Christmas is almost my only time off, so I don’t like to do huge amounts of experimenting in the kitchen. I always end up making mince pies, though. They are fairly classic, with a lovely sweet pastry, but I put a little nugget of almond paste in the middle. Not very different, but we’ve done them as a family for years.
I go back home to Bradford every year. Our family Christmas is very traditional: Dad will wear a suit, and Mum takes charge of Christmas dinner. I’ll do a lot of stuff in the build-up, like Christmas cake and mince pies, but on the day I’ll be avoiding the kitchen at all costs.
This Yule log is very quick, and will disappear just as quickly. Make the chocolate cream filling the night before, and then just roll the sponge together and it’s baked in 10 minutes. Add amaretto if you want to make it even more Christmassy.
4 large eggs
100g caster sugar
25g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
40g cocoa powder
60g plain flour
Sprinkle of caster sugar
FOR THE FILLING
300ml double cream
125g dark chocolate, finely chopped
1.Start with the filling by placing the cream into a pan set over medium high heat. Once the cream has come to a boil, take it off the heat, pour over the chocolate in a bowl and stir together until smooth. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and refrigerate until needed (the filling has to be cold before it can be used).
2.Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and grease and line a 27 x 29cm rimmed baking tray with parchment. Lightly grease the parchment and dust with a little flour, tapping out any excess. Melt the butter in a saucepan and set aside to cool.
3.Place the eggs and sugar into a large bowl and using an electric mixer whisk until the eggs are thick and pale – when the whisk is lifted from the bowl it should hold a ribbon on the surface. Sift the flour and cocoa powder gently into the bowl in two batches, folding to combine. Take a large spoonful of the batter and mix into the melted butter, the pour this mixture back into the main bowl and fold together.
4.Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tray and gently level out. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cake has risen and is springy to the touch.
5.Place a slightly damp tea towel onto the work surface and place a large piece of parchment paper on top. Sprinkle the parch- ment with a little caster sugar. When the cake has come out of the oven, carefully invert it onto the parchment, peeling the parchment off the back of the cake. While still warm, wrap the cake into a tight roll, keeping the parchment and towel inside the roll, and allow to cool fully.
6.To finish off the filling remove the cream and chocolate mixture from the fridge and whisk until it hold soft peaks. Unwrap the cake and, using a palette knife, spread the cream across the cake leaving a couple of centimetres around the outside clear.
7.Roll the cake back up, trim off the edges and place on to a serving plate. To finish, dust with either icing sugar or cocoa powder and top with a few chocolate shavings.
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