I'm not a huge fan of Christmas cake so my absolute favourite alternative dessert to have at Christmas time is a Chocolate Yule Log! It's a light chocolate sponge filled with whipped cream and coated in a rich chocolate ganache - what's not to like! This recipe is based on a Mary Berry one, with a few of my own touches. I've made it so many times over the years I've lost count... It always disappears fast whenever I serve it! And I'm always hoping there's enough left so I can go back for another slice!
Ingredient Tips & Equipment Information
- Make sure the eggs are at room temperature before you start baking.
- You need to use double cream for the ganache, single cream will not work.
- Although I provide cup measurements, I highly recommend weighing your ingredients out using digital kitchen scales*. It is the most accurate way to measure ingredients and will ensure the best results. Digital scales are very low cost and can be purchased for around £12 ($16.50) .
- For teaspoon (tsp) and tablespoon (tbsp) measurements, please use measuring spoons* and not the type of spoons you eat with. Again this will ensure accuracy and provide the best results.
For the full recipe with measurements, head to the recipe card at the end of this post.
How to make Chocolate Yule Log
To start, make the ganache topping because it has to cool down for a few hours. Heat the double cream and butter together on a low heat, then add dark chocolate and mix until it is smooth and glossy. Set aside to cool. For the sponge, use an electric mixer to whisk up the eggs and caster sugar for about 8 minutes until light and foamy. Sift in the self raising flour and cocoa powder, then fold it into the egg mixture gently so as not to lose the volume.
Pour the mixture into a lined baking tray with a lip and bake for 10 minutes. Whilst it is baking, prepare a sheet of baking paper dusted generously with icing sugar. When it is done, tip the sponge out onto it straight away.
Peel off the baking paper it was baked in and roll the sponge up tightly, taking the fresh baking paper with it. Leave it to cool fully still wrapped in the paper. Once the sponge is cool, whip up some double cream with icing sugar and vanilla for the filling. Unroll the sponge and spread out the cream onto it using a palette knife. Then roll it back up again.
Cut the roll diagonally at one end and position on a serving board to look like a branch. Pipe the ganache onto the sponge and used a fork to create texture. Make a holly sprig with fondant and dusted the yule log with icing sugar before adding the fondant holly on top.
How long does the yule log last for and can it be frozen?
The yule log will last for 2-3 days stored in the fridge. You can freeze the undecorated sponge. Wrap it well in cling film and freeze for up to 3 months. Unfortunately, only fully decorated, I do not recommend freezing the yule log.
Can you make the yule log with plain/all purpose flour?
Self raising flour, which is very commonly used in the UK where I am based, already contains a raising agent and a little salt too. Therefore if you want to swap it for plain or all purpose flour, you will need to add some additional baking powder and also a little salt if you like. Some people like to add salt to cake recipes and some don't, so I'll leave that up to you as it won't affect the bake. The general advice is to add 2 teaspoons baking powder (a measuring teaspoon, not the kind you stir your coffee with) per every 200g plain or all purpose flour. So for this recipe you'd need to add ½ teaspoons baking powder.
Can the yule log be made gluten or dairy free?
Yes! For gluten free you can replace the self raising flour with a gluten free self raising flour blend. If you only have a gluten free plain flour blend, you will need to add baking powder. The general advice is to add 2 tsp baking powder per 200g flour, so for this recipe you'd need to add ½ teaspoons baking powder. You may also like to add ⅛ tsp Xantham Gum for better texture. For a dairy free version, you could fill the yule log with a dairy free whipped cream and cover it with a dairy free ganache.
What size tin do you need to make the yule log?
I used a Wilton tin which is 33.7 x 23.5 cm (13.25 x 9.25 inches). If you have a tin that is slightly bigger or slightly smaller this will be ok, just don't use a tin that is dramatically bigger or smaller. Remember that using a bigger tin will mean the yule log needs slightly less time to bake, and a smaller tin will mean it needs slightly more time to bake. The thickness of the sponge will also differ.
Do you need an electric mixer to make this recipe?
