There may be almost 50° outside and still no snow, but look around the Berghoff and it’s clear that the holiday season is officially here! The lights are up, our dining room is all decked out, and the streets are buzzing with holiday shoppers. They say it’s the most wonderful time of the year, but it truly is at the Berghoff.
From the time I was six I can remember being at the Berghoff, and some of the fondest memories were right around the holidays. Partly because of the decorations and hustle and bustle during that time, but also because it was the time of year when dessert orders always doubled. And let me tell you – for a six-year-old, desserts are at the top of your priority list. My mom, Jan didn’t introduce the traditional Yule Log until 1986, but it was instantly a holiday hit and is continues to be one of my favorite holiday traditions today.
Back when my parents ran the Berghoff, my mom would always say “that she had the fun side of the business”. She worked with the food and the menu and knew the life stories of all our people – the employees and our guests. Those people are who she called the soul of this family business. I am blessed to be able to carry on that part of the job today. Everyone has their own “Berghoff story or tradition” especially that revolves around the holidays, and I never get sick of hearing them!
I encourage you to share them by emailing me here. Then each day during the month of December, we’ll be counting down to Christmas by sharing one of our guests’ stories on social media. Each featured story will receive a holiday goodie from us, so send them in and check our Facebook page every day not only to see if we picked your story but to enjoy other holiday traditions! Without you and your traditions there would be no Berghoff, and my life would be very different, so thank you from the bottom of my heart! Now get writing and emailing, cheers!
My mother Jan embraced the traditional Yule Log in 1986 and, every year after that, customers enjoyed it from the day after Thanksgiving until January 1. It’s easier to make than it looks because the thin cake is rolled while still warm, and it holds its shape from then on.
- 5 large eggs, separated
- 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar, plus additional for sprinkling towel
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ pound (8 [1 ounce] squares) bittersweet or semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup seedless raspberry preserves
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/3 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Maraschino cherries, as needed
- Green sanding sugar (finely granulated), as needed
- Hot cinnamon candies ("red hots"), as needed, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 15 ½ by 10 1/2 –inch jelly roll pan or baking sheet, and line the pan with parchment paper.
In a bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form; gradually add ½ cup of the confectioners’ sugar, beating until the sugar completely dissolves and the whites stand in stiff peaks. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and remaining ½ cup of confectioners’ sugar at high speed until the mixture is very thick and lemon-colored. Decrease the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, vanilla extract and salt. Beat the mixture until well mixed, constantly scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula. Using the spatula, gently fold the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk mixture, one-third at a time.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, leveling out the top with the spatula. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the cake springs back when lightly touched. Sprinkle confectioners’ sugar lightly on a cloth towel. When the cake is done, immediately invert it onto the towel. Carefully peel the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake. Starting at one narrow end, roll up the cake, using the towel to hold it (but do not roll the towel into the cake). Place the cake roll, seam side down, on a wire rack; cool completely, approximately 30 minutes. While the roulade is cooling, prepare the filling. (The cake may be made in advance and covered loosely with plastic wrap to prevent drying.)
In the top of a double boiler, heat the chocolate and cream together over boiling water, stirring frequently, until melted, smooth, and slightly thickened. Keep warm until ready to ice the cake as directed.
Unroll the roulade onto a flat, clean surface; spread evenly with the raspberry preserves.
In a bowl, at medium speed, beat the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla extract until peaks form. Spread half of the whipped cream on top of the preserves. Starting at the narrow end, roll up the cake (without using the towel). Place the cake on a wire rack set over a baking pan and refrigerate until chilled. Cover and refrigerate the remaining whipped cream until ready to decorate.
Using a metal spatula, pour and spread the ganache over the chilled roulade, spreading the glaze evenly and completely covering the top and sides. When the ganache has set, lightly score the top and sides of the cake with a fork to resemble bark. Refrigerate until chilled.
Remove the cake from the rack and place on a serving platter decorated with greenery and seasonal décor. Pipe scrolls of the remaining whipped cream over the top and around the base of the cake, and decorate with cherries and green sanding sugar.
For a variation, omit the green sanding sugar and piped whipped cream swirls. Instead, cut a diagonal slice from one end of the unfrosted log, to resemble a short stump or branch.
Then frost the longer section of the log with ganache, reserving enough ganache for the branch. Fasten the branch to the side of the log about 2 inches from one end of the log, using a little ganache to hold it in place. Continue as directed, scoring the top and sides of the cake to resemble bark. Serve the cake on a platter decorated with hot cinnamon candies.