It’s Boxing Day and the only reason I’ve gone in to the kitchen so far is to make a cup of tea! I can’t even think about food yet considering the humongous amount I ate yesterday but as always it is completely worth it. The stress of getting everything ready, or should I say the stress of my Mum getting everything ready, and me being there to try and calm her down, two brothers still in bed with a huge hangover, a broken dishwasher and ten places to prepare, however it all came together absolutely perfectly and actually turned out to be a really wonderful day!
My contribution to this year’s festivities was to make a chocolate yule log. My mum always makes the classic trifle, and Christmas cake but she also did baked Alaska and a lime cheesecake!! We were so full yesterday we didn’t even manage the cheesecake, but the other desserts were delicious. As a chocolate lover and simply because I was in the mood for baking, the other day I decided to create Nigella Lawson’s Yule Log.
I have never made anything from Nigella Lawson’s cookbook but I have heard good things, especially about the chocolate Guinness cake! Therefore I thought I’d give it a go. There is a lot of text in the method but don’t be put off by this, it was actually very simple to make. The only part, slightly crucial part that went wrong for me was the rolling and that’s because there was an intervention in the form of my mum! She insisted to help with the rolling and it all fell apart! I was distraught but despite how messy my squashed Yule Log looked, I still loved it and thankfully so did my family.
Here are the ingredients:
for the cake
- 6 large eggs (separated)
- 150 grams caster sugar
- 50 grams cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 teaspoons icing sugar (to decorate)
for the icing
- 175 grams dark chocolate (chopped)I also added 50g milk chocolate
- 250 grams icing sugar
- 225 grams soft butter
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350ºF.
- In one bowl place egg whites and in another the yolks.
3. In a large, clean bowl whisk the egg whites until thick and peaking, then, still whisking, sprinkle in 50g / ¼ cup of the caster sugar and continue whisking until the whites are holding their peaks but not dry.
4. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the remaining caster sugar until the mixture is moussy, pale and thick. 5. Add the vanilla extract, sieve the cocoa powder over, then fold both in.
6. Lighten the yolk mixture with a couple of dollops of the egg whites, folding them in robustly. Then add the remaining whites in thirds, folding them in carefully to avoid losing the air.
7. Line a Swiss roll tin with baking parchment, leaving a generous overhang at the ends and sides, and folding the parchment into the corners to help the paper stay anchored.
8. Pour in the cake mixture and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Let the cake cool a little before turning it out onto another piece of baking parchment. If you dust this piece of parchment with a little icing sugar it may help with preventing stickage, but don’t worry too much as any tears or dents will be covered by icing later. Cover loosely with a clean tea towel.
9. To make the icing, melt the chocolate – either in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water or in a microwave heating for 30 seconds each time, stirring in between.
10. Put the icing sugar into a processor and blitz to remove lumps, add the butter and process until smooth. Add the cooled, melted chocolate and the tablespoon of vanilla extract and pulse again to make a smooth icing. You can do this by hand, but it does mean you will have to sieve the sugar before creaming it with the butter and stirring in the chocolate and vanilla.
11. Sit the flat chocolate cake on a large piece of baking parchment. Trim the edges of the Swiss roll. Spread some of the icing thinly over the sponge, going right out to the edges. Start rolling from the long side facing you, taking care to get a tight roll from the beginning, and roll up to the other side. Pressing against the parchment, rather than the tender cake, makes this easier. (This is where it went wrong- we wrapped the roll within the parchment and when trying to remove it, it all broke apart. I would advise going very slow with the rolling and try and keep it as tight as possible. Just use the parchment to press against it).
12. Cut one or both ends slightly at a gentle angle, reserving the remnants, and place the Swiss roll on a board or long dish. The remnants, along with the trimmed-off bits earlier, are to make a branch or two; you get the effect by placing a piece of cake at an angle to look like a branch coming off the big log.
13. Spread the yule log with the remaining icing, covering the cut-off ends as well as any branches. Create a wood-like texture by marking along the length of the log with a skewer or a fork.
14. Put some icing sugar if a sieve and sprinkle some over the log for that snowy effect.
This is definitely a recipe I will try again and aim to get the perfect log. I needed a piece of Holly too- I might try and make it for New Year’s or another festive treat. This time of year really is such an amazing time for food and being with friends and family, I absolutely love it and hope you all have too.
Here are a few pics from our Christmas day.