Here's everything you could possibly need to know about Chocolate yule logs, the perfect alternative to Christmas cake!
The tradition of the yule log began in Norway, and was an actual wooden log cut from the forest. The bigger the better, and it was hoisted onto the hearth to celebrate the return of the sun each year, 'yule' being the Nordic word for Winter Solstice.
And, like any pagan/Christian tradition worth its salt, chocolate got involved...!! A chocolate yule log - a chocolate sponge Swiss Roll style dessert rolled with cream - is now a popular dessert around Christmas time. Festive pudding lovers in France and Belgium are especially keen.
How are chocolate yule logs decorated? Always with chocolate or chocolate icing, but you can make them as simple or decadent as you fancy. Why not try...
- marzipan mushrooms
- using a fork to score the chocolate icing to imitate tree bark
- an iced robin figure
- some icing sugar to look like it's been snowed upon
- a sprig of holly
- chocolate shapes
I personally think chocolate yule logs would work quite well at Halloween too, covered in plastic/iced creepy crawlies!
Do you need any specialist equipment to make a chocolate yule log? Not really, a baking tray will do! I do love my silicone baking tray though - it makes it really easy to roll. Greaseproof paper is essential for easy rolling, too.
Can chocolate yule logs be made gluten free or vegan? Yes, but I don't make them myself currently. Why not try the Doves Farm recipe, if you're after a good example of a gluten free recipe? The BBC Good Food website has a good vegan chocolate yule log recipe.
Finally, why do I love chocolate yule logs? Well, they are light and spongey (delish!), fab as a mouth-watering centrepiece, and they're great if some of your dinner guests aren't a fan of Christmas cakes and dried fruit. Plus, you can make so many variations. I like the sound of this gingerbread and dark chocolate log from A Taste of Home, and Martha Stewart's hazelnut and almond creation.
Make it or order it, just enjoy the luxury of the cream, the chocolate and the care that has gone into baking your dessert!
For Goodness Cake
December is here, and this is where you can catch me and my cakes during the run up to Christmas!
Bristol Delivery Dates - December
I will be delivering cakes to Bristol twice this month - I haven't forgotten my old customers back in England! I'll be in BS9, 10 and 11 on Tuesday 7th December and Thursday 16th December with any orders made.
- birthday cakes
- traditional home bakes
All freshly baked, tailored to low sugar, vegan or gluten free dietary needs if required, and delivered to your door. NB. South Wales deliveries operate as normal, free to Chepstow and NP26.
For both Bristol and South Wales, I am now fully booked 22nd - 24th December. The latest you can now get a Christmas delivery is Tuesday 21st December, so book in today if you want something tasty for Christmas weekend! Orders close Friday 17th December.
Christmas Raffle Weekend
A first for For Goodness Cake - I will be running a Christmas raffle over the weekend before Christmas. Tickets are £1 a strip and you could win:
- gifts from local small businesses - festive cupcakes - a vegan hamper - two movie night bundles - and more!
Tune into my Facebook page to join in on Saturday 18th December!
Black Friday Deals
And finally, don't forget, if you're a newsletter subscriber (sign up here!), you still have until tomorrow, Tuesday 30th November, to take advantage of my Black Friday deals.
All the best,
For Goodness Cake
We're a week from December, so i thought it would be a good time to share some tips on Christmas baking...
My Christmas cakes have begun, I've bought my mincemeat, and I've got kilos of icing stacking up in my office ready for 'the big ice' ... It's Christmas baking time! There's no date too early to start your Christmas cake really, but the earlier you order yours from me the more boozy feeding it'll get - so don't leave it too late!
If you're tackling your Christmas baking yourself, however, you may want to read on - here are my top eight tips for festive success!
1. Line both the base and the sides of your Christmas cake (ideally springform) tin. This will reduce burn on such a long slow bake and make it easier to remove from the tin when it has cooled. This applies even if you have fabulous non-stick tins...
2. Toss your dried fruit in flour before putting it into the mix - this will save it sticking together in clumps.
3. And while we're talking dried fruit, Christmas is the time of year for nuts and fruit, for sure, so mix it up! Cranberries, mixed peel, apricots, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, sultanas, currants, raisins, cherries, figs, dates... Whatever you fancy!
4. Earl Grey tea is a good alternative if you don't want to feed your cake with alcohol. Rum, Amaretto and brandy isn't everyone's cup of tea. No pun intended.
