Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving Round-up and Pumpkin Roulade (Bûche d'Automne)

Well, I rolled into work today after yesterday's chow fest that was the belated Sunday Thanksgiving. Our mainly Italian (plus 1 German) guests were rather entertained at the idea of participating in an American holiday made famous by Hollywood films - all Italians know about turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, so getting a chance to actually eat them is a kick. Think of how fun it would be to go to an Australian's house and eat shrimp on the barbie.

Brief Thanksgiving round-up:
°I was so excited I forgot to serve the glorious stuffing! I'm bummed since I think it's the most delicious Thanksgiving dish I serve and my guests went without it but also happy 'cause there's more for me! (sinister snickering, and hand-rubbing accompany this last remark).
°My Moroccan carrot salad was a bust! In addition to the spices called for in the recipe I added a tsp of ground coriander, and tipped the spice balance to a degree that made the dish inedible. Blech!
°The broccoli sauteed with pancetta was super easy, simple and yummy. So much better than last year's brussel's sprouts and the year before's fennel with Pernod. I'll do this one again and again.
°The turkey was great, tender, juicy and the sage lattice design was much prettier than last year's but the skin still wasn't crispy. None of this is documentable, however, since my rechargeable camera batteries instantly ran out of juice when I started taking pics yesterday. I was able only to take the above shot of the pumpkin roulade dessert before the camera crashed. Ugh!

On to the cake, a.k.a. Pumpkin Roulade, a.k.a. Bûche d'Automne (Autumn Log, as opposed to the Christmas chocolate Yule Log of fame).

I bricolaged a recipe an Epicurious cake recipe with a cream cheese frosting recipe with enough changes to warrant me writing the recipe out for you here:

The cake:

6 eggs, separated
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup pureed SWEET POTATOES, NOT PUMPKIN! (unless it's canned) see *explanation below)
3/4 cup cake flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (optional for the egg whites)
Butter for greasing cake pan.

Pre-heat oven to 375F. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugars vigorously for 3 minutes changing arms according to your fatigue level. I find this a great upper body workout and an excuse to eat more cake! The result should be a thick, light-yellow cream. To this, add the canned pumpkin or pureed sweet potatoes and combine.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and salt then add to the wet mixture and mix.
Whisk the egg whites, with cream of tartar if you have it, until stiff peaks form (with a food processor unless you're the reincarnation of Julia Child) and fold into the batter carefully trying not to deflate the meringue. WARNING: If you, (like I did the first time) don't bother to whisk the yolks and whites a. separately and b. a lot, you will end up with a sweet pumpkin frittata which is nowhere near as tasty as it might sound. There. You've been warned.
Pour onto a 15x10 inch cake pan and bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.


16 ozs cream cheese at room temperature
1 stick butter at room temperature
12-16 ozs powdered sugar plus extra for dusting (the taste is up to you)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
cinnamon for dusting

Creating the "log"
Once the cake has cooled in its pan, run a knife along the sides and release the cake onto a smooth kitchen towel sprinkled with extra powdered sugar, not terrycloth. Spread half of the frosting evenly onto the cake and with the towel, begin to roll the cake over itself evenly. Keeping the cake inside the towel refrigerate for 1 hour so that it will stay intact. After 1 hour remove the cake from the fridge and uncover it. Slice 1/3 of the cake off and then cut that piece diagonally so that you have 2 "branches". Place one on either side of the "log" and put on the first coat of the room temperature frosting. At this point you will have gaps between the log and the branches, but in subsequent coats, you'll cover the gaps. Return the cake to the fridge. After about 20 minutes, take it out again and frost the cake again, It will begin to look nicer, smoother and more like a snow-covered log. Return to the fridge for another 20 minutes then put on the last coat. At this point, you can sprinkle the cake with cinnamon and decorate with real washed fall leaves if you like.

*Since I had no canned pumpkin to work with I tried roasting and pureeing fresh pumpkin, which aside from being a giant pain in the ass, yields very poor, stringy, watery results. I think pumpkin is the only fruit or vegetable that I prefer canned over fresh. After three attempts at this cake over the past couple weeks, I wised up and roasted the much denser, sweeter, less watery sweet potatoes and they did the trick! Fresh pumpkins are so much more impactful thrown from a 5 story building and smashed. Music to eat Sweet Potato Bûche d'Automne by: Chicago Alt-favorites, Smashing Pumpkins' "1979".


Blogger Proud Italian Cook said...

Wow, I'm impressed!! Your cake looks fantastic, I've never made one of those yet. I wish I could have seen your lattice design picture though,... figures the camera dies, when you need it!! None the less, it sounds like your meal was a hit!! Oh,I left you so info on your previous post. Have a great day!

10:13 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Marie,

Thanks so much for your explanation of the tenting technique. It seems like it's meant to keep the breast cooking less, so I wonder if it would really help me get crispy skin.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Proud Italian Cook said...

Susan hi, My turkey was 25lbs. and took 5 hours to cook, but for the first 3 1/2 hrs. it was uncovered and got totally crispy mostly all over the top, then for the last 1 1/2 hrs. I just tented the breast so it wouldn't dry out.Did you get a chance to look at

2:17 AM  
Blogger Honeybee said...

I'm glad you liked the carrot salad! You just reminded me that this is a salad one can make all year round - thanks!

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oooo..I love that cake!

1:50 AM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi marie,
I checked out the butterbell site but couldn't find tips on crispy skin. I think my brining it makes it too wet to get crispy.

Hi Honeybee, Thanks for the recipe!

Hi Maryann, Thanks!

11:25 AM  
Blogger Stelle in Italia said...

sounds delicious! the roulade looks fabulous, and I'm in complete agreement about using sweet potatoes. i'm glad the dinner went so well! sorry that you forgot the stuffing, but like you said--more for you! we almost ate ALL of the stuffing I made during the meal, and I was a little disappointed that there were so few leftovers!


10:18 AM  
Anonymous ann said...

teeeehehehehehehe. I'll have to remember that stuffing trick. Ooops! I forgot to serve the stuffin. lol. It's my absolute favorite part of Turkey Day dinner! I'm so glad you had fun and that cake is awesome!

2:38 PM  
Blogger Bellini Valli said...

Your pumpkin or sweet potato roll makes for a very impressive dessert!Your Thanksgiving dinner sounds delicious despite the lack of stuffing. I'd be having leftovers for weeks...more for me as you already said.....

4:30 PM  

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