As my first contribution to our Wenchly Yuletide posts, I want to talk about the Yule log, which was a special, usually very large, log brought into the home to burn for the Christmas holidays. The custom is found in a number of European countries. Probably it was originally a pagan Germanic tradition that was repurposed for Christmas. I suspect the original meaning had to do with light and warmth in the depths of winter, and celebrating the winter solstice and the return of the sun.
But the French go one better: their Bûche de Noël–Yuletide log–is a spectacularly decadent log-shaped holiday cake. A sponge cake is baked in a shallow pan, then rolled into a cylinder with lavish amounts of butter cream icing inside and out. The outside is usually textured to look like bark, and the bûche is decorated with seasonal symbols such as meringue mushrooms or berries or little miniature trees.
I photographed these cakes at a local but very authentic French bakery called Bon Jour. The classic version is yellow cake with chocolate butter cream, but as you can see, variations are easy. Feast your eyes! And if you can find a good bakery that makes a Bûche de Noël, feast your taste buds as well. <G>
Happy holiday delights!
Mary Jo, who bought two of their miniature bûches for self and Mayhem Consultant.