What Is Buche de noel or Yule Log Cake?
The French call it Buche de Noel, we call it Yule Log Cake…whatever you call it, it’s a dessert your family will call FOR year after year. Bake it this year from the recipe on this page and frost with chocolate or vanilla, beautify it with decorations, dust it with powdered sugar, it doesn’t matter. It will always make an impressive appearance, and it’s easier to make than you think. But the best part is sitting down to enjoy the flavor of Yule Log Cake with its smooth, creamy filling. So grab a cup of coffee or tea, and enjoy one of the best desserts you’ve ever had.
The Yule Log Cake or Buche de Noel, originated in France and is traditionally served during the Christmas season.
It is made from what is known as a Genoise, or sponge cake. This cake is a light, egg-white infused cake usually baked in what is known in this country as a jelly roll pan. There are many variations of this delightful dessert, including one with yellow sponge cake frosted and filled with chocolate, however it can also be chocolate sponge cake filled with various flavors of filling, including raspberry, mocha, chocolate almond, almost limitless flavors. To give the Yule Log Cake the rugged look of a tree branch, part of the basic cylinder is cut at an angle and placed to branch off the trunk. If frosted, fork tines are usually dragged through the frosting to look like the bark of a tree. Because of the filling, some people do not frost it, but only dust it with confectioner’s sugar. On the other hand, sometimes it is frosted, and confectioner’s sugar is dusted on in places to look as if there is snow on the branch. The recipe for the sponge cake itself is old, dating to the 19th century. But the name of the cake and the manner of creating it became popular when the original yule log burning in the fireplace during Christmastime receded from fashion.
Yule Log Cake
This cake recipe I share with you is a cocoa flavored sponge cake, made in a jelly roll pan. Making a filled, rolled cake is the traditional way to make the Yule Log Cake or Buche de Noel. This recipe is for the cake portion, and will be followed by the recipe for the filling. When rolling the cake portion, use a linen or cotton (not terrycloth) towel to roll the cake and then cool completely on a rack, towel and all. Unroll carefully and fill with the filling recipe given below the cake recipe.
- 6 egg whites
- ¾ cup sugar
- 6 egg yolks
- ⅓ cup cocoa, unsweetened
- 1 & ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Dash salt
- Confectioner’s Sugar
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Grease bottom of a 15 & ½-inch (L) by 10 & ½-inch (W) by 1-inch (D) jelly roll pan and line with lightly greased waxed paper.
- In a large mixer bowl, at high speed, beat egg whites until soft peaks form when beater is raised.
- Add ¼ cup sugar gradually, 2 Tablespoons at a time, beating continually until stiff peaks form when beater is raised.
- In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks at high speed, adding ½ cup sugar gradually, 2 Tablespoons at a time. Beat until mixture is very thickened — about 4 minutes.
- Switching to low speed, beat in cocoa, vanilla and salt, just until smooth. With wire whisk or rubber scraper, fold the cocoa mixture into the egg whites, using an under-and-over motion, just until blended so that no egg white shows.
- Spread evenly in pan. Bake 15 minutes or until surface springs back when lightly pressed with fingertip.
- Lay out a clean linen or cotton towel (not terrycloth) and dust with sifted confectioner’s sugar in a 15X10 inch rectangle. Turn cake out on this sugar, lift off pan and peel waxed paper off cake.
- Starting with the short end of the towel, roll up the end with the towel. Cool completely in this fashion on rack with the seam side down, at least ½ hour before unrolling and filling. (See filling ingredients and instructions below.)
Filling For Yule Log Cake
It’s important to chill the mixing bowl and beaters in the refrigerator before beginning this recipe. If you also plan to frost the log, use tines of a fork to draw in rough lines of tree bark. If you are only dusting it with confectioner’s sugar, decorate with green and red candied cherries, or other decorations of your choice.
- 1 ½ cups cream, heavy, chilled
- ½ cup sugar, confectioner’s
- ½ cup cocoa, unsweetened (Optional)
- 2 teaspoons instant coffee (Optional)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- green and red candied cherries for garnish (optional)
- Combine all ingredients except garnish in chilled bowl. With chilled beaters, beat until thick and creamy.
- Unroll toweled cake, spread with the filling to 1-inch from edge of cake; reroll.
- Place seam side down on serving plate and cover loosely with foil. Place in refrigerator for at least one hour before serving.
- Proceed with frosting or dusting with confectioner’s sugar and adding garnishes of red and green maraschino cherries.
You may substitute other flavors for the filling; peppermint, orange, etc. or just leave it plain vanilla. Decorate it as you see fit. NOTE: The decorations do not have to be edible, but be sure your guests know if they are not. Do not serve them WITH the cake.
If you don’t care to do the baking and filling you can always purchase a pre-made yule log cake, such as those available from Amazon below, but remember they come as they are and may not be filled. Making your own is preferred since it’s not only a nice touch that your friends and relatives will appreciate, but you also get to choose the ingredients and flavors.
There are also Yule Log Cake pans, but they only give you the shape, there will be no filling. Whatever fits your needs, do it and have a great holiday!