That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Buche de Noel featured image

Bûche de Noël (Christmas Yule Log)

Home » Holiday Recipes » Bûche de Noël (Christmas Yule Log) Jump To Recipe

Bûche de Noël is a traditional French Christmas dessert. Also known as a Christmas Yule log, it’s a chocolate cake roll with a chocolate filling and whipped chocolate ganache frosting. Sold yet?

This Christmas Bûche de Noël recipe will be the star of your holiday menu! Make it a Christmas tradition! This post from December, 2014, was updated with new photos and text.

Bouche de Noel slice on a square plate

Bûche de Noël or Yule Log

Literally translated, Bûche de Noël means “log of Christmas” in French. A simple chocolate genoise cake is rolled around a chocolate filling, then iced to resemble a large tree limb. Replete with striated bark and mushrooms, it’s both a memorable and delicious holiday dessert.

The original yule logs were real logs decorated with holly, pine cones or ivy to welcome the winter solstice and cleanse the air. This tradition began centuries ago in the Iron age. Fast forward to the 1600’s when the tradition may have continued with logs being burned in smaller hearths, ones which were also used for baking. The genoise, or sponge cake, dates back to this time as well. According to History.com, this may be when the first Bûche de Noël was created.

What’s in a Bûche de Noël?

There are three chocolate components in a yule log cake roll:

  • chocolate genoise cake
  • chocolate buttercream frosting or chocolate mousse or chocolate whipped cream filling
  • whipped chocolate ganache

How Do You Make a Yule Log AKA Bûche de Noël ?

A thin genoise cake is rolled around a chocolate filling and iced with a whipped chocolate ganache to form a Bûche de Noël. Totally irresistible!  This yule log is really just a fancified jelly roll cake.

You can go whole hog and cut off a few wedges on an angle and place them artfully against the “trunk” to resemble branches extending from the log’s trunk. Obviously, I took the easy route and I think it looks just fine.

Christmas Yule Log Cake Roll slice from above with meringue mushrooms

 

Tips for Making a Bûche de Noël

A Bûche de Noël is a fun, festive cake, but it does take some planning with cooling times and numerous steps.  For the first go around, I had some friends over to help me bake, so we took a few shortcuts. But I still couldn’t finish it in the time we had allotted.  So if you’re planning to make a yule log for the holidays, clear your calendar. Plan to make the meringue mushrooms ahead of time and set aside a good 3-4 hours for baking the cake and assembly.

With my first attempt, I made my yule log with a chocolate mousse filling.  It was certainly light and tasty, but highly aerated so I had to smooth out many of the resulting “holes” in the mousse.  My family had absolutely no complaints, I just wasn’t thrilled with its appearance. Bill ate slice after slice, and Katie made short work of the meringue mushrooms. Tom took a slab back to his house, where I’m certain it disappeared in a matter of minutes. Nick missed round one since he was away at collegeThank goodness he’s too busy with Organic Chem to read my blog or check Facebook. He would been very disappointed to have missed this ultra-chocolaty treat!

I love the concept of this festive dessert recipe and tried another version for a holiday party this year. Other Bûches de Noël are filled with thick custard or chocolate buttercream frosting. So this time, I filled my cake with chocolate buttercream! It was a thing of beauty when I cut my first slice. Whew. Everyone gave it rave reviews!

Bûche de Noël garnished with meringue mushrooms and holly

A Few More Tips for Making Your Yule Log

  • Use superfine sugar to make your meringues. If you can’t find a box in the market, just whiz regular sugar in a food processor for about a minute.
  • Make sure you beat your sugar and egg white mixture until the sugar is dissolved. I like to rub some meringue between my thumb and pointer finger to feel for sugar granules. If the meringue feels gritty, beat longer.
  • Ina Garten recommends heating your sugar on a sheet pan before adding to the egg whites to make the sugar dissolves more easily. I have not attempted this, but it might be worth a try if you’ve had trouble with meringues in the past!
  • The cake in this recipe is a chocolate genoise. Most times the eggs are separated and the whipped whites are folded into the batter to lighten the mixture. In this case, the eggs and sugar and heated in a double boiler before beating. PRO-Tip: This mixture must be beaten until tripled in volume which takes about 5 minutes. Under-beating will make for a shorter, not as tender cake. Be patient.
  • After the cake is baked, and it’s cooled enough so you can handle it, roll it up in a slightly damp tea towel along with the parchment to finish cooling. This allows the cake to take the shape of a log and that helps when you unroll then reroll the cake after it’s filled. The towel helps the cake from drying out.
  • I rolled my cake from short end to short end.  The recipe I used called for rolling from long end to long end, making a narrower cake. I wouldn’t cut the ends off for branches unless making the longer cake.
  • I used a 3 Sided Decorating Comb to make striations along the top and sides of the yule log to resemble tree bark.

