The famous chocolate Christmas cake from France, made to resemble a Yule
log. If need be, the cake can be stored, frozen, for up to a month.

Oven: 200'C 400'F Gas mark 6
Baking time: 12-15 minutes
Equipment: 32 x 23 cm/13 x 9 in swiss roll tin, greased and base-lined
Makes: one 8-10 portion cake

60 g/2 oz self-raising flour
30g/ 1 oz cocoa
pinch ground cinnamon
3 eggs
100 g/ 3 1/2 oz dark muscovado sugar
1 tablespoon caster sugar
coffee cream filling:
300 ml/ 10 fl oz double cream
4 tablespoons strong black coffee
4 teaspoons caster sugar
chocolate frosting:
200 g/ 7 oz plain dessert chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
60 g/ 2 oz butter
100 ml/ 3 1/2 fl oz double cream
1 tablespoon rum or brandy (optional)
1 teaspoon icing sugar

Sift the flour with the cocoa and ground cinnamon on to a sheet of paper
and set aside. Sift the sugar into a bowl - set over simmering water if
mixing by hand - and add the eggs. Whisk the mixture until light and foamy
and when the whisk leaves a trail across the surface of the mixture. Sift
some of the flour mixture onto the eggs and fold in gently with a balloon
whisk, repeat until all the flour has been incorporated. Pour the mixture
evenly into the prepared cake tin.

Bake in the preheated oven until risen and springy to the touch. While the
cake is cooking, spread a clean tea cloth on a pastry board or work surface
and sprinkle with the tablepoon of caster sugar. Remove the cake from the
oven, leave for one minute then loosen the sides of the cake from the tin
with the blade of a small knife and turn the cake out onto the cloth.
Gently peel off the baking paper and use a sharp knife to trim off any
crisp edges of the cake. Fold one end of the cloth over the short side of
the cake and carefuly roll up taking the cloth too - so that the cloth
temporarily replaces the filling - to make a log shape. Place the
cloth-covered cake on a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, whisk the cream until thick gradually adding the coffee and
sugar. The coffeee cream should be thick but still glossy. Carefully
unroll the cake, leaving it on the cloth. Spread the coffee cream evenly
over the cake and reroll without the cloth. Transfer the cake to a flat
dish or cake board.

Break the chocolate into pieces in a heat-proof bowl, add the butter and c
ream and place over simmering water, or in a hot or a microwave oven, until
the chocolate is melted. Remove from the heat and add the rum or brandy,
gently stir until smooth, then cool slightly. Spread the chocolate evenly
over the cake covering the curved surface and the ends. As the chocolate
sets drag the prongs of a fork over the surface and ends of the cake to
resemble the bark - with knots - of a tree. Leave until set then decorate
with a ribbon bow and just before serving place the icing sugar in a fine
sieve and tap the edge while moving it across the cake to provide a festive
dusting of snow.
Ardechois version: in place of the coffee cream fill the cake with
sweetened chestnut puree.

Recipe taken, with permission, from Geraldene Holt's New Cakestall (forthcoming book)