December 23, 2007

Chestnut Yule Log - Gluten Free

A December Daring Baker's Challenge

This month's Daring Baker's Challenge for a Yule Log is brought to us by Lis of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs In Venice. Yule Log's have a long tradition going back to Scandinavia when a decorated pine log was burned in the family fireplace at Christmas. Then during the late 18th to early 19th century the yule log or "Buche de Noel" was translated into a dessert served during the Christmas season in France.

The Daring Baker's hail from around the world and not all of us celebrate the holidays or Christmas. So Lis and Ivonne wanted our December baking challenge to be about the "sharing of warmth and light...something that we all need in our lives, regardless of race, creed or religion."

I was very excited about this month's baking challenge, since this is one of those holiday desserts that I have missed since being gluten free. While at Whole Foods last week, my daughter and I checked out the pastry counter to see if they would have any gluten free cakes or yule logs for the holidays. My daughter was so saddened to learn that the yule logs and other pastries they had were all made from wheat and we couldn't bring any home. I told her not to worry as I was going to make one of those lovely cakes for us for Christmas. The smile on her face was so delightful...I had made her day.

My version of the Daring Baker's Yule log is based on the classic chestnut flavor that is typically found in the butter cream filling. My cake has chestnut flour, the butter cream filling has chestnut spread in it and the outer log covering is chocolate chestnut butter cream. I used chia seed meal as the binder for the cake. Then I made marzipan mushrooms to decorate the log.


This recipe is in 3 parts. First is the recipe for the plain genoise, second the chestnut & chocolate chestnut butter cream and then the marzipan.

Plain Genoise

2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
dash of sea salt
6 Tb cane sugar
1 Tb brown rice flour
1 Tb sweet rice flour
1 Tb arrowroot starch
1 Tb chestnut flour*
2 Tb corn starch
1 Tb chia seed meal

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and set an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Then line a 11 1/2 in x 7 1/2 in x 1 in pan with parchment paper.

2. Fill a medium sauce pan half full with water and bring it to a simmer.

3. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Place over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is lukewarm (100 degrees Fahrenheit). Remove from the pan and return the mixing bowl back to the mixer.

4. Using the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled and tripled in volume. The egg foam will be thick and will form a slowly dissolving ribbon falling back into the bowl of whipped eggs when the whisk is lifted.

5. While the eggs are whipped, stir together the flours and cornstarch.

6. Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder.

7. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

8. Bake the genoise for 10 minutes. Make sure that the cake doesn't overbake and become too dry or it will not roll properly.

9. While the cake is baking, being making the butter cream.

10. Once the cake is done (a tooth pick will come out clean and if you press the cake lightly it will spring back), remove it from the oven and let it cool on a rack.

Chestnut Butter Cream & Chocolate Chestnut Butter Cream:

2 large egg whites
1/2 cup cane sugar
2 sticks butter, softened
1 Tb + 1 tsp chestnut spread**
1 Tb vanilla extract
1 Tb cocoa powder (saved for the second half of the butter cream)

1. Turn the heat back on the pan of water on the cook top. Make sure the water comes to a simmer.

2. Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

3. Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk on medium speed until cooled. Switch to the paddle attachment and beat the softened butter and continue beating until the butter cream is smooth. Then dump in the chestnut spread and vanilla extract and beat together.

Note: If the butter cream curdles or separated once the vanilla extract and chestnut spread goes in, then remove a quarter of the butter cream and place in a measuring cup or other heat proof bowl. Place into the simmering water and warm until the butter begins to melt a little bit. Return to the mixing bowl and rewhip. It should come back together.

4. After spreading some of the chestnut filling over the genoise, return the mixing bowl to the mixer. Then dump in the cocoa powder and whip into the butter cream. This butter cream will be used for the outside of the yule log.

Filling and Frosting the Log:

1. Lift the genoise out of the pan by the sides of the parchment paper.

2. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and then turn the genoise over (unmolding it from the jelly roll pan onto the parchment paper) and peel away the paper.

3. Spread about half the chestnut butter cream over the genoise.

4. Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder.

5. Transfer the parchment covered cake back to the baking sheet and refrigerate for several hours.

6. Unwrap the cake. With a sharp knife cut off one end on the diagonal.

7. Place the smaller piece of the log on top of the larger log.

8. Cover the log with the chocolate chestnut butter cream, make sure to curve around the piece placed on top as a protruding stump.

9. Streak the butter cream with a fork or a decorating comb to resemble bark.

10. Transfer the log to a platter and decorate with your mushroom or other decorations you've chosen.

Marzipan Mushrooms:

4 oz. almond paste***
1 cup + 1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 Tb agave syrup

1. Combine the almond paste and the powdered sugar in the mixing bowl of an electric mixer. Beat with a paddle attachment on low speed until the sugar is almost absorbed.

2. Add the agave syrup and continue mixing until the marzipan holds together when squeezed.

3. Transfer the marzipan to a work surface and knead until smooth.

4. Roll out small balls of the marzipan for the bases of the mushrooms. Roll the balls into logs.

5. Roll out medium sized balls of the marzipan and for the mushroom tops. Shape each ball over a finger tip to allow for a bowl type shape for the tops.

