Sunday, 12 October 2014

Thanksgiving Log

Thanksgiving is an extraordinary day. I have discovered the gracefulness of this beautiful holiday while living in Canada. Being grateful is a wonderful feeling. 

The season is so amazingly inspiring - all the colours and warm sun, the bright blue sky and the birds in preparation for leaving, the orange pumpkins, sneaking from below the big green umbrellas of their leaves and the juicy heavy apples and pears,  twisting the brunches of the trees. 

I love autumn. 

This year's Thanksgiving dessert gave me hard time to prepare. I was wondering how to include the pumpkin into a delicate French recipe, how to make nuts present in a celebration of their harvesting, and at the same time to keep the taste and elevate it even more. 

For this Autumn Roll, you will need to prepare the following recipes:

Ribbon Sponge, Joconde Sponge, caramel sauce, Mousseline Cream (Pumpkin Pastry Cream & Meringue type Caramel Buttercream), quater recipe of praline paste.

for the Ribbon Sponge *(as per "Le Cordon Bleu"):

have all the ingredients at room temperature

50 g butter 
50 g confectioners' sugar
50 g egg whites
55 g flour
food colouring
Joconde Sponge

Prepare the coloured paste first as it needs to harden for a while in the refrigerator, once it has been shaped: Beat the butter until creamy, add the sugar, mixing well. Add the whites, while beating. As soon as they are incorporated well, mix in the sifted flour. Colour the paste as desired. I used golden yellow, green and brown colour form Wilton.

Divide the paste in three and colour each part. You will need bigger quantity of green and orange and much less brown paste. 

For the Flower Power Cake I made for my beautiful daughter's birthday last year, I made stencil. For this roll, I piped the design. 

Spoon each coloured paste into a piping bag with round tip. For the green and yellow, I used Wilton round tip No. 3. For the brown - No. 2. 

Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat. Pipe the desired design onto it. Place in the fridge to cool completely. 

* Pipe the unused Ribbon sponge in different shapes for baking tuile cookies. Use a separate baking sheet, lined with silicon. Bake at 210 °C.

for the Joconde Sponge (as per "Le Cordon Bleu"):
(for a sheet pan 28 x 40 cm)

130 g almonds powdered
40 g hazelnuts powdered
75 g confectioners' sugar
25 g flour
120 g eggs

80 g egg whites
10 g sugar

30 g melted butter

In a bowl, mix together the almonds, confectioners' sugar and flour. Add the eggs in small portions, mixing well after each addition. With a whipping attachment, beat the egg whites with the sugar until firm peaks. With a spatula, fold in the flour-egg mixture. Fold in the melted butter.

Take the design out of the fridge. With a palette knife, spread the batter of the Joconde Sponge over in an even thin layer. It is important to keep the design underneath shaped and covered. Do not press the knife as you do not want to ruin the design.

Bake at 200°C for 8-10 min in the middle rack of the oven. If silicon liner is not available. place two sheet pans together - no browning at the bottom of the sponge is allowed as this will give unpleasant look to the cake.

Leave to cool in the pan. Carefully transfer it on a sifted with powdered sugar parchment paper sheet, turning the design upside up.

for the Mousseline Pumpkin Cream:

1 recipe Pumpkin Pastry Cream 
1 recipe Meringue type Caramel Buttercream

Prepare the Pumpkin Pastry Cream:

for the Pastry Cream:

250 ml whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean

3 egg yolks
60 g sugar
25 g corn starch
18 g white flour

120 g butternut squash - rosted *

* Roast your pumpkin - there are many advantages to roast the pumpkin, instead of using ready made, canned purée. It caramelizes perfectly and gives the Mousseline Cream unique flavour.

Scrape the seeds from half vanilla bean into the milk and bring to boil. Meanwhile beat slightly the egg yolks, sugar, flour and starch without over beating. When homogenized, beat in the roasted squash. 

Pour half of the hot milk into the egg mixture, stirring constantly (dissolving the sugar). Pour the yolk mixture back to the pot where the other half of the milk is and place over medium heat. Stir constantly. (I used wooden spoon at first until the mixture thickens a bit, then switched to whisk attachment and destroyed every piece of starch ball that was about to occur). 

Place the pastry cream in a deep dish, cover it with cling foil, (the foil should touch the cream. Sometimes I even wrap it in foil) avoiding crust to be formed. Leave to cool at room temperature. 

Prepare the Meringue Caramel Buttercream:

You will need 1 recipe caramel sauce and 1 recipe Italian type meringue.

for the caramel sauce:

65 g sugar
15 g water
50 ml heavy cream

Combine the sugar and water in a heavy sauce pan. Bring to boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook the syrup until caramel is formed. If you use a thermometer, it should measure 160-165C. If not, make sure that you do not overcook the caramel - when it turns amber colour, reduce the heat to very low and remove before it darkens. 

Remove from heat and cool for few min.

In a separate pan, bring the cream to boil. Add slowly to the caramel, stirring constantly until caramel dissolves. Set aside and let it cool. 

for the Caramel Buttercream :

130 g butter
25 g caramel sauce *

* you could use the rest of the sauce for garnishing the serving plates

Have the butter at room temperature to soften while working on a meringue.

for the meringue:

65 g egg whites (one and a half whites from extra large eggs)
75 g granulated sugar
30 ml water

Dissolve the sugar into the water in a heavy bottomed pan over heat. Bring to boil. Cook the syrup for 2 min. While the syrup is cooking, beat the whites until soft peaks. Keep the mixer running and add the syrup very slowly until use all of it. Continue beating the egg-sugar mixture until cool to a room temperature and firm peaks are formed.

Cream the butter until light. Beat in the caramel sauce. Add the meringue a little at a time, combining very well before next addition.  The emulsion has to be formed - creamy soft and light in texture. 

Tailoring the Mousseline cream:

Have the Pastry Cream at room temperature and beat half of it into the buttercream. Beat in the other half. The consistency is light and will allow an even distribution onto the cake. If you find it a bit too soft for the rolling, place it in a refrigerator to harden a bit.


Have your baked and cooled sheet of Joconde sponge turned upside down over a kitchen towel - the drawn side down. The rolling is from the shorter side of the sheet. Thinly spread the praline paste all over, leaving 3 cm of the sponge edge uncovered - where the rolling will end.

Distribute the cream, leaving the 3 cm edge uncovered. Start rolling, making sure that the design is well displayed. Stop at the end. Hold the edges of the towel and supporting the roll, transfer it on a plate and refrigerate overnight.

Place on serving plate and decorate, ready for the holiday dinner.

I used the tuile round cookies I piped from the excessive Ribbon sponge and the wonderful roses, which I could still cut from my garden.

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