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Friday, December 21, 2012

Yule love this one

Today is the winter solstice, celebrated as “Yule” by Wiccans. “Yule” came into Anglo-Saxon from Old Norse, as a word for December or January, and in particular designating a pre-Christian feast celebrating the annual rebirth of light and lasting twelve days, which probably is the origin of the “12 Days of Christmas” from December 25th to Epiphany on January 6,. Yule logs burned throughout this festival to symbolize perpetual light. After the Anglo-Saxons converted to Christianity, the name for their festival transferred to the Christian one celebrating the birth of the “Light of the World”. The Latin version “Christmas” (“Christ's mass) took over only after the Norman Conquest in 1066.

Here's my favourite yule log recipe:

For 15 x 10 inch jelly roll pan:
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/3 c water
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sifted flour
1 tsp. baking powder

For 17 x 11 inch jelly roll pan:
5 large eggs
1 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tsp vanilla
1 2/3 cup sifted flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Grease sides of jelly roll pan and line bottom with waxed paper or parchment paper. Grease the paper.  Beat eggs until very thick and fluffy. Add sugar gradually, beating well. Beat water and vanilla in on low speed. Combine flour and baking powder and beat in on low speed.
Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake 12 to 15 minutes at 350 or until top springs back when lightly touched in centre.  Do not overcook. Sprinkle icing sugar over top of cake and turn out on towel Sprinkle icing sugar over cake. Roll cake and towel up together loosely from narrow end.and let stand on cake rack until cool. Carefully unroll, trim off the crispy edges with a sharp serrated knife, and spread with coffee-flavoured butter icing. Reserve a small amount of coffee icing to decorate the ends.. Roll up cake. Cut both ends of the "log" on the diagonal and set the cut off bits aside. Ice the log with chocolate butter icing, roughing it up with your knife to make it look like bark. Use the reserved coffee icing to ice the ends, making concentric marks with the tines of a fork to look like a tree's growth rings.  Trim the cut off bits of cake so that you can place them on the log to look like the stubs of branches. Ice around the outside of the "branches" with chocolate icing, and ice the exposed ends with coffee icing, marking with a fork as before. You can decorate the log with red and green glace cherries to look like holly. Use a sharp serrated knife (bread knife) to cut the cake.
If you prefer chocolate cake, substitute 1/4 cup cocoa for 1/4 cup flour. You can add rum or brandy to the icing if you like.
You can use coffee-flavoured whipped cream in the centre of the cake for a somewhat less sweet yule log.

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About Me

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Canada's Word Lady, Katherine Barber is an expert on the English language and a frequent guest on radio and television. She was Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Her witty and informative talks on the stories behind our words are very popular. Contact her at wordlady.barber@gmail.com to book her for speaking engagements; she can tailor her talks to almost any subject. She is also available as an expert witness for lawsuits.