So, the first lesson is: the best laid plans don’t always happen. I wanted to put this out on Saturday. It was a day later than my normal Friday deadline, but I really wanted to include the pictures. Then my body thought it would be a great idea to be sick the rest of the weekend. So, here it is, Monday and I’m finally getting this out. Hopefully, it’ll be a double-dose this week, as I still hope to get another post out on Friday like normal.
As I started researching and learning about winter Solstice celebrations, one of the most interesting traditions was that of the Yule log. People would select a special log, and decorate it with evergreens, berries, fruit and other symbols of the celebration. Then, the log would be burnt on the fire. The ashes would then be collected and spread over the fields to bless them. The ashes were believed to have magical properties that would increase the yield of their crops the next year. This belief has a lot at basis in reality, as we now know that wood ash contains alot of beneficial nutrients such as calcium and potassium that enrich soil and help plants grow.
You may, like myself, think of a yule log as a yummy dessert. This tradition started in the 1800’s in France where legend goes bakers inspired by the long-standing solstice tradition decided to create a confection that mimicked the look of the yule log (while being incredibly yummy). So, they created a rolled Cake filled with frosting, covered in chocolate and decorated with sugared fruit and meringue. This dessert came to be known as Buche de Noel.
So, I decided to try to make this Buche de Noel for myself this winter Solstice.
So, I like making cookies and cakes but I wouldn’t call myself a baker. So before I embarked on this adventure, I looked at a lot of recipes. So many that I couldn’t decide which would be the best. I finally picked one for no reason other than it said it was like eating a mug of hot cocoa, and I like cocoa.
The one thing all the recipes agreed on was that this was an all-day process. Good thing I had the day off from work.
OK, so it really started the day before. I made a simple syrup to soak cranberries in. But today would be the big work.
I started with the cake. Normally, my biggest fault in baking is that I’m too impatient to measure correctly. I guess its part of my spontaneous nature, I like making things up as I go. But I knew this was complicated enough, I needed to follow the rules.
One of the most critical things according to the recipe was how long the cake baked. Too short, and the cake would Still be liquid. Too long, and it would dry out, making it impossible to roll. What complicated all of this was the altitude in Denver. It changes recipes. Sometimes you need more flour. Or More time in the oven. And sometimes the recipes fail for no reason that you can understand. So to say I was anxious as I pulled the cake out of the oven was an understatement.
Now, the hard part. I put powdered sugar onthe top, covered it with a towel, and flipped another cookie sheet on top. after saying a little prayer, I flipped it over. The cake came out perfect!
But now the tough part: rolling the cake. Here’s where the patience kicks in again. Take a breath, roll a little bit, let the breathe out. Repeat. After what seemed like an eternity, it was rolled.
Next, I had to wait two hours.
The funny thing about making yourself have patience is it makes you realize how much you don’t have it. I’m so used to running around at top speed, trying to get everything done in a day that I don’t stop to focus on the task I am doing. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel I have the time. Or maybe it’s more that I get so used to rushing, I forget that I can stop and take a breathe.
So, after two hours it was time for frosting. Which meant unrolling the cake. Without cracking it.
Again, patience was needed. Breath in, unroll a tiny bit, breathe out. Somehow I managed to unroll it. Then, carefully fill with frosting, roll back up and wrap. More waiting.
As I’m waiting I’m making sugared cranberries, Creme de menthe grapes, and meringue mushroom decorations.
Finally it was time for the final frosting. And voila!
Everyone at the party said it was too beautiful to eat, but it was delicious.
It may seem weird to spend an entire day creating something that will be eaten and forgotten within a half an hour, but it was an experience I will never forget. And one I want to do again. Because it really was about the journey and the experience.
Much like writing. I love crafting a story. Building up my Characters. Piecing together the plot. I spent five years Crafting and editing my first book. And now that its published, I couldn’t wait to start the next one. Just like I can’t wait to make another cake.
The Yule log represents a wish anda blessing. As I enjoyed my Yule log with friends, the house filled with laughter and light, I thought back over all the blessings of this year. The best being the fulfillment of a life-long dream. I also had a wish: that I Could continue my passion, my writing, and continue to be surrounded by loving family and friends.
Because in the end that’s what fills my heart. Love and light.
So, what is your blessing and wish this season? Where do you find your love and light?
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