Daring Baker's: A tale of 4 Buttercreams

Yes, it is indeed that time of month again, a bit early, when the food blogging world is enveloped in the creations of the Daring Baker's. I think it is safe to say that this can be the favorite time of month for many blog readers, who look forward to learning the secret recipe and seeing how different our identical recipe will turn out.

Oh boy are they in for alot of variations this month!

Now I can't recall how it came about, but instead of having one new Daring Baker host this month's challenge, we instead were treated to a double hosting by none other than our wonderful and fearless leaders, Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice, and Lis of La Mia Cucina! And they had a quite the challenge for us - A Yule Log!

Not just any yule log though, one made with a genoise cake, a meringue buttercream and either maripan or meringue mushrooms! Lots of steps, lots of ways to make the logs our own!

I decided to make mine a bit early, as usual, with an occasion in mind - parent teacher interviews and a teacher dinner. A few times a year, on nights when our schools teachers are going to be there quite late, a few of us volunteers donate various items and provide a meal for them. Call it a pot luck where we don't stay and eat anything. I volunteered to bring a dessert and took advantage of the opportunity to make my yule log early.

Which is where the "tale" of buttercream comes in. Get cozy, we are going to be here awhile....

I swear I almost pulled out my hair and gave up buttercream frostings forever! I kept having to remind myself, "Self! You have made croissants from scratch! You survived the dreaded crepe cake and lived to go on to puff pastry and cream puffs! You've made caramel swirls and twirled lots of hot sugar! There is not way a silly buttercream is going to defeat you now!"

My first attempt had me running to Tartlette for help. And help she tried, but that buttercream when into the garbage with a clunk!

Can you see the picture? Doesn't it look awful? For this one I believe my butter was still not warm enough, and I may not have heated my egg whites quite high enough (though after this attempt, Tartlette was kind enough to post the temperature we were aiming for on the DB blog, for all of us, which is 140F, btw.)

My next batch didn't even get a picture, but instead was poured down the drain with a plop, plop, plop.

Six sticks of butter wasted, so far. More out on my counter warming up to room temperature.

This awful picture is attempt #3. It was made the morning I needed to bring the Yule log into the school, on a day when I had to work all day and would have no time to run home and finish a dessert. Instead I took my cake, already filled with a chocolate ganache, rolled and cut, my lovely little meringue mushrooms (which were fun to make), an emergency batch of regular cake buttercream (icing sugar, chocolate and shortening), and some tools with me to work, along with this batch. I had hopes that a bit of a chill and then some hand mixing, might fix things a bit.

As you can see by the dark color of my log, so lovingly adorned with my cute mushrooms and dusted with "snow", it was a good thing I had that emergency icing with me. One more meringue buttercream down the drain. Four more egg whites gone, another 3 sticks of butter.

That's a full dozen eggs, 9 sticks of butter, and 3 cups of sugar, gone. If you are keeping track. I was. I was running out of ingredients and frankly, confidence and patience!

Tartlette was a very understanding lady, trying her best to see me through it, but my buttercreams were not cooperating! And I was getting angry and more and more stubborn about this - NO BUTTERCREAM IS GOING TO DEFEAT ME!!!

So I decided to break the rules and go looking for another meringue buttercream recipe. I was sure that Lis and Ivonne would be forgiving of me. Afterall, it's not like I didn't try. So who else would I turn to but Dorie for help? Yes, sure enough, there is one listed in Baking From My Home to Yours.

And you know what? Her recipe is identical in ingredients to the one we were using, except for the flavorings and .... I'D MADE IT BEFORE!!!!

So here I was, pulling out my hair, angry and frustrated and throwing ingredients down the drain trying to make a frosting, thinking I am a failure at a meringue buttercream when I wasn't. I was just missing a step or two.

As most of the Daring Baker's know now, the buttercream will curdle sometime while you are adding the butter in. Don't panic! It's okay! Just keep adding and when you are done, turn the mixer speed up and walk away for a few minutes! Let it mix and come together!

Which is what I did the next day, the day after I had committed to bringing in a lovely dessert to my children's school. Sure, they got a pretty yule log (and were highly complimentary about it the next day when I was in for my own interviews,) but it was not what I had planned or wanted to bring in. And of course now I had a batch of meringue buttercream and no yule log. No problem, however, as I had also committed to chocolate cupcakes with a chocolate frosting to my children's Tae Kwon-do Christmas party and now had a lovely, smooth, and light buttercream with which to decorate with.

