The Yule Log Cake (also known as Bûche De Noël) is an easy, festive French dessert recipe. Bûche de Noël literally means Christmas log, as it’s usually served at Christmas, decorated in the form of a wooden log.
The Yule Log Cake is made from a genoise cake—it’s similar in look to a Swiss roll, but it’s lighter in texture due to the egg whites that incorporate a lot of air in the cake. This results in a tender, soft, and airy cake.
It may look complicated, but it’s easy to make. First make a genoise sponge, fill it with a creamy filling, roll up the cake, and then decorate it in form of a log. The cake is not only fun to make, but it’s also delicious!
A Yule Log Cake (also known as Bûche De Noël), is traditionally served at Christmas. It originated in the 19th century in France – although some sources say it might go as far back as Medieval times or perhaps the 1600s – and from there, the recipe quickly spread to other countries.
Today, the Christmas Yule Log is popular in many countries such as France, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, USA, and more. Regions give their own spin on the cake, but it’s traditionally made from a genoise cake (a lighter sponge) baked in a Swiss roll pan. The cake is iced, rolled, and then decorated with more frosting on the outside.
Start by making the sponge cake. When pouring the cake batter into the pan, line the pan first with parchment paper—this will make it easier to roll. First, make sure that you don’t overbake the cake. This will cause it to crack when you roll it.
Make the filling, whisking it until smooth. Once the cake has cooled slightly, you can spread the filling, making sure to cover the entire surface.
Make sure that you roll the cake while it’s warm. A warm cake will be more pliable and will be less likely to crack. Cool the cake just enough to add the filling. After the cake is rolled completely, you can leave it to cool.
Once the cake has cooled completely, it’s time to frost the cake. Start by covering the whole cake with the frosting. Then use a fork to create a woodsy effect.
To make the cake look like a real log, you can cut off a piece and lay it aside the other to create two “logs”. Make sure to use a fork to create bark lines on the cake. You can add other decorations to the cake: real tree branches, fresh berries, marzipan, or even meringues. Add powdered sugar to resemble snow!
You can use cake mix for the sponge if you’re in a pinch!
Don't be tempted to open the oven early. Cook it up to 10 minutes, or the sponge cake layer begins to turn golden.
Because the cake needs eggs to make it airy, this cake is not vegan!
While a Christmas Yule Log Cake is traditionally made with chocolate frosting as to resemble a wooden log, you could also make a vanilla yule cake, using vanilla frosting.
There are an endless variety of fillings you can use for the Yule Log. Try plain whipped cream, strawberry whipped cream, or marshmallow fluff.
Store leftover cake in an airtight container. You can keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days.
For the cake, separate the yolks from the egg whites. Pour half of the sugar over the yolks in a large bowl.
Whip egg yolks, sugar and grated lemon zest with an electric mixer.
The batter should be smooth and clear.
Whip the egg whites with the rest of the sugar.
When they have tripled in volume, smooth and shiny, you can add the egg whites to the yolks.
Incorporate them with a spatula, stirring from the bottom up not to disassemble the mixture.
Add the sifted flour and a pinch of baking powder.
Mix gently until the mixture is whipped and smooth.
Pour the mixture into a 30×40 cm baking pan, lined with a sheet of baking paper.
Level well and bake the cookie dough at 180 °C for 10-15 minutes.
When it is puffy and slightly golden, take it out of the oven and transfer it with all the paper on a dish towel.
Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of sugar on top and cover with cling film (12).
Roll it up, gradually detaching it from the baking paper underneath (13).
Seal the roll on the outside as well (14).
Let the roll rest for at least an hour in the refrigerator or until completely cold.
For the ganache. In a small saucepan, pour the cream and bring to a boil.
Remove from the heat and immediately add the chopped chocolate, stirring vigorously with a hand whisk.
Let the ganache cool at room temperature or in a cool place, stirring occasionally until it has become creamy, neither too runny nor too firm.
After the resting time has elapsed, gently unroll the cookie dough (19).
Remove the film inside.
Stuff with the raspberry jam.
Spread it evenly, leaving a few cm of empty space on the sides.
Roll up again in the same direction.
Seal again with plastic wrap and let rest another hour in the refrigerator.
Take the roll and cut the ends across, one smaller and one slightly larger.
Attach the large end to one of the sides of the roll, on the oblique side.
Cover with part of the chocolate ganache.
The whole log should be covered, except on the cut side where the filled roll is clearly visible.
Place the smaller part on top of the base, slightly shifted to the left, applying light pressure.
Cover this part with the ganache and decorate everything with the tip of a knife with a round blade, to create streaks similar to those of wood (30).
Decorate the Christmas log with currants, rosemary and icing sugar.
Serve the Christmas log immediately by cutting it into slices or keep it in the refrigerator until ready to serve (32).