Ultimate Christmas Baking: Bûche de Noël (Yule Log Cake)

I’ve been obsessed with yule log cakes since I was a kid looking through the Swiss Colony food catalogs. I’ve never ordered from Swiss Colony nor do I remember my parents ever ordering from them either. Regardless, I studied that catalog as feverishly as the one from Toys R Us.

Log cake from catalog

The jaunty decorations combined with cake roll put it near the top of my list of desserts. Over the years I’ve had variations either bought for me from Paul or as a slice from a restaurant but never ever attempted to make my own — until last year.

I did tons of research and before finally settling on a recipe from Delish. Basically a chocolate sponge cake rolled up with whipped cream topping in the middle and chocolate frosting on top. I didn’t stopped there; I went further and made meringue mushrooms to adorn the roll.

Rolling up log

I learned a few things after my first attempt.

  • If it’s your first try, put aside a full day for baking, cooling and decorating.
  • Don’t try to split the recipe in half like I did instead use a half baking sheet (approximately 17.88 x 12.88).
  • I cannot stress this enough! Generously flour your tea towel when it’s time to roll up the sponge cake to prevent sticking!

Here is the complete recipe including meringue mushrooms.

Good luck and let me know if you’ve ever attempted making a yule cake!

Bûche de Noël

Serves 8 people

6 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 white sugar, divided use
Powdered sugar

Inside frosting
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt

Exterior frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a large jelly roll pan with parchment paper and generously grease with cooking spray or butter. In a medium bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder and salt.

In large bowl, beat egg yolks until the mixture turns into a light yellow color. Add 1/2 cup sugar and mix until pale. Slowly beat in flour mixture.

In a second large bowl, beat eggs white until soft peaks forms. Slowly add remaining 1/2 cup sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold in eggs whites into batter.

Pour batter into prepared pan and spread into even layer. Bake 12 minutes until top of cake springs back when lightly touched.

Generously dust a clean tea towel with powdered sugar and invert warm cake onto towel. Peel off parchment paper from cake.

Starting at short end, use the towel to tightly roll cake and let cool completely.

Start on filling by beating heavy cream, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and salt until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until cake is completely cool.

When cake is cool, unroll and spread filling evenly inside the cake. Roll cake back into log without towel, placing it seam-side down on a plate. Refrigerate for one hour.

While cake is in refrigerator, work on exterior frosting. Beat butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, salt and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. Beat until well combined.

Remove cake from refrigerator and trim ends. Optional: Cut a two inch slice from an end at a 45 degrees to create a branch. Attach to side of cake.

Frost cake with chocolate buttercream and dusting of powdered sugar. Use cranberries, rosemary and meringue mushrooms for garnish if you wish.


Meringue mushrooms

1/2 cup egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white sugar
Unsweetened cocoa powder for garnish

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F.

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl (glass or metal), whip egg whites until foamy.

Add cream of tartar, salt, and vanilla. Continue whipping until the whites hold soft peaks.

Gradually sprinkle in the sugar and continue whipping until the mixture holds stiff shiny peaks.

Using a pastry bag with round tip, fill the bag half way with the meringue.

To pipe the mushroom caps, squeeze out round mounds of meringue onto one of the prepared cookie sheets. (Use wet finger to smooth out peaks.)

For the stems, press out a tiny bit of meringue onto the other sheet, then pull the bag straight up to resemble candy kisses.

Dust the mushroom caps lightly with cocoa using a small sifter or strainer.

Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until the caps are dry enough to easily remove from the cookie sheets. Set aside to cool completely.

After meringues have cooled, poke a small hole in the bottom of a mushroom cap. Store at room temperature in a dry place or tin until ready to serve bûche del noël.

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