A Bûche de Noël, otherwise known as a Yule Log, is a traditional French roulade (or jelly roll cake) filled with fruit and/or cream, covered in chocolate and decorated to look like a log, including meringue mushrooms. They make a stunning addition to any Christmas table, and while they look complicated, they’re actually not that difficult to make if you follow a few important tips.
Our Yule Log recipe is a simple vanilla sponge cake with cream cheese filling and premade strawberry jam. The outside is a whipped chocolate ganache. I include the damp towel trick for rolling the cake and frequent breaks in the fridge to keep it cool and easier with which to work. I skip the traditional meringue mushrooms, opting instead for a simple holly decoration on top.
If you are as intimidated as I was to try to make a Yule Log, I would encourage you to give it a go. I’m pretty darn proud of this first attempt! This success has made me excited to try again, experimenting with all kinds of different flavors of cake, cream, and jam.
Bûche de Noël
(Recipe inspired by Natasha’s Kitchen)
6 large eggs, room temp
2/3 C granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 C all-purpose flour
Preheat Oven to 400˚F. Line 15×21″ baking sheet with parchment.
In the bowl of your mixer, beat 6 eggs with whisk attachment on high speed 1 minute. With mixer on, gradually add 2/3 cup sugar and continue beating on high 5 minutes. Mixture will be thick and fluffy (this is very important since you’re relying on egg volume for the cake to rise).
Sift 1 cup flour in thirds into batter, folding with a spatula between each addition and scraping the bowl to ensure you don’t have pockets of flour hiding at the bottom. Drizzle in vanilla and gently mix just until blended (do not over-mix or you will deflate the batter). Spread batter into prepared baking pan and bake right away at 400˚F until top is golden, approximately 12-14 minutes.
Remove your cake from the oven and quickly loosen the edges with a thin spatula. Right away, remove it from the baking sheet, flipping the top over onto a damp towel. Remove the parchment paper from the back and gently roll cake into a log with the towel, starting from the narrow end. Leave the cake tightly wrapped in the towel to cool on the counter until room temperature.
Cream Cheese Filling
1-1/2 C heavy whipping cream, very cold
8-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 C granulated sugar
Whipped Chocolate Ganache
12-oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 C heavy whipping cream
4-6 ounces of your favorite jam (I recommend Bonne Maman Intense Red Fruit Spread)
3 fresh cranberries
1 real holly leaf
While the cake is cooling, combine all ingredients to make the cream cheese filling.
Once the cake has cooled enough to handle it comfortably, unroll and gently spread a thin layer of fruit spread over the entire cake, followed by a layer of cream cheese filling. Re-roll the cake tightly, but not so tightly as to make all the filling squeeze out. Make sure the seam is on the bottom. Place it in the refrigerator to cool completely.
To make the chocolate ganache, pour the chocolate in a heat resistant bowl. In a separate sauce pan, heat the cream over medium heat until small bubbles begin to form around the edges. Pour the hot cream from the sauce pan into the bowl over the chocolate and allow it to stand for 5 minutes. Whisk the ganache until smooth and let it cool on the counter, continuing to whisk every 10 minutes to avoid lumps. Once the ganache is firm but still soft, use a hand mixer to whip it on high speed until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
Once the cake has cooled completely, trim off the ends. Frost it with chocolate ganache, using the back of the knife or the tines of a fork to make the cake look like a log. Decorate with a few fresh cranberries and a holly leaf.
The Yule Log can be kept in the fridge in plastic wrap for up to 4 days, if needed. Before serving, sift powdered cocoa around the bottom to look like dirt, and dust confectioner’s sugar on top to look like snow.