Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Mary Berry Christmas!

I love Christmas, and this year I'm even more excited than ever as I have already gotten the best gift ever. Something I have always, not my lovely new bike, but... my very own husband! Yes it is my first Christmas as a wife and I'm so happy that I've been decorating every inch of our home with festive stuff while trying my best to sing Christmas carols in tune.

I was thinking though that maybe my festive cheer might be overwhelming my husband a bit. I mean he's very patient. He came around to five different Christmas tree lots until I found the tree that spoke to me, and he has let me listen to Mariah Carey's Christmas album on repeat all week. He has also appeared enthusiastic with all the new first-married-Christmas-traditions I have come up with, so far. So I thought I should bake him something festive, especially after his hard work chopping our tree and all that.

I am actually completely opposed to most traditional Christmas baked goods. They all look so deceptively appealing; covered in icing, or pastry, only for me to bite in and find stewed fruit! Uh, I'm always so disappointed. Anyway, I'm currently carrying out research to find the perfect chocolate biscuit Christmas cake, which I will share as soon as I do. But in the meantime I wanted to make something festive and delicious for my lovely husband. He would eat anything but I wanted to make something that I'd  like too.

I suddenly got a flashback, to an episode of the Great British Bake Off where all the contestants made Mary Berry's Chocolate Roulade. I remember at the time thinking that looks nice and easy. Then I thought, what if I made that and threw some holly on top with a sprinkle of icing sugar - it could look extremely festive! And so I quickly googled Mary Berry's recipe and ta da! Here it is!

  • 6 free-range eggs, separated
  • 175g/6oz caster sugar
  • 2 tbs cocoa powder
  • 300ml/10fl oz double cream
  • icing sugar, to dust

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/160 Fan/Gas 4. Lightly grease a 33cm x 23cm/13in x 9in Swiss roll tin then line the base and sides of the tin with a large sheet of greaseproof paper, pushing it into the corners. Make a small diagonal snip in each corner of the paper; this helps to fit the paper snugly into the corners of the tin.
  • Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. (Do not let the base of the bowl touch the water.)
  • Place the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk until stiff but not dry. If you turn the bowl upside down, the whites should be stiff enough not to fall out.
  • Put the egg yolks in a separate bowl with the sugar and whisk using the same whisk (no need to wash it) on high speed for 2-3 minutes or until thick and creamy and the mixture leaves a thick ribbon-like trail when the beaters are lifted. Pour in the cooled chocolate and gently fold together until well combined.

  • Gently stir two large spoonfuls of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen the mix, then fold in the remaining egg whites using a large metal spoon (you don’t want to squash out the air you have just beaten in). Sift the cocoa over the top and lightly fold it in. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and gently move the tin around until the mixture is level.

  • Bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes until risen and the top feels firm and slightly crisp. Remove from the oven, leave in the tin (expect the roulade to fall and crack a little) and set aside until cold.
  • Whip the cream until it just holds its shape. Lay a large piece of greaseproof paper on the work surface and dust it lightly with icing sugar. Turn the roulade out on to the paper so its lining paper is on top, then carefully peel off the paper. Spread the roulade with the whipped cream, leaving a border of about 2cm/¾in all the way around the edges. With one of the shortest edges facing you, make a cut along it with a sharp knife, going about half way through the sponge. This will help to start the rolling up. Now roll this cut edge over tightly to start with and use the paper to help continue the tight rolling, by pulling it away from you as you roll. Don’t worry if the roulade cracks - that is quite normal and all part of its charm.

  • Finish with the join underneath then lift the roulade onto a serving plate or board using a large wide spatula or two fish slices. 
  • Dust with icing sugar. 
One of the most appealing things with this is that it doesn't take long to make at all. The only tricky bit was trying to roll it up.  It should have turned out circular when you look at it side on, mine is more triangular, but it still looks log-like and festive so I'm happy enough with it.

I think Mary Berry, who has the best name ever, is a baking legend. Although I never heard of her until I started watching the Bake Off, I quickly came to realise that she is a woman who knows what she's talking about. And I have since found out she's written over 70 cook books! 70! I can't even imagine trying to come up with 70 recipes, but 70 books! Since the roulade turned out so good I am gonna have to make a start on building a collection of Mary Berry books. If I was to get one a year I should have the whole lot before I'm 100, that's not too bad.

The roulade seemed to do the trick in keeping my husband sweet for the festive season. Turns out he doesn't mind living in a winter wonderland for the month of December. He just suggested that I ease off adding Baileys every time I make him coffee. Or tea.

Here's our crib with enough room for homeless newlyweds!


  1. Clare, you have brought me back to the excitement of my first Christmas married and in our new home. Fond memories! The roulade looks delicious and I love the additions to your crib! :)

  2. Thanks Nessa! I'm hoping to do some more christmas baking over the next week. Might try out your chocolate fudge - looks sooo good!