Are your ready to wow your guests with a Christmas dessert showstopper? You’ll love my easy instructions for how to bake the best buche de Noel cake from scratch. Also called a yule log cake this is a chocolate spongecake filled with mouse decorated to look like a log laying on the winter forest floor.
Happy Holidays from my family to yours! I’m all wrapped up from my holiday cookie swap, which was a lot of fun sharing cookie recipes and baking tips with you for the holidays. My favorite was how to ship your cookies so they don’t break – very important in this season of social distancing! Cookies aside, I’m back in the kitchen and now I’m working on some classic holiday dessert recipes for you.
‘Tis the season for my famous Buche De Noel cake, sometimes called a yule log cake. Both are a fancy name for a classic chocolate spongecake filled with mouse or buttercream, rolled up and and frosted and decorated to look like a log laying in the forest in winter.
No matter what you call it, nothing says “holidays” like this gorgeous (and delicious) festive chocolate cake!
In today’s post, I’m going to share with you the classic recipe for how to make the most delicious yule log cake you and your family will ever taste. You know I love the classics and I promise this is the only buche de Noel cake recipe you’ll ever need. It is Christmas on a plate as far as I’m concerned!
This holiday cake recipe from scratch is divided into 8 sections:
- What Is A Buche De Noel?
- It’s All About The Swirl
- Pro Cake Decorating Tips For You
- Step-By-Steps To Bake Your Cake
- Other Recipes You’ll Need For The Yule Log Cake
- The Filling
- The Frosting
- The Decorations
In addition to the cake recipe, I’m also going to give you the the two other recipes (filling and frosting) you’ll need to complete your yule log cake, and, of course, I wouldn’t be the professional cake designer that I am if I didn’t share tips and easy ways to decorate your buche de Noel cake.
What Is A Buche De Noel?
Before we get started with recipes and those fun wintery festive decorations decorations, we need to talk details. What is a buche de Noel cake, you might ask?
A tradition on our Christmas table, a buche de Noel cake is the French name for a traditional cake shaped like a log served around the Christmas holiday. “Buche” in French means “log” in English, and “de Noel” in French means “of Christmas” in English. So, the literal translation from French to English is “log of Christmas.” It is often called a yule log cake too.
A classic buche de Noel or yule log cake is typically a thin chocolate sponge cake filled with some kind of filling like buttercream or mouse. (I love a mouse filling!). The sponge cake is the easiest of cakes to roll and it needs to be thin, because your going to fill it and roll it – you can’t easily roll a thick cake!
The buche de Noel cake is sometimes called a jellyroll cake, because the yule log cake portion is baked in a long, wide jellyroll or half sheet pan. This gives you that long, thin cake portion that you can spread filling on top of a roll up to form the “log.”
Once baked the cake is rolled up with the filling inside, the end portion is sometimes cut off and affixed to the side of the roll or log to make your cake look more like a branch. The log of cake is then frosted to look like a real life log laying on the forest floor.
It’s All About The Swirl
To give it the winter festive touch, when your cake it all frosted it is decorated with powdered sugar to look like snow, berries, leaves or pine needles and mushrooms. A buche de Noel cake looks festive on the outside, and even better on the inside. Once you cut into the cake, it will reveal it’s beautiful swirl pattern of cake and filling that you get when you roll the cake up.
Don’t let the chocolate deceive you, this cake is light and delicious. The best part is it is easy to make and a total showstopper for your holiday table – and that’s before your cut it open to reveal the classic swirl on the inside!
Don’t forget to dress up your yule log with snow, a little pine and berries as well as meringue mushrooms. (Stay tuned for my meringue mushrooms from scratch recipe.)
Pro Cake Decorating Tips For You
You know when it comes to the cakes, I can’t leave you without sharing some decorating tips. After 20 plus years in the wedding cake and cake decorating business, I know a thing or two!
I like to use a fork to make the log-like pattens in the buttercream frosting on the outside of the cake. (Try my chocolate buttercream recipe, it’s perfect for this cake!)
Once I frost the yule log with a thick layer of buttercream, I run or drag a fork through the frosting lengthwise along the log in random patterns. The fork drag marks gives that perfect log pattern. You can’t mess this up! And, if you don’t like your log pattern the first time, simply smooth out the frosting and try again.
If you don’t want to frost your buche de Noel, you don’t have to! You can simply sprinkle the chocolate cake log with powdered sugar. It looks just a festive!