I still had a need to make a "proper" yule log, and did just this past Thursday, with the help of my husband, for his work Christmas pot luck lunch. And this time my buttercream came out exactly as it was supposed to, the first and only time I had to make it! Yahoo!

I liked the mushrooms on this one better, and was happy to hear that many of my husband's co-workers though they were real mushrooms, decorating the dessert he had brought! Hehehe I knew they looked good but didn't think they looked that good!

And what I have learned from all of this? Well, first of all, I already knew I was stubborn. Now I know that I am VERY stubborn. I can pipe a mean mushroom, and can roll up a pretty cool Yule Log.

I also learned, when there was a small piece left over from the pot luck that I got to try, that I do not like this recipe. Lots of people ate it, and enjoyed it. I found it dull and boring, especially considering the work I put into it. Yes, the cake was moist and light. As was the buttercream, a fluff of chocolate (this one had been flavored with a 100g bar of Lindt 70% chocolate, so it was not lacking in chocolate flavor.) I just didn't enjoy the flavor.

Maybe it was tied to my emotions throughout the process. After the turmoil I'd experienced trying to get a finished product, I needed it to taste like the most amazing thing I had ever eaten!

Oh well, what are you going to do?

Personally, I'm going to now direct you over to the Daring Baker's Blogroll, where you can link to up to 400 other yule log baking experiences! For the recipe to make your own, be sure to visit either Lis or Ivonne.

Go on... I dare you!














45 comments:

glamah16 said...

Well you sure had your trials and tribulations with this one. In the end it was a success. And what better way to learn than to be challenged. Sorry the taste wasnt it for you. Its a once in year type of food for me. And I guess it all depends on the flavorings , etc.

Claire said...

I think I agree with you about this recipe. It was fairly bland in taste. Good job on perservering with the buttercream. I had the benefit of seeing other results and looking at the hints of how to avoid the problem. Great job!

Peabody said...

Buttercream is yet another pastry item that takes patience. So glad it finally worked out for you!

marias23 said...

Haha, I had a buttercream nightmare too but I'm glad you pulled through because it's totally worth it! Great job! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

breadchick said...

ROTFL!! You and that buttercream... Good for you for sticking to it and whisking it defeat!

Brilynn said...

I can't believe you had the patience to keep making the buttercream, I would have given up long ago, well done!

Lis said...

Aww sweetie, you sure did have a time of it. :( Ugh all those wasted ingredients! I have to agree with Brilynn.. I give you major credit, I would have given up after the 2nd try.

Your logs turned out beautifully and your mushrooms DO look real! =)

xoxo

LizG said...

Well done, Quellia! You're more than a Daring Baker, you're a Tenacious Baker. I tip my meringue-encrusted piping tip to you! Your log looks beautiful.

Tartelette said...

You don't know how nervous I was opening my inbox everyday...crossing all fingers it had worked...because I knew you knew your stuff! I think you were just visited by the evilbaking spirits...happens once in a while...
The Yule Log turned out gorgeous!
Happy Holidays to you and your family!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I really don't know what to say Jenny! Good grief baking is a strange and recurring mystery!
Most of these challenges take a lot of butter, sugar and all but this one for you surely must take the cake ;))
As breadchick says I'm so glad you were able to whisk it to defeat!
I think people have the wrong idea about stubborn - I find it very helpful at times.
You rock Jenny.

Meeta said...

What an odyssey jenny! But like a true and mighty Db you won over the buttercream. I am sure you are standing a few inches taller now!! Love it!

Megan said...

Wow, I had trouble with my buttercream but your story takes the cake. Heehee, Get it? Takes the cake! Heehee.

Hilda said...

I applaud your stubbornness (I'm kind of like that myself), thankfully this challenge didn't get the best of me like I thought it would. Really great looking outcome!

BC said...

Well done. I flavoured my cake with orange zest and used only chocolate, no liquor, for the buttercream. I almost feel guilty because it worked perfectly.

Katie said...

Well done for persisting. I think the end result look brilliant.

