A spectacular, but easy to make, Yule Log (Bûche de Noël).
With Christmas just a few months away, I thought it was about time that I set about sharing some of my favourite Christmas recipes, knowing full well that if I don’t do it now, I will probably put it off for at least another year!
What I have particularly enjoyed in the past few years since the birth of our children is being able to start our own Christmas traditions. While I am still working on what the main courses should be (and trying to perfect those courses), I have discovered that this Yule Log has featured several times with much success, and I now can’t envisage a Christmas without this traditional French Christmas cake.
The first time I saw a Yule Log in a cake shop, I was instantly in awe and didn’t hesitate to buy one whenever we had friends or family visiting over the festive season. But as I was flicking through my Christmas cookbooks, I came across this recipe from the ever-inspiring Nigella Lawson; she promised that it was an easy recipe, if not also a bit finnicky. And, as always, she was right on both counts.
A Yule Log is essentially a Swiss roll which has been decorated to resemble a wooden log. The Swiss roll itself is really easy and straightforward to make, but it is the assembly of the Yule Log which can induce a bit of anxiety if you don’t have an artistic streak. But I am one of those people with very little artistic ability, so if I can create the Yule Log in these photos, others would certainly be able to create something more spectacular!
- Prep Time: 40 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 60 mins
- Yield: Serves 4-6
For the cake
- 6 eggs, separated
- 3/4 cup (150 g) caster sugar
- 1/2 cup (50 g) cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- icing sugar to decorate
For the icing
- 1 cup (175 g) dark chocolate, melted and cooled
- 1 2/3 cup (250 g) icing sugar
- 2 sticks (225 g) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Separate the eggs into two large mixing bowls. For this recipe, I like to use a KitchenAid stand mixer with two separate bowls.
- Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and caster sugar until the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Add the vanilla extract and cocoa powder.
- Lightly fold the whisked egg whites into the chocolate mixture, one-third at a time.
- Line a Swiss roll baking tin with baking paper. Pour the cake mixture into the tin and even it out with a palette knife.
- Bake the cake for 20 minutes.
- Leave the cake to cool for about 10 minutes, before carefully turning it out onto another sheet of baking paper. Remove the sheet of baking paper which is attached to the bottom of the cake (which should be now facing up).
- Make the icing by creaming together the icing sugar, butter and vanilla extract. Once you have a thick and smooth mixture, add the melted chocolate and lightly beat to incorporate all of the ingredients.
- To assemble the Yule Log, place the cake in front of you with the long edge of the cake facing you.
- Dollop some of the icing (about 1/3 of the mixture) over the cake and use a palette knife to spread it evenly all over the cake.
- Start rolling the cake together from the long side facing you, and rolling away from you. Use the baking paper underneath the cake to help you get a tight roll. Once the cake has been rolled, carefully transfer it to a serving platter.
- Trim both ends at a slight angle – these pieces will from branches from the log, so keep this in mind when deciding on how much to trim. Arrange the trimmed pieces of cake next to the main body of the cake. I like to “attach” the branches to the log with a bit of icing.
- Cover the entire cake with the remaining icing.
- Create a wood-like texture by using a cake skewer to make grooves and tree rings on the cake. If you are unhapy with your artistic work, you can simply use a small palette knife to smooth out the icing and start over again.
- Lightly dust with icing sugar just before serving.
It is best to make and assemble this cake on the same day when the sponge is still soft, which will make rolling the cake easier and also make it less prone to cracking. However, if there are any cracks in the cake when you roll it, don’t worry too much because you will be covering the cake with icing anyway.
I find it best to make this cake the night before serving, which gives it a good amount of time for the icing to set. And because it is an iced cake, it keeps very well for a few days under a covered container (in the rare event that you have any leftovers!).
Share your photos!
If you have used this recipe, I would love to hear how it turned out! Please leave a comment below and share your photos by tagging @eatlittlebird on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and using #eatlittlebird