My Dearest Readers, this week I unwittingly gave myself an early Christmas present. I finally got my Provisional Driver's License after over 30 years of age! I was of course going for the title of oldest person on their Ls and imagined swerving back and forth in a large vehicle at age 80 and only getting my Ps out of sheer sympathy due to the fact that I had sat the test 50 or so times.
I purposely didn't tell anyone that I was sitting my Ps as it is so easy to fail-two points and there are plenty of instant fail things and you're out. Just before my test I took some professional driving instructor lessons and I felt like it was a good omen as my driving instructor sounded like Franck Eggelhoffer (although the similarity ended there). Then when I met the tester he looked like Tom Skerritt's character from Top Gun, one of my embarrassingly favourite movies. So that was good omen number 2. Then we went the route that my instructor aka Franck took me on just that morning which was good omen number 3.
It wasn't easy, it seems that with Christmas coming up people are more frazzled and dopey than usual and there was a man who just stepped out onto the road without looking and luckily I hit the brakes before hitting him (apparently avoiding addled individuals like this earns you one bonus point). I went for my first drive alone today and I was very nervous. It seemed that Sydney's already congested roads were even more clogged and it took about 10 minutes to drive the two blocks from outside of our house. The first day was (relatively) incident free. OK there was a garbage bin that I accidentally backed into (who put that there?) and I had to call Mr NQN when I couldn't park the car in the garage but I was just relieved that I managed to turn my lights on. Baby steps dear readers, baby steps...
I also gave myself another early Christmas present by making these Swiss Roll Christmas Cottages. I have already made and frozen some things (a crostata and a stollen went into the deep freeze last week to be served for Christmas dinner). These Swiss roll cottages are also perfect to freeze. I used a blackberry and durif jam that I picked up from Blue Ox berry farm on a recent trip to Milawa in Victoria which gives it a lovely boozy red wine flavour. The swiss roll is light and fluffy and the chocolate buttercream icing is a lovely sweet contrast to the fruity jam. And it's in the shape of a house-call it my adult baker's version of Lego.
Luckily we don't have to travel far this year and I don't need to drive. Instead we'll be parked at home with the extended families enjoying food like these Swiss roll Christmas cottages and eating ourselves silly. And I'll also be watching out for garbage bins in the rear view mirror too-you never know when they will pop up!
So tell me Dear Reader, what do you want most for Christmas this year?
Swiss Roll Christmas Cottages
Adapted from the Mocha Yule Log from Nigella Christmas
6 eggs, separated making sure that there is no yolk in the whites
100g (3.5oz) + 50g (1.7oz) caster sugar
2 tablespoons of icing sugar to help roll the cake
175g/6oz Dark Chocolate
250g/8.8oz Icing Sugar
225g Butter/8oz, softened
Plus 120g/4oz best jam of your choice (I used a blackbery and durif jam)
8 chocolate bars or blocks of chocolates (I used 2x Lindt 100g chocolate bars)
Desiccated coconut to decorate
Small fruit jellies to decorate
You will also need a Swiss roll tin 24x36cms (9.6"x14.4")
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan forced (350F/325F fan forced). Line a swiss roll tin with baking parchment with a little overhang (it rises a little in the oven but sinks down when cooling). I find it helps to stick the parchment to the baking tin, especially a non stick one, if you spray it with a non stick cooking spray. In a clean, large bowl whisk the egg whites until starting to hold a peak and then whisk in the 50g of caster sugar by the spoonful until soft, firm peaks form (but not dry).
Step 2 - I know you're supposed to use another bowl but I never bother. I just put the whipped egg whites in a bowl and scrape it clean and use the same bowl (although do be aware lovelies that you can't whip the egg yolks and sugar first and then whip the egg whites, the egg whites require a spotlessly clean bowl). Whip egg yolks and 100g of the caster sugar until pale and mousse-like.
Step 3 - Sift cocoa over the egg yolk mixture and fold to combine.
Step 4 - Add 2 tablespoons of the fluffy egg white mixture to the yolk and sugar mixture. Fold gently to combine. Then add the rest of the egg whites in 2 or 3 even lots.
The baked Swiss roll cake
Step 5 - Pour into swiss roll tin and smooth over the top and bake at 180c for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes and then start to gently pry back paper on the sides.
Prying back the parchment
Ta da! Rolled!
Step 6 - Have another sheet of parchment paper sprinkled with some icing sugar ready. Turn cake onto this gently (dont worry, if there are any rips or tears, the icing will cover these) and gently roll this up. Cover with a clean teatowel and cool.
Step 7 - Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in a microwave (I do it on 30% or 50% power in 60 second bursts). Put icing sugar in food processor to get rid of any lumps or sieve in a bowl. If using a food processor beat with butter, coffee powder and then cooled chocolate. If doing it by hand, whisk with butter in with the sieved icing sugar, coffee powder and then add chocolate and beat by hand using a large whisk.
Step 8 - I find the icing easiest to work with when it isn't very soft. As I write this, it is Summer so it gets soft very quickly so I put this in the fridge to firm up a little. Then carefully unrolling the Swiss roll spread it with the icing and the jam. Roll back up and refrigerate until very firm. The icing will set well until very firm in the fridge.
Step 9 - Cut into slices-i made mine about an inch thick-depending on the size of your Swiss Roll tin, you will get between 6-7 slices. Spread some chocolate icing on top and affix some chocolate bars on top as the roof. Decorate by sticking fruit jellies as windows, chopped up chocolate bars as doors and chimneys.