POPCORN YULE LOG

In our house, the chocolate Yule log was always my sister’s duty. I would sit at the kitchen table, seething with jealousy as she scraped a fork back and forth to create wood like ridges in the chocolate frosting. My version of this tightly spiralled cake is gloriously rich, so a little goes a long way, though the buttermilk ganache gives a touch of sourness to cut through it all. You may be surprised at just how much the popcorn flavour comes through.

Ingredients - serves 12 

For the Sponge

  • 5 large eggs
  • 135g caster sugar
  • 115g plain flour
  • 20g cocoa powder Icing sugar to dust

For the Filling

  • 125g caster sugar
  • 100g toffee popcorn, plus extra for decoration
  • 2 x 227g tubs of clotted cream

For the Buttermilk Ganache

  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 100g milk chocolate, chopped
  • 150ml buttermilk
  • 25g unsalted butter, softened

Essential Equipment

  • 25x35cm/10x14-inch baking tray or swiss roll tin, greased and lined with baking paper
  • Clean damp tea towel

Method

Preheat the oven to 210C/190C fan/gas mark 7. Whisk together the eggs and sugar until the mixture triples in volume and you achieve the ribbon stage – when you lift the whisk from the mixture and draw a figure of eight with the falling mixture, it should sit proudly on the surface for about 3 seconds before sinking away.

Sift over the flour and cocoa powder and fold in making sure the mixture is smooth, though try not to deflate those bubbles too much. Spread into the prepared tin, smooth over the top, and bake for 7-10 minutes, or until the sponge springs back when gently touched.

Whilst the sponge is baking place a clean, damp tea towel onto the worktop, and cover that with a sheet of baking paper dusted liberally with icing sugar. Once the sponge is baked, invert immediately onto the baking paper, then wrap into a very tight spiral inside the baking paper and tea towel. Allow to cool completely.

For the filling, heat the sugar in a dry saucepan over a medium/high flame. The sugar will start to melt and cook. Stirring, allow the sugar to dissolve completely and turn into a caramel, then add the popcorn and stir to coat each piece. Pour onto a heatproof mat or tray and allow to cool. Once set, blitz to a fine sand in a food processor, add the clotted cream, and blitz again into a gritty, popcorn paste.

When the cake has cooled, unroll and spread with the filling, then wrap tightly up. Make the frosting by heating the chocolates and buttermilk in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barezly simmering water. Stirring, allow the mixture to turn into a smooth glossy ganache, then remove from the heat and beat in the butter. Allow to cool, then use that to spread over the log. Slice off each end to neaten, and top with some chopped popcorn.