Sunday, May 11, 2008

Very Berry Mother's Day

As we celebrate Mothers' Day, we venture once again to the Land of St. Honore':

Once upon a time in the land of St. Honore’, far off in the woods of the west country, lived a woodcutter and his wife. At Yuletide the goodwife had surprised her husband by baking a delicious Yule Log for the woodcutter. Now that spring has arrived, it’s time to surprise the goodwife herself.

While the woodcutter and his wife searched the woods for morels and fern fiddleheads to make a spring pasta dish, their daughter returned home and gathered her bowls and spoons and flour and sugar and eggs and butter and began to bake something wonderful for her mom.

First she made a flat layer of a cake like a sponge…called a genoise. She sifted the flour mixture, then folded it into the beaten eggs and sugar mixture. Spread in the prepared sheet cake pan it was pretty impressive looking. Into the preheated oven it went.

While it was baking she made a delicious rum flavored buttercream, whisking an egg white-sugar mixture over simmering water until hot, then beating it and adding softened butter a little at a time, then some rum for flavor....yummy!

She also made a berry ice cream filling. She diced some strawberries and halved some fat blueberries, put them in a pot with a little water and a bit of sugar and brought them to a boil. Then she placed the mixture in a shallow pan and put it in the freezer to cool. Once cooled, she softened some raspberry – vanilla swirl frozen yogurt and mixed in the berry mixture. That mixture then went back in the freezer to firm up just a bit.

Once the cake had cooled enough to handle, she laid it on parchment and brushed it with more rum, then fanned it with a sheet cake pan to get rid of some of the alcohol.

Then she took the frozen berry mixture out of the freezer & stirred it enough so it was spreadable, then spread it over the cake and rolled it up like a jelly roll. The roll was quickly wrapped in a length of heavy duty foil. An overnight chilling made it firm enough so that she could work the magic she had in mind to surprise her mom.

She cut off the ends straight across showing the swirl of light cake and darker purplish berry frozen yogurt mixture. Then she frosted the outside of the roll with the rum buttercream and decorated the roll with fresh flowers from the garden outside the cottage. When she served it up after the pasta dinner, her mom was so surprised and pleased…what an excellent Mothers’ Day gift!

On each serving the daughter spooned some extra, uncooked, blueberries and strawberry slices. The woodcutter even added some stawerry jam to his serving.

What a decadent and delicious dessert and perfect for spring! The goodwife was wonderfully surprised by the cake, impressed with her daughter’s baking skills and kindness in making it. It was a very nice ending to a nice weekend.

Wishing all mothers a happy Mothers’ Day, especially if you will be with your child/children. Extending a hug to mothers whose children are far from home, ill, or claimed by death, to those who would be mothers but have not yet been able to, and to children who are not able to be with their mothers today, for whatever reason. Remember the love you share with your mother, grandmother, child, foster child, adopted child, child of your desire. Love never dies but lives in our hearts always.
Do remember that although the food is real, this story, and all the stories in the Land of St. Honore’, are pure fiction. My own daughter has many talents, but, as far as I know, baking a genoise is not one of them. She lavishes such love on me throughout the year that, although I miss her since she is not here today, I know that whenever she flies in from the north that we will have a great time and I feel very loved and appreciated each day.

The recipe is at the end of this post if you wish to make this springtime dessert, too.

The Genoise and Buttercream recipes are the same, or only slightly varied, as the recipes used for the Yule Log from Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri and The Williams-Sonoma Collection: Dessert) (see link at beginning of story). The berry filling is my own creation.

Cake should be stored in the freezer, tightly wrapped. Leftovers should be frozen, but only for a day or two more, at the most. Best eaten the day it is made.

Berry Good Ice Cream Cake Roll
Serves 12

The Genoise
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
¾ cup of sugar
½ cup cake flour - spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off (also known as cake & pastry flour)
¼ cup cornstarch

one (1) 10 x 15 inch jelly-roll pan that has been buttered and lined with parchment paper and then buttered again

1.Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

2.Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.

3.Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Place over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is just lukewarm, about 100 degrees if you have a thermometer (or test with your finger - it should be warm to the touch).

4.Attach the bowl to the mixer and, with the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled (touch the outside of the bowl to tell) and tripled in volume. The egg foam will be thick and will form a slowly dissolving ribbon falling back onto the bowl of whipped eggs when the whisk is lifted.

5.While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour and cornstarch.

6.Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder.

7.Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

8.Bake the genoise for about 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure the cake doesn’t overbake and become too dry or it will not roll properly.

9.While the cake is baking, begin making the buttercream and the berry filling.

10.Once the cake is done (a tester will come out clean and if you press the cake lightly it will spring back), remove it from the oven and let it cool on a rack.

Rum Buttercream
4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
24 tablespoons (3 sticks or 1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons rum

1.Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

2.Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk on medium speed until cooled. Switch to the paddle and beat in the softened butter and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth. Measure the liquor and beat into the buttercream. (You will only use half of this buttercream, but it keeps well in the fridge for at least a week…surely you can figure out another use?)

Berry Ice Cream Filling
½ cup fresh blueberries. If large, slice in half
1 cup diced strawberries, tops removed
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon water

In a small pot place all the ingredients, stir to mix, cove, then bring to a boil. Uncover and boil one minute. Remove from heat an cool to room temperature.
Take one pint of frozen yogurt or ice cream (I used raspberry – vanilla swirl frozen yogurt) and soften it. Mix with the cooled berry mixture, then place in a shallow pan and freeze to firm it up a bit. Stir after 10 minutes to keep it smooth.

Putting It all together:
Take a sharp knife and run it around the edges of the cake pan. Turn the cake out on a clean work surface and peel off the parchment paper. Turn the cake back over, so the top is facing up. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the cake with another tablespoon of rum (optional), then fan with a cake pan to evaporate some of the alcohol.

Stir the berry filling to a spreadable consistency, then spread it evenly over the cake. Roll up as tightly as possible, then wrap well in a length of heavy duty foil. Seal the ends by twisting them. Place the cake roll in the freezer at least 4 hours or overnight to firm up.

Remove from freezer and unwrap. Slice off the ends, exposing the swirled cake and filling. Place the roll on the serving platter and frost with half the buttercream, swirling the buttercream in a decorative way. Reserve the second half of the buttercream for another use.

Decorate with more berries or fresh flowers. Serve each slice with additional mixed berries for garnish.


  1. Oh yum, berry ice cream in a excellent idea!!!

  2. Thank you so much Pat! Fact maybe stranger than fiction but fiction can be a very healthy thing in fact and fun is always a good thing. Beautiful post!

  3. I always love your stories Elle! Happy Mother's Day!

  4. What a fantastic creation!

  5. This cake roll looks amazing! I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day!

  6. This is beautiful! It looks just so refreshing!

  7. Sounds delicious. SO fresh and fruity.

  8. True or not, stories from the Land of St. Honore are always a good read!

  9. Beautiful cake roll. What a lovely story. I think I'll pretend it happened to me.

  10. how beautiful! this looks delicious and perfect for a spring day!

  11. Looks delicious Elle! I'm bummed I missed out on seeing your daughter. Just a week too early! I'm excited to try it once fruit season hits our frozen tundra of the midwest.

  12. That's a great take on a Yule tide log, and the colours are so pretty too :)