Monday, 10 December 2007

Chocolate Yule Log (egg free, dairy free, gluten free)

Some of my early childhood memories are of camping holidays in France. I loved the fluffy white baguette smeared thickly with Nutella, and I loved listening to the locals talk.

You know Simon, they don’t actually say ‘myrrrh-seee’ for ‘thank-you’, it’s more like ‘myrrh-ack-see’.

My brother stared at me in astonishment; had I really just handed him this golden opportunity to tease me mercilessly? But I was right. What I was hearing was the throaty ‘rrrr’ sound; try hawking up some phlegm and you’ve got it about right. It's a sound that us Brits find so hard to master.

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Throughout my teens I was in love with France and anything French. A couple of French boys figured in my teenage love life and my vocabulary broadened considerably. Whether my desire for Christophe and Gilles was for their personalities or their ability to improve my French is a moot point, yet I embraced them both with gusto. My goal was to be mistaken for someone French. I listened to French music, read French books, and got into tons of trouble when I started sleep talking in French;
Jean-Claude, c’est toi?’
I had lots of explaining to do, why do parents have to listen to us even in our sleep?

I still love the French language, and I still enjoy speaking French. However, when you are surrounded by four children yelling at you in English, and your clothes are more slept in than Couture; there’s very little chance of anyone thinking you’re French. Furthermore I find I no longer have my youthful enthusiasm for all things gallic. In particular I don’t want people I barely know, lunging at my cheeks and breathing wine, garlic and coffee fumes all over me.

The whole kissing thing in France is a minefield. Just when are you supposed to kiss them and when should you shake their hand? I know the basic rules – always shake at the first meeting, always shake with your boss, kiss someone if they kiss you – but the lines start to get blurry and indistinct after you’ve met someone a couple of times. I’m always more comfortable with the handshake, but they may dive in for a kiss. This leads to the excruciating situation where you are kissing someone you barely know whilst firmly holding their hand.

These sorts of cultural differences are so confusing when you first arrive in a foreign land. My husband was strongly advised by his colleagues that handshaking was essential and that if you didn't greet with a handshake you were being spectacularly rude. He took this very much to heart and the next time he visited the bakery, he knew what to do.

Rather than shuffle in, avoid eye contact and join the back of the line, he entered the Boulangérie with his colleagues' advice ringing in his ears. With a deep breath, he adopted a solemn and professional look - as you do when being formal - and carefully moved along the line of people, gravely shaking their hands and saying 'bonjour'. He felt rather pleased with his integrational skills, and failed to notice the rictus of embarrassment on the faces of his victims. It was only when his French colleagues found out and fell about laughing that he realised his error. It was a faux pas of the same magnitude as peering over the urinal partition and checking out the size of the competition. Or so I'm told.

I'm often reminded of his mistake as I join the silent queue in my local Boulangerie; it makes me smile and cringe in equal measure. The other day as I quietly waited to be served I saw the sign telling me to place my order for my Bûche de Noël. I was thankful for the reminder; only 3 weeks to go and I hadn’t had a bash at a gluten free, egg free Chocolate log! Well I’ve had a few goes now, and here is the recipe for your delectation.

Chocolate Yule Log
This recipe was conceived one lonely Sunday evening when my husband had left me for another aeoroplane. His gleeful text telling me he had the whole of First class to himself and that he'd just been handed some Christian Lacroix pyamas, did nothing to lift the mood. However, when both the wheat flour version and the gluten free version worked first time, I was a very happy bunny.
This is yummy cold, but perhaps even better slightly warmed; the chocolate melts a little and makes it deliciously naughty. We ate it with Oat Supreme, but you could substitute dairy cream, coconut cream or soya cream according to your dietary needs. The children came running back to the kitchen - bowls aloft - demanding more. That's always a good feeling.

