Easy Traditional French Buche de Noel Recipe

Buche de Noel. Clive Bozzard-Hill - Getty Images
  • Total: 75 mins
  • Prep: 60 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: Serves 12 - 14 slices
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
425 Calories
27g Fat
40g Carbs
6g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: Serves 12 - 14 slices
Amount per serving
Calories 425
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 27g 35%
Saturated Fat 16g 80%
Cholesterol 112mg 37%
Sodium 156mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 40g 15%
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 easy Buche de Noel Christmas cake recipe may appear difficult to make, but not so. The cake is a light, airy vanilla-orange Genoise cake and rolled and filled with classic French-style chocolate buttercream to make a traditional Christmas log. Follow the instructions and you will be impressed. 


  • For the Genoise Cake Batter:
  • 4 eggs (room temperature)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon liqueur (Grand Marnier -orange liqueur)
  • 2 teaspoons zest (orange)
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour (cake)
  • For the Chocolate Buttercream:
  • 7 egg whites
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar (granulated)
  • 6 ounces chocolate (unsweetened, melted and cooled)
  • 1 teaspoon espresso (instant powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (softened)

Steps to Make It

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Butter a 10-inch by 15-inch jelly-roll pan with a 1-inch lip and line it with parchment paper. Butter the parchment or spray it with cooking spray. Set the pan aside.

  3. Beat the eggs for 5 minutes, until they turn thick and foamy.

  4. Add the sugar, orange liqueur, orange zest, vanilla extract, and salt to the eggs and continue beating for 2 minutes.

  5. Fold the flour, a few tablespoons at a time, into the whipped egg mixture.

  6. Once the flour is incorporated into the batter, stop mixing. Do not overmix or the cake will bake up into a tough texture.

  7. Gently spread the batter into the prepared pan. Gently smooth any peaks of batter but do not press the batter down.

  8. Bake the cake for 10 minutes, until the cake is just set.

  9. Invert the baked cake onto a clean, dry kitchen towel and peel off the parchment paper. Wait 3 minutes and then gently roll the cake, still in the towel, starting at the 10-inch end. Allow it to cool completely.

  10. In a clean, completely dry bowl beat the egg whites on high until soft peaks form. Set them aside.

  11. In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and 2/3 cup water to a boil. Allow it boil until it has reduced into a slightly thickened syrup.

  12. Begin beating the egg whites on high speed again, and pour the hot sugar syrup into the eggs in a slow, steady stream.

  13. Add the espresso powder, and vanilla extract into the egg whites and continue beating until thick and glossy.

  14. Remove 4 tablespoons of the meringue and set to one side.

  15. Continue beating and add in the melted chocolate and keep beating until the meringue has cooled completely, 

  16. Add the softened butter to the meringue, 2 tablespoons at a time, while beating on high speed, until all of the butter is incorporated into the frosting. If the buttercream becomes runny at any time in this process, refrigerate the meringue until it has chilled through and continue the process of beating the butter into the meringue.

To Assemble the Buche de Noel:

  1. Unroll the cake and set aside the towel. Evenly spread 2 cups of the chocolate buttercream on the inside of the cake, following its natural curve, gently form it into a cake roll. Cut off the ends on the diagonal and reattach them in the center of the cake with a bit of buttercream to create a branch.

  2. Spread the exterior of the buche de noel with enough chocolate buttercream to cover it and gently pull a butter knife or small, offset spatula through the frosting to give the appearance of rough tree bark. Again using a spatula, cover the ends of the logs with the reserved light coloured cream.

  3. Finish by adding decorations to complete the festive look.

  4. Chill the cake before serving it, and refrigerate any leftovers.