Neven Maguire's delightful French büche de Noêl always goes down a treat. As it’s so rich you’ll find a
little goes a long way, so make the slices small. This also happens to be gluten free if you use
butter, for greasing
100g (4oz) plain chocolate (at least
70% cocoa solids), broken into
4 large eggs, separated
100g (4oz) caster sugar, plus extra
For the icing:
225g (8oz) butter, softened
200g (7oz) icing sugar, sifted, plus
extra to decorate
2 tbsp good-quality cocoa powder,
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/gas mark 5). Butter a 33cm x 23cm (13in x 9in) Swiss
roll tin, line with non-stick baking paper and butter the paper.
2. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure
the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl.
3. Whisk the egg yolks with the caster sugar until very thick and pale in colour. Beat in the
egg whites until stiff, then fold into the melted chocolate. Transfer into the prepared tin
and spread out evenly. Bake in the oven for 20–25 minutes, until risen and firm to the
4. Turn the sponge out onto a sheet of greaseproof paper generously sprinkled with caster
sugar. Carefully peel off the lining paper. Cover the roulade with a warm damp tea towel
and leave to cool.
5. To make the icing, use an electric hand-held mixer to whisk the butter and icing sugar in
a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the cocoa powder and vanilla and whisk until you
have a smooth icing. Spread one-third of the icing over the cold roulade. Using the paper
to help, roll up the roulade to enclose the filling.
6. Put the filled roulade on a long plate or board and trim down the edges at an angle, then
use these pieces to make a ‘branch’ coming off to the side. Spread the Yule log with the
rest of the icing, covering the whole thing completely so that it looks like a big log with a
branch coming off the side. Using a skewer, create a wood-like texture on the icing.
7. To serve, transfer the roulade onto a serving plate and dust generously with icing sugar,
then cut into slices.