Here are a few photos showing how to make a Bûche de Noël from 2010.

 

Making meringue for the Bûche de Noël mushrooms – Pouring cake batter into the jelly roll pan

Buche de Noel process shots collage

Rolling warm cake into a towel to make a cake roll – Using a cake icing blade to create grooves in the frosting on the Bûche de Noël

Christmas Desserts Party Collage

More festive desserts from my Holiday Food Party friends:

  1. Chocolate Peppermint Bark from Cravings of a Lunatic
  2. Buche de Noel from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
  3. Cranberry Moscow Mule from The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen
  4. Chocolate Gingerbread Crumb Cake from Hungry Couple
  5. Gingerbread Cupcakes with Chai Spiced Frosting from Jen’s Favorite Cookies
  6. Apres Ski Boozy Tea from Pineapple and Coconut
  7. Raspberry Almond Torte from Magnolia Days
  8. Fruit and Nut Bars from What Smells So Good

And more cake rolls I’ve made include this Old Fashioned Pumpkin Roll, Chocolate Cake Roll, and Strawberry Filled Meringue Roulade.

Serving the Buche de Noel to my friends Print

Love this recipe? Please consider rating it in the comments below. You can also follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

Bûche de Noël garnished with meringue mushrooms and holly

Bûche de Noël

A traditional French Christmas dessert that is perfect for chocolate lovers!

  • Author: Liz Berg
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 20 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings
  • Category: Dessert, Cake, Holiday
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: French, French-American

Ingredients

For mushrooms:

  • 1/2 cup egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • dash of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup superfine sugar (whiz regular sugar in food processor for one minute)
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil

For chocolate buttercream filling (mousse alternative in notes below):

  • 1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For cake:

  • 5 tablespoons butter, plus more to butter pan
  • 2/3 cup cake flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, plus more for dusting cake
  • Pinch of baking soda
  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

For ganache:

  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Make meringue mushrooms up to 3 days ahead. Preheat the oven to 225º. Line baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
  2. Use an electric mixer to whip egg whites till foamy. Add cream of tartar, salt and vanilla. Continue whipping till egg whites form soft peaks (if you make a peak with the meringue, the tip will not stay upright).
  3. Slowly add the sugar while continuing to whip on high…a tablespoon or so at a time…till the whites form stiff peaks (the peaks will stay upright).
  4. Place the meringue in a pastry bag fit with a large plain tip. Or do what I do and use a ziplock bag fit with a large plain tip. For stems, press out a bit of meringue onto the baking sheet and lift the tip straight up. For caps, squeeze out round mounds of meringue. I just used a teaspoon dough scoop to form my rounds. You can use a wet finger to gently pat down any major imperfections.
  5. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool completely.
  6. To make mushrooms, melt semi-sweet chocolate in microwave…stopping and stirring at 30 second increments till melted. Add vegetable oil and stir. Use a tooth pick to make a hole in the bottom of the cap…just large enough to insert one of the stems. Spread a small amount of chocolate on the underside of the cap and connect stem to cap. It may take a bit of fiddling to make the holes the correct size and to get the mushrooms to stand alone. You should have plenty of caps and stems with which to practice. Dust mushrooms with cocoa powder to finish.
  7. Make chocolate buttercream. Melt chocolates in the microwave, stopping and stirring at 30 second increments till smooth. Let cool slightly.
  8. Beat the butter in a medium bowl until creamy. Add the chocolate, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, milk and vanilla. Beat until it reaches a spreading consistency. Cover with plastic until ready to use.
  9. To make cake: Preheat oven to 350º. Butter 10½ x 15½ x 1 inch jelly roll pan. Line with parchment paper then butter and flour paper. Tap out excess flour.
  10. Sift flour, cocoa and baking soda twice into a medium bowl. Set aside while you clarify the butter. Over low heat, melt butter. Skim off white foam and then pour butter into a bowl, leaving any white solids which remain in the pan. Set aside and don’t forget to add this to the cake batter (I nearly did).
  11. In a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk together sugar and eggs. Place over a pot of simmering water and heat and whisk till mixture is warm and sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and beat on high till tripled in volume, this will take about 5 minutes. Be patient. Reduce speed to medium and add vanilla. Beat another few minutes.
  12. Sift about a third of the dry ingredients into egg mixture. Fold in with spatula. Repeat two more times, adding in the butter with the last addition.
  13. Spread batter evenly in prepared jelly roll pan. Bake 15-20 minutes, till cake pops back up when lightly tapped. Do not over bake. Place on rack till cool enough to handle.
  14. Dust top of cake with cocoa powder. Cut around perimeter of cake to loosen. Place a piece of waxed paper over top of cake, followed by a damp dish towel. Invert cake onto a work surface, peel off parchment and sprinkle with cocoa. Starting with one short end, carefully roll up cake in the towel. Wrap in plastic if desired and refrigerate till needed.
  15. Make ganache: Microwave cream in large measuring cup till hot. Add chocolate and whisk till smooth. Refrigerated till cold.
  16. Whip cold ganache at medium speed till it has the consistency of soft butter. Start assembling the cake.
  17. To assemble: Carefully unroll cake onto the backside of a baking pan. Discard the wax paper and any plastic wrap. Spread mousse on cake leaving a one inch margin on each long edge. Reroll cake starting with the other end…using towel to help roll. Cover with plastic and chill one hour.
  18. Ice with the ganache. Make lines or ridges on cake to resemble tree bark if desired. Garnish with meringue mushrooms.

