Continuing my very busy month of classes, I recently went to a class with Sarah at Baby Cakes to learn how to make a White Chocolate Yule Log (or Bȗche de Noël ). These are in all the patisseries in France at Christmas, so seeing as we are having Christmas at home with my family this year, I thought it would be nice to learn.

I always enjoy Sarah’s classes and her recipes have always worked perfectly at home. Her berry soufflé rose so high the first time I tried it at home, I had to scrub the top of my oven and top shelf (not that I minded, as I was so worried they wouldn’t rise – I’ve since learnt not to doubt Sarah’s recipes). I’ve made her cupcakes so many times, and they have always resulted in beautifully moist cupcakes. Sarah has been generous enough to allow me to share her recipes on my blog, so cupcakes will be coming soon (I am baking a massive batch tomorrow for birthday morning tea for work, so I’ll put them up early next week) and I’ll try and get the soufflé recipe up as well.

But back to the Yule Log. I’ve always thought they would be extremely difficult and fiddly, but it was actually a lot of fun to make and achievable at home, and it rolled up a lot easier than I expected. Plus the frosting hides any mistakes. The recipe may look like a lot of steps, but it is only a few ingredients and processes. I believe that these are traditionally decorated with marzipan or other decorations, meringue mushrooms and some of the ones I saw in France a few years ago were very elaborately decorated. Having just learnt how to use fondant, I tried making an elf and reindeer at home and took them along with me, and was quite happy with how they turned out for a first attempt. We also made chocolate decorations (melted chocolate, piped onto baking paper) and some fondant holly (roll out green fondant, cut with a holly cutter and then roll balls with red fondant for the berries). You can decorate it anyway you want. You could also replace the white chocolate ganache with dark chocolate for a dark log. That is the joy of cooking, you can make it the way you want using the basic recipe as the base.

Thank you to Sarah at Baby Cakes for allowing me to share this recipe.Bȗche de Noël

White Chocolate Yule Log

Equipment

  • Swiss roll tin – approximately 30x40cm (the ones we used in class varied slightly in size, so a few centimetres difference will still work, however this size gives the best results)
  • Electric hand whisk or stand mixer

Ingredients

Chocolate cake

  • 6 eggs (59g each) – separated into two bowls
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 50g cocoa powder – (you can use regular or Dutch cocoa, the Dutch cocoa will give you a more bitter chocolate taste – we used regular)

White Chocolate Ganache

  • 150g white chocolate (buttons or grated if in a block)
  • 100ml thickened cream

Frosting

  • White chocolate ganache
  • 500ml thickened cream (which you whip with the ganache once cooled for the frosting)

Method

Ganache

  1. Make the ganache first as this needs to cool before you use it. Place the chocolate in a bowl – if your buttons are quite large, partially melt first.
  2. Heat the cream in a small saucepan and bring to the boil (you want it at the stage where the bubbles start to rise up), take pan off the heat and pour over the chocolate.
  3. Mix to combine (with a whisk). Chill until thickened.

Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan forced. Line the tin with baking paper, allowing some overhang to assist with removing from the tin and rolling the log.
  2. Whip the egg yolks either with an electric hand whisk/beater or with a stand mixer. You want to whisk until the yolks become pale. Once pale, add the sugar and whisk until even paler and very thick (ribbon consistency).
  3. Sift the cocoa powder into the yolks and mix (with a spatula or spoon) until well combined. Don’t worry if some of the cocoa powder seems to stick to the bowl and won’t combine, it will eventually once you add the whisked whites.
  4. Whisk the whites with a hand beater or stand mix until they form soft peaks (see note). Mix 1-2 spoons into the yolk/cocoa mix to lighten it, then fold the remainder in gentle until just combined. You need to be gentle at this stage as this is the only thing that makes your cake light.
  5. Pour gently into the prepared tin and smooth evenly. Place in oven for 15-20 minutes (ours took 15 minutes in class). If it springs back when you touch it, it is cooked.
  6. Set aside to cool. When cool remove from tin until you need it.

    Cooked chocolate cake

Frosting

  1. Whisk the remaining cream (500ml) and ganache together until thick.
  2. If the cake is stuck to any corners of the paper, pull it away gently to make the rolling easier and prevent tearing the cake. Place on the bench or table with the long ends in front of you (so you make a long log).
  3. Spread the frosting evenly onto the top of the cake, keeping at least a third for later. You could add other ingredients at this stage if you want (I’m going to add some raspberries next time).
  4. Now it’s time to roll. Using the baking paper to help, slowly ease the cake into a roll. Just keep guiding it with your hands and pulling the paper as you go. Have a tray with clean baking paper ready and when it is rolled into a log, transfer to the clean tray, rolling it out of the paper. Don’t worry if you get some cracks, its going to be covered. Make sure the join is on the bottom.

    Rolled and ready to frost

  5. Now it’s time to turn in into a Yule Log. Using a spatula, cover the cake with the remaining frosting. It doesn’t need to be neat and smooth, you want it to look like bark. Once covered you can leave it as a long log, or cut a piece at an angle and place part way along (cut end towards the log) to make a forked branch. Fill in the gap with frosting. You can cut the ends if you want to make it neat, or cover with frosting – it’s up to you. You could even cut it straight and put it on top.

    Ready to decorate

  6. Now the fun bit – decorate it however you want. It looks great with some melted chocolate piped over to create more of a bark effect. If you are going to use fondant decorations, don’t place these on the log until just before serving as they will sweat in the fridge (or with the moisture of the frosting) and the colour with run into the frosting.
  7. Refrigerate until needed and enjoy!

    Finished Yule log

Note – make sure your bowl and whisk/beaters are free of any oil and you remove any egg yolk that you might get into the mix from the whites – as this will prevent you getting the whites to soft peaks.

Adapted from recipe by Sarah Brigden at Baby Cakes – White Yule Log cooking class