How to make a French Christmas Cake – ‘Bûche de Noël’ a Christmas yule log

Our lovely friend and neighbour Yolande, showed us how to make the traditional French Christmas cake – ‘Bûche de Noël’, named because it resembles a yule log. Before central heating, when local country people went to church on Christmas Eve they would put a big log on the fire to keep it going on their return……..it was a really enjoyable morning, thank you Yolande!

Buche de Noel before being covered in chocolate!

The Buche de Noel before being covered in chocolate! See how to make it……….

Warming the creme fraiche and butter

Warming the creme fraiche and butter

Adding the chocolate to the hot creme fraiche/butter mixture

Adding the chocolate to the hot creme fraiche/butter mixture

Mixing and melting creme fraiche, chocolate and butter

Mixing and melting creme fraiche, chocolate and butter

Whisking the eggs yolks, flour, lemon zest and juice

Whisking the eggs yolks, flour, lemon zest and juice

Folding in the whisked egg whites with the other mixture

Gently folding in the whisked egg whites with the flour/lemon mixture

Spreading the chestnut creme onto the swiss roll

Spreading the chestnut creme onto the buche de Noel

Creating the swiss roll, or Buche de Noel

Creating the form of the Buche de Noel

Gorgeous chestnut creme

Gorgeous chestnut creme and one end of the buche de Noel

Covering the buche de Noel with chocolate

Covering the buche de Noel with chocolate

Creating the yule log look with a fork…..

Creating the yule log look with a fork…..

al chef de patisserie -Yolande, Mercie Beaucoup!

la chef de patisserie -Yolande, Mercie Beaucoup et Joyeux Noel!

Beautiful Christmas singing by the Parisot Choir

At Limogne en Quercy Church on Sunday afternoon the Parisot Choir were in good voice, as part of their Christmas concert they sang some beautiful church music including ‘Glory to God’ by Heinrich Schutz which I had never heard before. It was lovely! Chef de Choeur is Peter Nowfel – I think he was pleased with their performance, the church was packed and the audience gave them a standing ovation.

Heinrich’s church music wasn’t dull or stodgy. Using ideas from Italian choral music, he made his religious works more dramatic than anything that had been done before him in Germany. Later, Johann Sebastian Bach, one of the most famous composers of all history, borrowed and improved on Heinrich’s methods. http://www.christianity.com

The  next Christmas concert is at Parisot Church on Saturday 21st December 4pm

Do you get good and bad truffles?

Our minuscule truffle…….

Our minuscule truffle…….

We’ve never tasted truffles before so we thought we’d go to the famous truffle market at Lalbenque in SW France. http://www.lalbenque.net Here’s the truffle we bought – it’s smaller than a walnut and cost 6 euros.

Black gold - the grated truffle

Black gold – the grated truffle

We left it sitting in with the eggs for a day and then grated it over an omelette. Unfortunately all we could taste was grit! What have we done wrong…..someone tell us please!

Lalbenque Truffle Market December

Lalbenque Truffle Market December

The little town of Lalbenque is transformed when the weekly truffle market takes place. It’s a real tradition here, all the truffle sellers line up behind wooden benches and display their truffles in little baskets with red and white tea towels. They usually like to try and sell the whole basket, mostly to chefs and restaurants I think as there were lots of expensive cars in town that day.

Black truffles in their basket with traditional red and white tea towel

Black truffles in their basket with traditional red and white tea towel

Lots of chat and bidding going on!

Lots of chat and bidding going on! The card this woman is holding is her licence to sell the truffles

More truffles…..

More truffles…..

Jon getting our petite truffe weighed

Jon getting our petite truffe weighed

How to get English TV in France

Yep we’ve succumbed! This is how you do it and it costs about 200 euros for everything:

Kit required:

1. A Humax box with Freesat –  it allows you to receive TV via satellite, costs about 100 euros from John Lewis http://www.johnlewis.com/

2. A satellite dish or ‘parabole’ in French, get it from Brico Depot http://www.bricodepot.fr/  about 75 euros

3. A bracket to attach the dish to the wall, get it from Brico Depot, doesn’t cost much (‘support pour fixer une antenne parabolique’)

4. A long length of TV wire – something long enough to stretch from the dish to the TV

Get a modern TV that can access satellite

Simple!

Christmas Market in Toulouse – Marché de Noël

Marché de Noël - Christmas market on Place Capitol, Toulouse

Marché de Noël – Christmas market on Place Capitol, Toulouse

The Christmas lights are up in Toulouse and the season of Christmas Markets ’tis begun…lots and lots of gorgeous food and plenty of tat too…

One of the animated stallholders

Marzipan (Almond & honey paste) painted with food colouring and made to look like different fruits

Hand made crepes filled with chocolate

Hand made crepes filled with chocolate paste and a little hot spiced wine ‘Vin Chaud’ ummmmm

More baked goodies -

More baked goodies – Petits pates de Pezenas, little  mutton pies

Petits pâtés de Pézenas

These little sweet, spiced mutton pies are a golden brown, crispy pastry with a moist, sweet inside. They can be eaten as an hors d’oeuvre, with a salad or as a dessert.

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More marzipan sweets

Apple cakes

At the front – baked almond and apple tarts – (Frangipane or a Tart du Pommes)