Yule log cakes are symbolic of the winter nights as well as delicious and super fun to decorate. You can make a yule log cake out of any jelly roll or “swiss roll” cake recipe that you like. While yule logs can seem a bit daunting, this recipe can be split up over multiple days so all that’s left is to assemble and decorate (the fun part!) the day before you plan to serve it.
This cake has a few fun (but totally easy) decorations that make it special. The first one is the chocolate shards that make the “bark” of the log. All you do is melt some chocolate and spread it out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Chill it (or place it outside, if it’s cold where you live) until it’s hard. Slowly curl the parchment to create shards of “bark”.
The sugared rosemary sprigs and cranberries are a festive, wintery addition and you can make those ahead too. Brush rosemary sprigs with a mixture of egg white and about a tablespoon of water. Shake off the excess over a garbage can or in the sink. Roll in a plate with regular white sugar. Next do the cranberries. It’s easiest to dip them in the bowl with the egg white mixture, then fish them out and let them drain with a slotted spoon. You can also dip and drain them all at once in a strainer. Then roll them in the sugar. Store in the fridge in open bowls or plastic containers until ready to place around the cake.
Another fun decorating addition is a gnome, which you can find at a craft store or online.
I recommend making the cake in this order:
Day One: Make the chocolate bark, ganache, and mousse.
Day Two: Make the cake, and the sugared decorations. Chill rolled cake with mousse, as instructed, then assemble the cake through frosting the cake. Refrigerate overnight.
Day Three: Place the final decorations on the cake: the bark, the sugared decorations and the gnome if using. Serve. Don’t forget to take pictures!
Here’s all the recipe you’ll need to make this cake. We borrowed/adapted from Martha Stewart 🙂
- 2/3 cup sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
- 1/3 cup sifted cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
- Pinch of baking soda
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for parchment and pan
- 6 large eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10 1/2-by-15 1/2-by-1-inch jelly-roll pan. Line with parchment; butter and flour paper, tapping out the excess flour.
- Sift flour, cocoa, and baking soda together twice into a medium bowl. Set aside. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Skim off white foam, and pour clear yellow butter into a bowl, discarding white liquid at the bottom. Set aside in a warm place.
- In a medium-size heat-proof bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water; stir until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, and beat on high speed until mixture is thick and pale and has tripled in bulk. Reduce speed to medium, add vanilla, and beat 2 to 3 minutes more.
- In three additions, sift flour mixture over egg mixture, folding in gently with a spatula. While folding in last addition, dribble melted butter over batter and fold in.
- Spread batter evenly in pan, leaving behind any unincorporated butter in the bottom of the bowl. Tap pan on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake until cake springs back when touched in center, 15 to 20 minutes. Don't overbake or cake will crack. Let sit in pan on a wire rack until cool enough to handle.
- Let the cake cool 10 minutes. Invert onto a clean kitchen towel. Starting with the long end, roll gently into a log, rolling with the towel. Keep rolled up for 10 minutes, then unroll and let cool to room temperature.
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 4 large eggs, separated
- Pinch of cream tartar
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- In a double boiler, melt together chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat, and transfer to a large bowl. Whisk in egg yolks, stirring well. Let cool to room temperature.
- In a large bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff. Whisk a third of the whites into chocolate mixture; gently fold in remainder of the egg whites.
- Whip cream until it holds soft peaks, and fold into chocolate mixture. Chill until set, about 1 hour.
- You can make this ahead of time and chill until you are ready to assemble the cake.
- 9 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan until bubbles begin to appear around edges (scalding); pour over chocolate. Let stand 5 minutes, then stir until smooth. Set aside at room temperature until cool but pourable, stirring occasionally.
- Or use Katie's Ganache recipe at http://www.thesliceoflifeshow.com/?s=ganache
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 6-8 rosemary sprigs (or one package from the store)
- Whole fresh cranberries
- In the top of a double boiler or in a heat-proof bowl set over simmering water, melt chocolate until smooth. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Spread melted chocolate 1/8 inch thick over parchment. Refrigerate until cold, 10 to 15 minutes. Roll paper back and forth until chocolate splinters; sprinkle over cake. Chill cake until ready to serve.
- Whisk together the egg white and the water in a small bowl. On a large plate, pour about 1/2 cup of sugar.
- Using a pastry brush, brush rosemary sprigs egg white mixture. Shake off the excess over a garbage can or in the sink. Roll in a plate with regular white sugar. Next do the cranberries. It's easiest to dip them in the bowl with the egg white mixture, then fish them out and let them drain with a slotted spoon. You can also dip and drain them all at once in a strainer. Then roll them in the sugar. Store in the fridge in open bowls or plastic containers until ready to place around the cake.
- These can be made at least 2 days ahead and kept in the fridge until you are ready to assemble the cake.
- Chocolate Genoise
- Chocolate Mousse
- Chocolate Ganache Icing
- Chocolate Bark
- Sugared Rosemary sprigs + fresh cranberries
- Confectioners' sugar, for dusting (optional)
- Take your cooled cake and spread chocolate mousse evenly on cake to within 1 to 2 inches of one long end. Reroll cake, starting from other long end, using towel to help you, but don’t roll up the towel this time. Cover the roll filled with mousse with plastic wrap; chill until firm, about 1 hour.
- Place cake, seam side down, on a serving platter; tuck parchment around it to keep platter clean while decorating.
- Whip ganache at medium speed until it has the consistency of soft butter. Cut two wedges off ends of cake at a 45 degrees angle; set aside. Ice log with a thin layer of ganache. Attach wedges on diagonally opposite sides of log. Or do one on top and one on the side. Spread ganache all over log, using a small spatula to form barklike ridges. Chill until ganache is firm, about 30 minutes.
- When ready to serve, arrange sugared rosemary sprigs and cranberries around and on cake, and dust lightly with confectioners' sugar or place your gnome in his fairy land.
- Do this the day before you plan to serve, topping with the sugared decorations just before serving.
Finely chopped pistachos for “moss”.
Marzipan rolled into mushroom stems and poked into the hull of a raspberry for a top.
Powdered sugar sifted all over the top to look like a dust of snow.