TWIN FALLS — Leslie Jones used a knife Thursday to meticulously spread chocolate frosting onto a Christmas yule log cake.
She found the bûche de Noël recipe in a textbook she uses as a student in the College of Southern Idaho’s baking and pastry arts program. It was her first time trying out the recipe.
“This one is a lot of fun,” she said as she worked in a kitchen in college’s Canyon Building on the Twin Falls campus.
Leslie and her husband, Bill Jones, reopened the Oxbow Diner in Bliss in early May. When she’s stressed at her restaurant, she starts baking.
“This is my relaxing time,” she said.
Jones, who’s set to graduate with an associate’s degree in May, made four cakes Thursday. She planned to take two to her restaurant to serve and another was going to a CSI club holding a potluck.
Fellow student Kim Carrauza, and baking and pastry arts instructor Pandora Handley helped out by making decorative toppings for the cake, including arrangements of nuts that look like pine cones.
Are you planning to do any holiday baking this month? Jones’ tip — which she admits she usually doesn’t follow: “Don’t stress. It will all come together.”
But make sure to read the recipe and follow it. “Baking is actually a science,” Jones said. “You need to follow the formula exactly.”
Jones has enjoyed baking for many years. “I really like to do pies. I’ve started to dabble a little more into layered cakes.”
CSI’s baking and pastry arts students have made some holiday-themed desserts so far this school year, including skull cookies for Halloween, pies before Thanksgiving and gingerbread houses.
Jones graduated from CSI’s culinary arts program in 2015. She went through the program with her husband. Then, Jones enrolled in the college’s baking and pastry arts program.
Now, as owner of the Oxbow Diner, “I can take what I’m learning here and put it to use.”
When the Oxbow Café originally opened in 1962, a steady stream of travelers came through on their way to the World’s Fair in Seattle that year, Jones said. “It was booming and stayed that way for many years.”
But the cafe eventually closed and sat vacant. Now, the couple wants to see the restaurant come back to its former glory.
They changed the name from “Oxbow Café” to “Oxbow Diner.”
The sign in front of the building still has the old name, though. Once they own the building, they plan to change the signs.
Jones said she has amazing classmates at CSI and instructor Handley, who come out to the Bliss restaurant to help with baking.
Her husband is the main chef at the restaurant and there are five workers who help cook.
When she’s not in class, Jones hones her cooking and baking skills at the restaurant.
Want to try making the Christmas yule log cake? Here’s the recipe, courtesy of the College of Southern Idaho’s baking and pastry arts program:
Yule log/Chocolate chiffon cake
1 ¼ cup cake flour
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
4 egg yolks
½ cup water
¼ tsp. vanilla (roughly 2 or 3 drops)
4 egg whites
¼ cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar (a pinch)
6 to 8 cups of your favorite buttercream icing. We used an Italian meringue style buttercream.
1. Measure all ingredients and let ingredients come to room temperature.
2. Sift the dry ingredients, including first measure of sugar (the ½ cup), into your mixing bowl.
3. Mixing with the paddle attachment at second speed, gradually add the oil, then the egg yolks, water and vanilla extract. Stopping the machine between additions to scrape the paddle as well as the sides and bottom of bowl. Mix until smooth, but do not over mix.
4. Whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the cream of tartar and sugar in a slow stream and whip to firm, moist peaks.
5. In three additions, gently stir the first amount of whipped egg whites into the flour-liquid mixture, then gently fold the remaining additions of whipped egg whites.
6. Immediately deposit the batter in half sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Spread evenly across pan with offset spatula.
7. Bake at 375 F for 15 to 20 minutes or until cake springs back when pressed down on lightly in the center. Remove cake from oven, and immediately turn out each onto a prepared rack. Let cool approximately 15 minutes or until cake is cool to the touch.
8. Assemble the cake: Place a second sheet of parchment on work surface and transfer cake, old parchment on top to the new sheet. Tightly roll cake into a log, starting with a long end, removing old parchment as you work. Tightly wrap log in clean parchment. Transfer wrapped log, seam side down, to a baking sheet, and refrigerate until firm, at least two hours or overnight.
Unwrap your log, fill with favorite icing. Reroll and coat outside of log with icing. If needed, chill cake till firm. Cut a 4-inch section off one end of your log, then slice that section on the diagonal to use as trimmed branches. Use icing to blend the branch to the log. A fork may be used to add more texture to your bark if desired.
Decorate as you prefer with meringue mushrooms and fondant or marzipan figures.