For many years I have had the notion to make a traditional Yule Log Cake for Christmas. I’ve never had one, I just think they are so cute and a classic dessert that needs to be brought back into the mainstream. There is just something about putting out a cake that looks like a fallen log, all decorated with pretty little notions. Seriously, for years I have wanted one and I never had the guts to even try it. Last year I looked into buying one from a French bakery here in San Diego and it was super expensive so I opted out. This year, with the blog as my inspiration, and a seemingly easy recipe from Family Circle, I went for it. This is definitely not a cake for beginners, but if you’re a seasoned baker, ambitious, or a little of both, I definitely suggest trying it. It also makes a super cute cake for any sort of Woodland Themed baby shower.*hint hint, Holly*
Traditionally Bûche de Noël is made with genoise or sponge cake, baked in a low jelly roll pan and then filled with buttercream, rolled up and frosted to look like a log. Sometimes it is decorated with fresh berries, candy or meringue mushrooms, or even powdered sugar, to resemble snow. I made my mushrooms out of rolos and marshmallows, used cinnamon sticks for forest floor detritus and fresh mint sprigs to resemble small branches and leaves. I wanted to add some cranberries around the mint to look more like holly, but I forgot them at home and we were at Charlie’s grandma’s house and they only had cranberry sauce. Next year, I will plan ahead better. (And I need to take photos in better lighting than Grandma’s kitchen at 8pm… gimme a break, Christmas wore me out!)
Yes, that’s right, I said next year, because this little roulade cake is becoming my new Christmas tradition. I absolutely LOVED this cake. It was so light and fluffy, the cream cheese buttercream added a nice tart richness to the not overly sweet cake, and the candies and powdered sugar snow rounded out the sweetness very nicely. Plus this cake is totally doable as a flourless version… in fact this cake only has about 1/4 cup of flour in the entire thing.
The execution of this cake does require a few extra steps that a “boxed cake” baker might not be familiar with, so if that is the case, read everything carefully and read it twice. I assume you could use a boxed cake mix for this in a pinch, but don’t quote me on it if it falls flat because I’ve never done it that way. If you do choose to go the boxed route, look for a spongey cake to substitue, or a flourless chocolate.
Bûche de Noël or Yule Log Cake
For the Cake
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- Pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
For the Filling and Frosting
- 2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled
- 1 package of cream cheese, softened
- 6 tbsp butter, softened
- 1 bag or box (16 oz) of confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- Pinch of salt
- Chocolate shavings
- 3 marshmallows
For the Candy Mushrooms
- 2 large marshmallows
- 4 rolo candies
- 1 tsp cocoa powder
Cut each marshmallow in half and place a rolo candy on the bottom to create a mushroom. Dust with cocoa powder for a spotted effect.
Preheat the oven to 375*. Coat a large jelly roll pan (or deep cookie sheet) with non stick cooking spray, and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a small bowl whisk cocoa powder, flour and baking powder and set aside. In a large bowl whip the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until frothy. Slowly add 1/4 cup of granulated sugar into the mixture until it becomes shiny, and peaks begin to form, about 5-7 minutes. Set aside.
In another bowl, with the same beaters (handheld beaters work really well with this recipe) whip the egg yolks, remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and the vanilla until pale and thick, about 4-5 minutes. Fold the yolk mixture into the whites mixture. Fold cocoa mixture into the egg mixture in 2 batches. Spread onto prepared jelly pan and bake for 12-14 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed lightly.
Dust the confectioner’s sugar onto a clean kitchen towel and run a knife around the cake pan to release. Invert the pan on top of the kitchen towel and carefully remove the parchment paper. Roll the cake up with the towel and set aside to let cool completely.
Filling & Frosting
In a large bowl beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla. This is now the base of both your filling and frosting. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat 1/2 of the heavy cream until medium peaks form. Add half of the base mixture and fold into the whipped cream. This is your filling.
Beat melted chocolate, remaining 1/4 cup of heavy cream and salt into the other half of the base mixture. This is your frosting.
Chill both for 20 minutes to set.
Carefully unroll the cake and spread the white filling to 1/2″ from the cakes edge. Re-roll the cake (without the towel this time!) and place it seam down on a serving plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (If you’re planning on transporting this, place it on some parchment paper to make moving the cake easier, when you get to where you’re going you can transfer it to the serving platter and remove the parchment.)
Spread the chocolate frosting all over the cake and drag a fork through it to create wood grain to resemble bark on a log. To create a “knot” in the wood, gather 3 marshmallows in a tight cluster on one side of the cake and frost. Embellish with the fork. Dust with powdered sugar, add candy mushrooms, and other woodland elements to create the look of a fallen log in the forest. Mint leaves, fresh berries, various candies all work well.
Chill before serving to set. Serve 8-12.
What are some of your holiday food traditions? Have you ever made a Yule Log Cake?