Une Souche de Noël

Une Souche de Noël | La Pêche Fraîche

 Mais non, mes chéris, pas une bûche!  Vraiment une souche!

That’s right, we just upended the Yule log—literally.
Took the classic bûche de Noël and made it into a souche de Noël.
A stump!  A stump de Noël.

 This cake is an endeavor.  It’s intricate; it’s large.
But while detailed, it’s also charmingly rustic.
It doesn’t have to be perfectly made—rough scratches around the bark make it all the more realistic.
Fallen moss and dirt add character to the forest floor.
Crooked mushrooms—perfect.  They don’t pop out of the ground white and symmetrical, after all.

Basically, this cake can be a little rough around the edges and still sparkle and shine.
The whole is much greater than the sum of the parts.

The first component of the cake is a buttery, yolk-rich eggnog cake, redolent with nutmeg and whiskey (traditionally rum, but peruse your own liquor cabinets for anything boozy).
It comes out of the oven as fragrant as can be.

Brushing with maple-whiskey syrup adds more flavor and ensures that the cake stays moist.
It also adds a nice kick, hey-o!

The whipped ganache that covers the cake is rich and thick, with a touch of salt and deep, dark bittersweet chocolate.
The cream keeps it light and fluffy, so that you don’t have a big brick of solid ganache bark.

The dirt is made from chocolate cookie crumbs and the moss from chopped pistachios.  Both add a little crunch and texture and a realistic touch.
Also, both are good to snack on.  Just saying.

The final touches are the mushrooms and the holly branches.
The mushrooms are made of Italian meringue, dried in the oven until super crunchy and crispy.
They’re sweet and soft on the inside, like marshmallows, but have a crisp shell which is brushed lightly with cocoa powder to mimic real mushrooms.
I got the idea from the wonderful, brilliant Stella of Bravetart.
They’re pretty damn cute, I must say.

The holly branches are made of marzipan, colored with a touch of cocoa for depth and plenty of food coloring.
I’m addicted to marzipan—the sweet almond taste is so good!  When you add a hint of cocoa, it only gets better.
Adding a tiny bit of cocoa is a great way to deepen the color of food coloring and make it seem more realistic.

The end result is five layers of golden cake, wrapped in dark chocolate ganache and garnished with magical little touches of the forest.
A sprinkling of snow brings the whole thing to life—it’s an enchanted cake, really.

It’s also a showstopper.  Definitely worthy of Christmas dinner, the necessary showpiece dessert that sparkles and shines and captures all eyes.
It may be a bit of work, but not much more than any regular layer cake.  And in my humble opinion, it’s worth it.
It’s a cake to show off and take many pictures with; it’s a cake of which to be very, very proud.

“‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads…”

A Visit from Saint Nicholas, Clement Clarke Moore

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
Love, your resident holiday-crazed blogger.

Souche (Stump) de Noël
cake portion adapted from Joy of Baking
makes 1 large 8-inch cake

for the eggnog cake (you’ll need 1.5 times this recipe, to make 5 8-inch layers and 4 cupcakes):
2 2/3 cup (260 grams) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (40 grams) cornstarch
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup (170 grams) butter, soft
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/3 cups (265 grams) sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
6 large egg yolks (110 grams)
2 tablespoons (30 mL) rum or whiskey
1 tablespoon (15 mL) vanilla extract
1 cup (240 mL) milk

for the maple soak:
1/3 cup (80 mL) maple syrup
2 tablespoons (30 mL) whiskey or rum

for the whipped ganache (may need to double; a reader found she needed approximately twice as much frosting):
18 ounces (500 grams) bittersweet chocolate
2 pinches kosher salt
2 cups (500 mL) heavy cream

for the meringue mushrooms:
3 egg whites
small pinch cream of tartar
3/4 cup (300 grams) sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 cup (60 mL) water
cocoa powder, for dusting

to assemble:
marzipan holly branches
chopped skinned pistachios
crushed chocolate cookies
powdered sugar, for dusting

Make the cake: grease and flour 4 8-inch round pans and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat the butter for 3 full minutes, until light and fluffy.
Scrape the sides of the bowl, add the sugar, nutmeg, and salt and beat for 3 more minutes.
Add in the eggs and beat for 5 full minutes, until mixture is fluffy, shiny, and pale white—it shouldn’t be gritty.
Whisk vanilla extract, milk, and whiskey then beat slowly until partway combined.
Place the flour, cornstarch and baking powder on top of the batter, then gently stir to combine everything, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl.
Portion batter out into the prepared pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, until springy to the touch and a tester comes out clean.
Allow cakes to cool completely. (You’ll need to make another half-batch of batter, baking 1 8-inch round and 4 cupcakes.)
Meanwhile, bring maple syrup and whiskey to a boil, then immediately remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Brush cooled cakes with the whiskey syrup.
Make the chocolate ganache: chop chocolate finely and place in a bowl with the salt.
Heat cream to boiling, then pour over the chocolate and let sit for 4 minutes.
Whisk the chocolate and cream together, starting slowly, speeding up until the ganache is smooth and shiny.
Allow to cool until room temperature, then whip with a mixer until fluffy.
Frost two cupcakes into a tower to make the small stump; put 1/3 cup frosting between each layer and also place a crumb coat on the cake.
Using the rest of the frosting generously, to frost the cake roughly.
Use a fork to scrape the sides to look like bark, and swirl the top to look like the top of a stump.
To make the meringue mushrooms, preheat oven to 225 degrees F.
Place egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
Place sugar, water, and salt in a small pot over medium heat.
Start to whisk the egg whites.
By the time the egg whites are at stiff peaks, the syrup should be at 240-245 degrees F.
Pour the hot syrup into the meringue while whisking at high speed.
Pipe the meringue into stem and cap shapes on parchment paper-lined sheets.
Bake for 2 hours, turning the oven to 175 degrees F after 90 minutes.
Allow to dry in the oven until mushrooms peel off the parchment paper.
Dust the caps with cocoa powder and rub in with your fingers.
Use your cocoa-y hands to lightly rub the stems to make them slightly colored too.
Decorate the stump with chocolate cookie crumbs around the bottom, pressing some into the sides of the cake.
Place mushrooms and holly branches around the cake, and press some chopped pistachios into the bark to be “moss.”
Dust a little powdered sugar over the top, and then impress all your friends and family with your very own stump de Noël!

