Pecan yule log with caramel sauce
Serves 8-10 | prep 30 mins | total time
- 250g pecans, toasted
- 6 medium eggs, separated
- 125g caster sugar
- 75g butter, melted
- 25g plain flour
For the icing and caramel sauce
- 275g caster sugar
- 100g butter, softened and cut into cubes
- 275ml double cream
- 350g dark chocolate, in drops or broken into pieces
- icing sugar, for dusting
Make up to the end of step 4 up to 2 days ahead. The iced log will keep well, too; keep it for up to 2 days in a cool place (not the fridge). The cake and sauce can also be frozen
- Preheat the oven to 180°C, fan 160°C, gas 4. Line the sides and base of a 24 x 35cm Swiss roll tin with nonstick baking paper to come just above the sides. Pulse the toasted pecans in a food processor a good few times until finely chopped, but not fully ground.
- Put the egg whites and ½ teaspoon of salt in a large, spotlessly clean bowl or the bowl of an electric food mixer. Using a hand-held electric beater or the food mixer, whisk until foamy. Tip in 50g of the sugar and continue to whisk to stiff, glossy peaks. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the rest of the sugar for a few minutes or until thickened. Add the egg-white mixture and the melted butter and fold in carefully. Sprinkle over the chopped pecans, sift in the flour and fold in to combine. Tip into the prepared tin, smoothing with a spatula to form an even layer. Bake for 15–20 minutes until the sponge feels lightly springy in the centre. Cover with a clean, slightly damp tea towel and place the cake, still in the tin, on a wire rack to cool.
Tip The cake is given a nutty flavour and slight crunch by the toasted pecans, which are finely chopped before being mixed into the sponge batter. The bark effect on the log is really easy to achieve by running the tines of a fork along the icing.
- To make the caramel sauce, put the sugar in a pan with 50ml water and set over a medium heat. Cook, stirring regularly, until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat and bring to the boil. Remove the spoon and continue to boil without stirring (you can swirl the pan every so often to help it cook evenly) for about 10 minutes. When the caramel is a deep golden colour, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter, a few bits at a time, followed by ½ teaspoon of salt – the mixture will bubble vigorously. Return to the heat and stir until all the caramel bits have dissolved. Stir in the cream, then remove from the hob. Measure out 225ml of the sauce, pouring it into a jug to serve later.
- To make the icing, add the chocolate to the remaining caramel in the saucepan, off the heat, and whisk until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and leave to stand, stirring occasionally, until it's a spreadable consistency. This should take about an hour or two if left in a cool place – but don't leave it in the fridge or it will solidify.
- When the cake is cool and you're ready to roll it up, remove the tea towel covering the cake, lift the cake out of the tin with the baking paper still attached and place on a work surface next to your cake board or plate. Spread a third of the icing over the cake then, beginning at one short side and using the baking paper to help, carefully roll up the cake, removing the baking paper as you go. The sponge may crack a little, but you don't need to worry about this. Transfer the rolled-up cake to your serving plate or board. Position the cake with the seam at the bottom.
- Roughly a fifth from one end of the log, make a cut running diagonally across the cake. Spread a little of the icing on the cut side of the smaller section of cake and then place it about a third of the way down the log to look like a branch, pressing it in on its iced surface.
- Spread the rest of the icing all over the cake to completely cover it. To decorate, use a fork or small palette knife to make lines all along the log and branch to look like bark, making concentric circles at each end. This may get a little messy, so, if you like, you can neaten the serving plate or board by cleaning around the log with kitchen paper. Lightly dust with icing sugar to look like snow. When you're ready to serve, cut into slices and pour over the reserved caramel sauce (you can reheat this if you like).
Serve with a caramel sauce – it tastes as good as it looks!