Yule Log or Bûche de Noël is a traditional French Christmas cake with a sponge-like texture that’s moist and delicious. Made with mascarpone cocoa whipped cream and covered in chocolate ganache, this cake is a festive delight.
A yule log cake is basically a chocolate sponge cake that’s rolled to look like a log, filled with cream and covered with chocolate ganache. This Christmas tradition dates back all the way to the 19th century. It represents a yule log that families would burn on Christmas Eve. Burning a yule log symbolized a new year to come with good luck to the family. Fortunately, we don’t burn the cake, but it’s a delicious way to bring in the new year.
Yule Log cake takes a little time, but the finished result is totally worth it. I top mine with sweet meringue mushrooms, sugared cranberries, and dust it with powdered sugar to give it a snowy effect.
Why We Love Yule Log Cake
There’s tons of Christmas cakes that I can make every year, but this Bûche de Noël cake is one of my absolute favorites. Not only is it rich in history, but it’s rich in flavor, too. Here’s why we love it:
- Sweet and delicious. This Bûche de Noël almost tastes like a hot mug of cocoa. The sponge-like cake is moist with nodes of cocoa and then slathered with incredibly rich ganache.
- Makes the perfect centerpiece. Aside from being delicious, yule log cake adds a little festive decor. In fact, it makes a perfect centerpiece for your table with all its festive decoration.
- Easy directions. Although this cake takes a little work, the recipe itself is incredibly easy to follow and comes out perfectly every time.
- Granulated sugar-regular white sugar
- Oil– Vegetable or canola oil
- Unsweetened dark cocoa powder
- Baking powder
- Vanilla extract
- Heavy cream
- Powdered sugar
- Mascarpone cheese
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips
SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS
- Make whipped chocolate ganache: Instead of using a chocolate ganache, you can make the whipped chocolate ganache, which has a lighter texture. Allow the ganache to completely cool in the refrigerator then transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Whip on high speed until lightened in color and thick enough to spread.
- Mascarpone cheese: If you don’t have mascarpone cheese, you can also use Crème fraîche or cream cheese.
- Make your own heavy cream: You can easily make your own heavy cream using butter and milk. For 1 cup of heavy cream, melt ¼ cup unsalted butter and whisk it with ¾ cup whole milk.
RECOMMENDED TOOLS TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
- Jelly roll pan, 15×10 inch
- Measuring spoons and cups
- Parchment paper
- Baking spray
- Stand or hand mixer
- Mixing bowls
- Rubber spatula
HOW TO MAKE THIS YULE LOG CAKE
- Preheat and prep– First, preheat your oven to 350°F. Then, spray your 15×10 inch jelly roll pan with baking spray. Line the jelly roll pan with parchment paper for a seamless release. Spray the parchment paper and set aside.
- Mix dry cake ingredients– Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl.
- Beat the egg whites– In a separate mixing bowl, combine the egg whites with a pinch of salt and beat on high speed for 5 minutes or until stiff peaks form.
- Beat the yolks and sugar– In another bowl, beat your egg yolks, sugar and vanilla for 3-4 minutes or until it is pale and thickened.
- Fold egg whites and yolks together– Using your rubber spatula, fold the whipped egg whites into the egg yolk mixture until incorporated.
- Add the dry ingredients– Fold in half of your dry ingredients into the egg mixture until just combined. Then, fold in the second half of the dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.
Pro Tip: Do not overmix the batter. If you do, it will deflate.
7. Bake the cake– Spread the batter evenly into your prepared cake pan. Shimmy the pan to smooth out the batter. Then, bake the cake for 10 minutes or until the top of the cake springs back when touched.
Pro Tip: Do not overbake the cake. It will dry and crack as it rolls if you do.
- Roll cake in kitchen towel– Place a clean kitchen towel on a flat surface and dust it with cocoa powder. Then, gently turn the baked cake into the towel, peeling off the parchment paper. Slowly, roll the cake into the towel, rolling from the short end to the other end. Allow the cake to cool completely in the towel.
- Make mascarpone cocoa whipped Cream– Whip the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract with your electric mixer on medium-high speed for about 2-3 minutes or until medium to stiff peaks form. Then add in the mascarpone and beat until stiff peaks form.
