When I was growing up, a Yule log was always part of our Christmas day spread, as was a rich fruit Christmas cake. That was a perk of having a baker for a father. There was never a shortage of cake! These days I am more likely to make just one Christmas cake which I vary from year to year. Last year I made my special fruit and nut cake which was packed full of candied fruit and whole nuts. It was delicious. Its been a few years since I made a yule log so this is my cake of choice this year.
Don’t be put off by the number of steps, it is really straightforward to make. You can make a simple log or cut off one end to make a stubby branch which I like to do because it reminds me of my childhood Christmases, and has the advantage that it fits on a plate easily. The ones we sold in the bakery had a plastic robin and a Merry Christmas badge on them but I don’t think they are really necessary. Now I prefer to decorate mine with just a dusting of icing sugar for snow and a few fresh holly leaves. The bark effect is made with a fork.
Yesterday I made another yule log for the Christmas meeting of Borough Market Cook Book Club. For this, I followed Nigella Lawsons yule log recipe as hers was one the featured books. The cake itself was a bit more fiddly than mine (whisking eggs and egg whites separately) but the major difference is that she rolls her log up from the long end making a long thin cake. I have always opted for a shorter plumper cake but having made one I realised that if you are serving this on Christmas day rolling from the longer end gives you more petite slices. It would also be ideal rolled this way to serve at a party as you get more slices. Finding a suitable dish to serve it on may be a little trickier though, I used an odd long tile that I had. I shall leave it you to decide if you want a short plump yule log or a long and skinny one.
This traditional Christmas bake is a Chocolate swiss roll, decorated with a rich chocolate buttercream.
- 6 large eggs
- 175 g caster sugar, plus extra to sprinkle
- 100 g self-raising flour
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 200 g dark chocolate about 54% cocoa solid
- 250 g butter softened
- 250 g icing sugar, plus extra to dust (powdered sugar)
Preheat the oven to 190℃ (180℃ fan)/400°F/gas mark 5. Grease and line a 25x38 cm (10x15in) Swiss roll tin with baking parchment.
Place the eggs and caster sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk until very thick and creamy. The mixture is ready when it leaves a trail for about 10 seconds after lifting out the whisk.
Sift the flour and cocoa powder over the whisked eggs and carefully fold in with a spatula or metal spoon until evenly combined.
Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and gently tip the pan so that the mixture goes into the corners. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until springy to the touch.
Turn the cake out onto another sheet of baking parchment lightly sprinkled with caster sugar. Carefully remove the lining paper. Trim off the edges and cut a knick halfway through the cake about 2cm (1in) from the short end (or long end if you are making a long thin log).
Fold indented in and roll up tightly with the baking parchment inside the roll. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the icing. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water, stirring until fully melted. remove from the pan and allow to cool.
Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, then gradually beat in the cooled chocolate.
To complete the cake. Carefully unroll the Swiss roll and spread with about one-third of the buttercream. Carefully re-roll without the paper. Cut off a wedge from one end and place the cake on a plate or board with the cut off piece butting up to one side.
Carefully spread the remaining buttercream all over the cake. Use a fork to make a bark effect along the lengths of the log. and use a small knife to spread the chocolate in a circular movement over the ends of the log.
Chill for about 1 hour before decorating with a dusting of icing sugar.
I have made this with 70% cocoa solids but my family found this a bit too rich. We like it best with a plain chocolate of around 54%.
Freeze: For up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in a cool room.
The cake will keep for up to 1 week if stored in an airtight container in a cool place. Best served at room temperature.
More festive Bakes MadeEasy
I am adding this recipe to