Christmas dinner was a bit crazy this year, but it came to a nice end. Everything seemed to be right on track; my hubby prepped our rib roast while I began mixing my chocolate sponge cake. Thankfully, I had soaked the dried cherries (for the log) in some booze overnight, and I made my buttercream the night before as well. However, the next day, to my disappointment, my Italian buttercream (I tried a new recipe) decided to not work out (I even tried troubleshooting it, with no success), so I had to make a fresh batch (with my tried and true recipe!). By this time, the roast was ready to go in the oven; I quickly made my sponge cake successfully (Thank Goodness!) and I still had about four hours to make everything else, assemble, and chill the log.
I was thinking, “Oh good! I have a lot of time left! I should be okay!” Since my hubby was in charge of the main dish, I kept that part of Christmas dinner out of my head. I kept repeating to myself, “Cream, sponge, pipe, fill, dress, chill, roast (brussel sprouts), mash (potatoes)…”, and I truly believed that I could do it all in the four hours that I had. And then, tragically, my chocolate seized on me and I could no longer use it to make my chocolate buttercream. Another hiccup in making my rich and velvety cream… NOOO!!!
And seriously, the chocolate was such a waste. Nevermind that. I decided to push on through.
The next logical step was for me to make meringue décor, because they needed to dry in the oven for a few hours. I really wanted to make cute animals this year, and chose to pipe kitties and bunnies to appropriately represent my hubby and me. Of course, I also piped the obligatory mushrooms! I immediately put them in the oven to dry; good thing the roast was baking in the oven at the exact temperature I needed for the meringues!
I finally got some chocolate melted and so I mixed it with the freshly made buttercream. I knew right away that the cream would be too soft to use. My whole reason for making the cream early was so I had enough stability to fill the roll cake. I decided to pop the cream into the refrigerator hoping that it would help.
By now, I had a little less than three hours left. My cream was chillin’ (pun intended), my sponge was done and cooling, and my meringue figures were drying. I decided that I should ask for some help. I knew that pan-roasting the sprouts would be a quick 15 minutes, but the potatoes were going to have to boil for at least 45 minutes. I relinquished the task to my hubby so I could concentrate in assembling my poor cake.
I began to refresh the cream, but it was still a bit too soft to use. I felt like I didn’t have enough time left. I hastily started to spread the cream onto the unrolled cake. My hubby asked over my shoulder, “Did you soak the cake with the sugar syrup and booze?” I stared blankly. It took a few seconds for me to realize that I got too eager. I panicked! I scraped whatever cream I could scrape off the cake, and ran for my pastry brush. As I held my breath, I soaked the cake, put the cream back on, and dotted the buttercream with the soaked cherries.
The cake was rolled well and popped into the refrigerator. I decided that the brussel sprouts had to be done. If I could get another task out of the way, I could devote my time to my Christmas dinner pièce de résistance. I quickly blanched the sprouts, fished them out, threw them into a cast-iron pan with salted anchovies and garlic, and pan roasted them. I had about an hour-and-a-half left.
The potatoes were just about done (Thanks, Hubby/Kitty!). I checked on the meringues and they were still a bit tacky to the touch. I decided to keep them in the oven a little longer. My cake was still a little soft, but I felt like I had to cut the ends off to make my branches. I chose to make the cuts… and that was the fatal error. While the cake seemed okay at first, the weight of the “branches” was too heavy for the base. My cake proceeded to flatten and squash. “Oh no! Sigh. I can’t do anything about it now. I hope it tastes alright. That’ll make up for its misshapen look.”
The rib roast came out of the oven after about five-six hours at a low heat of 200°F. The internal temperature was at a constant 133°F, the prime temperature for the breakdown of collagen. It was absolutely mouth-melting and tender (I don’t advise people to eat a rib roast rare, especially in the presence of possible bacteria. Eat at your own discretion.).
All in all, Christmas dinner was a success. My bûche was far from the best I’ve done aesthetically, but I was really happy with the meringue kitties and bunnies! Lesson learned: stick with recipes that you *know* will work, especially on special cooking days!
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