HANDS-ON TIME 40 MIN, OVEN 15-20 MIN
For the sponge
4 large free-range eggs
100g caster sugar
75g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
4-5 tsp apricot jam (a stiffer brand is easier to work with)
For the dark chocolate and apricot buttercream
75g dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids), chopped
100g unsalted butter, softened
130g icing sugar
90g apricot jam
For the white chocolate buttercream
100g white chocolate, roughly chopped
200g unsalted butter, softened
80g icing sugar, plus extra to dust
You will also need
22cm x 33cm swiss roll tin
First, make the sponge. Heat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas 4. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar using an electric mixer for 4-5 minutes until the mixture is light and airy. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and a pinch of salt, then gently fold in with a large metal spoon until just incorporated.
Pour the mix into the lined tin, level out, then bake for 15-20 minutes until springy to the touch. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto another sheet of non-stick baking paper, peel off the original sheet of baking paper and cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the dark chocolate buttercream. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of steaming, not bubbling, water (make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Leave to melt, then set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes.
Put 100g butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until soft, then gradually beat in the 130g icing sugar until completely incorporated. Add the melted dark chocolate and 90g apricot jam, then beat until slightly lighter in colour and aerated.
Put the sponge, still on its baking paper, on a large dinner tray or baking tray (to make it easier to transport), then spread over the 4-5 tbsp apricot jam, leaving 0.5cm or so around the edges. Top with the dark chocolate buttercream in an even layer- spread with a palette knife so it goes on evenly. Roll the sponge tightly into a log, starting from one long end, using the paper to help you. Turn the log so the seam is on the underside. Set aside while you make the white chocolate buttercream.
Put the white chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of steaming, not simmering water (make sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Leave to melt, then set aside to cool slightly for 5-10 minutes.
Put the 200g butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until soft, then add the melted white chocolate. Slowly whisk in the 80g icing sugar until completely incorporated and slightly lighter in colour. Spread a couple of teaspoons of the icing over the cake, including over the ends, so it just covers the sponge in a thin coating, then chill in the fridge for 20 minutes until the icing is firm.
Using a sharp knife, cut 5cm off one end at a 45 degree angle, then carefully place it on one side of the log at the end, so it looks like a stump leading off to the main branch. Spread the remaining icing over the top and around the sides to completely encase the log. Drag a fork over the icing in a loose pattern, so it looks like bark. Sift a small amount of icing sugar over the top just before serving, so it looks like snow.
Use a clean, dry bowl to whisk the egg whites as the slightest bit of grease can stop egg whites from whisking up to their full volume.
The butter for the buttercreams (steps 4 and 7) should be at room temperature- avoid microwaving to soften.
Make Ahead: Make the yule log up to 24 hours in advance and keep in the fridge, loosely covered with cling film. Bring back to room temperature before serving (this is important as the butter needs to soften properly).
Recipe and photography courtesy of Delicious. magazine
I decided on a chocolate cherry flavour, because I love cherries and they are in season, which means I could use British produce, which I prefer to do.