The build-up to Christmas has been chaotic in Mat Follas's household. Despite a litter of puppies keeping the proprietor of Poundbury's Bramble Café and Deli busy, he still finds the time to share his Christmas Chocolate Roll recipe.

Winter nights are drawing in now and it makes time for pottering in the kitchen preserving and baking for celebrations.

At our house we will be filled with relief and sadness as our black labradors's puppies depart - they are leaving just before Christmas and will, I'm sure, make some families' celebrations extra special.

We'll miss the chatter of puppies, the joy of watching their eyes open and them starting to walk and explore ... but we won't miss the cleaning up ! There'll be lots of cute pictures of them on my Instagram feed, you can find me as @matkiwi Perhaps too soon for resolutions, but I've kept half a stone off against my goal of losing a pound a month in 2018, illness and normal family life have got in the way some months but I will continue to slowly lose weight, I hope, in 2019.

This month's cake will not help any weight loss plans, but who cares, this is a cake for celebrations, Christmas or birthday, a fun chocolate roll and some candied mandarins, or kumquats if you can get some.




Chocolate Roll:

3 Eggs

2 Egg yolks

75g Caster sugar

75g Plain flour (sieved)

25g Cocoa powder (sieved)

Zest of one orange

Chocolate Filling:

120g 72% Dark chocolate

20g Butter

6 Egg whites

30g Caster sugar

Candied Mandarins (or Kumquats)  & citrus sauce:

10 small Mandarins

100g icing sugar

150ml water


Chocolate Roll:

Preheat your oven to 200⁰C.

Grease a Swiss roll tin, then line it with baking parchment.

In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs and yolks together until light and creamy.

Add the flour and cocoa powder and carefully fold into the mixture, trying to retain as much air as possible, this is crucial to ensure the mixture holds.

Pour the mixture carefully into the Swiss roll tin, ensuring even cover.

Bake for 10-12 minutes at 180C until springy to the touch.
Take a large sheet of baking parchment, dust it with Caster sugar and orange zest, then turn the sponge out onto it.

Cover with another sheet of parchment.

Trim the edges with a knife. Roll the sponge from one end leaving the paper in the middle. Cool on a wire rack.

Chocolate Filling:

Whisk the egg white and sugar until they form soft peaks i.e. when you make a peak, the tips droop.

Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a plastic bowl with the butter.

Heat in a microwave for 30 seconds, leave for 20 seconds and then beat with a whisk.

If the chocolate is not completely melted, heat in the microwave for 10 second bursts until the chocolate is just melted (mix the chocolate between each burst to ensure even heating).

Add 1/3 of the beaten whites to the chocolate and combine using an electric beater.

Do this quickly or the chocolate will begin to set and form hard lumps, so don’t worry about retaining the air in this mixture.

Now combine the other 2/3 of the egg whites by gently folding with a spoon until the mixture is a smooth consistency and has air held in it.

Place the whole mixture in the fridge to set.

Candied Mandarins (or Kumquats): Clean the mandarins and pick off any stems.

Place in a saucepan with the water and icing sugar. Bring to a simmer, then turn down to just below simmering point i.e. small bubbles form on the sides of the saucepan.

Cover the water with a circle of baking paper to keep the kumquats submerged.

A good way to do this is to use a large piece of baking parchment and a saucepan lid which is just too small for your pan, then they will both sit happily on the surface of the water. Heat for 2 hours.

Remove the kumquats and put to one side to cool. Bring the sugar liquor up to a rolling boil until it has reduced by 2/3.

Taste, then enhance the flavour if required by adding lemon or orange juice to make a lovely citrus sauce.

To complete the dish: Unroll the sponge and remove the baking parchment. Spread the chocolate filling over the surface of the sponge to about ¼ inch thick, then place small slices of candied mandarins at even distances across it. Roll the cake up.

Dust with icing sugar and serve in slices with a drizzle of the citrus sauce.