Thursday, December 24, 2015

Gingerbread Yule Log

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas..!! I am making my annual Yule Log (see herehere, and here!) - I even found a picture of my VERY first one from 10 years ago:

2005 - Peppermint and Chocolate

This year's flavor was a tough one to decide on, but we chose gingerbread cake with sweet cream ice cream, and cream cheese frosting. YUMMMMM!

Start with the ice cream since the custard base is supposed to chill for at least 4 hours before running it through the ice cream maker! 

Ingredients

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
⅔ cup sugar
⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
6 large egg yolks
Orange zest from 1/2 a large navel orange (approximately 1/2 tsp zest)

How To

1. In a small pot, simmer cream, milk, sugar and salt until sugar completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat. In a separate bowl, whisk yolks. Whisking constantly, slowly whisk about a third of the hot cream into the yolks, then whisk the yolk mixture back into the pot with the cream. Return pot to medium-low heat and gently cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer).

2. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Add the orange zest here - it will just be a hint of orange rather than mixing so well that it's orange-flavored ice cream! Cool mixture to room temperature. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.

3. Churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Serve directly from the machine for soft serve, or store in freezer until needed.

Meanwhile... start making the cake! I finally wised up and purchased parchment paper instead of wax paper - wax melts, smarty pants me, so of COURSE it always gets stuck on the outside of the cake!!

Ingredients

5 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
3/4 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

How To

1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks until pale, about 2 minutes. Add the molasses, the brown sugar and the fresh ginger and beat until combined. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, ground ginger, allspice, black pepper and salt. Beat the dry ingredients into the egg yolk mixture until combined.


2. In a clean bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar and beat until firm and glossy. Fold the egg whites into the batter until no streaks remain. Spread the batter onto the prepared baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned and firm to the touch. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes.

3. Sprinkle the cake with the remaining 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Run the blade of a sharp knife around the edge of the cake/parchment paper. Cover the cake with a clean kitchen towel and top with a large cutting board. Holding the pan, towel and cutting board, invert the cake onto the cutting board. Remove the pan and carefully peel off the parchment paper. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let the gingerbread cool completely. Remove the top towel and replace with parchment paper. Flip it over and then take of the other towel, and roll the cake up with only parchment paper touching the cake so it will easily unroll to add the ice cream.










Assembling the cake!

Absolutely, by far, the scariest part of making a yule log is assembling it... as you may recall 2 years ago, I had a bit of a mishap and luckily just made it tiramisu-style, and frankly, it still tastes great. But the POINT is that it is a LOG... and I missed that point. 
This year, IT WORKED THANK GOODNESS! The parchment paper helped, and once my ice cream was made (fresh out of the mixer it is soft-serve consistency), I was ready to go! I spread the ice cream on the cake, rolled it up, ate any leftover spillage (there was a lot...), and popped it into the freezer immediately! I actually left it in overnight to guarantee the ice cream would harden. Next, I made cream cheese frosting (I ran out of vanilla!!! How does that happen?! It worked without it just fine though, and I just added a tablespoon of milk to make it a bit thinner for smoothing), pulled the cake out of the freezer and put a massive amount of frosting all over the top. I heated up a spatula (dried it off, of course) and smoothed it out, and created a little indention for the "river". Then I stuck it back in the freezer while I made trees! Gum drops, peppermints, chocolate, kisses, blue gel icing, sparkly toppings, and powdered sugar "snow" helped make my little winter wonderland!

It is definitely not the traditional "ooh la la, how fancy" yule log I've done in the past, but it is my version of a gingerbread house, and I love it so much. Hooray for holidays!!! 

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