Do As the French Do; Serve a Bûche de Noël

buche de noel

The French always turn up the heat when it comes to desserts. Seriously, let us count the ways: le gateaux du roi, croissant, pain au chocolat, macarons, crêpe suzette, mille-feuille, creme brûlée, flans, profiteroles, and being served in approximately one day in all French homes, the bûche de Noël. Which got (some) people thinking, “What is a bûche de Noël?” So we turned to the local French expert, Thierry Beaud, of Paneterie (a French pastry shop and our daily morning stop for breakfast) in West Palm Beach, Fla., for a little schooling on this traditionally-chestnut-filled,-silky-chocolate-buttercream-with-adorable-marzipon-mushrooms-and-other decoratives log.

M&V: What’s the history behind the buche de noel?
BEAUD: Bûche de Noël is often referred to as the yule log. It’s a traditional holiday dessert in France but the origin is related to the celebration of end of the winter season. People would gather together during the final days of December to welcome the Winter Solstice—the end of their winter season—and would burn wood logs that were garnished in pines cones and holly berries, then keep the ashes for good luck.  The concept eventually evolved into a dessert that resembles the actually yule log, and is now enjoyed throughout the holiday season.

M&V: Should I just buy rather then try to bake one?
BEAUD: The yule log is not known to be the easiest holiday treat to create, so yes, I recommend entrusting the task to our Master Pastry Chef Patrick Leze. But for those that wish to attempt, the bûche de Noël is essentially a sponge cake that, once baked, is layered out in one long layer, filled with buttercream, then rolled into a cylinder, then topped with icing.  The frosted sponge cake is then adorned with festive holiday decorations and typically modified to resemble a Yule log. Flavors and ingredients can vary, and some use jams and other fillings, in place of frosting for the inside layer.

M&V: As Frenchmen it’s more or less a requirement for you to serve this dish. Right?
BEAUD: Patrick Leze Palm Beach and Paneterie are both authentic French bakeries; therefore, their menus reflect that in every way from chocolate truffles and macarons to the artisanal sandwiches. There are great bakeries in the area that serve up classic holiday treats, and although we do offer traditional American desserts, our specialty is and always will be our French delicacies.

M&V: During the holiday/winter season does your dessert menu tend to change?
BEAUD: Our café menus mostly remain the same, but specialty items like cakes, pies and cookies do change to reflect seasonal ingredients and holiday traditions.  Apple and pecan pies, for example, are featured on our seasonal product menu in the fall and are typically flying off the shelves.  One of the most exciting things about the change of seasons is the ability to enjoy the tastes, flavors and limited time treats that go hand in hand with them, as well as the holidays they each contain.  Through our seasonal creations, we get to help bring the spirit of the holiday to the community and to our customers.

 

 

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