Chocolate Yule Logs are a Christmas time treat in Ireland and a baking tradition in many Irish homes, that started many, many years ago to remember a very old tradition.
Christmas Chocolate Yule Logs are baked as a more modern representation of the enormous logs once burned in the open hearth all through the Christmas season.
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History of Yule Logs
This historical practice of burning a Yule log is thought to be an old Norse tradition or it could also be Germanic in origin.
Viking Norsemen may have brought this tradition to England and Ireland. The word Yule became part of old English, although the word has Scandinavian roots. Yule was the Scandinavian word for the Winter solstice.
A Chocolate Yule Log may have first been created in France where it is called a “Bûche de Noël.”
Over the past two centuries this dessert has become popular in many European countries. In Belgium it is known as a ‘Kerststronk’ which is a Flemish word.
What is a Yule Log?
A Christmas Chocolate Yule Log consists of a chocolate sponge roll, filled with sweetened cream, and covered in chocolate butter cream frosting or icing. The outside is marked with a fork to resemble a bark-covered log.
This recipe is similar to a chocolate roulade, which unlike this recipe, is a gluten-free cake.
And so today, I thought I would share my Christmas Yule Log recipe, with step-by-step photographic instructions.
Here’s what you’ll need…
Ingredients for Christmas Chocolate Yule Log
Here’s a list of ingredients. You’ll find exact quantities in the printable recipe below, where you can switch between US and Metric equivalents.
For sponge roll
- eggs (separated)
- pinch of salt
- cake flour
- cocoa powder
- baking powder
For the filling
- heavy whipping cream
- confectioners’ sugar
For the icing or frosting
- confectioners’ sugar
- cocoa powder
- heavy whipping cream
To decorate: (optional)
- confectioners’ sugar
- red berries such as cranberries or raspberries
Directions for Christmas Yule Log
First the sponge roll must be made, so go ahead and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
This sponge is cooked at a high heat for a short time. The higher temperature helps the whipped egg batter to rise.
Prepare a swiss roll or jelly roll pan by greasing it and lining the bottom with a layer of parchment or greaseproof paper.
You will need a 9 x 13 inch pan, which is a little smaller than the standard jelly roll pans most frequently used in the United. States.
Next, separate the eggs and put the yolks to one side.
Place the egg whites in a large clean dry bowl if using a hand held electric mixer, or in the bowl of a standing electric mixer.
It is important that the bowl is completely clean and dry if the eggs are to incorporate air as they are whipped.
Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites. Beat until the mixture is stiff.
It will be a little dry looking in appearance. It takes a few minutes of beating to add an adequate amount of air to the egg whites.
Next, add the sugar and continue beating. The mixture will become thick and glossy looking.
Beat in the egg yolks with the whipped egg whites.
The mixture will become a very pale yellow color and will be thick enough that the beater will leave a trail in the batter when removed from the bowl.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder together in a separate bowl.
This recipe calls for 1 US teaspoon of baking powder which is a scant level teaspoon in Ireland.
Add half the flour mixture and gently fold it into the egg mixture with a metal spoon.
Add the remaining flour, baking powder and cocoa powder mixture and continue to gently incorporate it into the egg mixture.
Be sure to lift the egg mixture at the bottom of the bowl as you fold, ensuring there are no air pockets filled with flour that could be left unincorporated into the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared swiss roll or jelly roll pan and spread it evenly.
Be sure to move the batter into the corners of the pan.
Bake it on the top shelf of the preheated 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for 10 minutes.
Lay a sheet of parchment or baking or greaseproof paper on the counter. Sprinkle it with a light dusting of fine white sugar.
This sugar prevents the sponge from sticking to the paper as it cools in the shape of a roll.
When the cake is baked it will be a rich brown color and spongy to touch.
Turn the baked sponge roll onto the sugar dusted paper.
Remove the lining paper.
Trim the outside longer edges of the sponge with a sharp knife.
This makes it easier to roll the sponge.
Roll the cake up with the paper inside.
You start the roll from the shorter width ways edge, not the longer side.
Leave to cool wrapped in the paper.
When the cake has cooled, whip the cream with two tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar to sweeten.
Carefully unwrap the rolled sponge, and fill it with cream.
Gently re-roll the filled sponge.
Next, the butter cream frosting or icing must be prepared. This can also be done while the sponge cake is cooling.
Sift the cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar together in a bowl.
Add the butter and beat well until the mixture starts to lighten in color.
Add two tablespoons of heavy whipping cream to the frosting and continue to beat with an electric mixer for another 3 to 4 mintues.
Before spreading the icing over the outside of the log, you can create a branch like effect with your chocolate roll.
Cut a diagonal piece from one end of your log and place it to the side of the main piece.
Spread the chocolate frosting over the outside of the main log and its branch, joining the two pieces together with frosting.
Using a fork, mark the frosting with lines to give the effect of tree bark.
Don’t worry about keeping the lines exactly parallel. The more imperfect the finish, the more realistic looking the cake will be.
If desired, decorate the top with cranberries or raspberries.
Dust the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar which resembles snow.
And there you have it – my recipe for a favorite Irish Christmastime cake.
Recipe Card for Yule Log
If you would like to print the recipe, here it is …
Christmas Chocolate Yule Log
- For sponge roll:
- 3 large eggs separated
- pinch salt
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup cake flour
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- For the filling:
- 1 CUP heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
- For the Icing or Frosting:
- 4 ounces butter 1 stick
- 1¾ cups confectioners sugar
- ⅛ cup cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- To Decorate the Cake:
- 2 teaspoons confectioners sugar optional
- 10 cranberries fresh cranberries or raspberries
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Grease and line the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch swiss roll pan with parchment paper.
- Separate the eggs and put the yolks to one side.
- Add the egg whites to a large clean dry bowl with a pinch of salt and beat until the mixture is stiff and dry looking. Add the sugar to the egg whites and beat for a further 3 to 4 minutes until thick and glossy.
- Add the egg yolks and beat until thick.
- Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder together in a separate bowl.
- Gently and gradually fold the flour mixture into the beaten eggs with a metal spoon.
- Pour the batter into the prepared swiss roll pan and spread out evenly.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven on the top shelf for 10 minutes.
- Lay a sheet of parchment paper on the counter and sprinkle it with a light dusting of fine white sugar.
- Turn the baked sponge roll onto the sugar dusted paper. Remove the lining paper.
- Roll the cake up with the paper inside, and starting from the narrower edge. Leave to cool wrapped in the paper.
- When the cake has cooled, whip the cream with two tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar to sweeten. Carefully unwrap the rolled sponge, and fill it with cream. Gently re-roll the filled sponge.
- Sift the cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar for the frosting together in a bowl. Add the butter and beat well until the mixture starts to lighten in color.
- Add two tablespoons of heavy whipping cream to the frosting and continue to beat with an electric mixer for another 3 to 4 mintues.
- Cut a small diagonal piece from one end of the cake log and place the smaller piece to the side of the main piece.
- Spread the chocolate frosting over the outside of the main log and its branch, joining the two pieces together with frosting.
- Using a fork, mark the frosting with lines to give the effect of tree bark.
- Decorate the top with cranberries or raspberries. Dust the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar which resembles snow.
Nutrition Information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients used.
Happy Christmas baking to all.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Mairéad –Irish American Mom
Pronunciation – slawn ah-gus ban-ock-th
Mairéad – rhymes with parade
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