Notes

If you’d rather fill with chocolate mousse, here is that recipe:

For mousse:

  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 4 eggs separated
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  1. Make mousse. Melt chocolate and butter in microwave, stopping and stirring at 30 second increments till smooth. Let cool slightly. Whisk in egg yolks. Let cool to room temperature.
  2. In large bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar till stiff peaks form. Whisk a third of the whites into the chocolate, then carefully fold in the rest of the egg whites.
  3. Whip the heavy cream till soft peaks form, and fold into the chocolate mixture. Chill till set, about an hour.

plated slices of Bûche de Noël
one end of a Bûche de Noël
overhead image of a Yule Log Bûche de Noël
a Christmas Yule Log Cake

 

Note: This post may contain affiliate links; view my Disclosure Policy for details. I earn a small percentage from any purchase you make by clicking on these links at no extra cost to you.

65 comments on “Bûche de Noël (Christmas Yule Log)”

  1. Just beautiful, this brings back memories of the yule logs my grandma made every Christmas while we were growing up!

  2. I agree with you.. chocolate desserts are always a hit.. at least for me:) I simply adore chocolate. This is really amazing, I can imagine the taste.

  3. Gorgeous Liz! 19 steps. Wow. That’s an amazing amount of work. I’m not worthy!

  4. Lizzy, what a gorgeous dessert!!!!

  5. It’s not even 9am here in the UK and I totally want a slice of this for breakfast 🙂 I just wish I was better at baking!

  6. This buche de Noël looks amazing ! My mother in law cooks one every Christmas and is not good. This year I will give her, this recipe !!! Lol!

  7. Last year I finally tried Stollen, one of these buche-de-noel’s is on my to-do list:@)

  8. I love yule logs. This is gorgeous!

  9. This cake is gorgeous. The bakery I worked at in college made these and they went for $50 a pop. I don’t know if I could pay that much for cake but seeing this one makes me want to have a slice so made. Desperate cravings…

  10. LOVE this!!! What a lovely and delicious dessert… and from some of my favorite bloggers!! So fun!

  11. You had me at chocolate!!! and a triple chocolate yule log or Bûche de Noël . . yum!!! I’ve always wanted to try making one of these. . pinning and need to take a stab at this recipe for the holidays!!! love love love!

  12. What an incredible dessert and so festive and fun for the holidays.

  13. Your log looks so pretty and festive. I’m with Katie – I’d be fighting for those meringue mushrooms!

  14. Bravo for this holiday beauty! You did a masterful job and it’s almost a shame to eat it. Not that it would stop me. Pass the fork!

  15. What an absolutely gorgeous cake roll! I would love to have a few slices of that with coffee this morning!

  16. Wow, Liz! You are certainly in the holiday spirit with this lovely cake! I appreciate that you included how to make the meringue mushrooms, too.

  17. This looks gorgeous Liz! It obviously gave you some hard work with the holes in the mousse, but the end result is picture perfect.

  18. Wow, Liz, this is a cracker of a festive dessert! I think the first one of these I made was in 1974 High School Home Ec class. Thank you for the memories.

  19. I know this didn’t quite live up to your expectations, Liz, but I think it’s looks perfect – just as if you bought it from a posh patisserie!
    Happy December!

  20. This buche de noel is a show stopper, Liz! And what a tempting slice…

  21. I can’t believe I’ve never made this. Yours looks perfect, I need to give it a try. I know my family would love it, if I didn’t eat it up before they saw it.

