Saturday, 20 December 2014

Caramelised Popcorn Yule Log

One of the best things about Christmas - regardless of age - has to be Christmas films. Everyone has a favourite, from the classics (It's a Wonderful Life), to the endlessly quotable (Elf), to the ones with a ridiculous cast (Love Actually), to the dubiously festive (Die Hard), and the quite frankly terrifying (Gremlins).

You might not be the biggest fan of a Santa Clause triple bill on Christmas Eve - as I am - so Bad Santa might be more your style. Maybe nothing beats watching the Muppets Christmas Carol first thing on Christmas Day while waiting to open presents. Who knows!

There's something for everyone and every channel is naturally saturated with them over the next week. Despite all the differences between all of the millions of movies on offer - festive or not - one thing remains the same: nothing accompanies a film quite like popcorn. Plus, it's Christmas, so chocolate for every meal is not only expected but also guilt-free if you believe in Father Christmas.*

*not really, but let's pretend.

This recipe is the last of my Christmas bakes, and I like to think I've saved a bit of a showstopper to go out with a bang with this Caramelised Popcorn Yule Log from John Whaite.

The original recipe can be found in John Whaite's '12 Bakes of Christmas' - a free PDF that you can download here (and I'd 110% recommend!), but it's also below with my notes and pictures.


For the sponge:
5 large eggs
135g caster sugar
115g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
Icing sugar to dust

For the filling:
125g caster sugar
100g toffee popcorn, plus extra for decoration
2 x 227g tubs of clotted cream

For the ganache:
100g dark chocolate, chopped
100g milk chocolate, chopped
150ml buttermilk
25g unsalted butter, softened


Preheat the oven to 210C/190C fan/gas mark 7.

Whisk together the eggs and sugar until the mixture triples in volume and you achieve the ribbon stage – when you lift the whisk from the mixture and draw a figure of eight, the mixture should sit proudly on the surface for about 3 seconds before sinking away.

Sift over the flour and cocoa powder and fold in making sure the mixture is smooth, though try not to deflate those bubbles too much. Spread into a swiss roll tin lined with baking parchment, smooth over the top, and bake for 7-10 minutes, or until the sponge springs back when gently touched.

Whilst the sponge is baking place a clean, damp tea towel onto the worktop, and cover that with a sheet of baking paper dusted liberally with icing sugar. Once the sponge is baked, invert immediately onto the baking paper, then wrap into a very tight spiral inside the baking paper and tea towel. Allow to cool completely.

For the filling, heat the sugar in a dry saucepan over a medium/high heat. The sugar will start to melt and cook. Stirring, allow the sugar to dissolve completely and turn into a caramel, then add the popcorn and stir to coat each piece. Pour onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and allow to cool.

Once set, blitz to a fine sand in a food processor.

Mix together with the clotted cream to form a gritty, popcorn paste.

When the cake has cooled, carefully unroll and spread with the filling, then wrap tightly up. I've bizarrely never made anything like a Swiss Roll before so mine cracked at this stage, but don't fear if yours does this too! The filling is super strong and keeps the whole log together, and if any of the top has cracked (mine didn't but I'm surprised that part survived!) then the ganache will cover it at the end.

Make the frosting by heating the chocolates and buttermilk in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.

Stirring, allow the mixture to turn into a smooth glossy ganache, then remove from the heat and beat in the butter. Allow to cool, then spread over the log. Slice off each end to neaten, and decorate with pieces of popcorn. I'd only add the popcorn decoration just before serving in future as it goes pretty soft really quickly, and it's better with a bit of crunch. That being said: nom.

Even without a full and proper spiral in the middle I'm still pretty pleased with this! The chocolate sponge is light and moist and goes perfectly with the rich, creamy popcorn filling. However, I've had the most compliments on the ganache - I've never made one before with two types of chocolate and buttermilk, but I will definitely be doing so again as it went down so well!

It's such an ingenious and different take on the traditional Yule Log, so major kudos to John Whaite for coming up with it!

Will you be indulging in a slice of a Caramelised Popcorn Yule Log while watching your favourite Christmas film this year? Do let me know!

Merry Christmas!
E xx

This is the last of my Christmas bakes, but I'll be posting pictures of any further baking over the next few days on Instagram (obviously: I'm a walking cliché…). I'm more than happy to share recipes so don't hesitate to get in touch if you like the look of a particular bake and want to know how to recreate it yourself.

No comments:

Post a Comment