Egg free, dairy free with wheat flour:

4 heaped tsps Orgran 'no egg' egg replacer mixed with 8 tbsp orange juice
1 heaped tbsp ground linseeds (put whole linseeds in your blender and blitz)
1.5 tsp gluten free baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
110g sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
110g wheat flour
rice milk to mix
Cornflour or potato flour for sprinkling


Egg free, dairy free, gluten free :
4 heaped tsps Orgran 'no egg' egg replacer mixed with 8 tbsp orange juice
1 heaped tbsp ground linseeds (put whole linseeds in your blender and blitz)
1.5 tsp gluten free baking powder130g sugar
2 tbsps vegetable oil
100g rice flour20g potato flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1tsp xanthan gum
rice milk to mix
Cornflour or potato flour for sprinkling

Gluten free, with eggs:
4 eggs
2 tbsps vegetable oil
130g sugar
100g rice flour
20g potato flour
1tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
rice milk to mix
Cornflour or potato flour for sprinkling


For the filling and icing:
200g gluten free dairy free dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
130g dairy free spread
6 tbsps icing sugar
2-3 tbsps gluten free cranberry sauce


  • For egg free versions: put the 'no egg' and the ground linseeds into a bowl and whisk gently to remove any lumps. Set aside
  • Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius/Gas 4
  • Grease and line a 23.5cm x 34cm baking tray with baking parchment
  • Put the 'no egg' and linseed mix - or eggs if using - into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar and oil. Either use a hand whisk or an electric whisk to whisk the 'egg' and sugar together until it thickens slightly. If you are using real eggs, you will need to whisk until the mixture has doubled in volume (or is at least very fluffy and puffy)
  • Add the mixed spice, baking powder and wheat flour if using. For gluten free: add the rice and potato flour, xanthan gum, mixed spice and baking powder. Mix gently with a metal spoon until all the ingredients are mixed together
  • If the mixture seems too thick/stiff, add enough rice milk to give a soft, dropping consistency
  • Pour the mixture into the middle of the baking tray. Then using the back of the metal spoon, gently ease the mixture to the edges of the tray ensuring that you have an even spread of mix over the baking tray
  • Bake for approximately 10 minutes until it has risen, is golden brown and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven
  • Now work quickly, tear off a piece of baking parchment that is a bit larger than the sponge you've just baked. Lie it flat on your work surface and sprinkle it with cornflour or potato flour, it's to stop the sponge sticking. Stay with me, you'll see in a minute
  • Next, tip the newly-baked sponge face down into the cornflour/potato flour, oh the ignominy!
  • Remove the baking parchment that is sticking to the sponge's bottom (the piece you baked it on)
  • Now very carefully roll up the sponge (see the above picture to get an idea of what you're aiming for) with the baking parchment inside. Set the cake aside to cool completely
  • When you're ready to fill and ice the cake, melt the chocolate in a bain marie. To do this: put a little water into a small saucepan. Place a large heatproof bowl on top of the saucepan and start to heat the water. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place into the bowl. As it starts to melt, stir it so that it doesn't stick
  • When the chocolate has just melted, remove the bowl from the heat and add the dairy free spread. Beat until the spread has melted and it's looking glossy. Seive in the icing sugar, use more or less according to taste
  • Allow the icing to cool for a while. It's a bit tricky knowing how long to leave it because it can suddenly just 'turn' and go thick. I would say 10 minutes at least, but keep stirring it. It's ready to use when it will still drop off a wooden spoon, but some remains suspended from the spoon
  • Whilst you're waiting for the icing to cool, very carefully unroll your cold Yule log. With the egg free versions, I did find that the parchment stuck a little and I had to work a little to get it off. Don't worry if the sponge cracks as you unroll it, the beauty of the icing is that it keeps everything together, a bit like those control pants you can buy
  • When you have the sponge all unrolled, spread a good layer of cranberry sauce all over it. Now dollop some chocolate icing over the top and spread it over the cranberry sauce, make sure you go right to the edges
  • Very carefully roll the sponge back up again. The chocolate and cranberry may squidge around and ooze out the ends, I don't think it's a problem
  • Now transfer your roll onto your serving plate. Smear it all over with the rest of the chocolate filling, making sure you cover the ends and right down to the plate. Decorate with a little robin, sprinkle with icing sugar for a snow effect, make it as kitsch or as stylish as you like
  • And there you have it, one Bûche de Noël. Now go snog a Frenchman
© Pig in the Kitchen 2007
    The cake pictured is egg free, dairy free and gluten free


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16 comments:

Stay at home dad said...

Always a joy to read you, Pig. I travelled in France, did a French degree, lived there for a while. But I did notice that there's nothing like spending time there to put you off it all...!

