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Chocolate Yule Log

Written by Natalie Barker on

Continuing the ‘Christmas baking ideas’ thread on our blog, this weeks offering is a classic Yule Log. As a centre piece for a festive feast the Yule Log deserves it’s place as a favourite in British homes (although officially it’s a French idea, a Buche de Noel but we’ll gloss over that bit).

My Yule Log is a mix of a few recipes and suggestions including a bit nicked from Mary Berry, an idea from James Martin, a bit from The Dairy Cookbook (circa 1970) and some really awful piping skills that in the case of recreating bark come in quite handy.

Ingredients:

For the chocolate sponge:

  • 5 large free range eggs
  • 125g Caster Sugar
  • 72g Self-raising flour
  • 50g Cocoa Powder

For the chocolate Ganache topping:

  • 300ml (1/2 pint) double cream
  • 325g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces

For the Nuttercream™ filling:

  • 50g mixed Hazelnuts & Walnuts, roughly crushed
  • 65g butter, softened
  • 140g icing sugar, sifted + extra for dusting at the end
  • 20ml fresh milk

Preparation method:

Preheat oven to 200°C. Lightly grease a 35 x 24cm swiss roll tin and line with non stick paper or baking parchment (sides as well).

For the sponge whisk the eggs and sugar in a large bowl (electric mixer is best for this) until the mixture is pale in colour, light & frothy. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into the bowl and carefully cut and fold together using a spatular until all the cocoa and flour are mixed into the egg mixture (be careful not to beat out the air in the mixture & note from the mixture below that my mixing wasn’t quite perfect). The mix into your lined tin and spread evenly making sure you get into the corners. Bake in the middle of pre-heated oven for 8-10 minutes until well risen and firm to the touch.

Place a piece of baking parchment larger than the swiss-roll tin onto the work surface. Dust generously with icing sugar. Invert the (still hot) cake onto the paper (be brave, do it in one quick move) and remove the lining paper from the bottom of the cake. Cut a score mark about 2cms in along the long side of the cake. Starting with this edge begin to tightly roll up the sponge using the baking paper. Roll with the paper inside and sit the roll on top of its outside edge to cool completely.

Whilst the cake is cooling make the ganache topping. Heat the cream in a pan until it’s just hot enough to still put your finger in. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate chunks, stir until melted and smooth. Cool to room temperature then put it in the fridge to firm up (it needs to be very quite for piping).
Make the Nuttercream™ centre by beating the butter until soft then gradually beating in the icing sugar and milk until the mix is light and fluffy. Add the crushed nuts.

Uncurl the cold swiss roll and remove the paper. Spread the Nuttercream™ on top and re-roll tightly. Cut a quarter of the cake off the end (on an angle). Transfer the cake to a serving dish and angle the cut end in to the middle of the cake to make a branch.

Put the cold ganache into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. Pipe long lines along the cake (work from the bottom up), cover the cake completely so it looks like tree bark (a lack of piping skill will just add to the rough tree bark effect). You can choose to ice in the ends or leave them open. Alternatively you can spread the ganache using a palette knife and use a fork to create the texture.
Dust with icing sugar and garnish with holly and/or a robin to serve (see photo at the top of page).

For the perfect drink to enjoy with your Yule Log see last weeks Christmas Pudding Vodka blog or for more Christmas baking ideas see our Maple and Walnut Streusel cake or our Honey & Spice Cake.

Natalie Barker

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