A traditional dessert from my childhood that always reminds me of my grandparents.
Christmas dinners. Probably one of my favourite times of year. Turkey, stuffing, delicious mashed potatoes and even better...dessert! Growing up we always had Christmas dinner with my family at my grandparents house - my family, aunts and uncles and my grandparents. The house was always decorated beautifully and the table was set perfectly. Christmas crackers with paper crowns were a tradition each year and we proudly (haha, maybe not all of us) wore them as we ate dinner. And the best part of all was the Christmas Yule log! Light delicious chocolate cake, with yummy whipped cream - what's not to love! My grandma was an excellent baker, always making delicious treats, and making a complete mess of the kitchen while doing it. I luckily and unluckily inherited both of these traits (my husband can attest to the mess part - not a piece of the kitchen goes untouched). A couple years ago, my husband and I hosted Christmas dinner, and I decided to take on the tradition of baking a Christmas Yule log to pay homage to my grandparents (who have been gone for over 15 years now) and it actually turned out pretty good! So since we are hosting again this year, I've decided to make it again, and thought I would share the recipe with you so you can try one yourself :) Happy baking! Let me know how it turns out :)
The recipe is from the BBC. A true British recipe like my grandma would have made. As the recipe is British the measurements are in grams instead of cups. I find this way of baking is actually much more accurate, and you can find a food scale here.
For the chocolate sponge
4 large eggs
100g caster sugar*
67g self-raising flour**
40g cocoa powder
* Caster sugar is finer than granulated sugar. You can find it at Bulk Barn
** Self-raising flour can be purchased at Bulk Barn or you can make your own by adding two teaspoons of baking powder to one cup of all-purpose flour.
For the chocolate ganache topping
300ml double cream (whipping cream, 35%)
300g dark chocolate (or semi-sweet chocolate chips - this is what I prefer to use)
For the cream filling
300ml double cream (whipping cream, 35%)
icing sugar, for dusting
a toy robin or sprig of holly (Check out the dollar store)
Preheat the oven to 400F. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 Swiss roll tin and line with non-stick paper or baking parchment, pushing it into the corners. If you aren't able to find a Swiss roll tin, I use a thin cookie sheet similar to this one. The dimensions are about the same, and it works well.
For the sponge, in a large bowl whisk the eggs and sugar using an electric beater until the mixture is pale in colour, light and frothy. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into the bowl and carefully fold together, using a spatula, until all the cocoa and flour are incorporated into the egg mixture. Be careful not to beat any of the air out of the mixture.
Pour the mixture into the lined tin and spread evenly out into the corners. Bake in the middle of the pre-heated oven for 8-10 minutes or until well risen and firm to the touch and the sides are shrinking away from the edge of the tin.
Place a piece of baking parchment bigger than the Swiss roll tin on your work surface. Dust with icing sugar generously. Immediately after taking it out of the oven, carefully invert the cake onto the paper and remove the bottom lining piece of paper.
Cut a score mark 2.5cm/1inch in along one of the longer edges. Starting with this edge, begin to tightly roll up the sponge using the paper. Roll with the paper inside and sit the roll on top of its outside edge to cool completely. NOTE: It's important to do this step while the Swiss roll is still hot. If it cools down too much before rolling, it will crack.
While the cake is cooling, make the ganache topping. Heat the cream in a pan, just so as you can keep your finger in it. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, stirring until it is melted. Cool to room temperature, and then put into the fridge to firm up (this icing needs to be very thick for piping).
Uncurl the cold Swiss roll and remove the paper. Spread the whipped cream on top and re-roll tightly. Cut a quarter of the cake off from the end on the diagonal. Transfer the large piece of cake to a serving place and angle the cut end into the middle of the large cake to make a branch.
Put the chocolate icing into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. Pipe long thick lines along the cake, covering the cake completely so it looks like the bark of a tree. Cover each end with icing or, if you wish to see the cream, leave un-iced. Alternatively, just use a knife to spread on the icing and create rough bark texture with a fork.
Dust with icing sugar and garnish with fresh holly or a little robin to serve.
Happy baking! :)