Celebration! celebration! It starts with this….
The story is very simple. If there is a time of year when I wish I were in my home country France, this would be one, not for the celebration of Beaujolais nouveau, la fête de la musique or smell lavender in Provence (although those things sound pretty good to me), but to be able to admire the patisserie windows, where beautiful bûches de Noël are going to rival against each other. I have the best memories of waiting for Christmas day to come, when finally la bûche was going to have its place on the table.
Let’s have a bit of history here.
Typically, the tradition across Europe was to have people burn a log (bûche) in the fireplace on Christmas Eve. In France, the tradition had this addition: you had to burn as many logs as there were people in the household. This was producing heat and light, very important elements in this festive time, and both were a way to celebrate the sun. In Provence, some wine would be poured over la Cossa de Nadau (la bûche de Noël in occitan). With it, there were a lot of beliefs; amongst those, one believed that if shadows were projected on the wall because of its light, some family members would die that year. Let’s stop the list here.
The log was supposed to burn and last for the duration of the evening, a minimum of 12 hours. Unfortunately that was not always possible, hence a way to prolong this time was to create this delicious cake.
There are hundreds of recipes for this cake, which base is a simple sponge cake that is rolled, just so that it looks like a log. As much as the sponge cake quality is important, the fun resides not in the cake, but in the fillings! As long as I remember, I was aways hoping, dreaming, that the flavour of the year would be chocolate (yes, I am a real chocoholic!). Nowadays, you can find as many possibilities as there are patissiers across the French country! Almost! And I have come to realize that chocolate is not the only thing!
Last year, I wanted to experiment with a different flavour and made the following one with kumquats.
Beautiful unusual fruit that is perfect at this time of year. Delicacy of the fruit. This dessert is very light and ceremonial.
I quite like your latest entry-the part about logs per person is new to me.
Lovely dessert and although chocolate is divine, fun to experiment.
Lulu has a great recipe with fennel-
Baked Bream with Fennel pg. 156
We have done it a few times- very nice.
Get Bream from New Deal, our fish guy.
Thanks for posting this. I just watched a show today on Food
Network that featured the buche de Noel. I was inspired to try
one this year! I was curious about the origin of this tradition
so I went surfing the net looking for it and came across your blog.
I will have to check back to see what else you are posting. If
you want to see their log recipe here it is.
Thank you Melissa! I had a look at the recipe and will be curious to hear your results with it. It always gives the cook a feeling of accomplishment when you bring la bûche de Noël on the table.
I am a Mauritian residing in Flroida. I miss my french pastries a lot and specially the Buche de Noel. I was looking for the origin of the logs when I came across your site. Thank you for helping me – I need this for my daughter’s school project.
I know Garden of Eden [South End] is supposed to be lovely but your version certainly looks much cleaner, more inviting and welcoming.
Of course, I am not a fan of sweets and frou-frou things.
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