AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
No pressure, people, but you have about two days left before Christmas. Now maybe you're the kind of person who's checked everything off your to-do list and you have idle hands. Or maybe you have house guests who clearly need something to do. Well, we have a found-recipe solution - a holiday baking project that will make your teeth ache, buche de Noel. It's a jelly-roll-type cake shaped like a yule log, and it's big in Europe, especially in France. Part-time Parisian and full-time baker Dorie Greenspan your inspiration.
DORIE GREENSPAN: Pastry is fashion in Paris. And you see it all through the year. Just before fall fashion week is taking place in Paris, it's the annual showing of the buche Noel collection. All the best pastry chefs in Paris show up with their Christmas creations. They're amazing. I've seen some that are shaped like musical instruments - ones that - one was a collaboration with an architect. And instead of the log going lengthwise, it stood up tall like a skyscraper. They're just phenomenal.
I'm like every other Parisian. I just, you know, press my nose against the pastry shop windows and just want it all. But I'm also a baker, and so I've hit on this Christmas plan. I buy a buche. I make a buche. I do this kind of Franco-American buche Noel. It's a gingerbread cake based on a French genoise, which is a sponge cake. It's like the building block of cakes in France. I make it in, like, a cookie sheet pan and spread it with a filling that's kind of American 'cause it uses cream cheese which, by the way, is the new cult ingredient in France. Yes, cream cheese - the French call it Philadelphia.
So we have the gingerbread cake, the cream cheese filling and then we roll it up. And you don't know what fun you're missing if you've never rolled up a cake. Then you make the frosting. It's a marshmallow frosting, billowy and white and sweet and so easy to put over the log you can do anything with it. You can make it sleek and sophisticated - I never do - or you can use the back of a spoon and just go swirl crazy. Just make little swirls and whirls, and then sprinkle the whole thing with nuts.
It is so beautiful, and it's one of these ooh-and-ah desserts. And it's as good as a birthday cake as it is for the holidays. It's just - it's so much fun to make. And for me, it's just a great mixture, my Franco-American buche Noel.
CORNISH: That's Dorie Greenspan. Her latest cookbook is called "Baking Chez Moi." You can find directions for her Franco-American buche de Noel on the found recipes page at npr.org.
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