5. Decoration-wise, the sky's the limit - there's so much you can be inspired by at Christmas. How about making a design around snowmen cake pops, stars, Santa's face, reindeers, presents, holly sprigs, a nativity scene, robins, ginger breadmen (I'll be using this last idea for some of my cupcakes this year). You name it, a Christmas theme can be constructed through fondant/biscuits/royal icing.
6. Always stir the cake with a wish - it adds another level of magic to Christmas.
7. When making mince pies, make sure the pastry has cooled completely before putting any topping on. Icing sugar dustings will simple melt away, and any icing/marzipan stars will soften and slide. And if you like your pastry a little crunchy, add a bit of sugar to the dough.
8. Drizzle honey or spread smooth apricot jam over the cake to make the marzipan stick properly.
I hope this has given you something new to consider this year - let me know how your baking goes!
For Goodness Cake
'Feeding' your christmas cake is more like giving it a drink. This keeps the sponge moist and makes the flavours really sing. Here's how to do it!
It may be still November, but if you're serious about cake, your Christmas cake should be baked and starting to need feeding already.
First of all, what kind of alcohol should you use? Strong spirits are perfect - rum, brandy, whisky... A cherry brandy, amaretto, or orange liqueur can be tasty too. You can also use orange juice, but where's the fun in that?!
How to feed your Christmas cake
1. With a skewer, poke holes all over the top through to the bottom while the cake is still warm in the tin. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of alcohol over the top.
2. Unwrap the cake from it's parchment when it's cooled, and re-wrap with parchment and foil.
3. Feed it as above every fortnight until a week before you plan to decorate it. If the cake is too moist it will be more difficult to ice.
Top tip: If your cake leaves a damp patch on the work surface, stop feeding it for a couple of weeks. No one wants a soggy mess. It is possible to over-feed your cake, so three or four times should be your maximum dosage.
Remember, no matter how much you feed it or how well you wrap it, lighter sponges with a lower fruit content will not keep as long. However, Christmas cakes can be frozen before decorating, which can help you get ahead in the kitchen before the 25th.
Good luck, let me know how you get on!
For Goodness Cake
Six years ago (!!) I made my first 'non standard' Christmas cake. Here's a blast from the past with the blog I posted way back when...
Read the full story here on my personal blog, but remember my cake making/decorating skills have come on a ways since 2016! What do you think, a fail or fanfare of a cake?
Fod Goodness Cake
December is fast approaching, and although I'm not holding a stall at any events this year, there's still lots of festive things coming up - get your diaries ready!
The Christmas Raffle Weekend is a newbie for 2021 - stay tuned to my Facebook page for more info!
Now I'll let your October finish with no more mention of the 'C' word...!
For Goodness Cake
Baking gifts few and far between this Christmas - I must be close to having everything! My mum and El Husbandio did come through for me though...
Both baby and I love my new silicone baking sheets! I have been too tight to buy them myself so I was dead chuffed to receive these - even though I spotted them come through the post, oops!
And my mum knows I love a silicone spatula. This one is a super cute stocking filler with a robin design. Plastic isn't always bad, these presents will get a lot of use!
I'm so thankful we managed to have a (different, quieter but) lovely Christmas this year, with all that's going on. We are very lucky to have my brother in Bristol too, and him and his girlfriend cooked up a feast for us. Thank you E & K!
I hope your Christmas Day was just as lovely and my customers enjoyed their cakes!
My family have never bought a Christmas cake from a supermarket, and here's why.
The downsides to store-bought cake are many; I avoid the standard cakes bought from a supermarket when they appear at work, preferring a home baked delight. They just don't taste like real food to me; sugary chemically mess. Yuck. Call me a cake snob, but there are reasons I feel this way...
The problems with store-bought cakes are even more numerous when it's Christmas cake we're talking about.
Growing up, my mum always, without fail, made a Christmas cake for us from scratch. We were very lucky kids, and I've carried on the tradition with my little family. I know my sister does the same, and my brother will probably have one from his baking-crazy girlfriend. What lucky tummies and tummies of significant others!
Here are just a few reasons why I prefer home baked Christmas cake and would NEVER buy one from a store. Obviously I want to encourage you to buy home baked - from me! - but not just for Christmas, for all occasions in the year.
WHY I NEVER BUY A STORE'S CHRISTMAS CAKE
1. One of my closest friends is vegan and vegan Christmas cakes are nigh on impossible to find in a supermarket, even though general vegan food ranges are expanding. The star cake above is actually vegan, and you'd never know...
2. Supermarket cakes often contain white sugar. Christmas cake should always be made with soft, brown sugar! The flavour and texture is totally different, and shouldn't be compromised!
