Yule logs, called bûches de Noël here, are big in France over the Christmas holidays. They’re light and creamy and concorde beautifully with a glass or two of sparkling champagne. Baked in every pâtisserie around the country, they come in different sizes and flavours. My favourite flavour is chestnut. I was watching New York Times cook and food writer, Melissa Clark, make her yule log and thought it would be fun to compare her log with the log of a French chef.
What Melissa didn’t do, but the French chef did, once the cake was rolled up and also before it was rolled, was to brush it generously with a syrup made of sugared water and Cointreau. This moistens the cake and gives it added flavour. If children are eating the log, substitute the Cointreau with a mélange of sugared water, orange zest, vanilla pod and cinnamon stick. The French chef then rolled up his cake a lot tighter than Melissa did hers (I thought her roll-up was a bit loose). But what’s interesting is the icing. The French chef used a pastry piping bag and piped a fine line of icing onto the cake. This is neater than using a spatula. He made the whole operation look, well, effortless.