- Unroll the cake– Gently unroll the cooled cake. Then, spread the mascarpone cocoa whipped cream in an even layer on top of the cake.
- Re-roll and refrigerate the cake– Then, carefully roll the cake backup without the towel. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour.
- Make the ganache– Place chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it begins to gently simmer, then pour it over the chocolate.
- Thicken the ganache– Let the ganache sit for 2-3 minutes to gently soften the chocolate. Then, slowly stir it until the chocolate has melted. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to thicken.
- Assemble the cake into a branch– Remove rolled cake from the refrigerator and place it on a serving platter. Diagonally cut 2½ inches (6 cm) off one end of the cake log and attach to the center of the log to resemble a branch.
- Pour ganache on the cake– Slowly pour and spread the thickened ganache all over the top and sides of the cake. Then, use a fork to create bark-like lines all over it.
- Garnish the cake– If you choose, garnish the cake with meringue mushrooms, sugared cranberries, and powdered sugar.
- Don’t over bake the cake– The cake should spring back when you touch it. If you over bake it, it will become dry and crack as you roll it.
- Roll the cake hot– The cake needs to still be hot when you roll it in the kitchen towel, otherwise, it will crack while rolling it.
- Don’t decorate ahead of time– You can make the cake ahead of time, but don’t decorate it with meringue mushrooms until you are ready to serve it.
- Store yule log cake in an airtight container
- Keep it in the refrigerator
- It will be good for up to 3 days without meringue mushrooms.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is the tradition of the yule log?
Yule Log (Bûche de Noël) is a traditional French Christmas tradition. It dates all the way back to the 19th century. The cake represents the yule log that French families would burn on Christmas Eve. Burning the yule log symbolized a new year to come with good luck to the family. The cake doesn’t get burned, but it symbolizes that tradition.
How much does this recipe make?
This recipe makes 1 roll cake. Each roll cake has about 10-12 servings. It’s very rich, so serving sizes are smaller.
What does yule log taste like?
A yule log cake tastes kind of like a mug of hot cocoa. It’s a moist, spongy cake with a creamy filling that’s covered in a chocolate sauce called ganache.
OTHER CHRISTMAS RECIPES YOU MAY ENJOY
- 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
- ¾ cups heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 15x10 inch jelly roll pan with baking spray, then line it with parchment paper, so the cake seamlessly releases. Spray the baking paper too; set aside.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.
Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt on high speed for 5 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
In another bowl, beat the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract until pale and thickened, about 3-4 minutes. Add in oil and beat 30 seconds.
Using a rubber spatula gently fold in whipped egg whites until incorporated, then gently fold in half of the dry ingredients until just combined. Add the second half of dry ingredients and gently mix until fully incorporated and there are no visible streaks of flour or egg whites. Avoid over-mixing. We don't want to deflate the batter.
Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Shimmy the pan on the counter to smooth out the top. Bake for 10 minutes or until the top of the cake springs back when touched. Do not over-bake.
Place a clean kitchen towel on a flat surface and dust it with cocoa powder. Gently turn the baked cake onto a prepared kitchen towel, peel of the top layer of baking paper. Slowly roll the cake with a kitchen towel, rolling from the short end to the other short end. Allow the cake to cool completely rolled up in the towel.
Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream, sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla extract on medium-high speed until medium to stiff peaks form, about 2-3 minutes. Then add in the mascarpone and beat until stiff peaks form. It will happen pretty quickly.
Gently unroll the cooled cake, and spread the filling into an even layer onto the top (you may not spend all the filling, I have had a few tablespoons left). Then carefully re-roll the cake, without the towel this time. If the exterior of the cake looks moist, dust with a bit of cocoa powder. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Place chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it begins to gently simmer, then pour it over the chocolate.
Let it sit for 2-3 minutes to gently soften the chocolate. Slowly stir until completely combined and chocolate has melted. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to thicken.
Remove rolled cake from the refrigerator and place it on a serving platter. Diagonally cut 2½ inches (6 cm) off one end of the cake log and attach to the center of the log to resemble a branch.
Slowly pour and spread the thickened ganache all over the top and sides of the cake, then use a fork to create bark-like lines all over it.
If desired, garnish with meringue mushrooms, sugared cranberries, and sugared rosemary.