Monday, December 29, 2008

Gluten Free Yule Log or Buche de Noel

There is something about traditions and Christmas. There are certain things that always happen that help to define how your family spends Christmas, and it wouldn't seem like Christmas without it.

As my first gluten free Christmas, our family didn't have a lot of things that we usually have. Probably mostly because I didn't have a lot of time to bake, and everything got really busy with me coming home from school.

But as you already know, I was begged to make a "gluten free yule log." And I did. I followed the recipe exactly, substituting Bob's Red Mill All Purpose baking flour for the Bisquick originally called for in the recipe. I also had to add leavening agent, since Bisquick comes with it already in the mix, and also some xanthan gum, so the thing gluten free flour wouldn't become overly crumbly, since it is lacking the gluten usually present in wheat flour which holds the product together.

My families reactions were priceless. At about 9:15 pm last night, the boys each had a piece. I was worried, to say the least. I know that I followed the recipe, and that my substitutions should work fine, but when I was making it I let my brother have a "lick" of the batter. He quickly screwed up his face and said, "Oooh, man. That tastes bitter. There is some funny taste in there." That comment was very discouraging, but I figured it must be the raw taste of the beans in gluten free flour which are extremely bitter and yucky tasting before they are cooked, so I moved on. When I saw their faces and heard their reactions, I knew that I should not have been so worried.

My brother, G, cut the log and served a piece for my Dad and himself. They each took forks and cautiously dug into it. They put it in their mouth and chewed. Their faces changed, their eyes lit up and they began to chew more quickly. They looked at me out of the corner of their eye, and proceed to eat more without saying anything. I waited expectantly.

My Dad looked at me and said "wow." My brother declared he wanted another piece. That is all the confirmation I needed.

-Update 1/1/10- This year I brought a gluten free Yule log to my family celebration. They all declared (and my relatives all eat wheat) that this is the best yule log they have ever tasted. They preferred the light and airy texture over the heaviness of the traditional wheat batter. What a blessing to hear!

Gluten Free Yule Log
makes one Buche de Noel
serves ~14 people

4 REAL eggs (from grassfed chickens)
3/4 cup of Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour and 1 Tbsp coconut flour (both to total 3/4 cup)
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 heaping Tbsp cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli Unsweetened)
1 tsp vanilla
1 pint raw milk whipping cream (for the insides)
1 deep cookie sheet 10x15 (edges of the pan need to be at least an inch)
butter (for greasing the pan)
wax paper
confection sugar (for dusting)
1 tea cloth (I use an old linen calendar)

*Chocolate Frosting - I just threw this together, so these are just estimates
2 cups confection sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 sticks grassfed Kerrygold butter, softened
6 Tbsp raw whole milk

Prepping for the Yule Log:
1. Preheat to 400 degrees.
2. Take the cookie sheet and with some soft room temperature butter, take a paper in your fingers and get a hunk of butter. Rub it onto the insides of the cookie sheet, enough to grease it, but not in excess, making sure to get the whole plane of the sheet as well as all the corners and sides. The cookie sheet should look shiny and feel slimy.
3. Measure out a piece of wax paper to fit the pan, and place it on the buttered cookie sheet. Press the wax paper down onto the sheet so it fits into corners and stays put to the edges. It will hang off the sides a little. Don't worry, it doesn't have to be perfect, but you will need a few inches on both sides of the pan to lift out the cake with so don't cut off the ends short.
4. Butter the top of the wax paper that you just pressed into the buttered sheet. Yes, two layers of butter, one on the sheet and one on the wax paper.

