With less than a month until Christmas (eek) it's finally time to start posting my strategic festive content. Yes I'm doing things by the book this year, there'll be a gift guide, vague attempts at party dressing and even the odd recipe. If I'm completely honest, Christmas has lost its sparkle somewhat as I've got older, so it's important for me to make the most of the build up and keep things exciting. One year I'd love to experience the season in another country or with a different set of people but until then I'll have to make do with the Plummers in good old South London. We're a hilarious bunch. The invite to try a Scandinavian cookery class at the Good Housekeeping Institute probably came at the right time. I know it may seem like I'm always gallivanting but I only accept things that will truly broaden my horizons (and allow me to be around colourful Kitchenaids, hello Instagram). Our festive menu is pretty much set in stone now, but after learning how to make duck with a syrupy port sauce and tucking into a seafood smorgasbord, I'm now wondering if I can convince my mother to make a few additions....
One of the things I really enjoyed making
eating was the Yule log. Everything about it was far more straightforward than I'd first thought and you can really make it your own by adding things like cinnamon to the mixture for a real festive touch. I liked how pure this variation was as I can find some of the chocolate types a little overpowering, though I'd love to figure out a way to get salted caramel involved somehow...
You will need:
A little butter to grease
75g (3oz) plain flour
1tsp baking powder
4 medium eggs
150g (5oz) caster sugar
1tsp vanilla essence
75g (3oz) ground almonds
284ml carton double cream
2 tbsp sifted golden icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
50g (2oz) flaked almonds, toasted
Optional: 50g (2oz) of chocolate for decoration
- Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan or gas mark 4). Grease and line a 33cm x 23cn Swiss roll tin with greaseproof paper. Sift together the flour and baking powder with 1/4 tsp salt.
- Use an electric hand whisk (or Kitchenaid if you're one of the lucky ones) to beat the eggs, caster sugar and vanilla in a bowl for 5-10 mins until pale and fluffy. The mixture's good to go if it leaves a ribbon-like trail when you lift the beaters.
- Using a large metal spoon, carefully fold in the ground almonds and flour mixture. Take care not to beat too much air out of everything.
- Pour into the prepared tin and spread the mixture in a thin layer right to the edges. Bake for 12-5 minutes until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the tin. The cake should spring back when you press it gently with your finger. Leave to cool.
- Lightly whip the cream and icing sugar in a bowl until the mixture forms soft peaks. Cut out a rectangle of greaseproof paper larger than the cake and dust heavily with icing sugar. Flip cake onto the paper. Remove the tin and carefully peel away the attached greaseproof paper. Don't make a palaver of it, like me in the above photo.
- Spread the cream over the cake and sprinkle with the flaked almonds. With the help of the paper, roll up the cake lengthways. Don't worry if cracks appear, it all adds to the authentic, log-like effect!
- Carefully transfer to a serving plate. Dust with icing sugar and serve in thick slices.
- If all has gone well and you're up for decorating: Melt 50g of dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. Fill a disposable piping bag with the remaining dark chocolate and cut off the tip. Write festive nothings to your heart's content, 'Noel' is a good start but it's worthy getting creative with anything you fancy. Chill to set, then carefully peel away the greaseproof paper and arrange as you see fit!
You can find out more about the classes here!