as usual, i couldn't leave even the goddess-like perfection of nigella alone and i have made a teency weency adjustment to the recipe.
nigella's bûche de nöel a la julie
6 eggs, separated
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3-5 teaspoons of powdered sugar to decorate
175g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
250g powered sugar
250g powered sugar
1 T vanilla extract
the extra julie touch:
1/2 liter of cream, whipped
preheat your oven to 180°C/375°F.
whisk the egg whites until they are thick and and beginning to peak, then add 50g of the sugar and keep whisking 'til stiff peaks form. if you're like me, you let your kitchenaid do this bit while you're working on the next part.
whisk the egg yolks and the rest of the sugar until they are a creamy pale yellow, add the vanilla, whisk a bit more, then sieve the cocoa powder in and mix it well.
put a big dollop of the egg white mixture into your chocolatey egg yolks, mixing well, then fold the chocolate mixture carefully into the rest of your egg whites, taking care not to lose too much air.
pour the mixture into a swiss roll tin lined with baking paper. a little trick to keep the baking parchment from rolling up on you while you're trying to pour (seriously, why isn't part of pregnancy the growing of a 3rd arm - wouldn't that be handy?), you can put a little dab of butter in each corner and stick the baking paper to it.
bake for about 20 minutes until it looks done. i realize this sounds vague, but trust me, you'll be able to see when it's done. remove it from the oven and let it cool very briefly (and i do mean very briefly) before turning it onto a new piece of baking paper and peeling off the baking paper backing.
don't let it get too cool before you do this, or you'll have trouble getting the paper off without taking quite a lot of cake with it. trust me, i've made the mistake so you don't have to.
while it's cooling. melt your chocolate in a double boiler (or in a metal bowl over a pan of boiling water, like i do).
put the powdered sugar down in your food processor and whip it up to get rid of any lumps. then add your softened butter and let the food processor do the work for you. add the vanilla once the butter and sugar are well-mixed. once the chocolate is melted and cooled down a little bit (so it doesn't melt your butter), add it to the butter/sugar mixture and again, let the food processor do the work for you.
while it's doing the work, let your kitchenaid whip up some cream for you - but do keep an eye on it, you're not making butter here (again, i've made the mistake so you don't have to).
put the cake on a good work surface and spread a thin layer of the chocolate icing on top. on top of that, spread a good layer of whipped cream. it hit me today, when i was a little concerned about not having enough of the chocolate icing (i was making two cakes and doubled the icing recipe, but it didn't look like enough), that you could use the hazelnut goodness of nutella here on the inside, just to add another note to the cake. i did, however, have plenty of icing, so i needn't have worried.
i found the cake too heavy and dense the first time i made it, without the whipped cream, tho' nigella's original recipe doesn't call for it. i find it makes it lighter and more sort of dreamy and delicious.
let the baking paper help you carefully roll the cake up. then carefully cut each end at an angle (strangely, i failed to photograph this bit), so you can place it beside your main "branch" as smaller "branches."
place the cut ends at angles against the main cake - my cake here is actually two cakes, so yours will be half the size of this. spread the remainder of the chocolate icing over the cake, covering and using extra bits to stick your branches on. use a spatula and a toothpick to make it look like the bark of a tree.
dust it with powdered sugar so it looks like new fallen snow and decorate around it with greens and pinecones gathered outdoors.
it may sound a bit fussy, but you'll be amazed how easy it really is. and your friends and family will never know (unless you tell them). so you can act like you slaved all day and get people to fetch you glasses of wine while you relax.