#MyrtleMondays: Joyeux Noel! In Which I Bake a Fan Recipe

No, Dear Reader, your eyes do not deceive. This is indeed a Holiday Baking Post! A few weeks ago, I received a treasure by post: a reader’s heirloom recipe for bûche de noël (or yule log cake), a French tradition dating from the late 19th century.

First up, happy Boxing Day to our UK and Commonwealth friends! Read more about this quintessentially British holiday tradition here

This moment from Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries #3, Cold-Blooded Myrtle, inspired her to send me the treasured family recipe. But this isn’t just any reader–this is a Very Special Reader Indeed! This Special Reader is my very own childhood librarian, Carol Elbert from Ames Public Library.

Although the library underwent a total renovation when I was 10, it’s this 1909 structure that is fixed in my head.

But Carol wasn’t just my librarian—she was also the mom of one of my best friends. Lisa and I met in homeroom on the first day of 7th grade (Myrtle’s age). We bonded instantly over books and science, nature, art and general youthful nerdiness.

Ames Public Library’s “Little Theater” has displayed dioramas of beloved children’s books since 1939! (Possibly another inspiration for Cold-Blooded Myrtle)

Lisa was an extraordinary young woman—brilliant, talented at everything from weaving to photography to theater lighting, multi-lingual, and a world-traveler. We took walks in the woods, shared our favorite ghost stories, participated in History Day and Color Guard, baked cookies, and stitched. Lisa and I even went to England together. She was by my side the blustery March morning I saw the ruined pier in Brighton, a sight that inspired the setting of How to Get Away with Myrtle. Sadly, Lisa passed away from a very rare cancer in 2009, a few months after we all celebrated the release of my first book, A Curse Dark as Gold, at our hometown library.

So it was a tremendous honor to have Carol share her family’s recipe for Bûche de Noël with me.

Was I intimidated? You bet! But the Gauntlet Had Been Thrown, and I was brave enough to accept the challenge. So this weekend, ingredients in hand (mostly—there were at least two emergency store runs. So. Many. Eggs…), I whipped my first meringue:

…rolled my first jellyroll…

There’s CAKE in that tea towel! Thank goodness for nine seasons of “Great British Bakeoff” so I knew how this ought to look.

Et voila! C’est magnifique! Miss Judson would approve.

A mysterious sort of pudding shaped like a log! With some on-theme decorations.

…And this is one of the bazillion reasons that being a children’s author is the Greatest Job in the World. Having readers—whether you’ve known them your whole life, or just met through your books—reach out to share something special with you, because something you wrote touched them. This is certainly a Christmas gift I’ll never forget. Thanks, Carol!

Keep reading for a Bonus Project!

In other Holiday Making News, this year Myrtle and I celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the Best Christmas Movie Ever, The Muppet Christmas Carol. I first wrote about this finest of all adaptations of the Charles Dickens classic last year: Victorian Christmas On Film. In that post, I declared:

The very moment I finished that post, I started plotting and scheming, sourcing fabrics and patterns and working out Esoteric Nightcap Geometry (more complex than you’d expect). Et voila, Dear Reader: a marvelous miniature Dickensian dressing gown and nightcap!

Also suitable for a trip to Narnia

So far no spirits have appeared to haunt us (alas), so we must be keeping Christmas well. Tiny Tim said it best: God bless us, every one.

Happiest of holidays, Dear Readers, from Myrtle & Co!

2 Responses to “#MyrtleMondays: Joyeux Noel! In Which I Bake a Fan Recipe”

  1. J. Hyde

    A lovely story for a lovely post. The Buche de Noel and the dressing gown are fabulous. 😊