The build-up to Christmas usually means that a ridiculous amount of cooking specials are broadcast on the TV back home. Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, The Great Christmas Bake-Off, all showing off delicious-looking food that’s nearly impossible to replicate at home, even though these specials are made to encourage the general public that anyone can do it, forgetting that not anyone has four ovens in their kitchen to help finish a roast all at once. The Christmas Yule log, a classic Christmas staple, is a dessert that looks impressive, but one that ranks 2/10 on the difficulty scale. Leave the salted caramel present cakes to the experts, this will look miles prettier anyway.
100g self-raising flour
125g caster sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder (Green & Blacks is good)
60g icing sugar
30g baking butter
50g dark chocolate
.Preheat the oven to 190°, and prep a baking sheet with greaseproof paper. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 3 eggs and the caster sugar until pale (preferably use an electric whisk). In a separate bowl sift together the flour and cocoa powder, then fold it gently into the egg mixture so as not to create air bubbles. Pour the cake mix onto the prepped baking tray and spread it evenly into a rectangular shape.
.Bake the cake in the oven for 8-10 minutes. While it’s baking, cut out a second sheet of greaseproof paper roughly the same size as the first. When the cake comes out of the oven, turn it upside-down onto the fresh sheet, and peel the old sheet off carefully (a butter knife will help make it easier). Cut a hem of about 4 lines, each an inch long, at one side of the cake – the side you’re going to roll inwards. Start rolling up to the unhemmed side, with the cake still on the paper, and allow it to set into shape.
.While the cake is setting and cooling, prep the filling by whisking the double cream until it is thick enough to be spread like soft butter. Leave in the fridge to stay cool until the cake reaches room temperature, then carefully unravel the roll from the paper and spread on the cream. The cake should be easy to re-roll back into shape once the cream is inside.
.To make the chocolate fondant topping, start by creaming the baking butter and icing sugar together in a bowl until a smooth butter icing is made. Leave it in the fridge to cool. Melt the dark chocolate over the hob using a pan, and a Pyrex jug/dish that can hold the chocolate and stay still in the water-filled pan. Stir occasionally with a spoon so that all of the chocolate melts, and add a small splash of milk to speed things up. Wait until the chocolate has reached room temperature, but make sure it is still runny, before adding it to the butter icing.
.Spread the chocolate icing all over the chocolate roll with a knife or spoon, and then indent it with a fork to create lines that give the impression of a tree. Sprinkle on spare icing sugar to give the effect of snow, and add anything else that would finish off the cake. Be careful to remove berries from holly sprigs before putting them on the cake.
(Image: Georgia Ryan)