Most Christmas dessert tables will feature a chocolate rich Yule Log. It’s a basic swiss roll mix, with a cream or chocolate buttercream filling, decorated with chocolate buttercream icing, scored in a pattern to look like the bark of a tree. Decorations can be as simple as a dusting of icing sugar ‘snow’ over the chocolate finish, to jolly red breasted robbins, Santa Claus figurines, holly with berries or other festive representations. The Yule Log is a traditional part of the Christmas menu each year. But why?
Since Medieval times in Scandinavian tradition during Pagan times , a crowd would go out to gather a big log for the fire, which would burn during the Winter Solstice festival. A whole tree was chosen and it took a party of fine big men to carry it back home. Among jollity and frivolity and probably a sip or two of local brew to keep spirits up in the cold snowy weather! This tradition spread acoss Europe and was eventually adopted into early Christian celebrations . The new Yule Log was always lit with the remainder of the log from the previous year, and burned throughout ‘Yuletide’, during the Twelve Days of Christmas. So big was the log, only one end could fit into the fireplace to burn, whilst the remainder stuck out into the room. As the log gradually burned down, it was pushed further into the fire. You can do this at home if you wish to reinstate an age old practice associated with Winter Solstice and Pagan times. A large thick branch of a hardwood tree makes a perfect slow burning Yule Log. It will need to be kept an eye on. Each evening before retiring to bed, for safety’s sake, the log should be removed from the fireplace, taken outdoors, and the dying glowing embers of the burning end stuck into a large container of sand or earth. This writer has burned a Yule Log quite successfully in this way in a normal fireplace – why not?! It does make a talking point when friends call round! However, most people these days prefer to remember the Yule Log tradition with the familiar edible chocolate version. Our pastry chefs and bakers are busy right now, making their own versions of the Christmas Yule Log for your delectation this holiday!