Monday, December 21, 2015

Bûche de Noël for Beginners

An iconic classic, the Bûche de Noël, is a sight to behold in the windows of bakeries and patisseries during the holidays. So this is why you’re going to be surprised to learn that this very French tradition was initially used to symbolize the rebirth of the sun by the Celts. This pagan tradition, adopted by the Catholic church in the middle ages, morphed into a new sophisticated role. Dressed up with elaborate ribbon and garland for ceremonies, it was burned at the hearth and the ashes were collected for use during the year to ward off evils and protect the home.  As the industrial revolution progressed in France and the concept of hearths began to wain, the log took on a new role as a table centerpiece surrounded by beautiful sweets and delicious savory morsels during the holidays. It is hotly debated whether or not it was a Parisien or Lyonnais that created the first edible Bûche de Noël, but in 1879, this cake became a holiday must have and official French Christmas classic.

The Bûche de Noël is a bit of a tricky recipe to master, hence Bûche de Noël for beginners… Not exactly made for a novice, this elaborate take on the sponge cake requires a little bit of finesse and at times patience (whatever you do, do not over whisk!). A three part cake, the Bûche de Noël consists of filling, cake, and frosting. The most important aspect of the recipe is the sponge cake! It needs to retain a texture that is as light and airy as possible, and is the glue that can make or break your masterpiece.

You’ll be happy you dove into this French holiday culinary adventure. The amount of creativity and ability to create your own signature version makes it all worth it.  There are so many versions of the Bûche de Noël as you can imagine, yet we were most inspired by Dominique Ansel and of course, by the the French master, Francois Payard

 The Prep: 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Make sure you have a 11x10x1-inch jelly roll pan and line bottom with parchment paper.  Butter and flour the parchment paper
  • Heat a medium saucepan with simmering water (you will need this later for the egg mixture!)
  • Keep an electric mixer with a whisk attachment and food processor handy
  • You will need a towel with a thin layer of sifted powered sugar covering it nearby

It is important to note that you should start the filling in advance as it takes four hours to set. In total, the cake takes six hours with breaks for cooling and setting.  Perfect for a cozy, leisurely holiday day.

The Filling

  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup marzipan, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Bring the whole milk to a boil in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Whisk yolks and sugar together in a small bowl and then whisk the flour into the mixture. Whisk the hot whole milk into the egg mixture and return to the same saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until the custard thickens and simmers (about 1 1/2 minutes). Transfer to a food processor and cool to room temperature. This will take about about 1 hour. After an hour, add the marzipan and process until it is smooth. Blend in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time and then the extracts. Cover and refrigerate filling at least 4 hours or 24 hours.  


The Cake 

  •  6 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

In a large metal bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, and vanilla together for a minute. Set bowl over your preheated pot of simmering water. Whisk until just warm or 2 minutes and remove bowl from over water. Using an electric mixer beat for about 6 minutes. Make sure not to over beat or whisk causing your mixture to go flat! Very slowly, sift the flour over and fold the flour into the mixture and then carefully fold the butter in as well. Pour the batter into the pan covered with parchment paper. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Once the cake is done, turn it upside down onto the towel. The parchment paper should be facing up. Peel off the paper and roll the cake using the towel like a jelly roll. Let the cake cool while you prepare the frosting.

buche-de-noel frosting

The Frosting

  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 ounces white chocolate, chopped

Boil the cream and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring to melt butter. Once combined, remove from heat. Add the chocolate and whisk until melted. Transfer to medium sized bowl and let the frosting cool at room temperature for one hour.

We also melted down bittersweet chocolate in our version to decorate for the exterior, as we said, get creative!
Now you’re ready to decorate! Unroll cake and spread filling all over the top. Be generous! You’ll need a lot of filling. Re-roll cake and place the exposed seam down on the platter of your choice!
 Joyeuses fêtes cake
 Joyeuses fêtes and happy holidays from all of us at Jean-Marc Fray! 
Posted by cynthia at 09:31:07 PM
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Thursday, December 10, 2015

The 2015 Jean-Marc Fray Holiday Gift Guide

One of the hallmarks of the holidays is the hustle and bustle of December.
This year the 2105 Jean-Marc Fray holiday gift guide will send you into that New Year
with ease and hopefully a little something from Santa as well…

Whether you’re shopping for the elegant aesthete who has everything,
or searching for the perfect gift that will captivate the attention of the wee little ones,
we’ve assorted quite the arrangement to peruse.

Bon Shopping!

Posted by siteadminjmf at 11:36:25 PM
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Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Next Level Cocktail Hour



It’s official: the holidays are upon us. It’s time to deck the halls, hang the mistletoe, wrap the gifts, and stock the bar carts. There is nothing more festive (and necessary) for the gathering of friends and family than a well-decorated and well-stocked bar cart.




First, the spirits — gin, vodka, bourbon, scotch, tequila, rum, vermouth, and bitters are the essentials. Buy what you like! Champagne is a MUST for the holiday season, so make room for a champagne bucket and a bottle of chilled French champagne (anything else is just sparkling wine!).  You may want to consider Creme de Casis, Apérol, St. Germain, Campari, Amaretto or Frangelico for your connoisseurs.



Then, the mixers: sparkling water, club soda, tonic water, ginger beer and assorted juices (orange, grapefruit, tomato, and cranberry just to name a few). 

Garnishes offer an opportunity to include a few holiday-themed embellishments. Start with fresh lemons, limes, cherries, mint leaves and olives, then throw in skewered cranberries and sprigs of rosemary for a jolly twist. Candied kumquats are a colorful addition to celebratory sparkling drinks.


Tumblers, high balls, stemware, beer glasses, and shot glasses will cover your glassware needs. And don’t forget, a jigger, shaker, strainer, muddler, cocktail napkins, and sugar cubes!

But most important — the bar cart. Get your parties rolling with this glamorous piece of the past. Dress it up for the holidays with garlands or fresh winter foliage.

BarCart 1

No matter the season, style, or application, a bar cart will bring your cocktail parties to another level. See a few of our favorites below!



Posted by cynthia at 07:23:59 PM
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