Yule log 'Forever Nigella' style

When I was compiling my baking wishlist last week I completely forgot to add on a recipe for the classic Yule Log. The tradition of the Yule Log has been around since the early 1800's, and is more common in European countries, but it's a very simple and delicious cake to make so I thought I'd document my 1st attempt and show you all how easy it is.

I used a recipe from my food hero Nigella Lawson (because I'm entering this post into the Forever Nigella blogging event hosted by Laura over at lauralovescake... and organised by Sarah from Maison Cupcake) and tweaked it ever so slightly because I just CAN'T HELP IT. The minor changes I made were mostly additions that I make to my usual chocolate cakes to bring out the chocolately flavour so they are by no means mandatory...but I advise them :)

This is my first Yule Log cake and I have to say the idea of rolling a cake has petrified me. I imagine cracked sponge and a messy result but actually Nigella's sponge is light and moist so as long as you roll the cake tightly then you should have no problems.

I did have some trouble with the icing recipe as I found the icing to be quite stiff and when I tried to cover the cake the sponge would tear away onto my spatula so I added a few teaspoons of whole milk which loosened it up and made it a lot easier to work with. Add this at your caution though and always remember to add liquids drop by drop as you can always add more but it's much harder to take away.

1. Whisk egg whites
2. Beat yolks with sugar and vanilla
3. Fold in cocoa until mixed thoroughly
4. Fold egg whites into yolks
5. Spread batter onto swiss roll tray
6. Bake for approx 20mins
7. Spread cake with icing when cool
 9. Roll tightly into log shape
 10. Cut and serve (keep remainder covered or ensure you eat all at once...)

Recipe (replicated with additions) Original recipe can be found here and in Nigella Christmas.

  • 6 medium eggs (separated)
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 50g best cocoa powder
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 4tsps icing sugar (to decorate)
  • 1/2 tsp espresso powder
  • 175g dark chocolate broken into pieces
  • 200g icing sugar (sieved)
  • 225g unsalted butter (at room temp)
  • 1tbsps vanilla extract (I used chocolate extract)
  • 1tbsp whole milk (optional)
  • Dash of salt
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/170°C for fan assisted or gas mark 4.
2. In a large, clean bowl whisk the egg whites until thick and peaking. Add 50g of caster sugar and continue to beat until soft peaks form.
3+4. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the remaining caster sugar until the mixture is moussy, pale and thick. Add the vanilla extract, sieve in the cocoa powder/espresso powder then fold carefully into the egg yolk mixture
5. Add 2 large spoonfuls of beaten egg whites to beaten egg yolks being careful to fold the mixture in gently. Then continue to fold in remainder of egg whites mixing thoroughly.
6. Line a Swiss roll tin with baking parchment and pour the cake mixture into the tin and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until sponge is springy to the touch.
7. Let the cake cool a little before turning it out onto another piece of baking parchment and cover to keep the cake moist.
8. To make the icing, melt chocolate and set aside until cooled slightly. In another bowl beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add vanilla extract and then pour in melted chocolate and beat until icing is smooth. Add milk if your icing is too stiff to spread but add it sparingly!
9. Sit the flat chocolate cake on a large piece of baking parchment. Trim the edges of the Swiss roll. Spread some of the icing thinly over the sponge, going right out to the edges. 
10. Start rolling from the long side facing you, taking care to get a tight roll from the beginning, and roll up to the other side. Pressing against the parchment and tucking in the cake makes this easier. Cut one or both ends of the log slightly at a gentle angle, reserving the remnants, and place the Swiss roll on a board. The remnants, along with the trimmed-off bits earlier, are to make a branch or two and can be placed alongside your log and iced as one piece.
11. Spread the yule log with the remaining icing, covering the cut-off ends as well as any branches. Use toothpick to make long marks along the log to make it look 'woodlike'. I also used some red and green sugarpaste to make holly and berries to add to the kitsch look! Icing sugar finish - optional but delightfully necessary.

I'm entering this recipe in Sarah's Festive Food Friday blogging event, pop over for some festive inspiration!


  1. Your Yule log looks really good and very festive, I like the cute little leaves on the side. I'm running a challenge on my blog this month for Yule logs and it would be great if you wanted to link up this post as well.


    1. Thanks Jen :) I'm going to nip off and have a look now xx

  2. How fabulous!!! Your yule log looks amazing...I've got one to make in a couple of weeks so I hope it looks as good as yours! :-) Thanks for entering Forever Nigella!

    1. Thanks Laura! It's my first Forever Nigella and I'm really excited to be involved. Your gingerbread looks AMAZING! I work in a cake craft shop and we sell those white deer and I was sooo tempted to pop one on my log ;)

  3. mmm looks fantastic!

    1. Thanks! I highly recommend it!

  4. I'm so jealous of how tight you got that roll, I never attempted one because I don't think mine would roll up so well!! It looks delicious!!

    1. I thought the same Lisa but you know what, this recipe makes such a light and moist sponge that rolling it was easy peasy! Definitely have a go if you haven't already, it's delicious :)

  5. I made this same version for my entry too and was very impressed. My icing was quite soft - I had melted my butter slightly too much in the microwave so it was dead easy to spread on the cake but had to go in the fridge to firm up after. Thanks for taking part in Forever Nigella!

  6. How long does the log last?

    1. It's quite a light sponge so I'd say about 3days prior to cutting (the buttercream seals it) but I haven't tested it once cut.

  7. Hi, Can you tell me what dimensions the Swiss roll tin should be?

    1. Yes, I use this tin http://www.lakeland.co.uk/12289/My-Kitchen-Cook-and-Bake-Swiss-Roll-Tin which is approx 23 x 33cm (9" x 13") Hope that helps!

  8. Wow! A stunning yule log, I have to make one this year. #FestiveFoodFriday

  9. I love a Yule Log and this looks delicious. I love the in progress photos. Will you make it this year too? Good old Nigella! Thanks for linking to #festivefoodfriday lovely xx

  10. Yummy! We make this Nigella Yule Log every, single year and it never ever disappoints! #FestiveFoodFriday

  11. What a fab Yule Log, it looks delicious. #festivefoodfriday