I’m so excited to be writing the first baking post of the 2014 GBBO Challenge! I am so pleased The Great British Bake Off is back, and loved the first episode. The bakers all seem great, I hope we get to see more of their characters, and my early faves are Martha, Norman, Richard and Nancy. This week we saw them get creative with cakes and the signature bake was the one and only Swiss Roll! I am not a fan of jam, so the traditional Swiss Roll filing is not for me, and there’s only one type which I would eat as a child – A YULE LOG!!!! Literally one of my favourite things about Christmas, I always buy one and ice it, rather than bake my own, so I couldn’t wait to give it a try for this challenge.
I am really pleased with how it came out! I could definitely have rolled it a bit tighter, but there is a pronounced swirl in there! It didn’t crack whilst rolling either which was great (though the great thing about a Yule log is it’s covered with icing anyway so even if it does crack you can cover it up easily!) My sponge was nice and soft, which I was pleased about as I have found chocolate cakes can come out a bit dry in the past. I usually ice my Yule logs with standard chocolate butter icing so was excited to try the icing from this recipe which is even more decadent than normal and is made up of double cream and chocolate – drool! It works really well but is very rich and sweet!
I found the recipe on BBC Good Food here but as always I’ve written it out step by step below with some helpful tips and hints from my experience too:
For the sponge:
*Butter (for greasing)
*140g light muscovado sugar
*100g self-raising flour
*25g good quality cocoa powder
*Caster sugar (for dusting)
For the icing and filling:
*285ml double cream
*459g fondant chocolate, such as Lindt Lindor
*Icing sugar (for dusting)
1) Heat the oven to 190C / gas mark 5. Butter and line your sponge tray with baking parchment.
2) Separate the eggs with all the yolks in one large mixing bowl and the whites in another.
3) Add the sugar and 2 tbsp of water to the egg yolks. Use an electric whisk and mix it all together for about 5 minutes. The mixture should be a light brown colour and thicken up so that it leaves a trail when the whisk blades are lifted out of the mixture.
4) Sift the flour and cocoa into the mix and fold it in lightly using a whisk or a large metal spoon.
TOP TIP: Really do fold in lightly, don’t get tempted to be impatient and stir it vigorously. You need your mix to be light and fluffy so that your baked sponge is the same.
5) Using a clean whisk, beat your egg whites until they’re stiff. You can check that they’re ready by holding them upside down over your head! If they don’t fall down – they’re done 😀
6) Once the egg whites are ready, fold them into the cake mixture in three batches. I used a big whisk to do this, again to try and keep as much air in the mix as possible.
TOP TIP: You can see the little air bubbles in my fully mixed batter, which is a good sign!
7) Once everything is all mixed, pour the mixture into the prepared tin, making sure it fills to the edges. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the cake feels firm to touch.
8) Place a large sheet of baking parchment on a work surface and sprinkle it with caster sugar. When the cake is ready, turn it out immediately onto the parchment and peel off the lining paper. Cover your cake with a clean tea towel and leave it to cool completely.
9) Trim the edges off your cake and score very lightly along the edge of one of the long sides. This is your starting point for rolling up your sponge. Use the paper to help you, and roll the paper up inside the cake. Keep your sponge all rolled up whilst you make your icing.
TOP TIP: I used 2 jars to hold the excess paper down so that my sponge stayed rolled up.
10) To make the icing and filling, bring the cream to the boil and then remove it from the heat. Slowly add 400g of the chocolate, stirring it in until everything is smooth and melted. Leave this to cool and then chill it until it is spreadable (takes about 1 hour).
11) Chop the remaining chocolate and once the icing mix is ready, separate a third of the mixture into a bowl and stir in the chopped chocolate. This will be the filling of the Swiss Roll.
12) Unroll the sponge and spread the filling over the cake, within 2cm of the edges.
13) Roll the cake up again, using the paper to help again, but this time don’t let the paper roll up inside, obvs. Set your rolled up Roll on a board.
TOP TIP: I always make my own board by covering card or a wad of paper in tinfoil. This time I used my old ASOS magazine! – Far cheaper than continually buying new cake boards!
14) Cut a big diagonal slice off of one end of the Swiss Roll and then use some icing to stick it to the larger piece of cake, so it looks like a branch / tree stump.
15) Spread the rest of the icing over the length of the Swiss Roll. It’s meant to look like a log so doesn’t have to be super smooth.
TOP TIP: To make your cake look even more log like, take a fork and gently run it along the icing so it looks like a bark pattern.
16) Lightly dust with icing sugar and that’s a wrap (or Roll!) Adding a little holly leaf would also be good, though as it’s August I didn’t have any of these to hand!
I’m so pleased with how my Yule log came out. It was relatively simple to make, and I will definitely be doing this at Christmas rather than going for a shop-bought cake. I’m pleased I seemed to get the basic techniques OK – it rolled well and didn’t crack hurrah! Next time I think I’ll experiment with flavours and try and make my swirl a bit more pronounced.