Tempus tests Aubaine's indulgent Bûche de Noël masterclass for Christmas
Aubaine Chef Alix Andre shows us his unique twist on the French Yule Log
Tucked away in the charming streets of Marylebone lies the beautifully sophisticated French restaurant Aubaine, a restaurant that prides itself on taking classic French dishes and giving them a delicious modern twist. Their new Christmas collections offer just that, from sumptuous s'mores to (un)traditional Yule Logs, and so how better to prep for the Christmas table than to joined chef Alix Andre in a Bûche de Noël masterclass held in their Moxton St restaurant?
Stepping in from the crisp hustle bustle of central London into the perfectly timed warmth of Aubaine's venue, there's a sudden feel like a weight has been lifted. It's best to visit in the evening to take in the restaurant's atmosphere – rustic and relaxed, yet always contemporary. It's sophisticated enough not to overwhelm, and homely enough to say 'bienvenue'.
I was taken upstairs to a room decorated in a subtle Christmas arrangement. Mulled white wine, French canapés, and chef de cuisine Alix Andre already preparing his ingredients for the masterclass. We had barely taken our seats before Andre launched us into his passion for baking.
Andre believes that only the best, organic ingredients should be used in baking, and Aubaine's Bûche de Noël is no exception. He tells us how nothing compares to the texture, the smell, and of course the taste of freshly baked goods using such ingredients. However, there's something to say about knowing what you’re doing. >>
Key to the Bûche de Noël is is the sponge, or 'Genoise'. Andre makes it very clear that a Genoise must be light and incredibly airy. As there is no chemical leavening in the recipe, we must apply great skill and patience in order to achieve the desired result. A slow whisking of eggs and sugar is crucial as the only lift to make this Genoise airy is the air whisked in at this stage. When the whisk leaves a ribbon-like trail of the mixture as it’s lifted out (about 10 minutes of calculated whisking), you’re ready.
Next up, we make the chocolate cream. Some use meringue to decorate the outside of the Bûche de Noël, but Andre opts for chestnut pieces folded into the cream to replicate the crunch of the meringue while staying within the traditions of the Bûche de Noël. Most of the chocolate chestnut cream is spread across the genoise and distributed to create an even texture, before firmly rolling the sponge into a log and leaving it in the refrigerator to set.
Once the log seems firm, it's time to cover it in the rest of the chocolate chestnut cream. Finally, decorate with pistachios, white chocolate, and dried berries to your heart's desire, and enjoy this taste of a French Noël.