- Serves: 10-12
- Cook Time: 15 minutes including melting chocolate
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Effort: medium
- 4 large eggs
- 100 g caster sugar
- 65 g self-raising flour
- 40 g cocoa powder
For the chocolate icing and topping:
- 275 g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
- 450 ml double cream
- 4 tbsp apricot jam
- icing sugar, for dusting
- holly and red berries, to garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas 6. Grease and line a 33 x 23cm Swiss roll tin with baking parchment, securing the corner with metal paperclips.
2. For the sponge, place the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl. Using an electric hand whisk, beat the mixture until it is pale, light and frothy.
3. Sieve the flour and cocoa powder into the bowl and carefully fold in to the egg mixture, using a metal spoon and taking care not to beat any of the air out of the mixture.
4. Pour in to the lined tin and spread out into the corners. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 8-10 minutes until pale golden and the sides are shrinking away from the edge of the tin.
5. Place a piece of baking parchment bigger than the Swiss roll on the work surface. Invert the cake on to the paper and remove (and count!) the paperclips and peel away the baking parchment.
6. Trim the edges of the cake with a sharp knife and make a score mark 2.5cm in along the longer edge. Roll up (from the longer edge) using the paper, rolling it up with the paper inside. Set aside to cool.
7. While the cake is cooling, make the icing. Melt the chocolate and 300ml of the cream in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Refrigerate until cool and thickened. Whip the remaining cream.
8. Uncurl the cold Swiss roll and remove the paper. Spread a third of the icing over the surface then spread the whipped cream on top, and re-roll tightly. Cut a quarter of the cake off from one end, on the diagonal. Transfer the large piece of cake to a serving plate and angle the cut end to the side of the large cake to make a branch. Cover the surface of the cake with the melted apricot jam.
9. Put the remaining chocolate icing into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. Pipe long thick lines along the cake, covering the cake completely so it looks like the bark of a tree. Cover each end with icing or, if you wish to see the cream, leave un-iced.
10. Dust with icing sugar and garnish with fresh holly and red berries.
To prepare and cook ahead: Make completely, filled and iced, up to 2 days ahead. If there is time, though, it is best made on the day of serving.
To freeze: Freezes well filled, iced, or un-iced for up to 1 month. Ideally it should be frozen filled and rolled but un-iced, then iced once defrosted, which ensures the icing keeps a nice shine. Defrost in the fridge overnight to serve.
To cook in the Aga: Cook the cake on the grid shelf on the floor of the Roasting Oven for about 8-10 minutes or until shrinking away from the side of the tin. You may need to slide in the cold sheet on the second set of runners if getting too brown. Follow the rest of the recipe as above.
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