Yule Log ‒ Jouluhalko

On the Finnish Independence Day the president invites war veterans, the parliament and commendable citizens from many areas of life to his palace in the centre of Helsinki. The occasion is televised and people often gather together with their friends to watch how the guest come in certain order to shake hands with the president and president's wife or husband. We try to guess who they are, review their clothing and play silly drinking games. Later, when the dancing begins, we tend to forget they exist and just spend some good time together.

Except not this year. This year the reception was held in Tampere, half a kilometer from my home. And the biggest news wasn't who wore the most revealing dress but the other gathering outside. Some have called it a full-scale riot while others claim it a demonstration where couple of drunkards just happened to hang along. I almost feel sorry I never went out to see myself what really happened. But then again, we were too busy eating the yule log my spouse baked.

Yule log is essentially a Swiss roll made to resemble a piece of wood which was traditionally burned during the celebration. The tradition derives from Germanic paganism, just like Christmas tree. They are rarely seen in Finland though I think it would be a rather great dessert for the traditional standing table. After all, Finns are forest people like ewoks. In our mythology, the Yule is all about how the Great Oak grows huge enough to cover the Sun during the winter solstice and how the light returns after the tree is cut down.

Swiss roll is one of my spouse's kitchen specialities, but we've never managed to prepare a satisfying vegan one. Every time I've seen pictures of pretty and perfectly rolled vegan Swiss rolls, the recipes seem way too complicated and feature ingredients I've never even heard of. So when I found Saara Törmä's perfect looking log with the weirdest ingredient being banana, my spouse wanted to make it right away. The only change he made was switching the filling and the frosting. Now this definitely the holy grail we've been looking for. Next time it might be interesting to try if the banana could be replaced with berries or mämmi.

The cake:
- 2 dl wheat flour
 - 1.5 bananas
- 1 dl sugar
- 0.5 dl oil
- 0.5 dl vegetable milk
- 0.5 dl potato flour
- 2 tbsp coffee
- 2 tsp vanilla sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- a hint of salt

The filling:
- 125 g margarine
- 100 g dark chocolate
- 2 dl vegetable milk
- 1 dl icing sugar
- 1.5 tbsp potato flour
- 2 tsp vanilla sugar

The frosting:
- 175 g margarine
- 1.5 dl icing sugar
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp rum or brandy
- 1 tbsp strong coffee

First, the filling. Mix the icing sugar and the potato flour in a pot. Whisk in the milk. Heat up carefully, whisking all the time, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and add the vanilla sugar. After the milk kissel has cooled down, whisk the margarine until it's fluffy and add it to the mixture in small amounts. Melt down the chocolate (bain-marie is probably the easiest method), see it's not too hot, and add into the filling in small amounts. Move into the fridge.

Next, the frosting. Whip up the margarine like you did before. Add the rest of the ingredients and smooth down. Leave in room temperature.

Finally, the cake itself. Mash the bananas. Mix together with the sugar, the oil and the milk. In a different bowl, mix the dry ingredients too. Combine the two and mix well. Spread evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for ten minutes in a 225°C oven. Cover with another parchment paper and then another baking sheet. This should help you to flip the cake over. Detach the paper but don't remove it. Roll the cake loosely, careful not to break it.

After the cake has cooled down, we get to arrange the pieces together. Open the cake and moisten with coffee. Spread the filling evenly. Roll the cake back into a bar again (with the help of the paper under it). Move into the fridge.

When the roll has settled down, move it on a clean parchment paper. See that the frosting is still smooth. Spread it on the log. Roll into the paper and move in a cold place. Take into room temperature about half an hour before serving and remove the paper while it's still easy. Draw lines with a fork on the surface or decorate with crushed nuts if you want to the log look woodier.

Nutritional values / 1349 g (if you really want to know):
energy 4768 kcal
fat 297 g
protein 41 g
carbohydrates 473 g
fiber 12 g

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