Friday, 11 January 2013

Slightly post Christmas Yule Log

This year our Christmas celebrations were the biggest we've ever hosted. 12 grown up bodies and 4 little bodies and 1 dog. I did as much prep as I possibly could during the weeks leading up to Christmas so the actual feeding of 16 was much easier than it sounds. Everybody with the exception of Mr Vander-Cave (he developed a migraine) had a brilliant time, even if we were all bursting out at the seams of our little Barn and all felt a little worse for wear on Boxing Day morning. By the time our guests left on Boxing Day afternoon, I was glad of the peace and quiet. Master Vander-Cave was not so keen to be left alone with his boring parents and proclaimed that he 'missed everyone so much and would jump up and down with joy if they all arrived back now' (15 minutes after they had left!).

After a couple of quiet days gorging on all the leftovers and Christmas chocolates, we geared up again for another round of entertaining but this time on a much smaller scale! Our friends from South Gloucestershire came for the day on the way to collect the latest addition to their large family, a cute puppy. They already have 4 children, 2 cats and 2 rabbits! Seeing pictures of their new puppy did make me long for a pup of my own, but thankfully good sense prevailed shortly afterwards and I am now looking forward to fussing theirs on our return visit to them! In honour of their visit I decided to continue the festive feel and made a Yule log. For Christmas I received 3 books by the baking Gods Mary berry and Paul Hollywood (look out for lots of recipes from them in future posts!). The  book contained two very different Yule logs/Buche Noel which   were different again from the one Mary made on the Christmas edition of Great British Bake Off. In the end I went for the Bake Off TV version and was pleased with the results. I didn't have any holly or a robin to decorate my log as per Mary's instruction!

Mary Berry's Yule log.

For the chocolate sponge
4 large free-range eggs
100g/3½oz caster sugar
65g/2½oz self-raising flour
40g/1½oz cocoa powder

For the chocolate ganache topping
300ml/½ pint double cream
300g/10½oz dark chocolate (around 35-40% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
For the cream filling
300ml/½ pint double cream, whipped

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Lightly grease a 33x23cm/13x9in Swiss roll tin, and line with non-stick paper or baking parchment, pushing it into the corners.

For the sponge, in a large bowl whisk the eggs and sugar using an electric hand whisk until the mixture is pale in colour, light and frothy. I used my Kenwood with the balloon whisk.

Sift the flour and cocoa powder into the bowl and carefully cut and 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 preheated 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 the work surface. Dust with icing sugar generously. Carefully invert the cake onto the paper and remove the bottom lining piece of paper.

Cut a score mark 2.5cm/1inch 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.

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, 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 plate and angle the cut end in to 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 palette 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.

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