Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
– 1 Corinthians 5:6-8
I hope to have my head screwed on properly by tomorrow’s post, but maybe not.
Wednesday was our church’s Fellowship of Prayer. There are about 50 prayer warriors, but there are only about 12-16 that show up each month to have fellowship, followed by a work meeting to review the multi-page prayer list. We had only 10 due to minor illnesses and a little snow. For those on the prayer list that are sick, various team members provide updates. If you really ‘care’ about someone, praying for them to regain their health for a year after they passed away does not sound like you cared so much – thus the monthly updates means that someone has gotten in touch with the person or a family member. The fellowship beforehand gives us the energy.
It is always a joy when someone can come off the list due to healing, but they are left on the list for one additional month – moved to Praise and Thanks. Of course, there are other reasons for prayer: bereavement, family issues, etc. But I will speak no more of the business end. All of that is confidential – not the how, just the who and the details.
There is one lovely couple that runs the meetings, but each individual member, of the group that shows up – the ‘inner circle’, takes turns hosting the meeting each month. We had already hosted in the Spring. When the hosting sign-up came around a month or so after we had hosted, I noticed that the group leaders were hosting two months this year. Volunteering was getting lax and, after all, there are two of them.
Oops, there were two of us, and I had been free-loading. I helped set up. I was the pack mule that brought everything, but I never baked. I signed us up for December, not even looking at the date, the first Wednesday.
We were still signed up for December when I got sick, then my wife got sick, then my wife’s surgery was changed to open-heart (we will worry about the gall bladder later). Hey, the meeting is in December. Her surgery is in August. No problem, right?
My wife still has restrictions, but as we were getting closer to the date, I realized that I would have to bake something. This was great. I had baked a Buche de Noel for a couple of years when the boys were small. No problem, right?
Okay, my baking skills are rusty. My reading-the-recipe-carefully skills are even more rusty, but I think it turned out okay. If you must know, no one complained, and no one is in the hospital as a result of eating my cake. (Icing was made and spread by my wife. She used to decorate cakes as a side business many years ago.) My wife also made some orange balls and lemon tea cakes for those that might have problems with the chocolate cake, but no one did. There was only half of one slice to offer the church staff afterwards.
Now, for the date. The Fellowship of Prayer (or FoP among the inner circle) was to be celebrated on 5 December. That is Sinterklaas Day in the Netherlands. So, we decorated the tables with wooden shoes, filled with hay for Sinterklaas’ white horse. Each member of the FoP got marzipan decorated as a lemon, peach, orange, or lime and a chocolate Sinterklaas wrapped in colorful foil. My wife used some of her Delft Blauw as centerpieces. We added some prune people (40+ years old) from the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, since one of the inner circle is from Germany.
I praise our Lord for all His help. I had gotten ahead of schedule on my blog posts leading up to Thanksgiving, but then I started falling back to a ‘just-in-time’ mode. I did not realize He was getting me ahead of schedule for the three days of baking, hosting, and cleaning up. My laziness got in my way a bit, but it still worked out. I would have been less antsy if I had pressed forward, but it is so hard while having a turkey hangover.
Note: The Buche de Noel recipe follows. It has nuts. It has alcohol, some not cooked out (the Grand Marnier in the cream filling). What it does not have is wheat or yeast. I do not think it counts as unleavened bread. You do not make this traditional French ‘Yule Log’ in a hurry. Also note that as soon as you take the melted chocolate off the heat, it immediately starts to stiffen. So, in the cake batter preparation you must have everything ready to fold together. For the icing preparation, you may need a splash of milk to keep the icing workable. Also note, a bread knife is best in cutting the cake so that it retains its shape.
Regarding the boasting as being ‘yeast’, a puffing out of our chests, my wife told me to never pick December again. It was too draining. We enjoyed the praise, but we knew I had screwed up in the cake preparation, just not bad enough to start over. And we give credit to God. There were so many instances that could have led to something falling apart, but none of that happened. With my track record, something ‘always’ seems to happen. So, when it comes together without any noticeable glitches, I thank my wife for her baking and party-giving skills, and I praise the Lord. No room for any yeast here.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.
Buche de Noel
For the cake:
6 eggs – separated
5/8 cup (140g) granulated sugar
3 oz (85 g) cooking chocolate, melted
1 tablespoon run or brandy
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
4 oz (115 g) ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon warm water
For the filling:
1 ¼ cups (280 ml) heavy cream
2 oz (55 g) chopped hazelnuts
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier (or any orange liqueur, like Cointreau)
For the topping:
3/8 cup (85 g) unsalted butter
1 3/8 cups (170 g) icing sugar, sifted
3 oz (85 g) cooking chocolate, melted
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and light. Put the chocolate and the rum or brandy in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water and warm over a gentle heat. Whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar until they are stiff. Mix the ground almonds, the melted chocolate and the baking soda with the egg yolks, adding the warm water. Fold two tablespoons of the egg white into this and then fold this mixture into the egg whites a little at a time, using a metal spoon. Pour the mixture into a large 11in x 16in baking pan lined with baking parchment. Cook at 350F (180C, Gas Mark 4) for 20-25 minutes, testing with a skewer to make sure that the cake is cooked in the middle. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn out on to greaseproof paper sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar. Remove the paper carefully from the bottom of the cake and let it cool completely. Roll up the cake with the fresh paper and wrap in a cloth until ready to fill. Unroll the log and fill with the cream whipped with liqueur and hazelnuts. Cover with chocolate butter icing made by creaming the butter and confectioners’ sugar and holly leaves could be used for decoration. Keep chilled until required.