Traditionally made of a plain genoise sponge and chocolate buttercream, my updated version of the Christmas-time bûche de Noël is a combination of a flourless chocolate cake, rich chocolate ganache and a lightly toasted Italian meringue – the perfect dessert for a festive celebration.
- melted butter, to grease
- 125 g good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa), chopped
- 1½ tbsp water
- 4 eggs, at room temperature, separated
- 55 g (¼ cup) caster sugar
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder, to dust
- 150 g good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa), chopped
- 185 ml (¾ cup) thickened cream
- 1 tsp natural vanilla essence or extract
- 100 g sugar
- 60 ml (¼ cup) water
- 2 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 tsp natural vanilla essence or extract
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Scroll through the images above for a step-by-step on assembling the yule log.
Chilling time 2 hours
Cooling time 30 minutes
To make the chocolate ganache, combine the chocolate and cream in a small saucepan. Place over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is just melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir through the vanilla, cover and set aside while making the roll.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Brush a 21 cm x 30 cm (base measurement) Swiss roll tin or shallow slice tin with the melted butter to grease and line the base and sides with one piece of baking paper, cutting into the corners to fit.
Melt chocolate with the water in a medium heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until smooth. Remove bowl from saucepan.
Put the egg yolks and sugar in a large mixing bowl and use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to whisk the egg yolks and sugar until very thick and pale and a ribbon trail forms. Use a large metal spoon or spatula to fold in the chocolate mixture until just combined.
Use electric mixer with the whisk attachment to whisk the egg whites in a large clean, dry bowl until soft peaks form. Add a large spoonful of egg whites to the chocolate mixture and fold in to "loosen" the mixture. Add the remaining egg whites and fold until evenly combined. Pour into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Bake in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven, place on a wire rack and cover immediately with a piece of non-stick baking paper and then a damp tea towel. Set aside for 30 minutes or until cooled completely.
When ready to roll the log, check the consistency of the chocolate ganache – it should be a thick spreadable consistency (if a little thin, place in the fridge for 5-10 minutes and then stir, returning to the fridge for a little while again if necessary until it reaches the right consistency). Dust another piece of baking paper evenly with the cocoa powder. Remove tea towel and baking paper from cake and then carefully invert onto the cocoa-dusted paper. Remove the baking paper on top. Spread cake with the chocolate ganache. Starting at a long side closest to you and using the baking paper as a guide, firmly roll up the cake. Wrap the baking paper firmly around the roll and place, seam-side down on a tray. Chill for at least 2 hours.
Just before finishing the roll, make the Italian meringue. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and cook over medium heat until it reaches 116°C (soft ball stage) on a sugar thermometer. Meanwhile, use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. With the motor running, gradually add the hot syrup, pouring directly onto the egg whites and continue to whisk until very thick and glossy and the mixture has cooled to room temperature.
Cut about 5 cm off one end of the log on an angle and reserve. Use a palette knife to spread the Italian meringue over the whole roll to cover. Position the reserved end of the log to the side of the log to resemble a branch stump and then spread with remaining Italian meringue to cover also. If desired, use a blow torch to toast the meringue lightly (see Baker’s tips). Serve at room temperature in slices.
• The un-iced log will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Cover with the Italian meringue the day of serving and stand at room temperature until ready to serve.
• If you don’t have a blow torch, sprinkle the meringue-covered log lightly with cocoa powder to finish.
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. Read our interview with her or for hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O'Brien. Food preparation by Tina McLeish.
For more recipes, view our online column, Bakeproof: Traditional Christmas baking.