Approx cost: ~€5
Approx calories (per serving): ~290
Approx preparation and cooking time: ~40 minutes + time to wait for ganache to cool
[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #0B0B61;”]From England, to France – this time I’m posting another festive cake! With all the cake that’s running through my blog these days you’d be forgiven for thinking that I was enormously rotund. I may not be as svelte as I would like… but who is? Besides – Christmas comes but once a year! I can continue my diet in the new year – that’s what New Years’ resolutions are for 🙂 Before we launch into the recipe though, I got tagged in a rather fun little game called “Bloggers Unplugged”. I was hoping someone might do this because I do enjoy things like this, and luckily Sissi at WithAGlass.com picked me among her 5 people to nominate to do the game next! Ten questions, ten answers – what fun 🙂 Without further ado, let’s jump straight in:
1. What, or who, inspired you to start a blog?
Hmm – I’ve had a website in various forms for a long time but I’ve never actually tried any blogging platforms. I wanted a creative outlet to write about food, cooking and my floundering photographic skills a bit more, and I wanted something to fill my time with, and thus my blog was born.
2. Who is your foodie inspiration?
I watch a lot of cooking shows – most recently I’ve been watching a Swedish TV show, called Halv åtta hos mig – I can’t believe there’s an English wikipedia article about this show 😀 I don’t think it’s possible to attribute inspiration to a particular person. The most inspirational thing I think is seeing what “normal” people can cook. Sure, it’s fun watching Mr Celebrity Chef cooking up his Cornish gamehen in truffle sauce on national TV, but seeing the sort of things that ordinary people come up with, be it in their blogs or on TV… that’s what I find really interesting.
3. Your greasiest, batter-splattered food/drink book is?
Eep – I’d probably say my cellphone. I have a few cookery books but by and large they don’t make it into the kitchen. They’re usually by the bed, providing me with some night-time reading, When I’m in the kitchen I’m usually either peering around the corner to my computer monitor or looking at my cellphone screen :p
4. Tell us about the best thing you have eaten in another country, where was it, what was it?
Oh oh, where to start? Can it only be one thing? Well, I think if I absolutely had to choose it would be Braised Elk on a bed of mashed potato, roasted root vegetables, watercress and brown sauce with sourdough bread in a restaurant at Skansen, Stockholm, Sweden – One of the best meals I’ve had in a long time at a restaurant and only about €11 per person if I remember correctly.
5. Another food blogger’s table you’d like to eat at?
Kristy, from Eat, Play Love – I have a suspicion that their meal times are a whole load of fun – especially when Miss A. upturns her plate 😉 Plus I’d probably be able to try Nicaraguan food, or something, thanks to their culinary world tour!
6. What is the one kitchen gadget you would ask Santa for this year (money no object of course)?
A pan like this – made by the French company De Buyer they’re 90% Copper, with a thin Stainless Steel layer, making up the remaining 10% on the inside to protect the copper from the food inside. I’ve recently started building up a collection. I now have one small “sauce” saucepan and a frying pan from them. Still quite a bit away from my full set 😉
7. Who taught you how to cook?
Well – I guess my mother. I mean, I didn’t really have in-depth teaching lessons from her, but I expressed an interest in cooking one day (I think the first thing I made was macaroni cheese for the family!) and she guided me through it, helping me follow the recipe. Aside from that? Well, I guess I just kind of picked it up.
8. I’m coming to you for dinner, what is your signature dish?
Starter: Diced beetroot, mixed with mint, diced feta cheese, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, shaped into a round or quenelle, with freshly baked bread.
Dessert: Cheesecake (the uncooked variety)
9. What is your guilty food pleasure?
Haha – chocolate I think, or hummus. I can go through a bowl of hummus in mere minutes! Ah, I just thought of something, and this is really trashy. Pickled cucumbers, wrapped in a slice of wafer-thin ham, then re-wrapped in a slice of hamburger cheese. I do not know why I love this so much, but it’s amazing!
10. Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?
