Yule Log (Bûche de Noël)

A spectacular and easy Yule Log (Bûche de Noël) to make at Christmas time. Gluten-free Chocolate Yule Log Cake.

chocolate yule log on grey plate

Yule Log

My family in Switzerland has always celebrated Christmas with a Yule Log (or Buche de Noel), and when I realised that it was essentially a Swiss Roll rearranged to look like a log, I thought it was worthwhile trying to make my own one year. And now I find myself making it every year as part of our Christmas dessert!

chocolate yule log (buche de noel) on grey plate

Why This Recipe Works

  • This Yule Log has a light and moist chocolate sponge, rolled in a decadent chocolate frosting.
  • This Yule Log recipe contains no flour, so it is gluten-free.
  • You can make this Yule Log 1-2 days in advance, so it is perfect at Christmas time.

What is a Yule Log?

A Yule Log is essentially a Swiss roll which has been decorated to resemble a wooden log.

In the US, a Swiss Roll is sometimes called a Jelly Roll Cake.

A Yule Log is comprised of a thin layer of cake sponge which has been spread with cream, and then rolled into a log shape. It is then covered in a frosting or cream and then decorated to look like a wooden log or tree branch.

Yule Log Recipe

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.

buche de noel (yule log) on grey platter

How to Make Yule Log Cake

I like to make the Yule Log the night before serving so that the frosting has had a chance to set properly, and not least to spend less time in the kitchen on Christmas Day itself (if I plan on serving the Yule Log as part of the dessert).

The Swiss roll itself is really easy and straightforward to make, and whilst the assembly and decoration of the Yule Log can look difficult in itself, it is actually rather easy!

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!

chocolate yule log with powdered sugar
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Yule Log

5 from 2 reviews

A spectacular and easy Yule Log (Bûche de Noël) to make at Christmas time. Gluten-free Chocolate Yule Log Cake.

  • Author: eatlittlebird.com
  • Prep Time: 40 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 60 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4-6
  • Category: Christmas
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: French

Ingredients

For the cake

For the icing

Instructions

To make the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) (without fan).
  2. Separate the eggs into two large mixing bowls. For this recipe, I like to use a KitchenAid stand mixer with two separate bowls.
  3. Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is thick and pale yellow.
  5. Add the vanilla extract and cocoa powder.
  6. Lightly fold the whisked egg whites into the chocolate mixture, one-third at a time.
  7. Line a Swiss roll baking pan with baking paper.
  8. Pour the cake mixture into the pan and even it out with a palette knife.
  9. Bake the cake for 20 minutes.
  10. 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).
  11. Let the cake cool completely.

To make the frosting

  1. Cream together the icing sugar (powdered sugar), butter and vanilla extract until you have a thick and smooth mixture.
  2. Add the melted chocolate, and lightly beat to incorporate all of the ingredients.

To assemble the Yule Log

  1. Place the cake in front of you with the long edge of the cake facing you.
  2. Dollop some of the frosting (about 1/3 of the mixture) over the cake and use a palette knife to spread it evenly all over the cake.
  3. 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.
  4. Once the cake has been rolled, carefully transfer it to a serving platter.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 frosting.
  7. Cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting.
  8. 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 frosting and start over again.
  9. Let the cake set for at least 1 hour before serving.
  10. Lightly dust with icing sugar (powdered sugar) just before serving.

Kitchen Notes

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS
It is best to make and assemble this Yule Log 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 Yule Log the night before serving, which gives it a good amount of time for the frosting to set.

STORAGE TIPS
As this is a frosted cake, it keeps very well for a few days under a covered container (in the rare event that you have any leftovers!).

RECIPE CREDIT
Recipe adapted from Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson

OVEN TEMPERATURES
All recipes on this website state temperatures for a regular oven (i.e. a conventional oven without fan). If you have a convection oven with a fan, please consult the manufacturer’s handbook on how to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.

CONVERSIONS
To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: Nutritional info per slice
  • Calories: 352
  • Sugar: 26.6g
  • Sodium: 43.1mg
  • Fat: 23.9g
  • Carbohydrates: 31.5g
  • Fiber: 2.3g
  • Protein: 4.9g
  • Cholesterol: 134.4mg

Did you make this recipe?

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Update

This recipe was first published on 9 October 2017. It has been updated with new photos and more comprehensive recipe notes.

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3 comments

  1. Shez 13 March 2018

    This is also my go-to recipe for Yule Log at Christmas. Love Nigella’s recipes, as always!

    Reply
  2. Julia 16 April 2018

    What an AMAZING idea!!! I am definitely making this! looks delish!

    Reply