32 thoughts on “Une Souche de Noël

    1. Absolutely! Just wrap it very well in plastic wrap, and keep in the fridge! Let me know if you try it! xx

  1. Don’t know if I would be brave enough to tackle this or not, but thanks for including the recipe. Just wanted to tell you that this is one of the most beautiful cakes I have ever seen. Amazing!

  2. I am definitely making this. Just to be clear the recipe must be increased by 1.5. I bet I have trouble there calculating. Also, I will make the cakes and freeze them and then proceed with the rest a few days before the big day.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Yes! To have the cake be the size shown, the recipe must be increased by a factor of 1.5. Good luck! Let me know how it goes xx

      1. Such a beautiful cake. I still need clarification though – you need to increase recipe by 1.5 *and* also make a second half-batch of batter for the 5th layer and the cupcakes? Or does this instruction: “(You’ll need to make another half-batch of batter, baking 1 8-inch round and 4 cupcakes.)” mean use the leftover batter if you have already increased?

        1. Alana, so sorry for the confusion! I only have 4 8-inch rounds, so the way I wrote the instructions could be a little confusing—I first baked 1 batch of the batter (not increased), then halved it and made it a second time, which made 1 8-inch round and 4 cupcakes. You should only have to make 1.5x the recipe as written—the extra *0.5* will make the extra 8-inch round and cupcakes. Thanks for reaching out! Let me know how it goes! xoxo

  3. Hi there,
    I was wondering why 4 cupcakes have to be made with the extra half batter as in the recipe I can only seem to find the use for 2 of the cupcakes. Am I making extra ones just to use up the mixture or is there a purpose for the other 2 that I have missed? Also is there a line missing from the instructions as you say ‘Scrape the sides of the bowl, add the sugar, nutmeg, and salt and beat for 3 more minutes.’ yet at that point nothing has been put into the bowl. I assume it is just the butter that was meant to be in there so I just want to double check that and ask how long the butter needs to be beaten for?
    I can’t wait to make this as it looks simply stunning.
    Kind regards

    1. Courtney, thanks so much for your keen eye! The second pair of cupcakes is just for the extra batter/as insurance for any oopsies! The butter should be beat for 3 full minutes before that step—it’s all fixed now. Thank you for your kind words, and best of luck! Please let me know if you try it! xoxox

  4. Hi Rachel,
    Thanks so much for your quick reply and for clarifying my suspicions. I plan on making it for Christmas Day so fingers crossed it all goes well!
    Thanks so much once again.
    Kind regards

  5. Great idea! Way easier than a traditional Yule log. A couple of observations about making mine: 3 egg whites for mushrooms was TOO much! I only used 12 mushrooms on the actual cake but the recipe made 30! One egg would have made enough mushrooms. Also, double the icing. I didn’t have enough to fill and frost five layers. I ended up making a different icing and it was cool with the two different colors of brown. Otherwise, the cake was beautiful and not too hard at all.

    1. Samella, I am so happy to hear that! I definitely made extra mushrooms—with many mixers, if you whip only 1 egg white, the meringue is not as stiff and uniform, and I wanted to make sure I had extra mushrooms to make them perfect! Also, I’m a meringue lover and greedy for snacks 😉 Thanks for letting me know about the icing. I didn’t find I had too little, but I’ll add a note in. So glad you gave this a try! xoxoxo

    1. Berliany, you could try to make the icing ahead, but you would need to rewarm/thaw and whip it the day of making. As such, I suggest that you make everything *else* ahead and save the icing for the day of! Let me know how it goes if you try it, though. xoxo

  6. Truly inspiring cake and I want to impress my family with it. I’m making it right now and I gotta say, those instructions are hella confusing. I increased everything by 1.5 and just made it all at once, we’ll see how it turns out. Other than that, wish me luck!

    1. Aika, glad to hear you’re trying it! Sorry that you found the instructions confusing—what you did was correct. Best of luck and let me know how it goes! xoxo

  7. How does one put the mushrooms together once they are dried and baked? Do you use the chocolate ganache as glue, or just sort of smooth them together? I just love the idea for this recipe, and am having a blast working on it. Thanks!!

    1. Gracie, I’m so glad to hear that! I “glued” my mushrooms together with a little melted chocolate. You can use the ganache too, though. Good luck! Please let me know how it goes! xoxo

  8. YourChristmas Stump is an absolute work of art! I’m a new blogger and would very much like to repost it nearer to Christmas 2016. Naturally, you will get full credit and when I figure out how to link it back to you, I will. Or if you prefer, I will try to make it myself, though it appears a bit difficult. Thank you for your time and consideration.

    1. Bee, feel free to link back! Happy for you to share it provided there’s credit. Welcome to the blogging world!

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