Yes, because you have to whisk so much air into the egg and sugar mixture, it would be impossible to do by hand. You can use either an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer, however I do recommend using a stand mixer if you have one as you want to leave it running for 8 minutes, which can feel like a long time when you're stood whisking with a hand mixer!
How many people does the yule log serve?
It completely depends how thick your slices are when you cut it up, but I would say this yule log can safely be divided into 10 pieces and everyone gets a good sized slice. (Well, apart from the two lucky people that get the end pieces!)
How do you roll the yule log up neatly?
- Don’t overfill it. Being overly generous with the filling means you won’t get a nice tight roll
- Don’t cut or score it to “start the roll off”, this can too easily go wrong and the whole section will break off
- Start the roll off as tight as you can and the rest will follow!
More tips for making the Chocolate Yule Log:
- When folding the flour in, be gentle and go slowly to avoid losing volume
- You don't have to cut the roll, you can just leave it straight too.
- If you don't want to make the holly from fondant, you can use a ready made decoration instead.
If you have any questions about this recipe, or if something went wrong and you need help, please use the comment form below and I will get back to you. You can also get in touch with me on my Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. I'd love to hear from you!
Recommended equipment & ingredients*
- Swiss Roll tin
- Mixing bowls
- Stand mixer
- Electric hand mixer
- Kitchen scales
- Cooling rack
- Piping bags
- Measuring spoons
- Dark chocolate
- Green fondant
- Red fondant
- Leaf cutters
*I earn a small amount of money if you buy the products after clicking on the links. You will not be charged anything extra for this. Thank you for supporting The Baking Explorer!
More Yule Log recipes:
Chocolate Yule Log
For the ganache
- 300 g Dark chocolate broken into squares
- 300 ml Double cream
- 30 g Butter
For the sponge
- 4 Eggs large
- 100 g Caster sugar
- 65 g Self raising flour sieved
- 40 g Cocoa powder sieved
For the filling
- 175 ml Double cream
- 1 tbsp Icing sugar
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- Icing sugar
- Green fondant optional
- Red fondant optional
- Make the ganache first as it needs time to cool. Heat the double cream and butter in a pan on a low heat until the butter melts and it starts to steam, you want to to be warm but not so hot you couldn't hold your finger in it
- Take it off the heat and add the dark chocolate broken into pieces. Leave for a few minutes, then stir and the chocolate should melt, keep stirring until it does. Set aside to cool
- Pre-heat your oven to 160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4, line a large swiss roll tin or a baking tray with a lip, with baking paper. I used a Wilton Non-Stick Cookie Pan which is 33.7 x 23.5 cm (13.25 x 9.25 inches)
- For the sponge, whisk the eggs and sugar together with an electric hand whisk or in a stand mixer for 8 minutes until it reaches 'ribbon stage' - this is when you can drizzle some the mix into itself in a figure 8 and it doesn't sink back immediately
- Gently fold in the flour and cocoa powder in three stages, folding gently and trying not to lose too much of the volume
- Pour into the tin, and spread the mixture around using a palette knife. Bake for 10 minutes, if you lightly press it in the middle with your finger tip it should spring back
- Remove from the oven and tip onto a clean sheet of baking paper that has been dusted with icing sugar
- Remove the baking paper the sponge was baked with, then roll up the sponge, taking the clean baking paper with it, then leave to cool completely
- Whip up the double cream, icing sugar and vanilla for the filling
- Gently unroll the sponge and spread the cream all over it in an even layer
- Re-roll the sponge, diagonally slice about a third of the sponge off and position it along the side of the larger piece of sponge to look like a tree branch
- The ganache should be thick by now, but it if is too stiff, microwave it for 15-30 seconds and stir well to loosen it up again. Pipe or spread the ganache all over the sponge. If piping, use a star nozzle to create texture. If spreading, use a fork to create texture
- Dust with icing sugar and add a decorative holly leaf made from fondant in the centre if you like
- Serve immediately, store any leftovers in the fridge for 2-3 days
If you like this, check out more of my Swiss roll recipes!
Or you might also like more of my Christmas recipes!
Recipe slightly adapted from Mary Berry.