Here's a Christmas yule log without the chocolate or the sponge. The dried rose petals look a bit like dried leaves and are deliciously crispy, but you can save yourself a job and garnish with fresh petals instead. Thanks to Helen Goh.
4 large egg whites
250g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp white-wine vinegar
1 tsp cornflour
400ml double cream
100ml sour cream
1 tbsp icing sugar, plus extra to dust
1½ tbsp rose water
200g jarred morello cherries, drained, pitted and wiped dry
For the rose petals:
40 pesticide-free red rose petals
1 egg white
70g caster sugar
- Start with the rose petals. Set the oven to very low, about 70C. Use one hand to dip the petals gently in the egg white, shake off any excess, then use your other hand to scatter them with sugar. You want them well covered and without lumps. Lay the petals on an oven tray lined with greaseproof paper and put in the oven for 30-45 minutes, until crisp, then remove. Some leaves will probably stick to the tray, so scrape them off gently as best you can. Don't worry if some tear - they will still be useful.
- Turn up the oven to 200C/400F/ gas mark 6. Line the base and sides of a swiss roll tin (33cm x 24cm) with a sheet of greaseproof paper that comes about 1cm above the sides.
- In a large, clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with an electric mixer until they begin to firm up. Add the caster sugar in a slow stream, whisking, until you get a firm, glossy meringue. Use a large, metal spoon to fold in a teaspoon of vanilla essence, the vinegar and cornflour. Spread inside the lined tin and level with a palette knife.
- Pop into the oven and lower the heat to 160C/325F/gas mark 3. Bake for 30 minutes, until a crust forms and the meringue is cooked through (it will be soft, mind). Remove and leave to cool in the tin.
- Tip the meringue out of the tin and on to a piece of greaseproof paper. Carefully peel off the paper from the base. Place the creams in a mixing bowl, along with a tablespoon of icing sugar, the rose water and another teaspoon of vanilla. Whisk until the cream just holds its shape. Spread most of the cream mix over the original bottom side of the meringue, leaving a thin border around the edge and reserving a few tablespoons. Scatter cherries all over the cream.
- Use the paper to assist you in rolling up the meringue, along its long edge, into a perfect log shape. Carefully transfer to a serving dish. Use the reserved cream to create a rough, wavy strip along the top of the log, then chill for at least 30 minutes.
- When ready to serve, dust the log with icing sugar and scatter the dried rose petals over the strip of cream.