Monday, 14 December 2020

Chocolate Cherry Yule Log

Homemade chocolate cherry yule log. Baked and Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Yule logs are one of the great treats of a French Christmas, but very few people make their own because everyone lives within reach of a pâtisserie where they can buy a completely gorgeous and professional buche de Noël.  Nevertheless, I like to make one myself from time to time, and last Christmas we were invited to friends for an outing to a chateau and dessert and drinks afterwards. I offered to contribute the dessert and this is what I made. In the event, the outing never took place as we all suffered a gastric upset, but by that time the cake was made! It sat in the fridge for days because we couldn't face eating it, but I couldn't bear to throw it out after all my work. Finally, we felt better, ate it and it had dried out a bit but was still delicious.

The rolled cake before icing.
Homemade chocolate cherry yule log. Baked and Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

6 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp kirsch liqueur

1 tsp plain gelatine crystals
1 tbsp cold water
1/3 cup milk
1/2 vanilla pod
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup thick cream
1 cup fresh or frozen cherries, stoned, and macerated in 1 tbsp kirsch liqueur

1 cup thick cream
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp kirsch liqueur

  1. Make the cake (steps 1 - 13).
  2. Heat the oven to 180C.
  3. Line a 23cm x 33cm x 3cm deep baking tray with baking paper.
  4. Separate the eggs, putting the yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer along with half the sugar. Put 5 of the whites in a small bowl to use later and put the sixth white aside as you will not use it in this recipe.
  5. Using the whisk beater, beat the eggs and sugar at top speed for 3 minutes. Don't skimp on the beating. The mixture should be thick, aerated and pale. Transfer it to another bowl.
  6. Wash and dry the mixer bowl and whisk.
  7. Whip the egg whites with the salt until at soft peak stage (about one minute), then continue beating whilst adding the remaining sugar in a slow steady stream, beating for another minute. Don't skimp on the beating.
  8. Fold a quarter of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture with a silicone mixing spoon.
  9. Then fold the rest of the egg whites in, carefully and thoroughly.
  10. Sift the cocoa over the mixture and fold in, until there are no streaks.
  11. Pour the batter into the prepared baking tray and smooth it out.
  12. Bake the cake for 10 minutes then turn it around and bake for another 10 minutes. It should be dry and springy.
  13. Leaving in the tray, put it aside on a rack to cool completely.
  14. Make the syrup (steps 14 - 16).
  15. Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and dissolve the sugar, boiling for one minute.
  16. Remove from the heat and stir in the kirsch liqueur, put aside to cool.
  17. Make the filling (steps 17 - 27).
  18. Sprinkle the gelatine over the water in a glass and set aside to soften.
  19. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds.
  20. Add the vanilla to the milk in a small saucepan and heat it to a simmer.
  21. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a medium sized bowl.
  22. Take the vanilla pod out of the milk and whisk the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture.
  23. Tip the custard mixture back into the saucepan and cook gently, stirring all the while, until it thickens, which will take just a minute or two.
  24. Strain the custard into a bowl.
  25. Zap the moistened gelatine in the microwave for about 30 seconds so that it liquifies, then mix it into the custard and set it aside to cool.
  26. Whip the cream until it holds its shape firmly.
  27. Add a quarter of the cream to the custard and mix it in, then fold in the rest.
  28. Fill and roll the cake (steps 28 - 35).
  29. Cover the cake with a sheet of baking paper and a flat baking tray.
  30. Invert the cake so it tips out onto the fresh paper and tray, lift off the tray it was cooked in and peel off the baking paper.
  31. Trim the edges of the cake with a big sharp knife, so it forms a neat rectangle.
  32. Spoon syrup all over the cake. Be reasonably generous but do not utterly saturate the cake. You will have quite a lot of syrup (nearly a cup) left, which you can use for something else.
  33. Spread the filling over the cake and sprinkle the cherries over evenly.
  34. Carefully roll the cake across its width, so you end up with a 33 cm roll, with the far edge of the cake underneath, using the baking paper to help. Once rolled and you have a roll of cake enclosed in paper you can use a ruler to press on the paper along the line of the cake, then pull on the paper to tighten up the cake roll.
  35. Chill the cake overnight.
  36. Ice the cake (steps 36 - 40).
  37. Whip the cream.
  38. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa over the cream then fold it in.
  39. Loosen the cream with the kirsch.
  40. Spread it on the cake in rough dabs, being careful achieve full coverage but not to lift the surface of the cake. The chocolate cream should look like tree bark.
  41. Serve the cake (steps 41 - 42).
  42. Using a sharp knife, slice the cake into 8 thick wheels and serve.
Homemade chocolate cherry yule log. Baked and Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The cherries were homegrown, from our orchard, and frozen. The eggs and cream from our local dairy farm who delivers.



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