`Yule Log: Christmas' most innovative cake

From a real log warmed to keep the cold at bay to the most sinfully gorgeous sweet offering of Christmas. Seasoned Pastry Chef Avijit Ghosh shares a few tricks to make your very own stunning cake this season
By Madhulika Dash

Yule Log. One of the prettiest, almost fairy tale kind but least spoken about cake on the Christmas feast table. Still, when it comes to innovation, it is one dessert that sees the most of it. Not because it isn’t steeped in history. Yule log, says Chef Avijit Ghosh (Corporate Pastry Chef, The Leela Hotels), “began as a Nordic tradition, where a tree would be chosen and brought into the home to be burned during the 12-days of Christmas to celebrate the days getting longer.. The ashes were later strewn for better produce while the logs were stored as part of the blessing of a good year ahead.”
With the advent of Christmas, the yule log burning custom though stayed, it become more personal gradually leading to the creation of a sweet treat that was shaped like a log – and shared in celebration and good luck.
The first iteration of yule log, says Chef Ghosh, “was most likely made of dry sponge soaked in wine or rum, shaped as a log and decorated with dry fruits to give it a festive look. The first chocolate yule cake was created around the early 1600.”
In fact, the first known recipe appeared in Gervaise Markham’s tome “The English Huswife” in 1615 and had little ornaments made with marzipan and meringue. Since then the yule log as seen as many versions as Christmas seasons, with the only constant being the ‘sponge’.
For my version, says Chef Ghosh, “I use a vanilla or a chocolate sponge and allow it to sit in the flavour of the season. This time, it is raspberry. But if you don’t have that, moistening the cake with some rum, brandy or even port wine can work just fine. Ensure it is moist and not mush.” To this, he says, spread your favourite chocolate ganache and cream. The use of both ensures you can play with as many flavours you want. I usually take on contrasting flavours to have a more rounded effect. Once done use a kitchen towel or butter paper to roll in the cake into a swiss roll. To this, add the butter cream.”
This is where you can go the classic way and make a log shape or give it a fairytale kind of story. This Christmas, says the pastry genius, “I have used Raspberry mousse and the confit on the inside and a glaze on the top to give it that Christmassy bright red colour.”
The trick, he says, “to make a great- looking and brilliant tasting yule cake is to keep it more textural given that it is the best way to break the sweetness of the sugar that is used in the recipe. In my case it is the almond powder biscuit that does the trick. “
Another way concludes Chef Ghosh, “to do is to choose your decoration carefully. Adding fresh or infused fruit is a great way to bring in that contrast. After all, yule log though rich and sweet is still the lighter treat that most indulge in.”

Chef Avijit Ghosh shares the little tricks that make for a great Yule Log this season.

For the Caramel biscuit
100g Dry caramel

40g Water

40g Butter

75g Egg whites

75g Invert sugar

50g Egg yolks

45g Flour

70g Almond powder

Process: In a saucepan cook sugar to caramel and de glace with the hot water and then add the butter. In a mixing bowl whisk the egg yolks, cooled the caramel and shift the dry ingredients. Bake it at 170 degree Celsius for 10 minutes.

For the Raspberry Mousse

300gm Strawberry puree

6gm Gelatin

20gm Egg white

30gm Sugar

12gm Water

200gm Cream UHT

Process: Cook Sugar and water and make an Italian Meringue. Warm strawberry puree and add the gelatin. Add the puree and fold in the cream. Fold in the meringue.

For the Raspberry Confit.


250g Raspberry puree

110g Sugar

6g Pectin X58 powder.

Process: Boil raspberry puree with half the sugar and mix rest of the sugar to the pectin powder. Combine both and keep aside.

For the Red mirror glaze:


150g Water mineral

300g Sugar

300g Glucose

200g Condensed milk

140g Gelatin

300g White Chocolate

12g Red Colour

Process: 1Boil water with color and glucose. Bring to boil for three minutes and then take it off the fire, add condensed milk, gelatin and the chocolate. Whisk till no lumps are left and the mixture is smooth. Strain the glaze in the beaker and blend it. Use the glaze at 35 to 40 deg C.