This festive Buche de Noel recipe, otherwise known as a classic Yule log Cake dessert consists of a delicious chocolate sponge cake filled with a combination whipped cream and mascarpone filling, covered with a rich buttercream frosting and then garnished with rosemary sprigs and sugar coated cranberries to resemble a snow covered log found in the forest.
Despite living in a state known for its French influence (hello, bonfire festival lighting the way for Papa Noel) and being of French descent myself, I have yet to share the classic Christmas Yule log cake aka the Buche de Noel recipe if you’re fancy.
In my opinion, the holidays are the time to use the best ingredients your budget will allow since you will likely be sharing with family and friends.
For this classic yule cake recipe, I used the Sprouts brand of organic eggs and butter.
Ever wonder what the difference between organic butter and non-organic butter is?
The cream used in organic butter, is also organic cream meaning that it comes from cows who have been raised and fed on organic pastures- meaning organic dairy cows are not exposed to pesticides, herbicides, and other toxins that their non-organic dairy friends are. It also means the cows are being fed grass instead of corn or soy based feed thus resulting in a better nutrient profile.
NOTE: You can straighten off the end of the log where you cut off the branch for a rectangular log and extra branch. I left mine rustic as if it was an oversized fallen branch and not perfectly cut off.
- For the Cake:
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs, divided
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the Filling:
- 1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 4 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
- For the Frosting:
- 1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
- 1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 to 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 17X12 inch jelly roll sheet pan with parchment paper with enough paper extending over the short sides. *You'll use the excess parchment as handles to remove the cake. Spray the parchment paper with nonstick baking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk ¾ cup flour, 1/3 cup cocoa, 1 tsp baking powder and ½ tsp salt together.
3. In a large bowl, combine the 4 egg yolks and ¾ cup sugar and whisk together until well combined.
4. Add the ¼ cup sour cream, and ¼ cup melted butter and 1 tsp vanilla extract to the egg mixture, whisking together until combined
5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, a little at a time, whisking together until combined.
6. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a separate bowl with an electric mixer on high speed, whip together the remaining 4 egg whites until stiff peaks form.
7. Gently fold in half of the egg whites into the batter until the batter becomes loose, then add the remaining egg whites.
8. Spread the cake batter evenly onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the top of the cake springs back when touched.
9. Remove the cake from the oven and immediately lift the cake out of the pan using the parchment paper and place it on the counter to slightly cool.
10. While the cake is still warm, use the parchment paper the cake was bake in and start at the shorter end of the cake and slowly roll the cake. Set the cake aside to cool completely.
11. When the cake has cooled completely and you are ready to fill, make the filling. Add the 1 ¼ cups heavy cream, ¾ cup powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract and salt to a large mixing bowl and whip on high speed until soft peaks form.
12. Add the 4 oz mascarpone cheese to the whipped cream and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.
13. Unroll the cooled cake very carefully.
14. Spread the filling evenly onto the unrolled cake, leaving the outer edges clean to avoid the filling escaping when you roll. Roll the cake back into a log, leaving the parchment paper off this time. Cut a 4" piece of the cake at a 45 degree angle and place the angled edge against the log to resemble a branch.
15. Place the log onto a serving dish with the seam sides down and refrigerate for at least an hour to firm back up.
16. Make the buttercream: In a medium bowl, beat 1/3 cup cocoa and 1/3 cup butter on low speed until thoroughly mixed. Beat in the 2 cups of powdered sugar, in batches, until mixed. Beat in 1 ½ tsp vanilla and enough of the whipping cream (beginning with 1 Tbsp at a time) until frosting is smooth and spreadable.
17. When ready to frost the cake, use an offset spatula to spread the frosting all around the outside of the log. You can score the frosting with a fork to make it look like bark, or use the offset spatula to create swirls for a more rustic, uneven bark appearance.
18. Refrigerate, lightly covered, until ready to serve.
19. Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar and garnish with rosemary sprigs and cranberries, if desired.
20. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator, well wrapped for 3-5 days.
This tender spongelike chocolate cake filled with an irresistible whipped mascarpone filling and rich buttercream is what holiday dreams are made of. And while it takes a bit of prep time, the results are delicious, impressive and surprisingly easy!
What is the significance of the Buche de Noel cake? Per Frenchly, “the tradition of the Buche de Noel dates back to medieval times, one of many pagan rites competing with Christmas traditions. A log of wood—often from a fruit tree to ensure a successful harvest in the year to come—would be brought home and placed in the hearth, which at the time functioned as the epicenter of every family’s activity.
As traditional hearths disappeared in homes, replaced by wood-burning stoves, with no center stage left for the Christmas log ritual, smaller logs were placed as a decorative reminder on tabletops, and it was only a matter of time before someone realized that it would be a lot nicer to eat the log rather than simply watching it. The bûche de Noël as a dessert was born”
What is the difference between a Christmas log cake and Buche de Noel? Buche de Noel is the French name for the Christmas cake commonly shaped into the form of a log. It is traditionally sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar to resemble a snow covered log.
How do I store my Buche de Noel cake?
- To store in the refrigerator: Loosely cover the yule log cake with plastic cling wrap or aluminum foil and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To store in the freezer: Open freeze the cake by placing the yule log cake on a parchment-lined baking sheet until completely frozen, about 2 hours. Then, tightly wrap it in plastic cling film and a layer of aluminum foil and freeze for up to 1 month. To serve, allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator or for a few hours at room temperature.
How do I keep my Yule log from cracking when I roll it? The key is to not overtake the cake and to roll while it’s still warm. When you take the cake out of the oven, allow it to cool slightly (no more than about 2 minutes) then immediately roll the cake. Allowing the cake to cool too much will result in a cake that cracks.
Oh no, my cake cracked! Do I have to start over? Stress not, friend. As you roll the cake back together, use a few drops of water to “glue” the cake cracks back together. If your cake cracks when rolling once filled, use a bit of filling and do the same thing. Gently reattach it. The beauty of the Yule log cake is that the entire thing is going to be covered in frosting and is very forgiving. PS: I had a crack in mine, too and no one even noticed.
As we head into the final stretch leading up to your holiday dinner, I hope you’ll find time to set aside to bake up something special with someone you love.