Delhi-based culinary master offer festive Yuletide recipes to help deck up your X’mas feast

Christmas is here. So are all the goodies that traditionally are put on the table to mark the annual festival. One such must-have is the Yule log cake, a dessert made from sponge cake, generally baked in a large, shallow Swiss roll pan, frosted and rolled to form a cylinder before frosting it again on the outside.

Abhishek Basu, Executive Chef of The Park, New Delhi, has sent us this recipe to try out at home.

Christmas Yule Log

Ingredients

For the cake

6 large eggs (separated)

150 grams castor sugar

50 grams cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

5 tsp icing sugar (to decorate)

For the icing

175 gm dark chocolate (chopped)

250 gm icing sugar

225 grams soft butter

1 tbsp vanilla extract

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C. In a large, clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until thick and peaking, then, still whisking, sprinkle in 50g / or 1/4 cup of the castor sugar and continue whisking until the whites are holding their peaks but not dry.

In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the remaining castor sugar until the mixture is like a mousse, pale and thick. Add the vanilla extract, sieve the cocoa powder over it, then fold both in.

Lighten the yolk mixture with a couple of dollops of the egg whites, folding them in robustly. Then add the remaining whites in thirds, folding them in carefully to avoid losing the air.

Line a Swiss roll tin with baking parchment, leaving a generous overhang at the ends and sides, and folding the parchment into the corners to help the paper stay anchored. Pour in the cake mixture and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Let the cake cool a little before turning it out onto another piece of baking parchment. If you dust this piece of parchment with a little icing sugar, it may help with preventing sticking, but don’t worry too much as any tears or dents will be covered by the icing later. Cover loosely with a clean tea towel.

To make the icing, melt the chocolate — either in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water or, my preference, in a microwave following the manufacturer’s guidelines — and let it cool.

Put the icing sugar into a processor and blitz to remove lumps, add the butter and process until smooth. Add the cooled, melted chocolate and the tablespoon of vanilla extract and pulse again to make a smooth icing. You can do this by hand, but it does mean you will have to sieve the sugar before creaming it with the butter and stirring in the chocolate and vanilla.

Sit the flat chocolate cake on a large piece of baking parchment. Trim the edges of the Swiss roll. Spread some of the icing thinly over the sponge, going right out to the edges. Start rolling from the long side facing you, taking care to get a tight roll from the beginning, and roll up to the other side. Pressing against the parchment, rather than the tender cake, makes this easier. Cut one or both ends slightly at a gentle angle, reserving the remnants, and place the Swiss roll on a board or long dish. The remnants, along with the trimmed-off bits earlier, are to make a branch or two; you get the effect by placing a piece of cake at an angle to look like a branch coming off the big log.

Spread the Yule log with the remaining icing, covering the cut-off ends as well as any branches. Create a wood-like texture by marking along the length of the log with a skewer, remembering to do wobbly circles, as in tree rings, on each end.

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