Ehm – well, I guess the fact that I have a replica long-swords in my wardrobe might be surprising. It was a length of service awards from the company I work for. Much to my dismay, my wife was firmly against my plans of re-enacting epic battles over the sofa, Sparta-style. I’m not even allowed to use it to cut cheese with! 🙁
Now all the remains is for me to pick five people myself, so – if you haven’t already done it before, and you feel like playing along, I choo-choo-choose you:
- Kristy, from Eat, Play, Love
- Stefanie, from A Dash of Sugar and Spice
- Priya, from Priya’s Now Serving
- Ping, from Ping’s Pickings
- Kelly, from Inspired Edibles
Again, apologies if you’ve already done it and I’ve just forgotten about it! Thanks all 🙂
Onto today’s post however. To contrast against the heaviness of the Christmas Cake I thought a Yule Log would be nice as well. I’m not the most skilled person in the world at making these, and as far as French tradition goes, mine are probably a fair bit different, but I like mine a lot. They have all the things a good chocolate should have, and the whole giant thing is about a quarter of the price of the tiny, filthy things which my local bakery sells with frosting that tastes like margarine. Of course, you can get delicious chocolate logs in France, but this place isn’t one such purveyor alas. My baking tray is much too small for the mixture, meaning the cake was too thick and insead of being a neat roll, was more of a folded over flop, which cracked on the fold, but as you can see, that’s nothing that a liberal application of ganache won’t fix 😉 The taste was unaffected and it was positively delicious, so if you’ve never made one before, I’d strongly recommend this!
For the cake
- 140g Sugar
- 100g Self-Raising Flour
- 25g Cocoa Powder
- 5 Eggs
For the filling
- 250g Icing Sugar
- 100g Butter, softened
- 2 tbsps Cocoa Powder
- ~2 tbsps Milk
- 2-3 tbsps finely chopped Cherries, or Cherry Jam
For the icing
- 150g Cream
- 200g Milk Chocolate
- Icing Sugar to dust on
- A few hours before, you need to make the ganache for the icing. It takes a long time to set, so allow at least 5 hours or so. Start by heating the cream in a pan. Bring it to just before boiling point and then add in the chocolate, broken into chunks. Remove from the heat and stir until all the chocolate has melted, returning to the heat briefly if you find that the temperature comes down too much to prevent efficient melting. Once you have a well blended, smooth ganache, transfer to a jug, cover and leave in a cool place for some hours, until it starts to take on a “spreadable” consistency. If you find it takes an inordinate amount of time, don’t worry – it will set eventually. I’ve made ganache before which didn’t set for 24 hours – you just need to be patient.
- Next we’ll make the cake. Start by pre-heating your oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Next, crack open and separate the 5 eggs. Place the whites into a large bowl and set aside. Put the yolks into another bowl with the sugar and whisk, using a balloon whisk, or an electric whisk for a couple of minutes, until the mixture has increased in volume and turned a pale yellow colour. Fold the flour and cocoa powder into the yolks.
- Clean the blades of the electric whisk and the whisk the egg whites until you can form soft peaks in them.
- Combine the yolk mixture with the whites – folding in slowly, so as to conserve as much air in the mixture as possible. Once you’ve done this, grease a baking tray, and line it with baking paper. Ideally, the tin should be at roughly 32cms x 32cms – a little taller and narrower is fine. Pour the mixture into the baking paper and smooth out to fill the corners and edges. Place into the pre-heated oven and bake for about 12 minutes.
- By the time the 12 minutes is up, the cake should feel firm on top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool while you prepare the filling. Place the icing sugar and cocoa powder in a large bowl and add in the softened butter. If the butter is not soft enough, place it on a small plate and give it a blast on full power in the microwave for a few seconds (like 4 or 5). Mix the sugar, cocoa and butter well, and then add in the milk, a little bit at a time, until you can blend to a paste.
- Turn out the cool cake onto a flat, clean surface and carefully remove the baking paper from the bottomg. Spread the buttercream filling over the cake, going right up to the edges. Spread the jam or chopped cherries on top of the butter cream and then roll up loosely.
- Spoon the cooled ganache over the top of the roll and spread out, not forgetting to cover the sides and ends. When done, run a fork up and down the “log” to make the ganache look a bit like bark. Sift icing sugar over the top (for the snow!) and try not to eat it all at once! Enjoy! 🙂