Making the Yule Log batter:

5. In your upright stand mixer (my mom has had her Sunbeam mixter since she got married, meaning its almost 30 years old!) add all 4 eggs and salt. Beat until thick, glossy and lemon colored. Don't worry if it has bubbles, but don't try to make them.
6. Separately, in a smaller bowl, mix the sugar and cocoa together. Gradually add this mixture to the eggs, beating well after each addition. Then add the vanilla.
7. Next mix together the xanthan gum, GF flour and baking powder and add to the wet egg-cocoa mixture. Beat until smooth. Be sure to thoroughly scrap the sides to make sure all the chocolate gets mixed in. The batter may be a little thin or a little thick depending on your ingredients. Each outcome is fine and will not affect the final product.
8. Pour the batter evenly into the greased + waxed papered pan, and smooth with a spatula.
9. Place it in the oven for anywhere from 10-12 minutes (it will be on the quicker side).
10. While it is cooking lay out the tea towel and sprinkle it generously with powdered sugar.
11. When the cake is out of the oven loosen the edges of the cake and grasping the wax paper lift it out of the pan, flipping it onto the sugar covered towel. Do this fast- take it out, tip it right over.
12. Gently peel off the wax paper from the cake and roll up the cake in the towel.
13. Let the cake cool. While it is cooling, whip up the cream. I highly recommend putting the attachments and mixing bowl in the fridge or freezer while you prepare the cake, that way everything will be really cold for whipping the cream and the cream will whip up better. When the cake is cooled, gently unroll it (do not force it flat) and frost the inside with the whipped cream. Then roll it back up, without the tea towel this time.
14. Put the Yule Log on the platter you plan to serve it with. Cut off the ends if it gets a little burnt or if it is uneven. Use one of the rolled up ends and place it on top, like a stump coming off of the log. If some cream squirts out, place it into the stump before you frost the whole cake.
15. Make the chocolate frosting in a smaller mixing bowl with your stand mixer. Frost the log. *Feel free to use your favorite chocolate frosting recipe. Frosting is quite versatile, and should be adjusted to your own tastes - you can make it however buttery, chocolately, or creamy you want!
16. Decorate it however you like. The traditional way is to sprinkle coconut on top of the chocolate frosting to look like snow and then put some red and green MMs on top to look like berries and leaves. If you do not have MMs or cannot eat them (I cannot) then just improvise and use whatever you wish. I have even used strawberries before! You can also use a fork to draw horizontal lines along the sides to give it some extra "log" texture.
17. Put it in the fridge to set over night. Enjoy!

This process looks really long, but it is actually quite quick and very fun. I have watched my Mom do this for years, ever since I was little! Have a friend or relative help you while playing some Christmas music and you will have a blast!

On another note, this basic Yule Log recipe is not mine. It has been passed down in my family for years. On the back of my mom's recipe card there is a cut out from some newspaper or magazine. My grandmother started the tradition years ago, so we are not quite sure where the original recipe came from. I do want to give credit to whoever the person that originally created this recipe. Lastly, the adaptions to make it gluten free where entirely my own.

Happy New Year! And good luck with your Yule Log.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas

My first post. Welcome to my blog. I am jumping into the land of gluten free blogging head first. Oh, the joyous anticipation!

Now for Christmas. It was wonderful, but it seemed to lack something.

For the past week I've been baking more than usual.. (mostly because it's Christmas time, and I am home from school and that in itself = baking). It's been muffins one day, cookies and quick bread for my brother the next, and an attempt at a homemade cereal today (which I burnt a little... oops, still tastes good!).

This year though, many of the traditional things that appear like Yule Log, date balls, Christmas cookies, and lemon bread are nowhere to be found. It has been different, but this is my first gluten free Christmas along with my other "special dietary needs." Finding out about food intolerances and allergies certainly changes things.

The boys, (brother G and Dad), have requested Yule Log. Yesterday at dinner, as we were talking about food for the week, they had a revelation, "Where's the Yule Log!? THAT'S what's missing! Can you please make one?!" My brother is the only one in the house that eats wheat. I cannot, my father cannot, and my mother is realizing that she really should not. So when brother comes home, wheat comes to the house. We do not keep a strictly gluten free kitchen, but my hope is that we will some day.

Yule Log is tradition for our family, and it does not seem like Christmas without one, we have it every year. My Grandmother on my Dad's side started the tradition a long time ago. Funny, since it is a Scandinavian tradition turned French (I think), that we as a German family should hold to it. Me and my Mom's gluten free attempt at Yule Log will be an interesting endeavor, hopefully not unsuccessful. It should not be too hard to swap the flour for some gluten free flour.

We will have to see won't we?