Yule Log Cake aka Buche de Noel is a traditional French Christmas cake. A light sponge cake filled, rolled & decorated to resemble a yule log. An amazing holiday dessert!
This yule log cake is the perfect Christmas cake to make this holiday season! It's sure to impress your guests and you can make the cake ahead of time and leave the decorations for the day of serving.
What is a Yule Log Cake (Buche de Noel)?
A yule log cake, or Buche de Noel as it's called in France, is a traditional French dessert that's made around Christmas time. It's a Christmas cake made to look like a yule log, which is why it's called a yule log cake.
Typically one end of the cake is cut off and set on the side of the cake to look like a branch. The exterior of the cake is decorated to resemble tree bark.
Buche de Noel can be garnished with berries, powdered sugar, and various decorations made of chocolate, fondant, marzipan, or meringue.
What is a Christmas Yule Log Cake made of?
Yule log cake or Buche de Noel is made of a light sponge cake that's rolled into a roulade and filled with whipped cream or cream cheese filling. In simple terms, it's a roll cake or swiss roll cake that has been decorated to look like a yule log and it's served during the Christmas season.
The sponge cake can be any flavor but chocolate is a common flavor for the buche de noel as the brown color resembles the color of the log.
For simple and easy decorations for the buche de noel, you'll need the following:
- chocolate frosting - to frost the cake and resemble bark
- mini marshmallows - to resemble small, white mushrooms growing on the log
- powdered sugar - to resemble snow
- shredded coconut - to resemble snow
- cranberries - rolled in sugar crystals to resemble wild berries
To create a bark-like texture, quickly drag the frosting in short movements down the length of the cake. Flick the frosting up slightly at the end to raise the frosting to create a point that's similar to tree bark.
Powdered sugar, shredded coconut, and sugar coated cranberries give this cake a winter feel and mimic snow and frost covered berries.
How to Make Christmas Yule Log Cake aka Buche de Noel
The recipe starts with my Chocolate Swiss Roll Cake recipe which is a light and fluffy sponge cake made with dark cocoa powder.
The cake is rolled up and allowed to cool completely before filling it. Afterwards, you can decorate it however you like to resemble a log.
Fillings for Christmas Yule Log Cake
I've listed two different recipes for fillings you can make for this Christmas cake:
Whipped cream filling: a light filling that goes well with the fluffy sponge cake. Be sure to wait until the cake has completely cooled before adding the whipped cream as it will melt with heat. Be gentle rolling the cake back up as the whipped cream can get pushed out of the cake if you press too hard.
Cream cheese filling: a rich, decadent filling that also pairs well with the sponge cake. Be sure to soften your cream cheese and butter before you start. Spread this gently as it can tear the sponge cake. You can add more milk to thin out the filling if it's difficult to spread.
Can you freeze leftovers?
Yes, you can freeze a yule log cake and keep it in the freezer for up to one month. I recommend removing any decorations that don't freeze or thaw well and then wrapping the cake in plastic wrap and storing it in an airtight container.
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Christmas Yule Log Cake (Buche de Noel)
Filling (Choose one of these fillings):
Cream Cheese Filling:
- 8 oz cream cheese softened
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- ½ cup butter
- 1 Tablespoon milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Whipped Cream Filling:
- 1¼ cup heavy whipping cream
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 16 oz jar of chocolate frosting I used about half a jar
- ¼ cup shredded coconut
- 3 Tablespoons powdered sugar
- ¼ cup mini marshmallows
- ¼ cup cranberries
- 3 Tablespoon granulated sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Egg Yolk Mixture:
- In a medium bowl, add together egg yolks, ½ cup of sugar, salt, corn syrup, vanilla, and water. Set this bowl inside a larger bowl filled with warm water and beat on high until pale yellow with ribbons form. Remove from the warm water bath and set aside.
Egg White Meringue:
- In a large bowl, add the egg whites and beat on high until soft peaks form. Start adding the ⅓ cup of sugar in three equal parts, beating each time to incorporate. Beat the egg whites on high until stiff peaks form.
Roll Cake Batter:
- Add ½ of the egg white meringue to the egg yolk mixture and gently fold it in until it's mostly mixed in. The batter should be light and airy. Next, sift the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder together and add this into the batter in three equal parts, gently folding after each time.
- In a small bowl, microwave the oil until it’s warm to the touch. Take out ¼ cup of the combined batter from the previous step and completely mix this into the warm oil. Fold this back into the combined batter. Next, add the entire batter to the remaining egg white meringue and fold it in gently.
Baking & Filling the Roll Cake:
- Pour the batter into a parchment lined pan. Bang the pan twice to remove large air bubbles and bake for 15 – 18 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean when it's done. If it's over baked, the cake will be difficult to roll and may crack.
- Take out the cake, invert the pan onto a clean, slightly damp kitchen cloth, and remove the parchment paper from the bottom. Roll up the cake and hold it in place. You can also roll up the cake with the parchment paper used to bake the cake.
- Once the cake is completely cooled, unroll it and fill it with either whipped cream or the cream cheese filling and roll it back up.
Filling (Choose One):
- Whipped Cream filling: Add the cream, sugar, and vanilla to a medium size bowl and beat on medium high speed until you get stiff peaks, about 2 minutes.
- Cream Cheese filling: Beat the cream cheese and butter together in a medium bowl until it's well combined. Add the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla to the bowl and continue beating until it's smooth and creamy. Add more milk if it's too thick to spread.
Decorating the Yule Log Cake
- After filling the cake and rolling it back up, cut a 3 inch slice off the cake and adhere it to the side using some frosting as the glue. This is to resemble a branch coming out of the log.
- Cover the cake with the chocolate frosting. Using a small offset spatula or butter knife, make quick downward strokes down the length of the cake and lift up slightly at the end so the frosting resembles tree bark.
- Dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar using a sifter and then top with the shredded coconut. This will resemble snow on the cake.
- Place the mini marshmallows on top of and around the cake to resemble small white mushrooms.
- Rinse and drain the cranberries and add it to a small bowl. While it's still slightly wet, add in the granulated sugar and mix it around until the sugar granules stick to the cranberries. Place the sugar coated cranberries on top of the cake.
*Nutritional information is an estimate, calculated using online tools.