THE CHRISTMAS LOG, A GREAT CLASSIC

THE CHRISTMAS LOG, A GREAT CLASSIC

This Christmas Log, also known as Swiss Roll, is a great classic in the European tradition: it originates from the French Bûche de Noël. and represents the ancient tradition of burning a large log in the fireplace which started on Christmas eve and was supposed to last for the entire festive period, later replaced by this suggestive dessert. Nowadays, the different fillings for the sponge cake can vary from pistachio to tropical fruits.
In the European tradition, we can find similar cakes all over the Western countries, such as in Spain with its Brazo de Gitano literally the Gipsy’s Arm, which probably share a very common concept.
Although it is not an extremely difficult recipe, it is fundamental to respect the temperature and cooking time for the sponge cake. If it dries out too much, it will be impossible to roll, and it will break.

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and ½
Yield: Makes 8-10 servings.

Ingredients

  • For the sponge cake
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tbsp (10 g) honey
  • 1 cup (100 g) cake flour, sifted
  • ¾ cup (140 g) white sugar
  • For the chocolate ganache
  • 1½ cups (350 ml) fresh whipping cream
  • 12.5 oz (350 g) dark chocolate, chopped

Instructions

Put a bowl in the freezer.
For the sponge cake
Pre-heat the oven at 425° F (220° C)
Separate the eggs, and put the yolks in the bowl of a free-standing mixer and in another bowl, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt.
Add the honey, the sugar, and the vanilla to the yolks, and beat for 7 to 9 minutes with the whisk attachment.
Gently fold in the whipped egg whites in two batches using a large spoon, with large circular movements from top to bottom.
When it is well-mixed, add the flour in 3-4 batches. Pour the batter in a 12×15 inch (30×37 cm) baking pan, covered by parchment. Level it, creating a ½ inch (1 cm) layer.
Bake for 5-6 minutes until golden and firm.
While it is baking, prepare a film layer on the kitchen top, the surface must be larger than the one of the sponge cake.
When the sponge cake is ready, lay the top of it on the film, take the parchment off immediately, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sugar, in order not to make it stick together. Roll it immediately, using the film to help your work, close and leave it in the film.
For the chocolate ganache
Put the cream on the stove and bring it to almost a boil. Switch off and pour the chocolate in it. Mix it with a whisk until chocolate will be perfectly melted.
Move to the bowl you take off the freezer and whip with an electric hand whisk for 10 minutes.
Spread half of the ganache on the sponge cake, except 1-inch (2 cm) from the border. Roll it again, cut a small piece which shall be connected to the log, in order to make a small branch.
Spread the rest of the ganache on the log and use the prongs of a fork to simulate the surface of a log.

Christmas log, Tronchetto di Natale
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About the Author

Growing up in Emilia Romagna, a region known for Parmesan, Parma ham, lasagna, and filled pasta, a great deal of my childhood was spent in the kitchen with my grandmother and mother.

Even at a very young age, I could see that for them cooking was a passionate expression of their love for their family. While I’m filled with many warm memories of watching them cook, what I remember most is circling the table and watching the stove, waiting for any opportunity I could to steal a taste.