In my home country of France, because of our Roman Catholic roots, we celebrate Christmas, and a very famous/popular dessert is la bûche de noël. This is a sort of cake that is served on and near the time of Christmas. It is also prevalent in Francophone countries such as Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Canada, and many countries in Africa.
With my father being a pastry chef, I grew up eating the most delicious bûche de noël every year. The traditional bûche is made from a Génoise (sponge cake). The most common combination is a basic yellow sponge cake, frosted and filled with chocolate buttercream. This is the type that I had in my childhood. This is something that I look forward to when I go home for the break. Bûches are often served with a portion of one end of the cake cut off and set on top of the cake or protruding from its side to resemble a chopped off branch, and bark-like texture is often produced in the buttercream to make it more realistic (this is often done by dragging a fork through the icing).
The cake can be decorated with ‘mushrooms’ and other materials such as leaves and twigs made out of icing, chocolate mousse and buttercream. This dish is always served with a French dessert wine, and followed up with a medium-roast French coffee and croissants.
Usually most French families prepare la bûche in their own kitchens, but they are available at all local bakeries. Tourists who come to visit France during the holidays, or any other Francophone nations, are usually very fascinated by these, and the demand for this cake increases dramatically. I remember seeing my father up to his neck with orders when we had our bakery in France. I used to try and help him but there is only so much an 11 year old boy can do. I always used to prepare the ‘bark-marks’ with the fork however.
I am planning on making one after the break, so if you are interested in watching me make it or tasting it, let me know!