Roll up, roll up – for our festive yule log!
Move over, Swiss roll... We’ve gone a little bit fancy for Christmas with a Yule log – French, no less. Yes, it’ll take a little longer to craft, but if there’s any month that warrants a showcake, this is probably it.
250ml whole milk
1 vanilla pod
3 medium egg yolks
60g caster sugar
25g plain flour
100g soft butter, cut into pieces
50g hazelnuts in their skins
1. Pour milk into a heavy-based pan. Split the vanilla pod, scrape seeds into the milk, along with split pods. 2. Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy. Add the flour and mix until smooth. Put the pan of milk over medium heat, bring to just under the boil, take off the heat and slowly pour half of it into the egg, sugar and flour mixture, whisking well as you do so. Add the remaining milk and whisk in well, then pour mixture back into pan.
3. Bring to the boil, whisking continuously, then keep boiling and whisking for one minute, take off the heat and pour into a clean bowl.
4. Scoop out the halves of vanilla pod. Cover the surface of the bowl with greaseproof paper straight away to prevent skin forming. Cool in fridge. Once cool, remove from fridge and whisk to the consistency of a light mayonnaise. Add butter, whisking in a little at at time until the cream is smooth and quite white.
5. Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan 160C/350F. Spread the hazelnuts out over a baking tray and toast for 15–20 mins, shaking occasionally for even cooking. Leave to cool, then grind to a paste using a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar. Mix this into the cream and set aside.
125g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
1 tbsp cocoa powder
125g plain flour
25g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
You will need:
Two 35cm x 27cm x 2cm baking trays, greased and lined
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan 160C/350F. Whisk sugar and eggs in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water (don’t let base of bowl touch the water) for 3-4 mins until foamy and tripled in volume.
2. Transfer to a food mixer with whisk attachment or use a handheld one and whisk at high speed for 4–5 mins until mixture has cooled and clings easily to the whisk, leaving ribbon trails when you lift it.
3. Sieve cocoa into flour and gently fold in to the mixture a little at a time with a metal spoon. Do the same with the melted butter.
4. With a spoon, turn the mixture into trays and tilt so it spreads into the corners. Bake for 12–15 mins until golden and the centre is springy. Turn out onto cooling rack.
And the rest...
2 tbsp kirsch
Icing sugar, for dusting
500g good natural marzipan
400g good quality dark chocolate (70%), broken into pieces
Dark chocolate curls or ‘pencils’, cocoa powder, and edible gold leaf (optional), for decoration
1. Start by making a kirsch syrup. Put the sugar in a pan with 200ml water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sugar has dissolved and you have a colourless syrup. Take off the heat, stir in the kirsch, and leave to cool.
2. Have ready a large sheet of baking paper. Turn the chocolate sponge onto it so that the top is downwards. Brush with two-thirds of the syrup, then spread hazelnut cream filling on top. Now roll up like a Swiss roll. Lift up the baking paper
and as the sponge starts to roll, tuck it under with your fingertips, then continue to lift the paper and it will continue to roll.
3. Lightly dust your work surface with icing sugar and roll out the marzipan to 2mm thick. Cut out a rectangle just large enough to wrap the log in and set aside trimmings.
4. Brush the log with the remaining syrup, then lay on top of marzipan, off centre, seam upwards. Bring the marzipan over the top and press down lightly, so that it fits snugly. Tuck marzipan under the log and fold in the ends.
5. Mould marzipan trimmings into balls, then roll into ‘sausages’ to snake along the top of the log, pressing down lightly so they stick.
6. Have ready a rack over a tray or sheet of baking paper. Using a palette knife or fish slice under each end of the log, lift it onto the rack. Leave these in position so you can easily lift the log up again.
7. Put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water – make sure the water comes close to the bottom of the bowl but doesn’t actually touch it. Keep the heat very low so that you don’t get steam in the bowl. Keep stirring all the time and let the chocolate melt slowly, then remove bowl from heat. A little at a time, with the help of a spoon, pour the chocolate over the log until it is covered.
8. As it begins to cool and set a little, use the tip of a spoon or fork to make rough bark-like marks in the chocolate. When the coating is set enough to stay put, lift the log off the rack and onto a board or plate. Decorate with cocoa, chocolate and gold leaf, if you like. Leave for 3–4 hrs at room temperature, then put in the fridge, if necessary, in a box to keep its shine.
Taken from Patisserie Maison by Richard Bertinet (Ebury Press, £20)
Photography: Jean Cazals