How to Make a Buche de Noel

Get in the holiday spirit with this festive French Christmas cake.


Rich in tradition, the Buche de Noel is a French dessert representing  a miniature Yule Log, once burned on Christmas Eva as a symbol of prosperity and good fortune. It was believed the burning of the Yule would bring good health, wealth, and productivity in the year ahead.

Now a-days, the Yule Log is more commonly seen in its cake form: A chocolate roll cake served at Christmas, especially in France, Quebec, and other former French colonies. The Buche de Noel is often decorated with one end removed and set atop the cake to resemble a cut branch, bark-like texture made in the chocolate frosting with a fork, a sprinkling of powdered sugar to resemble snow, and traditional meringue mushrooms. But no matter how it's decorated, a traditional Buche de Noel will certainly put everyone in the Christmas spirit! 

Step 1

Prepare Pan


Properly preparing the pan ensures the cake comes out as a single beautiful sheet of cake. Start by lightly spraying a 15x10x1" jellyroll pan with non-stick cooking spray. Line the entire inside of the pan with wax paper or parchment, trimming to fit right to the edges of the pan. Spray the wax paper or parchment with non-stick cooking spray. Set the pan aside.

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Step 2

Make & Bake Cake


Combine 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder. Set aside.  

Separate 5 eggs. With an electric mixer, beat egg yolks and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla for about 30 seconds. Continue to beat, gradually adding 1 cup granulated sugar, for about 5 minutes or until the egg yolks are pale yellow and thickened. 

In a separate bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites at medium speed until soft peaks form. Fold yolk mixture into beaten egg whites. Then gently fold in flour mixture.

Pour batter into a prepared pan and use a spatula to spread batter evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.

TIP

Beating the egg whites and yolks, and gently folding together each component of the cake batter, gives the cake volume. Maximize the eggs' volume by allowing them to come to room temperature before beating.

Step 3

Turn Out Cake


While the cake bakes, lay a thin kitchen towel out flat on the counter. Generously sprinkle the entire surface of the towel with confectioners' sugar.

Once baked, take the cake out of the oven and immediately flip the pan over onto the sugared towel. Lift up and remove the pan, shaking very gently if needed, to release the cake and leave it laying on the towel.

Peel the waxed paper or parchment from the cake.

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Removing the wax paper may require a little coaxing. If the paper sticks, first gently loosen the corners. Then gently loosen the edges, working all the way around the cake before peeling up the wax paper.

Step 4

Roll & Cool


Starting with one of the longer edges, carefully roll the cake up into a log, towel and all. Set  aside at room temperature to cool completely.

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For the best result and to prevent cracking, roll very gently, slowly, and as tightly as possible.

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Step 5

Fill & Re-Roll


Combine 1 cup of whipping cream, 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. Whip until soft peaks form.

Unroll the cake, working slowly to prevent cracks. Spread the whipped cream in an even layer over the cake, leaving approximately 3/4-inch border around the edges. Starting with one of the longer sides, loosely roll the cake back up into a log, leaving out the towel. Roll gently and slowl

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For coffee-flavored filling, dissolve 1 teaspoon of instant coffee granules with the 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla before adding to the whipping cream. For chocolate-flavored filling, add 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder.

Step 6

Slice End


Angle a serrated knife 45 degrees at one end of the cake roll. Cut off a 2-inch piece of cake. Cut a second small piece to re-straighten the end of the cake.

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Discard {or snack on!} the second cut piece of cake. Or, use it to make a second small branch on the cake, following the instructions in Step 7.

Step 7

Create Branch


Prepare the chocolate buttercream frosting by combining 8 tablespoons of softened butter, 2 1/3 cups of confectioners' sugar, 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons of milk, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Beat on a low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed and beat until well combined and fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Beat in additional milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, if needed to reach desired consistency.

Dab a bit of frosting on the angled side of the cut cake piece. Place, frosting side down, off-center on top of the cake roll. Press down gently to adhere.
 

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Step 8

Frost


Cover the entire cake, including the branch, with chocolate frosting.  

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If desired, leave the ends of the cake and branch unfrosted to show the spiral, resembling the rings in cut wood.

Step 9

Decorate

Drag the tines of a large serving fork through the frosting in a wavy pattern to create tree bark lines. Dust cake lightly with confectioners' sugar to resemble snow.

Add a traditional meringue or marzipan mushrooms for decoration. Or, adorn with a sprinkling of finely chopped nuts, fondant holly leaves and berries, white chocolate snowflakes, or other decoration of choice.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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About Kitchen Is My Playground

Tracey is the creator of the popular blog The Kitchen Is My Playground, which she founded in 2011. Her goal is to share recipes with other home cooks looking to create flavorful (and somewhat adventurous) food for their families and friends. Connect with her on PinterestFacebookTwitter or Google+.