Chocolate Yule Log
A French Christmas classic - a chocolate cake, playfully dressed up to look like a winter woodland scene. And best of all, a Christmas cake you can rustle up at the last minute!
a little cocoa powder
a little icing sugar
sprigs of rosemary
a little caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 200c /180c fan
Spray a Swiss roll tin with oil, and line with baking parchment. Spray more oil on top of the parchment.
Crack the eggs into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add the sugar and cold water, then whisk for approximately 5 minutes, until the eggs are foamy and voluminous.
Meanwhile, weight out the self-raising flour and cocoa powder into a small mixing bowl.
Once the egg mixture is ready, use a fine mesh sieve to sift about half of the flour mixture over the eggs.
Use a spatula to carefully fold the flour into the eggs.
When the flour is mostly incorporated, sift the reckoning flour on top, and continue folding until there are no more dry spots.
Gently scrape the cake mixture into the prepared Swiss roll tin, then tilt and shake the pan to encourage the batter into the corners.
Place into the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, until the cake has some structure but is still a little soft to the touch.
Immediately cover the cake tightly with aluminium foil, and leave to cool completely.
Place the egg whites and sugar into a heatproof bowl, and set over a bain-marie.
I use the bowl of a stand mixer, to make everything cleaner and easier.
Stir gently over a medium heat until the sugar has all dissolved.
Whisk the meringue mixture for about 7 minutes, until cool and thick.
Add the butter, a little at a time, and continue whisking until the buttercream is smooth.
Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave, in short bursts, stirring regularly.
Allow the chocolate to cool a little, then add to the buttercream and whisk again.
Preheat the oven to 90c/75c fan
Whisk the egg white until it is foamy and starting to hold its shape, then slowly sprinkle in the sugar, a little at a time.
Keep whisking until the meringue is glossy and stiff.
Place the meringue into a piping bag with a large round opening.
Pipe an even number of mushroom caps and stalks onto a lined baking sheet.
Use a moistened finger to smooth over the tops of the mushroom caps.
Place into the cool oven for 90 minutes.
When the meringues are cool, assemble the mushrooms by simply pushing the stalks into the caps.
You can make the mushrooms look more realistic by dusting them with cocoa powder.
Assembly and decoration:
Remove the foil from the Swiss roll tin, and pull the cake and parchment out completely.
Spread a layer of the buttercream all over the top side of the cake, leaving a 1-2cm gap along one of the long edges.
Take a breadknife and cut off that 1-2cm piece of cake, and fold it completely over onto the buttercream.
Use this ‘cut and fold’ to start the roll tightly, and pull the parchment up and over to help keep things even and together.
Once the roll of complete, cut the top quarter off the cake at a 45 degree angle.
Arrange the chocolate roll on your presentation plate, with the smaller piece positioned to look like a branch.
Place the remaining buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a star tip, and pipe straight lines up and down the branches.
On the log ends, swirl the nozzle to create circles.
Feel free to play with the buttercream bark using a fork of skewer to make it look more natural.
Give the yule log a generous dusting of icing sugar to give the impression of snow.
Decorate the yule log with the meringue mushrooms.
Add sprigs of rosemary, and redcurrants dusted with caster sugar to give the appearance of foliage.
Dan Beasley-Harling's Chocolate Yule Log