Buche de NO-el


Every year I have the intention of making a Buche de Noel for our Christmas Eve feast. And every year I revise my plans as the reality of unwrapped presents, unpolished silver, and undecked halls lays claim to my diminishing time and energy. My daughter tried a few years ago when she was organizing my recipes to curb my hoarding tendencies and delusions by saying, “Get real–when are you ever going to make Buche de Noel with Meringue Mushrooms?” But I stopped her from throwing away the yellowed clipping. A woman can dream, can’t she?

This year, I was determined that my dream would finally become reality. I had more time to prepare, and more help, what with my husband retired and both daughters back in the area. Plus I planned to outsource the meringue mushrooms to the fancy Italian bakery that churns out such delicacies in exchange for a small fortune.

Make that “churned.” Alas, Rulli’s no longer makes meringue mushrooms. No matter. Summoning my inner Martha Stewart, I rummaged through the cupboards for the pastry bags I knew I’d bought long ago, so I could concoct the confections myself.

Except that I had finally donated said pastry bags to the Salvation Army just weeks before (hoarders are correct in thinking that you will come to regret throwing away something you haven’t used in years). I also discovered that, reckless purging of unused household items notwithstanding, I was too late with my culinary dreams for meteorological reasons as well. After four years of drought, the weather forecast promised a week of rain. Too bad every meringue mushroom recipe began, “These should only be made on a dry day.”

But couldn’t I just put real mushrooms on the log? Or just extra “holly” fashioned from mint leaves and cranberries?” So I proceeded undaunted to the Buche proper. That’s when I discovered I would need a candy thermometer. Would a grocery store model suffice, or would I have to fight the crowds at the mall? Reading my ancient clipping and all the online recipes more carefully, I noted the several warnings about not tearing the sponge cake when getting it out of the pan, or rolling it up, or carefully spreading it with buttercream. “A lot of trouble,” wrote more than a few reviewers.

Meanwhile, visions of brownies with orange buttercream frosting and chocolate ganache, Russian teacakes, chocolate crumb bars, and almond filled shortbread danced in my head.

Who was I kidding? Ours was not a sponge cake family anyway, but one with a preference for mainlining dark chocolate and butter.

“We’re not having a Buche de Noel. Not now, not ever,” I announced. “I’m over it.”

Here’s what we had instead:

Liberated from a dream I now know will never be fulfilled, I’m looking ahead to the new year wondering what other fantasies I might jettison—and what other delicious possibilities will take their place.


Have you ever made a Buche de Noel? What dreams have you relinquished for the better?

4 thoughts on “Buche de NO-el

  1. Several years ago my daughter went through all my recipes, those I had made and those I fantasized about making. We purged all those that had ingredients that I finally admit I am allergic to (bye-bye almost every wheat/white flour yummy!). She then put all the strays in a dropbox folder, printed them out and put them in a binder with my regular recipes (with sections and everything)/ Now and then I come across a recipe in my book that I know in my heart I will never make again–too much work, too many carbs, too heavy, etc. and out it goes. Since then we have added recipes. We recently found a delicious pumpkin mouse. And so it goes. By the way I had never heard of a Buche de Noel, looks intriguing….

  2. Well a Buche de Noel looks lovely but definitely too much hard work. Well done you for giving up on that idea. Your treats look very tempting. I did more baking this year but kept it simple. Happy new year :)

    • The other nice thing about keeping it simple (with a variety of essentially very homespun bars and cookies) is that you can offer them to guests and also freeze them as part of the recover-from-the-holidays plan!

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