Chocolate Swiss Roll – “Yule Log”
This is an adaptation of a true Yule Log. I needed something transportable, wrapped in kitchen foil, to take round on my delivery to my Lunch Club seniors. A real luxurious Yule Log would be the same chocolate Swiss roll cake, but maybe filled with smooth chestnut cream and covered with whipped cream dusted with chocolate powder to look like bark. This version doesn’t have quite the indulgent look of that, but you can’t take whipped cream icing round in kitchen foil, it would just disintegrate. Instead I filled it with a coffee/chocolate buttercream to add that touch of (vaguely firmer) luxury and dusted it with caster sugar/chocolate powder for a slight gritty contrast. It was very well received, anyway, I can report.
Our discussion in the Seniors Lunch Group was about “The Best Present I Never Got” – a topic suggested by one of our inventive members, and of course we veered off topic anyway as we aren’t very good at following rules. We discussed everything about presents: the ones we wished for, the best ones we got and the best ones we gave. Our 98-year-old remembered a doll she’d been given when she was eight, which she loved with all her heart. When she came back home after years of war work at a factory in Birmingham, aged 22, the first thing she asked her parents was “where’s my doll?” and she was heartbroken (for a while) that it had been given to a small child in the neighbourhood. This prompted reminiscences from other members of being given a doll’s pram, and how proud that made the little girl, or giving a wheeled walker to a toddler at just the right stage and seeing the delight on his face as he realised the additional scope for mischief and mobility that it gave him. Wonderful memories.
Don’t be afraid of Swiss Rolls – people can be nervous about them, but once you’ve got the hang of being quick to handle them straight out of the oven, they are super easy and very impressive, and they are a fatless sponge, so less calorific and rich than the butter-containing recipes. (Of course I then go and spoil it all by making an filling of buttercream, but in non-Christmas times you can use a spreading of jam for the filling and keep the fat content down.)
Chocolate Swiss Roll – serves 8 (I made 2 to give 11 servings and some left for my household too)
Timings – 10 minutes preparation, 10 minutes in the oven. Allow 2 hours to cool and then another 20 minutes for the icing and final decoration.
Pre heat the oven to 220°C.
Put the eggs and sugar in the mixer and beat vigorously until fluffy and creamy-coloured. While that is going on, you can line your shallow baking tray with greaseproof paper. You need to make a shell of paper for the sponge, so cut the paper a bit bigger than your tray and fold up each side. Cut each corner at an angle so you can fold the paper over the corners to make a nicely edged shell – it doesn’t have to be exact and you don’t have to pin the corners as I was once taught. (what a nightmare, using pins in a cake! I’m amazed no-one got stabbed by a pin in my teenage attempts at Swiss Rolls).
Once the egg/sugar mixture is light and creamy, turn the motor of your mixer down low and add in the flour and cocoa. Remove the whisk from the bowl and add in the hot water. Mix carefully with a metal spoon to keep the air bubbles in, and then scrape out the mixture into your prepared paper shell. You will get quite a thin layer – spread it carefully with the back of your metal spoon right into the corners of your paper shape.
Place it in the oven and watch as the sponge puffs up and rises. It only takes 7-9 minutes as it is a thin layer of cake. While it’s baking, lay out a clean tea towel on your work surface and sprinkle some caster sugar on it. When the sponge is done – nice and springy to the touch but not burned on the edges yet – turn it out onto the tea towel and peel off the greaseproof paper.
Quickly roll up the sponge in the tea towel, curling it over itself to make a nice neat roll. Do this from the short side, so you get more curls to the roll and a short fat thick roll rather than a long thin narrow one. I know they get disqualified on Bake Off if the roll cracks, but really, we don’t care, do we? Leave it rolled up in the tea towel like a steamy chocolate scented sausage to cool down on a rack.
Make the buttercream icing by beating the soft butter in your mixer, add the coffee or coffee essence and then beat in the icing sugar and cocoa powder on low speed. I find the sugar rises up and covers the kitchen in a thin glittery layer if you don’t cover the mixer with a tea towel. When mixed, it should be light, creamy and quite spreadable. Taste and add more sugar if you think it needs it.
When the cake roll is properly cool, carefully unroll it on the sugary tea towel. Spread the icing evenly across the cake and then roll up again, but without involving the tea towel this time. Sprinkle with caster sugar mixed with cocoa powder if you are using the cake as it is. You could of course cover with whipped cream if you aren’t taking it round the neighbourhood in slices.
A Hug from the Kitchen
Healthy, hearty, happy food, for good times and bad. Cheer yourself up, or spread the cheer around your family and friends.