even bark-ier texture, and if you'd like, use powdered sugar to look like a dusting of snow. Sometimes I'll make marzipan mushrooms to serve with it, and one of these years I'm going to make a smaller jellyroll and create a branch coming off the log. That's it! The whole thing only takes a little over an hour and it's a really tasty treat, with the lightness of the cake offsetting the sweetness of the frostings. A note about the filling: traditionally I used to fill the log with whipped cream rather than frosting, which I tried to emulate with vegan canned whip, to no avail. If you have a vegan whipped cream recipe that you think would keep it's shape and not absorb into the cake, I say give it a go (and send along the recipe!) but what's nice about using vanilla buttercream (aside from being seriously delicious) is that, unlike the cream, it's shelf stable, so you can leave it at room temperature and not have a firm buttercream when you slice into it. Alright, seeing as it's Epiphany today, and officially the end of Christmas, I have to go pack away my Christmas village and garlands and such. And start thinking about gifts for next year, naturally. But I'm not taking down my tree just yet. Not until the temperature gets back above, oh, 20 degrees. Speaking of which, best of luck to everyone affected by the snowy madness across the country! 72 days 'til Spring, folks!