"There is not Noël without a bûche – many bûches, in fact, in our family. It is the traditional Christmas cake in France, and we stick to that tradition with absolute delight. Mamie Gilberte makes it with a simple salted chocolate crème au beurre, and my Auntie Christine makes it with a coffee crème au beurre – both are very delicious! My favourite is a three-chocolate version – dark-chocolate génoise, white chocolate mousse and milk chocolate whipped ganache." – Manon Lagrève
- For the génoise:
- 120 g caster sugar
- 3 T warm water
- ³/₄ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 T cornflour (cornstarch)
- 2 T cocoa powder
- a pinch of salt
- For the white chocolate mousse:
- 150 g white chocolate
- 1 cup double cream
- For the milk chocolate ganache (montée):
- 300 g pâtissière (or 35%) milk chocolate
- generous 1 cup double cream
- 50 g salted butter, at room temperature, diced
- For the syrup:
- ½ cup water
- 50 g caster sugar
- 1 t vanilla extract
- icing sugar, for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan (400°F/gas 6).
2. Make the génoise: separate the egg yolks and whites into two bowls. Add the sugar and warm water to the egg yolks and whisk energetically for a couple of minutes. Stir in the flour, cornflour, cocoa and salt, and mix together with a spatula.
3. Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and mix with an electric mixer for 5–7 minutes until stiff peaks form. Add half of the egg whites to the egg yolk mixture and whisk well. Fold in the rest of the egg whites gently, using a spatula.
4. Lay some baking paper on a shallow baking sheet and spread the génoise over evenly with a spatula. Bake for 10–12 minutes in the oven until softly brown.
5. Cover the warm génoise with a clean, damp tea (dish) towel. Turn the baking sheet upside down onto the towel, remove the baking paper, and roll up the génoise using the tea towel. Put in the fridge until completely cooled.
6. Make the white chocolate mousse: break the white chocolate into a medium heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to the boil in a pan over a medium heat, then pour over the white chocolate. Gently mix with a spatula until the white chocolate is fully melted. Transfer to the fridge until it is time to assemble the bûche.
7. Next, make the milk chocolate ganache: roughly grate the chocolate with a knife into a large, heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to the boil over a medium heat, then pour over the chocolate and let it sit for 30 seconds. Use a spatula to gently whisk to create a silky smooth ganache, then whisk in the diced butter to melt. Place the bowl in the freezer to set for 30 minutes.
8. Finally, make the syrup: in a pan, combine the water, sugar and vanilla extract and bring to the boil. Cook for 5 minutes until the syrup thickens.
9. When you are ready to assemble the bûche, whisk the white chocolate ganache until light and soft using a handheld electric whisk, then fill a piping bag with the mix. Do the same with the milk chocolate ganache in a separate piping bag.
10. Now it’s time to assemble the bûche. Gently remove the cloth inside the génoise and unroll the sponge onto a large piece of cling film (plastic wrap). Use a pastry brush to spread the syrup all over the génoise, then pipe the white chocolate mousse on top and roll it up again tightly using the cling film, securing it at each end. Put in the fridge for 15 minutes to set.
11. When ready to serve, cover the rolled-up sponge with the milk chocolate mousse and create a bark effect by drawing lines with a spatula. Decorate with Christmas decorations and sprinkle with icing sugar.
Extract reproduced with permission from Et Voilà by Manon Lagrève, published by Welbeck. Photography: Nassima Rothacker. Price: R510