Festive Yule Log Recipe for Christmas:
A traditional yule log recipe is based on a Swiss roll mix. I CAN make Swiss rolls. I first tried when I was at school. I whisked and whisked my eggs and sugar till they were nice, yellow and frothy (so I thought) and then, enthusiastically folded in the flour and cocoa mix needed for my chocolate Swiss roll. The gooey cake mix was delicious. It poured into the lined tin a bit like a rich chocolate sauce. And, it baked into something approximating to shoe leather. I learnt that a fatless sponge like the one used for a Swiss roll, needs a very light touch and a lot more patience than I had given it. The whisked eggs have to be so thick and creamy you want to dive in. And, folding in the flour has to be done with extreme care – to keep all the air in the mix.
Using a Betty Crocker Devils Food Cake mix to make a yule log seemed unlikely. For a start, it’s not a fat-free cake. And, I did wonder if it would roll at all. But, the lovely people at Betty Crocker sent me a couple of packets of mix to experiment with and I found a recipe on the American web-site. I have to admit, my first attempt wasn’t perfect. I didn’t seem to have enough mix and I ended up cutting the sponge mixture into squares and serving them like brownies, with hot chocolate sauce. The next time I tried adapting the recipe and the result was amazing. Though, all attempts by me at nicking things off the Christmas Tree to pretty up my cake just looked a bit staged.
I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth and I much prefer bitter chocolate ganache and fresh whipped cream to Betty Crocker vanilla frosting filling as suggested in the recipe or the dark chocolate frosting that I was sent. That’s personal taste and I suspect if you were making this for a family then both the convenience and the extra sweetness of the Betty Crocker icings would work very well. I also read the Guardian’s feature on how to make a Yule Log and took inspiration from there on adding a little chestnut to the filling. The brandy (unsurprisingly) was all my own idea.
I thought my first attempt made just a little too dense a cake. Folding in a couple of whisked egg whites seemed to sort that out. And, I’m a real lover of dark chocolate, so I enriched the mixture with dark chocolate powder. You really don’t need to do so, but I like the idea that you can add a few things to a Betty Crocker mix and make it your own. Next time I might try a little instant coffee dissolved in water. Or, stir in some more of that lovely chestnut jam. You could tart up the filling a bit more too – I’d have added chopped marrons glaces if I’d had any (they get eaten far too quickly for that to be likely in my household). And, the ganache can be anything you want – add orange zest or ground almonds, make it with milk chocolate or even white chocolate.
- 1 packet Betty Crocker Devils Food Cake
- 6 Medium Eggs
- 2 Egg Whites
- 4 tablespoons Cold Water
- 2 tablespoons Rapeseed Oil
- 1 tablespoon Chocolate Powder I used Mortimers 70%
- 250 ml Whipping Cream or Double Cream
- 2 tablespoons Chestnut Jam
- 1 tablespoon Brandy
- 285 ml Double Cream
- 250 g Chocolate I used Green and Blacks 70% Cooking Chocolate, but if you are making this for children you may want to use milk chocolate
- Icing sugar
Heat the oven to 170c. Line a large swiss roll pan (at least 15x10 inches) with silicone baking paper.
Beat the whole eggs till thick and light. Whisk the egg whites till they are stiff. Fold the cake mix, water and oil into the beaten eggs and mix gently till fully incorporated. Fold in the egg whites
Spread the mixture into your swiss roll pan and place in the oven
Bake for 15-18 minutes till a fork inserted into the mixture comes away clean.
Sprinkle a little icing sugar over a clean tea towel. I seem to remember I used to use a damp tea-towel, but if the cake is warm enough, there should be plenty of steam from the the sponge itself. Turn the cake onto the tea towel and remove the silicone paper. While the cake is still hot, roll up along the long end. You can help things along by gently cutting into the sponge about 1/4 inch from the edge. Once you have a neat parcel, place on a cooling rack and leave to cool for at least an hour
Cut all the chocolate finely
Heat the cream for the ganache till just below boiling point. Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate and stir until the mixture is smooth and thick.
Cover and refrigerate
When the cake is cool whisk the remaining cream until stiff, fold in the chestnut jam and brandy.
Gently unroll the cake and remove the tea towel. I find it easier to leave the cake half-rolled, rather than flattening and push the cream filling through with a dessert spoon or round bladed knife.
Roll the cake back up and place on a cooling rack with a large board underneath
Once the ganache is cool, coat the cake carefully
Move the cake from the cooling rack to whatever dish you are planning to use to serve from. Use the prongs of a fork to create a 'bark' from the ganache. Sprinkle with icing sugar or decorate with festive ornaments. Or both if you are so inclined.
Covered with a foil tent, this will store well in the fridge for 24-48 hours.
This yule log works well as a centrepiece for a cold spread. Or, if your family are not great fans of Christmas pudding you COULD serve it as a pudding, perhaps lacing the cake with a little more brandy before adding the ganache. It’s really very very good. And it reminded me that Christmas should be fun for everyone, even the person who is doing most of the cooking. So, once again thank you Betty Crocker for making my life easy!
And, if you’d like to make this recipe yourself, why not pin the post for later