Christmas 2009 Baking

December 26, 2009

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! I did lots of baking but I don’t have photos of all of it. In fact, I have even less photos than I thought! I did one round of baking for friends, my hairdresser, and the dog groomer, and then another round of baking for our families.

In Round 1, I made mini Grand Marnier Bundt Cakes, Dog Biscuits, Four-Seed Snapper Crackers (my post here and recipe here), and Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti (from Martha Stewart’s Cookies). I packaged the treats in plastic bags with a silver twist-tie and a tag, and then put the small bags into a gift bag.

The smaller bag in front is full of dog biscuits

In Round 2, I made Tribute to Katharine Hepburn Brownies ( my post here and recipe here), Chocolate Meringues (from Martha Stewart’s Cookies), Sablés (my post here and recipe here), white chocolate dipped pretzels, more Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti, shortbread cutout cookies (like these, but Christmas-y), and an oatmeal/chocolate/caramel bar cookie from my grandma’s recipe collection. And somehow, all I have is a photo of the meringues. These treats I packed into Glad containers with a Christmas design, which isn’t as fancy, but it is a lot easier and certainly practical.

Time for dessert!

The pièce de résistance was the yule log cake (Bûche de Noël) I made for Christmas Eve dessert with my family. I stressed a lot about this, but it turned out nice, was a great conversation piece, and tasted good. The meringue mushrooms were cute and a fun addition to the dessert.

A yule log cake is a sponge cake baked in a thin layer and rolled around a filling. It is then covered with ganache or frosting and decorated to look like a log. The cake and meringue mushroom recipes I used are from the Ultimate Yule Log Cake recipe in Cook’s Illustrated Holiday Baking 2006. (Cook’s Illustrated is not OK with their recipes appearing in blogs, so I will respect their wishes and will not publish the recipes). Instead of the filling and ganache from that recipe, I filled the cake with sweetened whipped cream and frosted it with a basic chocolate frosting. I think sponge cake is usually a blah tasting cake, but the chocolate version was very tasty. Add in some whipped cream and frosting and it’s even tastier.

The cake cracked when I initially rolled it; I was able to get it filled with the cream and roll it again, but then I had to re-think my plan to spread on the frosting with a spatula. I think it would have been a big mess. I decided to pipe on the frosting with a large star tip; it didn’t disturb the cake or whipped cream, and did kind of look like bark. You’ll notice that there are actually two logs on the platter; the recipe called for a half-sheet pan (18×12″). I don’t have a half-sheet pan, and if I did, it wouldn’t fit into my oven (which is why I don’t have one!). Instead, I used two pans that added up to the same number of square inches as the large pan, and the result was Log and Log Jr. It worked out fine, plus a larger log wouldn’t have fit on my platter.

That’s Christmas 2009 in a nutshell. Now we all need to rest up for New Year’s Eve!


  1. WOW! That’s quite a bit of baking!

    I am so envious of your meringues…I do not have a steady hand and mine are always uneven!

    Your buche de noel is beautiful and those meringue mushrooms are adorable!

    I hope you had a very Merry Christmas!

  2. Holy macaroni! You did a LOT of baking. I did too, and can’t believe I didn’t take any pictures. Oh well.

    I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

  3. Dear Jill great baking you did ! I cooked a lot and took no photos either !! I wish yyou a very happy new year !!

  4. Merry belated Christmas and early Happy New Year! I received a “make your own” dog treat kit and just looked up your recipe. I am going to try it this week for my Patches! I will let you know if she also gives it “Two paws up!”

  5. Merry Xmas Jill!! What fabulous baked treats – and lucky recipients. Your buche de Noel is a triumph – love it.

  6. those are some lucky recipients!! your yule log looks great too!

  7. What wonderful gifts! The yule log is fantastic, the mushrooms are especially impressive. It’s hard to remember to take photos when you’re busy, isn’t it?

  8. Everything looks delicious and so pretty all wrapped up! I think the Yule log came out amazingly well!

  9. Wow…. VERY impressed Jill – everything looks so nicely wrapped and decorated. How wonderful – I love your yule log! I attempted one but without the “bark” frosting… I figured I made it that far.. didn’t want to ruin anything. Merry belated Christmas!

  10. I love all your holiday baking treats, Jill, and the way you packaged them. Gifts from the kitchen are the best!

  11. I bought the same mini bundt pan you have and went on a search for a good recipe. I tried yours and I’m thrilled with the results. Thank you so much for putting you “Millionaire’s Bundt Cake” on line for me to find. (Grand Marnier Chocolate Bundt).

    • Hi Regina, thanks so much for letting me know that you tried it and liked it. I love that cake too!

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