Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Buche de Noel

Buche de Noel
or  Yule Log

Someone asked for directions for making a Yule Log. This traditional French Christmas cake is delicious and easy to make, though it takes several steps. And yes, I'm as wild about France and French cooking as I am about Scotland.  I can guarantee that this cake tastes much better than that controversial and questionably flavored Scottish holiday dish, h_____ (haggis).

Melt 8 oz in a double boiler or in a bowl placed over a pot of boiling water (what I use).
 I don’t recommend melting chocolate in the microwave because I tend to burn it that way.

While it is melting, enjoy the fragrance and prepare a cookie sheet by placing a piece of wax paper or parchment paper on it. When the chocolate is melted, pour it onto the paper and smooth out to make it even. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula to get it all. The chocolate will harden quickly, so while it is still malleable, take a fork and draw bark lines in it. I draw straight lines and I also draw 3 spirals for the cut ends of the log.

Make the cake.
Prepare a jelly roll pan, which measures 15 ½” by 10 ½” by 1” by greasing it, then placing on top a sheet of parchment paper. Grease this also. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

4 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup powdered chocolate
½ cup flour (yes, that’s all)
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon espresso powder (if you have it)

Beat eggs on high about 5 minutes until very thick and lemon-colored. Gradually beat in the sugar. Beat in the water and vanilla on low speed. Mix the dry ingredients and add them slowly. Pour the batter into the pan and spread it to the corners.

Cool this in the refrigerator. (It takes about 24 hours to cool and harden at room temperature and by then people will have snagged half of it to eat!)

Bake this only 12 to 15 minutes. Watch it!

While it is baking take a kitchen towel and spread it out on the counter. Dust this generously with confectioner’s sugar (you may use a combination of confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder), spreading it to the edges of the towel.

When the cake is done and while it is still hot, loosen its edges carefully. It is time to flip the cake onto the prepared towel. I do this by turning the entire pan, cake side down onto the towel This raises a cloud of powdered sugar, so beware!. Use a fork to help lift up the pan and grab it with pot holders as it is still hot. Carefully peel off the paper.

Sprinkle the top side of the cake with confectioner’s sugar. Roll the cake in the towel from the narrow end. Let it cool.

Use any chocolate icing that you’d like to use. If you buy it, you’ll need two containers.
Carefully unroll the cake. It may crack. Don’t worry, you can glue it together with icing.
Prepare the plate you’ll serve it on by cutting strips of wax paper and laying them along the edge of the plate in a way that you can pull them out once the cake is iced. You don’t need paper underneath the place where the cake will be. This keeps the plate clean.
Spread icing on the inside curl of the cake and roll up again.
Place the roll on the plate; its edges should just be touching the wax paper placed there.
Make a diagonal slice about two inches wide to cut off one of the ends of the roll. Set aside because you’ll use this to make a stump on the Yule log.
Spread icing on the top of the log. Place the stump on the top side of the log by putting gthe diagonal cut down. Ice the stump, smoothing out the place it joins the log with icing.

Break up the chocolate bark you’ve cooled in the refrigerator and press this into the icing to make the roll look like a fallen log with the bark broken and peeling.

Decorate: Using a sifter, sprinkle the log with confectioner’s sugar. This gives a beautiful snowy look. Place fresh greens around the base and a few cranberries (Don’t eat the greens—they are just for decoration). You can make meringue mushrooms if you want, but I’ve never been able to do this successfully, so I can’t tell how to do it well.

This cake can be made entirely milk free if the chocolate and the icing are milk free.

Though traditionally a Christmas cake, I made one this summer for a baby shower and decorated it with powdered chocolate, tiny pears and edible summer flowers. It was gorgeous.

May you and your family enjoy a happy, delicious and blessed holiday season!


  1. Thank you so much! They are beautiful, I hope mine looks something even remotely like this.

  2. Beautiful cake, very clear directions.