Almost everyone knows one version or another about the Yule Log tradition that finds it way in Christmas celebrations. But from all the versions I have read, it stands to convey the message that burning of a Yule Log, mostly a branch cut from the Christmas tree itself, signifies the end of the dark dull days of Winter, as one ushers in the power of the Sun. Or, you can think of it as generating warmth, literally and metaphorically, as it burns slowly all through Christmas eve, and right into the morning of 25th.
But whatever may be the history, these days, the real Yule log has been replaced by a more friendly delicious-looking Yule log, which comes in the form of a cake! Something that everyone can enjoy a piece of, while keeping the age-old tradition alive. This Yule Log recipe & photo comes from MaryJane Robbins, courtesy of King Arthur, and is a little twist on the chocolate classic. This one uses Vanilla sponge cake, and chocolate ganache as a filling, then tops it with a buttery creamy white chocolate frosting, for a beautiful white log cake. The flavor of hazelnut is present throughout the layers, and you can use colorful artifacts to decorate your log, as almost any color will look good on the white base. For a more traditional Chocolate version, try this Yule Log Cake from Viet World Kitchen, or the Buche De Noel at Joy of Baking.
Vanilla Yule Log Cake with Ganache Filling & White Chocolate Frosting
7 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
2 cups All-Purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon hazelnut extract
simple syrup or hazelnut syrup or hazelnut liquor – for brushing the cake
Chocolate Ganache Filling
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1/8 teaspoon hazelnut flavoring
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and spritz with cooking spray. Set pan aside. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Add 1/2 cup of sugar gradually, continue beating the whites until stiff peaks form. Set whites aside.
In a small bowl whisk together the dry ingredients, including the remaining one cup of sugar. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the egg yolks, oil, milk, vanilla and hazelnut flavoring until well blended. Mix on medium speed until lightened and pale lemon colored. Add the dry ingredients and continue to mix, about 1 minute until well incorporated.
Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a large spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter, 1/3 at a time. Use gentle motions to preserve the air in the whites. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown on top and the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan slightly.
Ganache filling: Heat the cream until just simmering. Add the chopped chocolate and remove from the heat. Stir gently until the chocolate melts completely. Remove from the pan and place in a large bowl to cool. You may refrigerate or freeze the ganache to speed the cooling. Once the ganache is cooled to pudding consistency, whip with a whisk or hand mixer until fluffy and frosting like.
Remove the cake from the pan by lifting the parchment paper. Place cake side up on the counter and trim off the edges of the cake to make rolling easier. Turn the cake over and peel off the parchment paper.
Rolling the Cake[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvXu6Ay5xO8?fs=1]
Note: In our recipe, we roll from the SHORT side, not from the LONG side
Using a large, clean kitchen towel well dusted with confectioners’ sugar, roll the cake up, from the smaller side, along-with the towel (as if the towel is the filling. Cool the rolled-up cake for 20-30 minutes. Then unroll the towel and remove it. Spread with a generous layer of the prepared Ganache filling and re-roll the cake. This time it should be easier. Cover with a cling-wrap and place in the fridge to chill for 20-30 minutes. The roll can be frozen at this point for up to 3 months.
White Chocolate Frosting: To decorate the cake, melt 8 ounces of white chocolate very slowly over low heat in a double boiler. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and spread a thin layer of chocolate over the entire surface. Return to the fridge to set up, 10-15 minutes. Add a second layer of white chocolate to the cake, spreading the chocolate to resemble tree bark. A fork may be used to add texture by dragging the tines through the cooling chocolate. Once the chocolate has firmed, decorate as desired with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar, cocoa or chocolate curls.
raspberries or bluberries
caster (superfine) sugar
Brush some raspberries with a little egg white mixture and put them in a bowl. Toss in the caster sugar and mix so the berries are coated evenly with the sugar. Let them air-dry so they have a frosty appearance.
For more elaborate or authentic Yule Log versions, try making Chocolate mushrooms, Sugared Berries (Recipe above) or frosted leaves to add to the decoration. You can even make Chocolate Leaves for a rustic look.