The only way to end an epic baking venture alike mine is to go out with a bang. The mighty yule log – or bûche de Noël if you’re going to be all fancy shmancy about it – is a beautiful chocolatey alternative to our festive fruity friends – Mr. Christmas Cake, Mrs. Figgy Pud and Mincy McPie. While awfully traditional, unfortunately not everyone enjoys alcohol-soaked fruit deserts (goodness knows why), having other options is always a good move.
I don’t usually make a Yule Log for Christmas, because we eat mince pies, xmas pud, pumpkin pie and or carrot cake. There is no room for any more desert options! But this is why having a food blog is great! Over the past 6 weeks, I have tried recipes I have never even heard of! I find myself looking out for new techniques to master, new flavour combinations to incorporate, and I am now completely incapable of cooking anything at all without out taking pictures along the way in case I want to write about it later down the line.
The 12 Bakes of Christmas, while occasionally stressful with everything else going on at this time of year, have been what I can only describe as an enjoyable learning curve. Would I like to rewind a few months and tell my past-self to plan ahead a little better? Yes – absolutely. But would it have been any less stressful? Potentially not. Without giving myself the challenge, I’m not sure I would have made time to blog at all in December, so what I guess I am trying to say is that I am an idiot who likes to make life difficult, but quite often it’s worth the struggle in the end!
Ooo. That went a little deep. Climb on out of that thought-filled hole and let’s stroll back over to Yule Log land. The reason I decided to tackle this particular bake was because a friend had asked for a recipe/tips and tricks and I didn’t really have anything concrete to share. I had seen a recipe in Good Housekeeping UK, though, so promised to include it as one of my bakes! This recipe is a Nigella Special, sprinkled in snow. The icing sugar variety. Not Nigella’s most recent snow choice. Thought it worth clarifying. I fear Nigella might be having a blue Christmas this year. Chin up, Nige! It’ll all be ok in the end. At least you’re not Paula Dean, eh?
It is now I bid you farewell until the New Year. I have family to see, festivities to embrace, and a stay-cation to enjoy. Have a truly magical Christmas and a fabulous New Year. Merry baking y’all!
Preheat oven to 180°C
6 medium eggs
150g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
50g cocoa powder
175g plain chocolate (70% cocoa)
250g icing sugar
225g unsalted butter, softened
1tbsp vanilla extract
1/ Grease and line a Swiss roll tin (or regular tin – 11in x 15in) with baking parchment, leaving a generous overhang at the ends and sides.
2/ Separate the eggs and, using an electric whisk, beat the whites until they hold their peaks. Add 50g of the caster sugar, while continuously whisking until fully combined.
3/ In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining caster sugar until the mixture is moussy, pale, and thick. Add the vanilla, sieve over the cocoa powder, and fold together with a large metal spoon.
4/ Add a few dollops of the egg white mixture to loosen the cocoa mixture, then carefully fold in the remaining whites.
5/ Pour the mixture into the lined cake tin, gently smooth to the corners to level, and bake for 20 minutes. Let the cake cool a little (this doesn’t take long!) before turning it out onto another large piece of baking parchment. Cover loosely with a tea towel.
6/ To make icing, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Set aside for 15 mins once melted.
7/ In a mixer or food processor, mix butter and sifted icing sugar together until smooth. Add chocolate and vanilla extract, mixing until fully combined.
8/ Trim the edges of your cake if required then, with the long edge facing you (landscape), spread one third of the icing thinly over the sponge, ensuring you spread right up to the edges.
9/ This is where it gets a little tricky. Slow and steady wins the race. Roll up the sponge, using the greaseproof paper underneath to help pull it into a round. Make sure that you get a tight roll from the very beginning, otherwise you may end up just folding the sponge over on itself, breaking it. I recommend having a look at other people doing it on YouTube – it’s a tough skill to describe in words.
10/ Cut one or both ends at a gentle angle for the branches. Transfer the main part to a serving board, and stick branches on with a dollop of icing. Spread remaining icing all over the cake, and create a wood-like texture using a fork.
11/ Dust with icing sugar before serving. Enjoy!