French Chocolate Bûche de Noël (Yule Log) Cake

Chocolate Buce de Noel

The Spruce

  • Total: 75 mins
  • Prep: 45 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: 14 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
418 Calories
27g Fat
39g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 14 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 418
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 27g 35%
Saturated Fat 16g 80%
Cholesterol 112mg 37%
Sodium 156mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 39g 14%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Protein 6g
Calcium 39mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This chocolate bûche de Noël recipe showcases a light-as-air, vanilla genoise cake rolled into a cylinder with a rich homemade chocolate buttercream frosting.

The origin of the Christmas Yule log cake can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when simple cakes were created to mimic logs that were traditionally burned during the solstice and then later on Christmas Eve, with the advent of Christianity. The bûche de Noël was cleverly created in the late 1800s by Parisian pastry chefs, who embellished the Yule log tradition with elaborate decorations. The new, gastronomic tradition caught on in spectacular fashion, and the Christmas dessert is now celebrated worldwide. 

Ingredients

  • For the Sponge Cake:
  • 4 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • For the Chocolate Buttercream:
  • 7 large egg whites
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate (melted and cooled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (softened)
  • Powdered sugar and/or cocoa powder (optional)

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this Yule log recipe is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for baking.

Make the Cake

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for yule log cake portion
    The Spruce 
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

  3. Grease a 10 x 15-inch rimmed baking sheet or jelly roll pan and line it with parchment paper.

    Parchment paper on jelly roll pan.
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  4. Grease the parchment or spray it with cooking spray. Set the pan aside.

    Jelly roll pan with cooking spray.
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  5. Beat the eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until thick and foamy, about 5 minutes.

    Whipped eggs.
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  6. Add the sugar, vanilla extract, and salt to the eggs and continue beating for 2 minutes.

  7. Carefully fold the flour, 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time, into the eggs. Once the flour is incorporated, stop mixing. Do not overmix or the cake will be tough.

    Fold flour into eggs.
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  8. Gently spread the batter into the prepared pan. There will be peaks in the batter; gently smooth them with a spatula, but do not press the batter down.

    Buche de noel batter.
    The Spruce
  9. Bake the cake until the top springs back when gently pressed and the edges pull away from the pan, about 10 minutes.

    Buche de noel cake.
    The Spruce
  10. Invert the baked cake onto a clean, dry kitchen towel and peel off the parchment paper.

    Turned out buche de noel cake.
     The Spruce
  11. Let stand for 3 minutes and then lightly score the length of one short side of the cake, leaving a 1-inch border, taking care not to cut through the cake.

    Scoring the buche de noel cake.
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  12. Fold the scored end of the cake in toward the center and then gently continue to roll the cake, wrapped in the towel.

    Folding the buche de noel cake.
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  13. Transfer to a rack, seam-side down and cool completely in the towel.

    Rolled buche de noel cake.
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  14. While the cake cools, make the buttercream.

Make the Chocolate Buttercream

  1. In a clean, dry mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. Set aside.

    Beaten egg whites.
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  2. In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and 2/3 cup water to a boil.

    Boiling buttercream frosting in pan
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  3. Allow sugar-water mixture to boil until it has reduced to a thickened syrup consistency.

    Cooling boiled buttercream frosting in pan
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  4. Begin beating the egg whites on high speed again, and with the motor running, slowly pour the hot sugar syrup into the eggs in a steady stream.

    Buttercream frosting cooking process
    The Spruce
  5. Pour the melted chocolate, espresso powder, and vanilla extract into the egg whites and continue beating until the meringue has cooled completely, about 5 minutes.

    Adding chocolate to beaten egg whites.
    The Spruce
  6. Add the softened butter to the meringue, 2 tablespoons at a time, while beating on high speed until all of the butter is incorporated.

    Butter added to meringue.
    The Spruce
  7. If the buttercream becomes runny during this process, refrigerate the meringue until it has chilled through.

    Chilled chocolate buttercream.
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  8. Continue the process of beating the butter into the meringue.

Assemble the Chocolate Yule Log

  1. Unroll the cake and set aside the towel.

    Buche de noel unrolled cake.
    The Spruce
  2. Evenly spread 2 cups (or your desired amount) of the chocolate buttercream on the inside of the cake, spreading in the direction of its natural curve, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges.

    Buttercream spread on buche de noel cake.
    The Spruce
  3. Gently roll it back into a log.

    Rolled buche de noel.
    The Spruce
  4. Trim the rough ends of the roll. Then cut off about 1/4 of one end of the cake roll on the diagonal. Reattach it to the center of the cake with some buttercream to resemble a "branch" protruding from the Yule log.

    Branch on the yule log.
    The Spruce
  5. Spread the remaining buttercream over the bûche de Noël to cover it. Gently drag a butter knife or a small offset spatula through the frosting to give the appearance of rough tree bark.

  6. Add a Père Noël figure and meringue mushrooms to complete the festive look.

    Decorating the buche de noel cake.
    The Spruce
  7. Chill the cake before serving it to allow the buttercream to set. Before serving, dust with powdered sugar and/or cocoa powder, if you like. Refrigerate any leftovers.

    Chocolate Yule Log
    The Spruce
  8. Serve and enjoy.

Tip

  • Be sure to roll the sponge cake in the clean towel after removing it from the oven. The cake will be malleable at this point and won't crack when shaping. Once cooled, it will crack.
  • Here's a gluten-free version of the bûche de Noël.