Baking Soda said...

Travelled thigh high through butter and survived! Well done Jenny, a well deserved tip of the hat to you

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I hear you with the trials! This ws certainly not the easiest challenge! Yours turned out great though - nice save!

steph- whisk/spoon said...

all that waste--heartbreaking! i'm glad to hear you did get a perfect buttercream in the end, though.

Cheryl said...

You definitely get the most persistent award. So awesome. I think both versions you made are great.

Jenny said...

See? You can make meringue buttercream! Go you!

creampuff said...

I just love happy endings ... especially at Christmas time! Your log is gorgeous. Happy Holidays to you and your family!

Elisabeth said...

You definitely deserve the Most Persistent Award. I would have given up for sure. Good for you!

Beth G. said...

WOO-HOO! It looks awesome and you are amazing for trying and trying again :O) Great Job!!

Lunch Buckets said...

Glad you got to finally show that buttercream who's boss!

Mary said...

My buttercream looked like your #3. After all those attempts I'm glad to hear that you were sucessful in the end. Happy Holidays!

70% cocoa said...

My heart goes out to you with all that buttercream madness. At least you know you weren't the only one. I really admire your tenacity though - it shows great character!

cerisegourmand said...

I had problems with my buttercream too! Glad us DBakers managed to conquer this buttercream revolt! Great looking log! Merry Christmas!

Dolores said...

I'm glad you stuck it out and didn't let that buttercream get the best of you!

Merry Christmas to you and your family, and best wishes for a happy, healthy 2008!

Veron said...

I'm glad you finally found a way. It looks great, Jenny! By the way, I had my buttercream curdle on me before but if you continue whisking it with the Ka whisk , it should come together in about 10 to 15 minutes. Beats having to redo it.

Fruit tart said...

How frustrating but good for you to keep trying! I love your logs, especially the dusting of 'snow'.

Julius said...

Congrats on conquering buttercream.

You've discovered the secret of Swiss Meringue Buttercream: just keep whipping past the curdling until it becomes silky.

Happy Holidays.

Julius from Occasional Baker

Ilva said...

I think buttercream is one of those fickle things life's made of, you never know when it's going to function...

Rachel said...

Woah you sure did havea tough time but you stuck through right? That is what matters..

Gretchen Noelle said...

I am very impressed at your many attempts to make the buttercream! The cake turned out very nice. But I do agree, the taste did not wow me.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A wonderful log! I also had the same problem as you with the buttercream...

Cheers,

Rosa

Half Baked said...

Well despite it all your log turned out lovely. Glad you got the buttercream to work for you!

Deborah said...

Oh my goodness!! You are so dedicated! I think I would have given up if mine wouldn't have turned out the first time. I admire you!

Jen Yu said...

You get the award for perseverance on that buttercream frosting. Good on ya for conquering it! I think the end result is quite nice, don't you? Congratulations on a job well done.

jen at use real butter

The Baker & The Curry Maker said...

Wow, well done on getting there in the end. I would have given up! It looks great though, it was great to read your experience.

Andrea said...

Wow, good for you for persevering! And I think your cake turned out beautiful! Happy New Year!

Shandy said...

It is so hard not to be proud of you for all your effort in making this Daring Baker Challenge work, and I think that making it for a teacher potluck must have added so much more pressure! I know they could see all the effort and time, along with care that you put into this. A lot of people appreciate it because they couldn't imagine themeselves being able to do something like that! BTW, presevering and not easily deterred from an obstacle is so muuch nicer then stubborn. I can't believe you did this challenge twice! Hugs for a great job and Happy New Years! =D
Shandy@Pastry Heaven

coco said...

I enjoyed reading your post.. really nice style of writing :)

Gabi said...

Wow you are not only a Daring Baker- you are a dedicated, determined and die-hard baker too! :)

Sorry you had so many problems and so glad you conquered it in the end- also sorry it took me so long to come read about it- I'm trying to catch up!
Best wishes for lots of happy baking in the the new year!
xoxo
Gabi

Bake your cake and eat it too said...

Your log looks wonderful, all the hard work paid off!

Kevin said...

The yule log looks good. I had some trouble with the butter cream as well though I was able to get something usable out of the first batch. Otherwise I would have had to run out to get more butter.