Christmas Cake for a smokeless Edmonds

The European term for the Christmas log was Buche de Noel
By John Owen | Dec 20, 2012

I took a reindeer view of downtown Edmonds recently.  After the trucks and other heavy equipment had been removed from the Main Street construction project I couldn't observe  the smallest wisp of smoke drifting across the rooftops.

The townhouses and condos in what is known as the Edmonds Bowl have all the amenities   associated with gracious living.   What they don't  seem to have are a whole lot of wood-burning fireplaces.

This may be classified as a threat to civic health, vitality and holiday ambiance.

In a Dickensonian holiday season, the Christmas log was more than a seasonal decoration.  The log symbolized the sins and shortcomings of the waning year.  When the log was burned these unpleasant memories went up in smoke.

I'm not sure this works with Presto Logs.  Their advantages are symbolized by the merchandising motto, "No bugs, no bark, no dirt."

To that I might add, "and no fire." I have become convinced that  Presto Logs don't want to be set on fire.  Not when I'm scratching the matches underneath these cylinders of compressed sawdust.

Usually they produce singed fingers and an acrid wisp  of smoke which never makes it up the chimney, spreading out over the rooftops of our picturesque community.

There are worse inventions than Presto Logs confounding the holiday season.  There is a product advertised as an "ambient video fireplace. "

Celebrants are urged to "Pop Ambient Fire into your DVD player and turn that black hole in your living room (the TV set) into a roaring, wood-burning fire complete with fireplace sounds plus holiday music or jazz.

The video includes nine stunning fireplace scenes along with 5.1 Dolby surround sound," customers are promised.

OK, you get a roaring, heatless fire, holiday tunes but no smoke drifting into neighborhood skies.

The European term for the Christmas log was Buche de Noel.

That also described a French dessert cake baked in the shape of a Christmas log.  It is sort of a project.  A much simpler holiday dessert is this:


Christmas Cake


1 cup sifted cake flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

whites of six large eggs

1 1/3 cups firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup plain non-fat yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla

powdered sugar


As you can see, this is a low-fat formula for a cake as light as an angel's kiss.

Mix together the flour, cocoa, soda and baking powder.

In a large bowl beat the egg whites with the brown sugar, yogurt and vanilla until smooth.  Add flour mixture and stir just until everything is moistened.

Spray a nine-inch square baking pan with oil and dust lightly with flour.

Pour the cake sludge into the pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until done, usually 30 to 40 minutes.  Let cake cool 15 minutes, then invert on a serving plate.

Sift the powdered sugar over the top of the cake.  Alice sometimes uses a paper cutout to create a snowflake pattern with the powdered sugar.

You can serve the cake hot or at room temperature.

If you burn the cake open the kitchen window so the smoke will drift over the neighborhood rooftops.

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