3. You never know what's gone into a cake which has been mass produced; E numbers (colours and flavours), preservatives, dates (ick!), whole nuts (choking hazard for my baby)… At least with mine I know exactly what ingredients were used - including a good splosh of booze! - and that it's been made hygienically!
4. When it's home made, a Christmas (or any other) cake can be tailored to your preferences or needs. You know now I hate dates, but you could say to me, for example, you'd like a holly design, or a star featuring on your festive bake. Don't like marzipan? I can leave out the marzipan, no problem. Perhaps you'd like it gluten free? I'd be only too happy to help.
5. A home baked cake is a much better gift than something you just grabbed off the shelves. It's made with love, with a specific person in mind, and if you buy from 280 Bakes, you're supporting a small business.
What could be better???
Order your Christmas cake today - orders close in a week (20th December)!
Christmas may look a little different to normal this year, but that won't stop the festive baking!
Christmas cake is my favourite cake, Yule Logs are scrummy, Christmas cookies are so varied and fun... I just love festive baking! And this year I am going to make a pledge...
I'm ONLY going to bake festive bakes for my family friends from now until Christmas!
I've made family and friends many, many mince pies, mince pie brownies, and Christmas cakes for years during December, but this year I'm going to make an effort to only bake new recipes. I hope I can discover some unknown gem of a Christmas bake, making a change from what we normally enjoy at home (often carrot cakes, Tres Leches, Victoria Sponge...) and I hope to be able to bake and deliver for you next Christmas!
So what am I planning to bake?
I have some amazing new recipes to try, what do you think to these?! Photos added as I wade through my baking wishlist...
- Peppermint Chocolate Slices- sugar hiiiiiiiigh! DONE
- My first ever baked cheesecake, 'Snowed in' Vanilla Cheesecake DONE
- Cranberry Red Velvet Cake - a nice change DONE
- Giant chewy amaretti Christmas cookies - lovely and gooey! DONE
- Cranberry and walnut muffins
- Mince pie cookies
- Stollen - I was nervous about this one but it was AMAZING! I made it vegan so I can share it with my lockdown bubble buddy, but I could eat it all myself!! Try it yourself - the recipe is on Seitan Beats Your Meat. DONE
- Cinnamon swirl bread
- Christmas pudding cookies - with crumbled pudding in the mix, mmm! Super easy to make, just combine everything, bake at 180 degrees for about 15 mins on a lined baking sheet. I added white chocolate and holly to make them look kinda like little pudds. (Doesn't make 18!!) DONE
- Christmas monkey bread - for my 18 month old daughter, who we've just discovered knows the word 'monkey'! DONE
- A large, single Christmas Tree gingerbread cookie DONE
That's a lot of new recipes, and I can only bake Christmas things until New Year, so I'd better get baking!
Fab Fudge are probably my favourite Bristol business of mine, and not just because they gave me their Christmas fudge to review!
Imaginative. Delicious. Dairy-free.
Those are the three words I would use to describe what comes out of the kitchens of Fab Fudge. You can find out more about Fab Fudge on a blog I wrote back in 2017, but what you need to know is right here: Their (plastic-free!) fudge is UNBEATABLE.
The company's founder, Jill, started her business in 2016, two months or so behind me, and we met at a local networking event. Since then, we've been working together every so often to help each other out, and keeping each other in sweet treats!
Jill and her team have released their Christmas selection for 2020, and I was lucky enough to taste the first batches off the shelf.
At the time of writing, Gingerbread fudge wasn't available on Fab Fudge's online store, but it's coming - and you'll be glad it did! I am a late convert to ginger flavoured things, but I'm really into it now. My firey gingerbread is YUMMY! So when Jill said she had a ginger delight up her sleeve, I jumped on it! Smooth, melt-in-the-mouth, and (like all Fab Fudge) 100% vegan. The ginger kick is subtle, but the creamy taste really won me over.
Christmas cake fudge
Christmas cake may be my favourite cake, and the fudge version didn't disappoint. I love the triple layer fudge design - new for 2020. Rich, fully-festive, and it looks just like a mini slice with actual marzipan and icing! Christmas Cake fudge is my new favourite (sorry apricot fudge!).
If you're looking for the perfect gift, I can only say, GO FAB FUDGE!! Even Theo Paphitis is a fan - you simple have to try something new with Fab Fudge's dairy-free fudge.
Thanks Jill, and I hope it's not too early to wish you and yours a very merry and profitable Christmas.
Welcome to the For Goodness Cake blog! Most posts are by myself, Louise, but if you fancy guest blogging, give me a shout!