Everything Gourmet

Fine French Christmas Fare with a Gourmet Gazette Slide Show

The very first bûche from the house of Paul Bocuse. Dubbed Nuances, brought out in a limited edition, it was imagined as a tribute to Paul Bocuse and with its savors of hazel nut from the Piedmont, exotic fruits and a coconut mousse underscores the legendary chef’s love of traveling. Photo ©Fred Durante Courtesy Bocuse. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

Paris, France — The Yule log can finds its origins in pagan traditions back in a time when a tree was carefully selected to bring into the home or dwelling to burn during the period of Midwinter or the winter solstice. It was all about kindling a fire on Earth, for the summer solstice, as well, at these two turning points in the sun’s course through the sky. The ancient fire festival of the winter solstice survived into Christendom with the Yule log custom being widespread in parts of Europe, notably England and France when the pagan tree became a log. In several provinces of France and particularly Provence in the south, the Yule log tradition or the tréfoir, as it was called, carried on into modern times. In various parts of France its remains were kept under the bed for a wide variety of reasons depending upon the region, alternatively to protect the house from thunder and lighting, fire, vermin or sorcery.

From the house of Carette The Bûche Coquelicot meaning poppy made with pistachio mousse, strawberries and orange flower and ladyfingers. Photo ©Courtesy Carette. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

Meanwhile in the late 19th century Parisian pastry makers came up with a new twist on the Yule log by creating a cake to evoke the burning log — the bûche as it is called in French — in the fireplace. Traditionally made from sponge cake and an assortment of flavorful fillings and icings, it has become one of the most creative means of expression for pastry chefs throughout France with some of the desserts resembling works of art. If you can’t be in France right now or are looking for some Christmas cheer inspiration, The Gourmet Gazette brings these French Yule logs to you, 12 for the 12 days of Christmas. If you are in town they can be ordered and picked up or collected in current parlance.
©The Gourmet Gazette

A Gourmet Gazette Slide Show

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