Believe it or not, this is Belly Over Mind’s first Yule log, and I wanted to make it an extra special one. The delicate Swiss Roll is filled with a Caramel popcorn pudding and bits of crushed homemade caramel popcorn. The entirety of the log is then covered with the quickest chocolate icing ever, because let’s face it—if you’ve gone as far to make the popcorn and the pudding and the Swiss roll cake, you want the final stage to be a doddle because Yule logs tend to give anyone who makes them a fair bit of anxiety. This has a lot to do with rolling the sponge more than anything because it could crack, and this is okay because the chocolate icing goes over it, so breathe easy and just go about with this cake telling yourself that there’s no need to worry whatsoever. Things that are important, I will stress upon in the recipe heavily, so do not worry yourself please and just remember to have yourself a merry little Christmas Eve.
Salted Caramel Popcorn Yule Log
Yield 12 fat slices
Rolling the sponge in a tea towel while the cake is still warm is the best possible advice on the planet. As long as you don’t forget this, we’re all good.
The Yule Log Sponge
Eggs 6, separated
All-purpose flour 1/4 cup
Chocolate 113g, chopped roughly
Vegetable oil 2 tbsp
Vanilla extract 1 tsp
Cocoa powder 1/4 cup, plus more for dusting
Salt a pinch
Caster sugar 2/3 cup + plus 2 tbsp
Icing sugar to dust
Caramel Popcorn (makes more than you need OBVIOUSLY)
Act II microwave popcorn 1 large bag, butter only
Corn syrup 20g
Salted butter 30g
Baking soda 1/2 tsp
Salt, iodised works well here
The Pudding Filling
Popcorn milk 50g + 180g
Egg yolks 2
Salted butter 110g, cold and cubed
Gelatin powder 3/4ths of a tablespoon
Salted Caramel Make a batch using this recipe
Full fat milk 330g
Caramel popcorn 20g
Dark chocolate 175g, use a brand like Van Houten, melted
Icing sugar 250g
Butter 225g, softened (use President here if possible)
Vanilla extract 1 tbsp
You want to start by making the popcorn. Pop the Act II popcorn as per packet instructions in the microwave and turn out half the popcorn out into a bowl.
Heat the sugar and corn syrup in a. small saucepan over medium-high heat, swirling it around often to urge the sugar to melt. Everything should melt evenly and begin to turn into caramel evenly. If using a thermometer, let the sugar and corn syrup mixture reach 375F. This is the dark amber colour you look for when making caramel. I discuss caramel in detail in my brittle post, as well as in this one on how to make the salted caramel sauce, which you will need for this cake later.
Once the sugar mixture reaches 365 degrees F, add the butter cubes bit by bit, followed by the baking soda. Working quickly, but also carefully, whisk constantly as the mixture gets nice and bubbly. Smoothen out any lumps if you can see them in the saucepan over the stovetop before pouring this caramel mixture over the popcorn. Toss together in a bowl using a spatula, sprinkling with the salt as you go to make this a salted caramel popcorn. Let this popcorn cool completely.
The Popcorn Milk
Put the milk and the popcorn you just made in a bowl and leave aside for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, blitz the popcorn and the milk in a high power blender, then strain it. Use this popcorn milk to make the pudding.
The Popcorn Pudding
Bloom the gelatine in a small microwave-safe glass bowl with 1-2 tablespoons of water. Sprinkle over the gelatine powder over the surface of the water and leave for 5 minutes. Now microwave this at 30-second intervals until the gelatine has dissolved completely to give you a clear liquid.
Whisk the smaller amount of popcorn milk with the cornstarch and set aside. Next, add the larger amount of the popcorn milk to a saucepan and place on the stovetop to slowly heat. You don’t want the milk scalding hot, but just coming up to a simmer. Whisk together the egg yolks with the sugar and salt. Add half the hot milk in a steady stream into the egg yolk mixture stirring as you go. Now add this mixture back to the remaining milk and place again on the stove top and whisk together constantly for a few minutes or until it is just starting to thicken a bit. Add the remaining milk and cornflour slurry and heat over medium heat whisking all the way until it has thickened considerably. Take this off the heat and add to it the cold butter cube by cube whisking as you go. Add the bloomed gelatine and whisk again. Press a sheet of cling film over the surface of the popcorn pudding and let it cool to room temperature before transferring to the refrigerator for 30 minutes at least. Do not freeze this mixture.
Now it’s time to make the cake. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a Swiss roll tin or cookie sheet with rimmed edges, leaving an overhang on the sides.
Place a kitchen towel on the counter and dust it with some cocoa powder (NOT FROM THE 1/4 CUP TO GO INTO THE CAKE) and icing sugar.
Whisk together the 1/4 cup cocoa powder and the flour in a bowl. Heat the chocolate oil and vanilla in a microwave-safe bowl at 15-second bursts till the chocolate has melted. let it cool for a bit.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the egg whites and run on medium speed until the egg whites are thick and starting to peak. Still whisking, add 1/3 cup of the caster sugar and keep the motor running. Work the egg whites in the stand mixer until they hold stiff peaks.
In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, remaining sugar and keep whisking until the mixture is mousse-like, pale and thick. Should take about 5 minutes. You can use a hand mixer to achieve this too. Beat in the melted chocolate mixture and then fold both the egg yolk mixture and the egg white mixture together. To do this easily, take a bit of the egg white mixture and lighten the egg yolk mixture a bit before adding the remaining egg whites in and folding through. In doing so, you don’t expel the air that you’ve so painstakingly packed into both. Leave a few streaks. Sift the dry ingredients over this and finally fold them in too. DO NOT OVER MIX.
Pour the mixture into the cake tin and smoothen the top, then proceed to bake the cake for 10-12 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool for five minutes before running a knife around the edges. Turn the cake out onto the tea towel you dusted before. Peel the parchment paper off and roll the cake inside the tea towel long side inwards gently keeping the tight log seam side down wrapped that way for 20 minutes.
You could at this stage, unroll the cake and brush some sugar syrup on the cake but I brush some salted caramel sauce (storebought or homemade will do here) at this stage and a very thin layer of it.
Take the popcorn pudding out and whisk to loosen it, before spreading that as evenly as you an on the unrolled cake. If any excess drops out, it’s okay, no worries. Everything is going to get sealed eventually with icing. Crush some of the caramel popcorn you made before by hand or in a. chopper and add that powder over the top of the popcorn pudding and re-roll the cake. It might be a bit messy at this stage, but it’ll be fine later, I promise. Transfer this chilled, rolled cake seam-side down into the refrigerator to chill completely, for at least 30 minutes.
For the very quick icing, add the icing sugar into a processor blitz once to remove any lumps, then add the butter and the now cool, melted chocolate, followed by the vanilla extract and process until it is a smooth icing.
To assemble the cake, take the long roll and cut a chunk on a slant from one end, and another again on a slant from the other end and using the help of the icing glue them on opposite ends of the long log’s sides so that it resembles a branch. Now cover the entirety of the cake in icing, using an offset spatula to decorate the cake and spread it evenly. Refrigerate the cake until it is ready to serve. Before bringing it to the table, add some more caramel popcorn to the sides of the cake and bring it out with a final, optional dusting of icing sugar.