Buche de Noel

A traditional French Yule Log cake, Buche de Noel is the perfect show stopper dessert for any holiday gathering. This version is chocolate inside!

Buche de Noel

This post was originally published as the 12th Day of Christmas in my 12 Days of Christmas Series.

I’ve saved something special for the final post of my 12 Days of Christmas. I took French in high school and each year we were given extra credit for making a classic French Christmas dessert and bringing it to our in-class holiday party. I always made Buche de Noel, a traditional yule log cake. This must have made quite an impression on me because to this day, when I hear “Jingle Bells,” I start singing the French version!

My lab had a holiday potluck lunch this year, and I signed up to bring a dessert. I thought a Buche de Noel would be perfect. I was so upset to learn that my beloved recipe from high school French had accidentally been thrown out by my parents!

As it turns out, this may have been for the best, because it forced me to hunt down a new recipe, and of course one of my favorite cookbooks, Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible, came to the rescue. If you’ve never seen this book, I highly recommend it. There are SO many amazing cakes I’d love to make, but this is actually the first one I’ve made from it! They are so impressive-looking but usually multi-step, as you can see. This cake can be made over the course of a few days, or all in one night (which is what I had to do). I found the recipe simple to follow, and I think it turned out pretty well!

Recipe Details

The first step is to bake the Chocolate Cloud Roll Cake. When the cake is warm, it is wrapped into a log around a thin kitchen towel like a tea towel. The cake cools in this rolled format in order to “train” the cake to stay in a roll.

While the cake cools, it’s time to make the Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting. The frosting must cool for several hours, so it is important to get that going.

Assembling the Cake

While the ganache cools and the cake is still cooling, make the Perfect Whipped Cream filling. It’s a simple recipe with just cream, sugar, and vanilla. Once the cake has cooled completely, it can be unrolled, filled with the whipped cream, and rerolled. This is what the cake looks like after it’s been rolled back up with the filling.

rolled cloud roll cake with whipped cream inside

You may leave your cake as it is, or choose to cut off one end and stack it on top of the roll to represent a knot in the log. I like how this looks in the finished product, so I did this with mine.

cut cake with end on top for a knot in the wood

This step gives preview of the inside of the rolled cake with the filling swirled inside.

unfrosted cloud roll cake with whipped cream inside with end cut off and placed on top to be a knot in the wood

Once the ganache frosting has cooled completely and is a frosting consistency, it is ready to be put on the cake. Spread the frosting using an offset spatula or whatever method you prefer for frosting cakes. Then, using the tines of a fork, make lines in the frosting to resemble bark. I used the fork to swirl around the frosting on the knot.

coated cloud roll cake
chocolate ganache marked with a fork to look like bark

Decorating the Yule Log

Now it’s time to decorate the yule log. According to the cookbook traditional decor includes meringue mushrooms, pistachio marzipan ivy leaves, green tea pine needles, small appropriate figures such as porcelain elves or trumpeters. I took the easy route and got my decorations at Michael’s, such as greenery and berries.

Buche de Noel

Then I used flaked coconut and powdered sugar to resemble snow.

Buche de Noel

Gluten Free Buche de Noel

I have not tried this myself, but I have good luck with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour in cakes. It’s possible the gluten free cloud roll cake will be slightly more crumbly or fragile, so take care when rolling and unrolling.

Buche de Noel Pin

Looking for More Holiday Desserts?

Check out these impressive Holiday dessert recipes:
Warm Sticky Figgy Puddings with Caramel Sauce
Mocha Cream Cake
Cranberry Christmas Cake
Bread Pudding with Bourbon Caramel Sauce
Cherry Chocolate Cheesecake Bundt Cake
Chocolate Pear Tart
Salted Caramel Chocolate Fudge Cake
Almost Fudge Gateau
Mini Hot Chocolate Cheesecakes
Mini Mocha Cheesecakes
Bailey’s Irish Cream Mini Cheesecakes
Easy Homemade Cream Puffs
Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake {Cheesecake Factory Copycat}

Buche de Noel

Buche de Noel

Meghan
A traditional French Yule Log cake, Buche de Noel is the perfect show stopper dessert for any holiday gathering. This version is chocolate inside!
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Chill Time 4 hrs
Total Time 5 hrs 10 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Servings 10

Equipment

  • 17×12-inch jelly roll pan

Ingredients
  

For the Chocolate Cloud Roll:

  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 large eggs (separated yolks and white, at room temperature)
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (melted and cooled to room temperature)
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa

For the Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting:

  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli)
  • 1 2/3 cups heavy cream (see note )
  • 2 tablespoons Cognac (I used framboise liqueur)

For the Perfect Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Decorations:

  • powdered sugar
  • sweetened flaked coconut

Instructions
 

Make the Chocolate Cloud Roll:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a 17- x 12-inch jelly roll pan as follows: grease, line bottom with parchment or foil, extending slightly over sides, and then grease again and flour.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat 1/4 cup sugar and the egg yolks for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the chocolate and beat until incorporated, scarping down the sides of the bowl.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy, add the cream of tartar, and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised. Gradually beat in the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, beating until still peaks form when the beater is raised slowly.
  • With a large balloon whisk, slotted skimmer, or rubber spatula, fold 1/4 of the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Then gently fold in remaining egg whites.
  • Pour into the prepared pan, spreading evenly with a spatula, and bake 16 minutes. The cake will have puffed and lost its shine and will spring back when lightly pressed with a finger.
  • Meanwhile, wet a clean dish towel and wring it out well. Remove the cake from the oven and leave it in the pan. Dust with the cocoa powder and cover immediately with the damp towel. Allow the cake to cool while making the ganache and whipped cream.

Make the Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting:

  • Break the chocolate into pieces and process in a food processor until very fine.
  • Check the percentage of your chocolate. If you are using chocolate that is >53% you will have to add 1/4 cup more cream for a smooth ganache.
  • Heat the cream to a boil and, with the processor motor running, pour it through the feed tube in a steady stream.
  • Process a few seconds until smooth.
  • Transfer to a bowl and cool completely. Gently stir in Cognac or framboise liqueur.
  • Allow to cool for several hours until of frosting consistency. Meanwhile, make the whipped cream and begin cake assembly.

Make the Perfect Whipped Cream:

  • Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and refrigerate, along with beater or whisk attachment for at least 15 minutes.
  • Beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised.

To Assemble the Cake:

  • When the cake is completely cool, remove the towel and, lifting the parchment or foil overhang, gently slide the cake from the pan to a flat surface.
  • Spread the whipped cream on top and roll up, using the parchment or foil for support and gently peeling it away as you go (sort of like a bamboo mat when making sushi).
  • Chill for at least 1 hour.
  • Cut a diagonal slice from one end of the roll and place on top to form a knot.
  • Spread the ganache frosting over the log and use the tines of a fork to make lines resembling bark. Make a few round swirls with the fork on the top of the knot.
  • Decorate as desired. Traditional decor includes meringue mushrooms, pistachio marzipan ivy leaves, green tea pine needles, small appropriate figures such as porcelain elves or trumpeters. To keep it simple, use some holiday greenery and sprinkle with flaked coconut and powdered sugar.
  • Refrigerate until 1 hour before serving.

Notes

I added an extra ~1/4 cup, see note below. *Note: the book states that if you use chocolate >53% you will have to add more cream for a smooth ganache. I just added about 1/4 cup extra boiling cream, and it turned out great.
Note: Cake can be assembled and refrigerated 2 days ahead.
Source: Adapted from The Cake Bible
You’re Gonna Bake It After All
bakeitafterall.com
Keyword cake, chocolate, dessert, French, holiday


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