6. Trim a toothpick into a smaller piece, then push the toothpick into the base of the mushroom. Some of the toothpick should be sticking out above the mushroom base. Place the mushroom top on this piece of the toothpick.

7. Dust the mushroom with cocoa powder.

8. Dust the entire yule log with powdered sugar to simulate snow.

What did my family think of the yule log? They thought it was wonderful and had a nice flavor. My daughter decided that the Yule Log should be a new family tradition for us at Christmas.

* My chestnut flour is from Dowd & Rogers and I have bought it from both Whole Foods and

** My chestnut spread is by Clement Faugier. Privas. I purchased it from Whole Foods.

*** I used Almond Paste from Love'n Bake as it is wheat free. I purchased it from Whole Foods.


Ben said...

Yummy! This is a great gluten free alternative for this month's DB challenge. I am thinking of using it for one of my friends who can't eat gluten. Thank you for visiting my blog, I am subscribing to yours right away.

Happy Holidays to you too!

Helene said...

Wow..having talked about it before I am thrilled to see the result! Gorgeous! I am glad to see that the chia seed meal works! What sweet feeling it must be to see your little girl's smile about it.
Happy holidays to you and your loved ones!

The Caked Crusader said...

What a classy looking log! Good job!

Happy christmas

thepassionatecook said...

wow, i am always amazed at how well you can bake without gluten... i could never do it! your log looks fantastic and i bet it tasted great too - i love chestnuts,the addition of chestnut flour makes it even more christmassy to me!
merry christmas!

Dianne said...

I'm impressed and I dont get impressed easily. Your baking skills are becoming truly awesome! It looks divine!

D :)

Karen Baking Soda said...

Again, awestruck by your ingenuity to make a "regular" recipe glutenfree. Very daring to add chestnut in all components, particularly in the cake, I think that adds a nice nutty flavour!

Thistlemoon said...

Congrats on making a beautiful gluten free Yule Log! I am sure your daughter was happy to be able to have such a beautiful creation that YOU made!

Beautiful job and so full of holiday cheer!

Have a joyous holiday.

Lunch Buckets said...

Nice log, and gloriously gluten-free - lucky kids :)

Unknown said...

Looks like your cake came out wonderfully. I hope you daughter enjoyed it!

Peabody said...

A great adaptation...what a treat for your daughter. Excellent job.

Beth G. @SweetLifeKitchen said...

Your log looks fantastic, and the way you tied it all together with chestnut sounds delicious!

glamah16 said...

It amazes me on how you come up with great gluten free alternatives. Merry Christams to you and your family.

Lis said...

As per usual, you blow me away with your adaptations of a wheat flour recipe.

Your log is gorgeous and I absolutely love the chestnut/chocolate combination!


Andrea said...

The chestnut combination sounds wonderful! Your cake really turned out great!

Susan said...

Your daughter must have been thrilled. It looks beautiful and the chestnut sounds delicious!

Kate said...

I'm on my way to the asian market today - I am going to have to pick up some chestnut flour to try. YUM!

Happy Holidays to you too!

Anonymous said...

Wow this looks very labor-intensive but impressive!

Thanks for stopping by my blog. It was a pleasure to find yours!

Happy Holidays to you and your family!

Simply...Gluten-free said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog. I am so happy to have found yours, really great! And about this yule log - Wow! this is so impressive. I am going to keep this in mind for next year.

Happy New Year!

Mrs. G.F. said...

Great job!! This looks beautiful.


Happy Holidays!

Dolores said...

Baking's all about making people smile... how wonderful that you could present such a beautiful gluten-free confection for your little one.

I hope you had a happy holiday, and the 2008 brings you health and happiness, laughter and love.

LizNoVeggieGirl said...

once again, you've blown me away with your uncanny ability to make ANY recipe (especially for the Daring Bakers Challenges) gluten-free - kudos!!

happy holidays!! :0)

Julius said...

Beautiful bûche de Noël!

Happy Holidays.

Julius from Occasional Baker

Deborah said...

Your chestnut version sounds delicious! Wonderful job!

Jen Yu said...

One of my favorite parts of getting around to the DB posts is coming to your site. I am always impressed with how successfully you make these gluten free. It's gorgeous! You are an inspiration :)

jen at use real butter

Nora B. said...

Hi Natalie,

You did such a fantastic job with adapting the yule log. This will be a good reference point for me when I have to make something for my friend who has a gluten-free diet.


Tanya said...

Wow, looks great!
It took the guy at my whole foods about half an hour to find the almond paste-- I couldn't find it at all!

Sea said...

Such a gorgeous recipe and photo- I'm very impressed. And after a few weeks drooling over the cakes and sweets in Austria, I'm inspired enough to try it- how yummy!


Natalie, aka "Sheltie Girl" said...

Fellow DBers - Thank you for all the wonderful comments. I'm looking forward to our challenge in January and visiting all of your blogs too.

Happy New Year!

Sheltie Girl