Ever since I saw Mary Berry making this Yule Log on the Great British Bake Off Christmas Masterclass I have wanted to bake it. It’s chocolatey goodness all around with this four-ingredient fatless sponge and creamy ganache icing. This week we celebrated Sinterklaas in my dorm with a potluck dinner, where the yule log was a smashing success. People wanted seconds pretty much straight after eating the first slice! Now that is, for me, the best compliment you can get as a baker or cook. Also, I wanted to bake something extra special for the occasion, as I am moving back to the Frisian motherland next week. I have been living here for four months now and it has been splendid, but since I’m subletting I need to move back to my parents’ for about a month. I didn’t expect to be staying here for longer, but I got an amazing job offer as a student assistant (I’m not assisting students mind you). That was something I simply couldn’t pass up so I’m moving back in January, and I’ll be living in this city until June. I’ll be living in a studio, which is nice because it provides some privacy, but I’ll miss my dormmates as they are excellent cake-eaters (victims). A lot of moving back and forth to come, I hope I’ll still get plenty of time to bake! At least Christmas is around the corner: every foodie’s favorite holiday!
Fatless sponges are always a little tricky because you have to whip the eggs (+sugar) and whip them good! The eggs will take care of the rise and the fluffiness, together with the (self-raising) flour. This makes the batter difficult to work with as you have to be very careful not to beat the air out when mixing the eggs with the flour and cocoa. I use a silicone spatula to fold in my flour/cocoa because that way I can really scrape everything off the bottom of the bowl – if you don’t have one of those spatulas yet, it is an excellent investment and they don’t have to cost a whole lot.
I didn’t have time to decorate the log any further although it is looking pretty spectacular as it is, don’t you think? Mary Berry suggests adding a robin ornament or some berries for decoration, but you could really go as crazy as you want to. I’m thinking mushrooms, gnomes and all that. So, if you want to bake something really special for a potluck Christmas party or even Christmas dinner dessert, this is a guaranteed winner!
Mary Berry’s Yule Log (Bûche de Noël)
Yields: 10 servings, with a couple of second servings if you play your cards right.
Equipment: 13×9 inch/33x22cm (swiss roll) tin, electric (handheld) whisk, piping bag with a star nozzle, silicone spatula
4 large free range eggs
100gr castor sugar
65gr self-raising flour
40gr cocoa powder
Chocolate ganache icing:
300ml double cream (30% fat content at least)
300gr dark chocolate
300ml whipped double cream
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Lightly grease your baking tin, and line it with non-stick parchment paper. Make sure the paper is in all the corners by pushing it in.
2. Whisk the eggs and castor sugar together in a large mixing bowl until pale in color and frothy. When you think you’re done, whisk for another minute or two.
3. In a separate bowl, measure out the self-raising flour and cocoa powder and blend the two together. This way, the flour and cocoa will be evenly dispersed. Sift the cocoa and flour mixture onto the egg mixture, and incorporate it by folding it in. Make sure you don’t beat the mixture as you’ll lose a lot of air. The batter is done when all of the dry ingredients are incorporated.
4. Pour the mixture into your (lined) tin and spread it out evenly into the corners. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until well risen, and the sides start to shrink away from the edge of the tin.
5. While the sponge is baking, prepare a sheet of parchment paper which is larger than the sponge by sifting a good amount of icing sugar on it. When the sponge is done, carefully invert it onto the sheet and peel away the bottom piece of lining paper, which is now on top of the sponge.
6. Immediately cut a score mark 2.5/1in 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. This will make it easier to roll the sponge up once it is filled with cream. Think of the sponge as a memory foam pillow if you will.
7. While your sponge is cooling, make the ganache icing. Heat the cream in a pan over medium heat, and take the pan off the heat once you can barely keep your finger in the cream (a bit hotter than body temperature, around 40 celsius). Immediately add the chocolate to the warm cream, and stir until all of the chocolate is dissolved. Leave the ganache to cool to room temperature, then put it in the fridge to firm up to piping consistency.
8. Once you are ready to assemble your cake, unroll the sponge and remove the parchment paper. Spread the whipped cream on top and re-roll the sponge tightly, starting with your scored edge. Cut a quarter of the cake off on the diagonal. Place the larger piece on a serving plate and angle the cut end in the middle of the cake.
9. Put the ganache icing in a piping bag with star nozzle. Pipe thick lines along the cake so that it looks like the bark of a tree. Either cover the ends with icing or leave un-iced. If you don’t have a piping bag or star nozzle, you could spread the icing on with a (palette) knife and use a fork to create the bark texture.
10. Dust the cake with icing sugar before serving. Garnish as desired.