Potty Mummy said...

Gosh, I miss Nutella (now that we are nut-free zone). But what I really really really loved on my French exchanges were those snacks made with baguette, and squares of chocolate. That was it. Just delicious French bread, and chocolate. How much better can it get?

Pig in the Kitchen said...

SAHD, aw thanks. You did a French degree...I had you down as economics. So true, living here really kills the romance!

PottyM, Nutella and butter on toast, fwooorr! I've never had a chocolate sandwich; and they claim the moral culinary high ground?!
Pigx

guineapigmum said...

I got packed off on French exchanges as a teen - and was sent to France for 3 months when I was 11 (could you imagine doing that to one of your own kids?). Anyhow, I survived, and love France, and one of my earliest food memories has to be the baguette with lumps of chocolate. Another is Petit Suisse, beaten up with sugar in huge quantities. And a third is the bowl of hot milk with a teabag floating about in it that was, well, breakfast tea.

lady macleod said...

With what the French left here and the indigenious culture it's pretty clear cut, you kiss the females and handshake the chaps. The more they like you, the more kisses you get. I rather like it, once I got the hang of how many kisses to whom for what...

Miss Thistle said...

Ahh Pig, I remember Giles! Not that I actually met him, but you were besotted for a while!! On the kissing front I was at a wedding (someone you know actually) and was moving along the line shaking hands with the family etc. I got to the brides father and he moved to kiss me on the cheek, I went the wrong way and we somehow ended up kissing on the lips.... Ho hum all very embarrassing! As for pyjamas - who needs 'em! Love and Happy Christmas Miss Txxxx

debio said...

All bodily contact is a minefield here, PITK! I must not offer my hand to a man but if he proffers his then it's OK for me to respond. My husband must NEVER attempt to shake hands with a woman - they must not be touched.

My husband should not touch me in public - and certainly not kiss me - even goodbye.

All men may hug each other - warmly and with enthusiasm. Women may touch hands, but not kiss cheek-to-cheek.

Actually, it all rather suits me - being an advocate of the Britsh stand-off, I am free to enjoy my huge personal space!

Elsie Button said...

my school french teacher had the worst accent in the world. my mum spent a lot of time in france when she was young and can speak it fluently, but when it came to writing it down she was useless - this used to infuriate me when it came to my french homework. on a school trip to france i was almost sent home for being caught kissing a french boy. sorry about stream of consciousness.

the yule log looks YUMMY!

rilly super said...

well, our local amateur dramatic society did 'Allo Allo' a few months ago so I consider myself well versed in french culture but this kissing business is most unnecessary and there's no need for it when a firm handshake will do just as well, as my husband explained to me on our honeymoon, sigh

Akelamalu said...

I love the French language too Pig, but unfortunately I only learnt it for 2 years in high school. We then we moved to a different part of the country - a backwater where I don't think they'd ever heard of France let alone teach the language! So now I can probably just remember enough to say 'ouvrez la fenêtre':(

mutterings and meanderings said...

Pig, do you want to make me a Christmas hamper of goodies? ;)

Sheltie Girl said...

You did a lovely job on the yule log. do you use linseeds as a replacement for xanthan gum?

Sheltie Girl @ Gluten A Go Go

Sheltie Girl said...

Sorry, I just found my own answer. Linseeds are the same as flax seeds here in the US.

Happy Holidays!

Sheltie Girl @ Gluten A Go Go

Mya said...

I had a French boyfriend called Christophe in my teens too. (I wonder if it was the same guy?!) He was from Grenoble. I never had a problem knowing when to kiss him, though.

As ever, your cooking looks indecently delicious.

Mya x

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Alas, the sands of time have run out! My apologies for not replying to each and every one of you, but thanks very much for visiting.

A merry joyous agnostic sober festive happy atheist Christmas drunken Hannukkah Secular Holiday to you all.
(Think I've covered every eventuality there)
See you in the new year, Inshallah!
Pigx

vintagemom said...

Hi! I'm having so much fun sharing your yummy recipes :) I included your yule log in my post, "An Allergy Friendly Christmas Dinner" today. Looks delicious!

http://allergyfreecookery.blogspot.com/2011/12/allergy-free-christmas-menu.html

Happy holidays,
Lisa @ Allergy Free Vintage Cookery