I wanted to make a Buche de Noel as a bit of a filler between now and Christmas itself. But all my previous attempts at making one have resulted in failure, mainly because when it came to rolling the sponge, for some reason it would break up completely and I would end up with a chocolate stack instead of a roll! However, not to be beaten, I perused my many cook books and found this recipe of Nigella's. Her reassuring words "don't be put off by the rolling you need to do...this flourless mixture is beautifully pliable" made me determined to have another go. The result was this.
Nigella was right...the sponge was beautifully pliable which made the whole thing a dream to make.
FOR THE CAKE
6 eggs, separated
150g caster sugar
2 tsps vanilla extract
FOR THE ICING (although I made chocolate buttercream)
175g dark chocolate
250g icing sugar
225g soft butter
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3-5 tsps icing sugar to decorate
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degs C/170 degs C fan/gas mark 4. Line a swiss roll tin with baking parchment, leaving a generous overhang at the ends and sides, and folding the parchment into the corners to help the paper stay anchored.
2. In a large, clean bowl whisk the egg whites until foamy and thick, then add 50g of the sugar and continue whisking until the whites are holding peaks but not dry.
3. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until they are pale and thick. Add the vanilla extract and sieve over the cocoa, then fold both in.
4. Lighten the yolk mixture with a couple of dollops of the whites, folding in gently, and then add the whites in thirds, mixing carefully to avoid losing the air.
5. Pour the cake mixture into the lined tin, and bake for 20 minutes. Let the cake cool a little before turning it out on to another piece of baking parchment.
6. To make the icing, melt the chocolate - either in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, or in the microwave - and let it cool. Blitz the icing sugar and butter in a food processor until smooth. Add the cooled melted chocolate and vanilla and pulse again to make a smooth icing.
7. Trim the long edges of the swiss roll, as well as the shortest edge which should be towards you. Spread some of the icing thinly over the sponge, going right out to the edges. Roll up from the shortest side facing you, taking care to get a tight roll from the beginning, and roll up to meet the other short end. Cut one or both ends slightly, at a gentle angle.
8. Use the sponge trimmings as branches as you wish, and then ice the Yule Log with the remaining icing, covering the cut off ends as well. Create a wood like texture with a skewer or fork, and then dust with icing sugar for a freshly fallen snow effect.
This Buche de Noel comes from Feast by Nigella Lawson