  22. I think you’re being too hard on yourself, Liz! This looks absolutely glorious and I’m sure it was ridiculously delicious. I’d rather take the mousse over a buttercream filling any day. I’ve always wanted to make a jelly roll but that would require me to buy a jelly roll pan and the skills not to crack the cake into a million pieces while rolling! I’ll just ooh and aah over yours from a distance 🙂

  23. I love buche de noel cakes!! I made one years ago before kids and my husband ate 90% of it. He is my chocoholic. Time consuming but such a show stopper dessert. Love the little meringue mushrooms you made too!

  24. This is beautiful! I’ve always looked longingly at Yule logs, but have never made one. Maybe this is the year to try. 🙂

  25. Beautiful! This is one of my favorite Christmas desserts. Yours is just perfect!

  26. This looks fantastic, Liz. You make the best sweets!

  27. I seriously wish I could make my rolls look as perfect as yours!

  28. That mousse!!! How can anyone turn down this treat?!

  29. That mousse!!! How can anyone turn down this treat?!

  30. I can’t believe I’ve never made one of these, it’s spectacular!

  31. Oh, if only I had lots of uninterrupted time… I would be making this! I saw a Buche de Noel recipe in Susan Purdy’s “The Perfect Cake” cookbook and thought it was so cool. But the intimidation factor is high because it seems tricky! Congrats on a beautiful cake!

  32. OMG this is sooooo rich! I can almost taste it from the description! Beautiful job!!

  33. Buche de Noel! I make one every year and serve it on Christmas Eve. This is such a festive and pretty and gorgeous dessert. You are very good at desserts that need to be rolled, Liz xx

  34. Airy mousse over custard would definitely be my choice. Liz. And lo-la-la what a très bien celebration of Christmas!

  35. *jaw drops* I need to become French. Because this is myyyy ideaaaa of a meryy Christmas! Drooling. Pinned!

  36. A beautiful job. This would grace any Christmas table.

  37. Very ambitious treat but well worth it. Love your presentation!

  38. You are far better than I – I haven’t made a roll cake in ages!

  39. This turned out gorgeous, Liz! I love the idea of a light chocolate mousse filling to contrast the ganache. Fabulously festive!

  40. This looks so Delicious, I can’t wait to make it! Beautiful photos 🙂 thanks for sharing! Liz xx

  41. This is so pretty and festive, Lizzy!

  42. Absolutely wicked! No wonder Katie also pinched all the meringue mushrooms. The trimmings are always so much fun at Christmas, aren’t they? Nick sure has a lot to catch up on over the holidays 😉

  43. That’s beautiful, Liz! I’m sure Santa would be good to anyone who made a Buche de Noel that looked that good. 🙂

  44. Pingback: Chocolate Peppermint Bark

  45. Wish I had a big ole slice right now! This is still on my holiday to-do list… Happy Holiday Baking:@)

  46. I have got to say this is a very well written and detailed recipe. My family made a version of this when I was growing up. My mother added a bit of anise extract to the mousse filling, delicious!

  47. Your Christmas Yule Log looks amazing! I like those cute mushrooms too. I still haven’t got the courage to bake a jelly roll/swiss roll. Ah, perhaps one day!

  48. I’ve always wanted to try and make this! Yours is absolutely gorgeous. Love the mushrooms!

  49. Not only stunning but, delicious too!

  50. We look forward to making this every year!

  51. Yule logs are great and yours looks really delicious, Liz! I’ve never made one, but you have definitely given great directions for it. Awesome job, Liz!

  52. So fun and festive!

  53. Liz this looks positively perfect! It should be in a book or bakery. Your mushrooms look incredible too! You certainly make this look easy. I bet it was so tasty too! I haven’t made one of these in years. You’ve certainly tempted me to make one again.

  54. I really appreciate the step-by-step photos. Beautiful job!!

  55. This was a really delish cake! It was a huge hit!!

  56. Chocolate, chocolate and chocolate? I’m obviously in 🙂

  57. Fantastic

  58. Seriously beautiful, Liz! I have never attempted a buche de noel, and now I really want to remedy that!

  59. Drooling. I love cake rolls and this triple chocolate one is my fantasy! I’ll have to wait to see if the kids ever come home again. I’m not against celebrating in July!

  60. This looks really cute and delicious!!

  61. Lizzy this buche de Noel looks fantastic !!!
    Merry christmas dear Lizzy !

  62. Such an awesome chocolate roll log!!! I feel like I get lost in a jungle xD Wish you and your family have a Merry Christmas 🙂
    – Natalie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.