Step-by-Step Recipe To Bake Your Cake
Now that your all excited and ready, it’s time to prep your kitchen and follow my easy, step-by-step instructions to make this holiday yule log cake…Print
Classic Buche de Noel
- Preheat oven to 375°
- Line a half sheet pan or jelly roll pan (15x10x1”) with parchment paper. Spray with Baker’s Joy or coat with butter and dust with cocoa.
- In the bowl of a medium bowl, beat egg yolks, ½ cup sugar (3 ½ ounces or 99 grams,) cocoa, vanilla and salt. This can be done using a hand mixer. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a large mixer, beat egg whites (using the whisk attachment) to soft peaks. Gradually add ¼ cup of sugar (1 ¾ ounces or 49 ½ grams) and continue beating until whites form stiff peaks
- Fold egg yolk mixture into the whites.
- Spread the batter evenly into the pan.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly touched.
- Dust a clean dish towel with powdered sugar. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and turn the warm cake out onto the towel. Remove parchment paper.
- Starting at the short edge of the cake, roll the cake up with the towel. Cool for 30 minutes.
- Gently unroll the cake. Spread the filling to within 1 inch of the edge. Roll the cake up with the filling inside.
- Place cake seam side down onto a serving plate. Refrigerate until serving. Dust with powdered sugar prior to serving.
- Room temperature eggs work best for this recipe
- You read it right! A flourless recipe.
- This cake can be served with just a sprinkling of powdered sugar or frosted with a chocolate buttercream. Use fork tines to make a “bark” like pattern in the chocolate buttercream.
- If using a mousse filling, be sure to refrigerate.
Other Recipes You’ll Need For The Yule Log Cake
You have the cake recipe in this blog post for this buche de Noel, but you’ll need two, maybe three, more recipes to pull this entire festive cake together as the pillar dessert for your holiday celebration.
First, is the yule log filling. You can use buttercream or mouse or just about anything that you like in the center. I really like to use a mouse because it’s light and easy to roll. Plus it taste delicious. Try my recipe for Mascarpone Mouse filling, it’s perfect with the chocolate cake. I like to make my filling a light colored flavor, like vanilla or Mascarpone, that contrasts with the chocolate cake.
Why you ask? The light colored filling is the entire “ball game” when it comes to a yule log cake! Because when you cut into the rolled up log cake, you’ll be able to see that classic, beautiful swirl shape with the rolls of contrasting chocolate cake and light colored filling. The swirl is what will “wow” your guests at your holiday table! You can do chocolate cake with a chocolate filling, of course, but your swirl will be less visible when you cut into the cake.
After the filling, you’ll need a frosting. As I said before, you don’t necessarily need a frosting for the top of the yule log cake. You can definitely serve your yule log cake “as is” once rolled and dust it with a little snow, I mean powdered sugar.
If you want to frost your buche de Noel, try my faux Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe in chocolate. (Pro tip: You can add even more cocoa powder to give is that deep, dark chocolate color.) It’s the perfect frosting for just about any cake, but especially this classic buche de Noel cake.
Lastly for your yule log, you’ll need some decorations to make it look festive and fit for any holiday table. A classic buche de Noel cake is decorated with berries, leaves or pine needles, and mushrooms to make it looks like log layer in the ground in winter.
Check back later this week, because I’ll share my recipe for how to make meringue mushrooms like the ones in my pictures.
You can also add red berries and leaves or pine needles. You can make the berries and leaves from scratch with a royal icing or you can do what I did and decorate it with some red candies for the berries, and a few sprigs of rosemary for the pine needles.
Festively perfect! I really hope that you’ll try this classic Christmas cake. Your guests and family will be so impressed and you don’t have to tell them how easy it was to make!
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Did You Make Minette’s Recipe?
What about you? I’d love to hear from you or help you with any baking secrets or problems.
Don’t forget to leave me a comment and rating on this recipe.
Did you make this classic buche de Noel cake? I’d love to know with a comment below!
Hi Minette. I’m thinking of making this buche de Noel cake for Christmas. I read the entire recipe and don’t see where you talk about shaping the log by adding the little side branch. Do you just cut off a piece of the log and add it to the side? Is the log long enough to make a side branch or do I have to make another log so that there is enough cake? Thank you.
Let’s Do Cake!
Hi Donna! I just cut off a slice from one of the ends and attach it the “log.” The recipe makes about 10 servings so if you want a larger Yule log I would double the recipe and either bake in a full sheet pan or two half sheets. Let me know if you have any questions! Hope you like it. Xo
I did end up making this Buche de Noel for Christmas and it came out absolutely beautiful and delicious! Thank you for the wonderful recipe Minette.
3 Comments on Classic Buche de Noel Recipe (Yule Log Cake)