• Ashley Margaret Waterman

Welcome, Winter

Summer comes with a bound while winter comes yawning

The kettle is singing

Don't you hear it calling?

Come join us while the Yule log burns bright

Tea and friends keep us warm on the longest night.

Yule Log Cake

Chocolate Cake

6 eggs, separated

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided

1/4 tsp salt

Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Chocolate curls for decoration

Not-Too-Sweet Buttercream Filling

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup earth balance butter (room temperature)

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

2 cups powdered sugar

1–2 Tbsp nondairy milk

Salted Chocolate Frosting

1/2 cup earth balance, room temp

2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 tsp vanilla

2 Tbsp coconut cream

1/4 tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 350.

Line a cookie sheet (or jelly roll pan) with parchment paper and spray it with cooking spray.

Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Set aside.

Beat the egg yolks until thick. Slowly add 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar, beating until pale.

Beat in the flour mixture.

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.

Add the remaining 1/4 cup of granulated sugar slowly.

Beat until stiff peaks form, then gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate batter in two batches.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly.

Bake 12 minutes—until the top springs back lightly.

Dust a clean kitchen towel with powdered sugar and flip the arm cake onto the towel.

Make sure to peel off the parchment paper, then start rolling the cake at the short end.

Roll it tightly into a log and let it cool completely.

While the cake is cooling, make the buttercream filling and the salted chocolate frosting.

To make the not-too-sweet buttercream, cream together the shortening and the butter.

The longer you cream them, the whiter your frosting will be.

If you want your buttercream to be super white, buy a clear vanilla extract so the vanilla doesn't make it dingy.

Add the vanilla and salt.

Gradually begin adding the powdered sugar.

As needed, add the milk 1/2 Tbsp at a time.

Depending on the desired thickness, you may need less or more milk.

To make the salted chocolate frosting, beat the butter until smooth.

Add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder, beating until no lumps remain.

Beat in the vanilla, coconut cream, and salt.

To assemble your Yule log cake, unroll the cake when it’s completely cool.

Spread the buttercream filling evenly over the cake.

Roll the cake back into a log, making sure not to roll it with the towel this time.

Place the seam side down on a baking sheet and refrigerate until chilled.

Frost your Yule log with the salted chocolate frosting.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and top with chocolate curls.

In Japanese tea practice, events follow the seasons. The most recent tea event was Winter Solstice. On December 21, we experienced the shortest day and longest night of the year. A few of us gathered in the Naropa tea house for a small Winter Solstice Chaji hosted by SRG and yours truly. Normally planning a chaji begins at least a month in advance. We decided when Sarah picked me up from the airport on Monday to host a chaji that Friday. The only thing traditional about our chaji was the tea.

As guests arrived, they waited outside, the pathway lit with fairy lights and candles. Entering the teahouse, guests went up to the tokonoma. Traditionally, the tokonoma has an event specific scroll and incense or a flower arrangement for the guests to admire. Our toko, lit by candle, had a Yule log but not one that could be lit. The first sweet for our guests symbolized the tradition of burning a Yule log through the longest night to keep the evil spirits away. After the guests entered and we greeted them, I removed the Yule log from the toko and replaced it with candles, symbolizing a lighting of the Yule log.

For our meal, we served a Winter Solstice root vegetable soup. Sarah thought of as many root vegetables as she could and made them into a warm meal for us to share. We ate from mismatched bowls, pulling bread from a loaf and encouraging our guests to eat as much as they pleased. Sake is traditionally served with the meal. We served sake, but added Avery’s Jubilation Ale to compliment the root vegetable soup.

Our guests enjoyed a slice of the Yule log cake, then a round of thick tea. For the thin tea, I made Italian cookies and oil cookies (recipes to come!)

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