There is nothing quite as festive as a yule log freshly dusted with icing sugar and sitting in all its chocolatey glory in the middle of a well-laden table, I can assure you.
Sure, it's labour intensive and more than a little bit stressful (especially for a perfectionist like myself...) but once the tears have been cried and the log has been rolled and frosted, there really is nothing to do but stand back and admire. Oh, and try not to eat it before the guests arrive.
If you're thinking of attempting one of these, then set aside several hours, relax, and, most importantly: have fun. Remember, icing hides a multitude of sins, so even if your cake splits completely in half you will easily be able to hide it with a bit of an icing cover up. Think concealer for cakes.
I personally love to use Nigella's recipe (she is a domestic goddess, after all) in her Christmas cookbook "Nigella Christmas" as I find the sponge comes out really springy and is much more willing to roll for you, drastically reducing the risk factor when it comes to assembling. However, this year I decided to give my Yule log a bit of a festive twist, incorporating orange flavours to make it taste like a big rolled up Terry's Chocolate Orange. Except it is most definitely mine.
My rich chocolate orange Yule log
For the cake
6 eggs, separated
150g caster sugar
50g cocoa powder
1tsp vanilla extract
juice and zest of 1 orange
For the icing
175g Terry's Chocolate Orange or other orange flavoured chocolate
250g icing sugar
225g soft butter
1tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 180degrees Celsius.
- Whisk the egg whites until stiff, adding 50g of the caster sugar and whipping until soft peaks are formed.
- Whisk the egg yolks and the rest of the caster sugar in a separate bowl until thick and creamy. Add the vanilla essence, orange juice and zest and stir in.
- Sieve the cocoa powder and add to the mixture.
- Fold the egg whites into the mixture in thirds, being careful not to fold the air out of them.
- Line a flat tin with baking parchment and pour the mixture in evenly.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Allow to cool a little before tipping out onto another piece of baking parchment (carefully!)
- In the meantime, make the icing by sifting the icing sugar into the bowl, adding the butter and mixing until smooth.
- Melt the chocolate either over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave, checking often. Set aside to cool.
- Add the cooled chocolate into the butter and icing sugar and fully incorporate.
- Spread a thing layer of the mixture all over the cake, and then begin to roll, using the parchment to help you manoeuvre the cake.
- Once rolled, ice all over and then use a fork to make log marks all over the cake and swirls at either end. Add some circular knots on the main body of the cake for a gnarled tree look.
- Sieve a little icing sugar over the top for a really festive look (this can be done at the table, to resounding ooh's and aah's from the rest of the guests)
If you like baking, a Yule log is something that ticks all the boxes; it's festive, challenging, fun, impressive, and, most importantly, ridiculously tasty. Enjoy!