This week I did something a bit naughty – I pretty much pushed one of my friends into creating his own blog. That’s right. And all just to make sure I’m forced to post more often.
So far it’s working. My good friend, let’s call him ‘Norman’, now has a shiny new blog, where he will post whatever he wants (I won’t post a link to his blog until I’ve made sure that he’s ok with that). But mainly baking if I have anything to do with it. And for some reason that makes me post more often. I think I may have pathological competition syndrome*.
* That’s not really a condition. Come on. Is it?
Last week I recommended a recipe to Norman without ever having tried it. I said ‘Tim –err NORMAN, Paul Hollywood is awesome and there is just NO WAY that this recipe won’t be great’ – or something to that effect. The following day I got a text message saying ‘Because of Paul H I just wasted 6 eggs and 2.5 chocolate bars. I hate him’*.
*I’ve heavily and creatively edited this message, as his was far more swear-y
So obviously I had to prove him wrong and show him that there is just no way the Silver Fox would allow anyone to publish a recipe of his that hasn’t been thoroughly tested for the home cook. However, just to be safe, I halved the recipe.
This turned out to be not such a good decision, for the following two reasons:
1. it made it borderline impossible to roll (as evidenced by the photos)
2. it means we can only eat half of the recipe rather than the whole thing (possibly not so bad for my waistline but pretty crap for my taste buds)
Before I go any further with this, I should mention that the recipe is not strictly for a chocolate roulade, but it’s Paul Hollywood’s ‘Bûche de Noël‘ (oooh, fancy punctuation!). However, because it isn’t Noël yet, I took away all the frills and made it into a really simple roulade (also, frosting. So much work.).
Of my limited baking knowledge, mostly acquired through meticulous watching of the Great British Bake-Off (greatly enhanced by having baked this thing today), I should share the following tidbits about making a roulade:
1. whisk the crap out of those egg whites. Especially if doing it by hand. It’s unlikely you’ll overwhisk them (if like me you’re lazy as hell). They need to be pretty stiff to withstand the beating that they will get when folded into the batter.
2. this cake takes a ridiculous short amount of time to bake – trust Mr. Hollywood though
3. make sure the cake is cool before rolling it – unlike a swiss roll, the fact that there is no flour in it (making it gluten free, hurrah people with allergies!) makes it a lot more elastic when cool, but it will break if rolled when warm
4. to roll (and this is Mary Berry’s advice), first cut a narrow strip of the end you will start rolling with, and then use that to roll the cake as tightly as you can. In my case, not THAT tightly.
I made some other changes to the recipe, besides halving it and removing the frosting; they turned out pretty well so I shall keep them for when I make this in the future – we’ll see how long I can resist it:
I didn’t want to mess with the delicate chemical balance of the cake; what I did want to mess with was the filling, so I removed the raspberries, added about 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and about 1/16 tsp orange blossom water. I was way too worried about the orange blossom water being too overpowering, so I was really careful with it and too conservative in retrospect. I love floral flavours, and I think a bit more orange could have gone a long way – I think it could easily take twice as much as I used. I would also add Grand Marnier if I had some. Seriously dudes. People. Esteemed readers. There’s potential in this.
I smothered it in powdered sugar, because as we all know it makes things look fancy. The cake is intensely fudge-y and chocolate-y, and the cream makes it very very rich. I would recommend EVERYONE tries it at least once. Also, I see no need for frosting. It will probably make it sickly sweet, whereas like this it is just the right amount of sweet and creamy.
So there you have it. Chocolate roulade.