My 10 year old can bake a cake roll, but I have not yet made one that hasn’t cracked. I love this version of the Yule Log from the 1967 Betty Crocker Hostess Cookbook. This one layers cake and squares it off like a sandwich loaf before decorating.
2 cups Gold Medal Flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. rum flavoring
2/3 cup shortening (half butter)
1 cup milk
6 egg yolks
French Silk Frosting
Heat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a loaf pan, 9x5x3 inches. In large mixer bowl stir shortening, milk and egg yolks. Beat 3 minutes medium speed on mixer or 450 vigorous strokes by hand. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 65 to 70 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan; turn onto rack to cool completely. (I think you could do this in a 9×13 to bake faster and better, as you are going to cut and assemble it into a log anyway.)
Trim off edges and top of cake to make a rounded log shape; save trimmings. Cut cake lengthwise into 4 layers. Reassemble log, filling layers with French Silk Frosting. With some of the trimmings, make a “branch,” 3 inches long and 1 inch in diameter (very specific…); secure on top of log with French Silk Frosting. Frost ends of log and “branch” with Mocha Icing. With fork, make circular markings on ends of log. Spread remaining French Silk Frosting on top and sides of log, rounding it while spreading. With a fork, make markings lengthwise to resemble bark. Garnish with pistachio nuts, green icing or gumdrop leaves to resemble a vine on the log, if desired. Store cake in refrigerator.
French Silk Frosting: Melt 3 squares (3 oz.) unsweetened chocolate; cool. In mixer bowl, beat 4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar, 1 cup soft butter or margarine, 1 egg, the melted chocolate and 1 tsp. vanilla until smooth and fluffy.
Mocha Icing: Dissolve 1 tsp. instant coffee in 1 tablespoon hot water; stir in 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Add a few drops water, if necessary, for spreading consistency.