Out of everything I bake every year, Yule Log is my absolute favourite. Shaped like a tree branch, it’s a chocolate jelly roll that you can stuff with absolutely anything before you decorate it with chocolate butter cream or ganache.
Making a Yule Log is more time consuming than most holiday treats, but if you make an afternoon out of it, it can turn into one of your favourite holiday traditions. My kids think decorating the Yule log is even more fun than doing a Gingerbread house.
Here are two recipes I’ve used to make a Yule log. It’s going to be a cold, snowy pre-Christmas weekend, so if you’re taking a break from shopping, be sure to try it.
Yummy Chocolate Yule Log
This is my tried and true favourite yule log recipe from BBCgoodfood.com. If you want it to be as light and fluffy as possible, be sure to use a stand mixer when mixing. I like to decorate it with holly I clip from the tree out my living room window.
For the cake
85g golden caster sugar
85g plain flour (less 2 tbsp)
2 tbsp cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder
For the filling & icing
140g dark chocolate, broken into squares
1 tbsp golden syrup
284ml pot double cream
200g icing sugar, sifted
2-3 extra-strong mint
Mint, crushed (optional)
Icing sugar and holly sprigs to decorate – ensure you remove the berries before serving
Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Grease and line a 23 x 32cm Swiss roll tin with baking parchment. Beat the eggs and sugar together with an electric whisk for about 8 mins until thick and creamy.
Mix the flour, cocoa and baking powder together, then sift onto the egg mixture. Fold in very carefully, then pour into the tin. Now tip the tin from side to side to spread the mixture into the corners. Bake for 10 mins.
Lay a sheet of baking parchment on the work surface. When the cake is ready, tip it onto the parchment, peel off the lining paper, then roll the cake up from its longest edge with the paper inside. Leave to cool.
To make the icing, melt the butter and chocolate together in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Take from the heat and stir in the syrup and 5 tbsp cream. Beat in the icing sugar until smooth. Whisk the remaining cream until it holds its shape. Unravel the cake, spread the cream over the top, scatter over the crushed mints, if using, then carefully roll up again into a log.
Cut a thick diagonal slice from one end of the log. Lift the log on to a plate, then arrange the slice on the side with the diagonal cut against the cake to make a branch.
Spread the icing over the log and branch (don’t cover the ends), then use a fork to mark the icing to give the effect of tree bark. Scatter with unsifted icing sugar to resemble snow, and decorate with holly.
Tiramisu Yule Log
I love a good tiramisu, and it works well as a Yule Log. This makes a great dessert to bring to a Christmas pot luck. Recipe and photo from epicurious.com.
1/2 cup sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring), plus additional for dusting pan
5 large eggs, separated, left at room temperature for 30 minutes
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup espresso or very strong black coffee
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon Cognac or brandy
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon Cognac or brandy
1/2 cup chilled heavy cream
12 ounces 60% bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Unsweetened cocoa for dusting
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Special equipment: A 15- by 10- by 1-inch rimmed sheet pan (aka jelly-roll pan; small offset spatula (optional, but really helpful); long rectangular or oval platter or wooden serving board
Heat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter pan and line bottom and sides with 1 sheet of parchment paper. Butter paper and dust with additional flour, knocking out excess.
Beat together yolks, vanilla, and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until thick and pale and mixture forms a ribbon that takes 2 seconds to dissolve when beaters are lifted, 5 to 8 minutes in a stand mixer or 8 to 12 minutes with a handheld. Sift half of flour over yolks and fold it in gently but thoroughly, then sift and fold in remaining flour.
Beat whites with salt and cream of tartar in a large metal bowl with cleaned beaters at medium speed until they just hold soft peaks. Beat in remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat until whites just hold stiff peaks.
Fold 1/4 of whites into yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.
Stir 1/2 cup batter into melted butter in a small bowl until combined, then fold butter mixture into batter gently but thoroughly. Spread batter evenly in sheet pan and rap once on counter to help eliminate air bubbles.
Bake until top of cake springs back when gently pressed with finger, 7 to 10 minutes.
Sift top of hot cake evenly with confectioners’ sugar and cover cake with a clean kitchen towel (not terry cloth) followed by a baking sheet. Holding sheet and cake pan together with oven mitts, flip cake onto cloth on baking sheet. Carefully peel off and discard parchment paper.
With a long side nearest you and using towel as an aid, roll up cake in towel, jelly-roll style, keeping it wrapped in towel. Cool cake completely, seam-side down in towel, on a rack.
Make espresso syrup:
Bring espresso and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves, then boil until reduced to a scant 1/4 cup. Remove pan from heat and stir in Cognac, then cool to room temperature.
Slowly mix mascarpone, sugar, cinnamon, and Cognac in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined. If mixture is very loose after adding sugar, beat mixture briefly to thicken slightly (see Cooks’ notes).
Beat heavy cream in another bowl with same beaters at medium speed until it just holds stiff peaks. Fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture.
Put chopped chocolate in a large bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just comes to a boil, then pour over chocolate and let stand 3 minutes. Stir slowly with a whisk until smooth. If bits of chocolate remain unmelted, set bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and heat, stirring gently, until completely smooth, and remove from pan. Stir in corn syrup. Chill, stirring a couple of times, until it thickens to an easily spreadable consistency, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Assemble yule log:
Gently unroll cooled cake on a baking sheet, keeping it on towel, then arrange baking sheet so that long side of cake that was inside roll is nearest to you. Brush all of cooled espresso syrup all over surface of cake. Spread filling with offset spatula evenly over cake, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Starting from long side nearest you, roll up cake without towel, leaving it seam-side down on baking sheet. Gently brush off any excess confectioners’ sugar.
Cut a 1 1/2-inch-long diagonal slice from each end of roll and reserve. Transfer cake, using 2 metal slotted spatulas as aids, seam-side down on platter. Using ganache as “glue,” attach end pieces, diagonal sides down, on top and side of log to resemble branches.
Spread ganache all over roll and branches with offset spatula, making it resemble tree bark
Arrange a few meringue mushrooms, if using, around Yule log, and very lightly sift a little cocoa over log and mushrooms first, followed by a little confectioners’ sugar to resemble a light dusting of snow.
It’s hard to believe but it’s almost Christmas! If you’re just getting into the swing of your Christmas baking and need ideas, take a look at my posts on the best Gingerbread recipes, amazing Christmas cookies, and Christmas cake.
Main image from etsy.com