A Yule Log is a classic Christmas cake, that requires just the minimum of cake decorating skills and yet can make a stunning centrepiece. Made from a chocolate Swiss roll, covered with a rich Chocolate icing
When I was growing up, a Yule log was always part of our Christmas day spread, as was a rich fruit Christmas cake. That was a perk of having a baker for a father. There was never a shortage of cake!
These days I am more likely to make just one Christmas cake which I vary from year to year. Maybe my special fruit and nut cake which was packed full of candied fruit and whole nuts. Or perhaps a Traditional rich fruit cake, decorated like this Easy Retro Christmas Cake Only Crumbs Remain It was delicious.
And of course sometimes a yule log.
Don't be put off by the number of steps in the recipe it is really straightforward to make. You can make a simple log or cut off one end to make a stubby branch which I like to do because it reminds me of the ones my dad made and my childhood Christmases. It also, has the advantage that it fits on a plate easily.
The ones we sold in the bakery had a plastic robin and a Merry Christmas badge on them but I don't think they are really necessary. Now I prefer to decorate mine with just a dusting of icing sugar for snow and a few fresh holly leaves. The bark effect is made with a fork.
I recently made another yule log for a Christmas meeting of the Borough Market Cook Book Club. For this, I followed Nigella Lawsons yule log recipe as hers was one the featured books from which we had to cook.
The cake itself was a bit more fiddly than mine (whisking eggs and egg whites separately) but the major difference was that she rolls her log up from the long end making a long thin cake.
I have always opted for a shorter plumper cake in the past but having made one I realised that if you are serving this on Christmas day rolling from the longer end gives you more petite slices which may be better as everyone has already eaten so much by the time it gets round to cake.
It would also be ideal rolled this way to serve at a Christmas party as you get more slices. Finding a suitable dish to serve it on maybe a little trickier though, I used an odd long tile that I had or you could serve it on a long board. I shall leave it you to decide if you want a short plump yule log or a long and skinny one.
How to make a Yule Log Step by Step
- 6 large eggs
- 175 g caster sugar, plus extra to sprinkle
- 100 g self-raising flour
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 200 g dark chocolate about 54% cocoa solid
- 250 g butter softened
- 250 g icing sugar, plus extra to dust (powdered sugar)
- Preheat the oven to 190℃ (180℃ fan)/400°F/gas mark 5. Grease and line a 25x38 cm (10x15in) Swiss roll tin with baking parchment.
- Place 6 eggs and 175g (¾ cup) caster sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk until very thick and creamy. The mixture is ready when it leaves a trail for about 10 seconds after lifting out the whisk.
- Sift in 100g (¾ cup) flour and 3 tbsp cocoa powder over the whisked eggs and carefully fold in with a spatula or metal spoon until evenly combined.
- Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and gently tip the pan so that the mixture goes into the corners. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until springy to the touch.
- Turn the cake out onto another sheet of baking parchment lightly sprinkled with caster sugar. Carefully remove the lining paper. Trim off the edges and cut a knick halfway through the cake about 2cm (1in) from the short end (or long end if you are making a long thin log).
- Fold the indented end in and roll up tightly with the baking parchment inside the roll. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, make the icing. Melt 200g (7oz) chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water, stirring until fully melted. Remove from the pan and allow to cool.
- Beat 250g (9oz) butter and 250g (2⅛cup) icing sugar together until pale and fluffy, then gradually beat in the cooled chocolate.
- To complete the cake. Carefully unroll the Swiss roll and spread with about one-third of the buttercream. Carefully re-roll without the paper. Cut off a wedge from one end and place the cake on a plate or board with the cut off piece butting up to one side.
- Carefully spread the remaining chocolate icing all over the cake. Use a fork to make a bark effect along the lengths of the log and use a small knife to spread the chocolate in a circular movement over the ends of the log.
- Chill for about 1 hour before decorating with a dusting of icing sugar.