Tronco de Natal
If you want to impress your Christmas dinner guests, then preparing this Portuguese version of the more famous yule log is a must! It’s a recipe that’s been a part of European folklore for generations and because of that, it can make us feel closer to our loved ones knowing that we’re carrying the same tradition forward.
Is this recipe a little complex? Maybe at first glance, but you can’t expect to get magical results without a little bit of effort, right? We offer a rundown of the classic recipe below, but you also have the opportunity to play around with some of the ingredients if you want – a little Nutella for a chocolatey filling, or a splash of coffee or liqueur in the icing perhaps? You can make it all your own. : )
For more Portuguese treats, check out our story on the most popular foods served in Portugal for Christmas.
Tronco de Natal
For the cake sponge:
- 125 g dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons chocolate powder
- 4 eggs
- 75 g wheat flour
- 50 ml milk
- 50 g margarine melted
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
For the filling:
- 200 ml cream
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
For the icing:
- 150 g dark chocolate chopped
- 75 g powdered sugar
- 125 g margarine melted
- sugar powder to decorate
How to Make Tronco de Natal:
- Preheat the oven to 180° C/ 356° F.
- Start preparing the cake sponge by cracking the eggs and separating the yolks from the whites.
- Whisk the egg whites with a hand mixer until they turn white and form stiff peaks. Place them in the fridge while we work with the other ingredients.
- In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks together with the brown sugar on medium speed until creamy and glossy. Pour in the milk, margarine and chocolate powder on top and mix thoroughly for about 3-4 minutes.
- Combine the flour together with the baking powder and gradually incorporate in the egg yolk mixture at a low mixing speed to avoid spilling it.
- Continue mixing until you get a smooth batter, free of clumps.
- Take the egg whites out from the fridge and transfer to the batter. Carefully fold them into the batter with a spatula in upward movements to avoid deflating the mixture.
- Prepare a large baking tray of about 36 x 30 cm (12 x 14 inches). Grease the bottom and sides and cover with parchment paper.
- Pour the sponge batter in the tray and level it out using a spatula or a spoon.
- Place in the oven on the middle rack and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until golden. Check with a toothpick to see when the sponge is ready. If you insert the toothpick in the center of the sponge and it comes out clean, it means it's ready to take out of the oven.
- When the cake is done, take it out and let it cool slightly. Remove from the tray by placing a clean towel over the cake and holding gently while you upturn the tray with the other hand. Remove the parchment paper and carefully roll it up in the kitchen towel and set aside.
- While the cake sponge cools on the side, let's prepare the filling.
How to Make the Filling:
- The creamy filling is very easy to make. Just place 200 ml (6-7 floz) of whipping cream in a bowl and add the vanilla essence and powdered sugar.
- Mix the ingredients until stiff and set aside.
- Take the cake and unroll it on a flat surface. If there are any dry or burnt edges, cut them off.
- Then start assembling the yule log. Spread the whipped cream in an even layer on the sponge with a spatula and roll up into a cylinder.
- The yule log is almost done, we just need to finish up with the icing.
For the icing:
- Place the chopped up chocolate in a bowl and microwave it until it melts (careful handling the bowl, it will be very hot).
- Prepare a smooth mixture by whisking the softened margarine with the powdered sugar and pour the melted chocolate on top.
- Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until you get a nice buttery cream.
- Cut a thick slice of the cake at an angle and attach it to the side of the log. This will give the impression of a branch coming out of our log and add a little more realism to the final design. : )
- Cover the cake roll in chocolate cream, spreading it out evenly. You can use a knife or a fork to draw the grooves of the "tree bark" and sprinkle some powdered sugar to give the illusion of a wintry frost.
- Slice up to serve and enjoy!