The buche de Noel or yule log is as pivotal to the holidays as snowflakes and hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows, as far as I am concerned.
This is a dessert that knows how to make an impression and really allows you to express your creativity, but (I promise!) is not as complicated to make as it appears.
The tradition of making the buche de Noel dates way back to medieval times when families would burn a Yuletide log in the home hearth for good luck and fortune in the New Year. As wood-burning stoves and hearths disappeared with time, the tradition found its place on the table through this dessert.
Here are important things you want to achieve, in terms of technique: a light and fluffy roulade, a tight roll (something I sometimes struggle with, but use your kitchen towel or silpat to help you along), and, of course, decoration that resembles a festive log.
You can go for a full faux bois effect or make little mushrooms using meringue or Hershey’s kisses dipped in thick chocolate ganache, as I did here, add berries and powdered sugar as “snow” etc. Have fun with it!
There are a few steps involved in terms of timing – chilling everything is required so, also keep that in mind.
- 6 eggs, separated, at room temperature
- 0.5 cup of AP flour
- 0.25 cup of good cocoa powder
- 0.75 cup of white sugar
- 0.25 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 0.5 cup of powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 tablespoons raspberry jam
- For frosting:
- 1 stick butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups of powdered sugar
- 0.25 cup of cocoa powder
- 0.5 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- a pinch of sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350F and line a deep baking sheet with parchment AND butter the parchment.
- Prepare several large mixing bowls. In one, sift together flour, cocoa powder and salt.
- In another bowl, beat the eggs yolks until thick and glossy, then slowly add in half a cup of sugar and beat until pale yellow in color. Add in flour mixture.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add in the remaining quarter cup of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
- Gently (!) fold in the egg whites into the batter mixture, keeping it as airy as possible.
- Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan using a spatula and bake for 15-20 minutes until the dough is soft but "bounces back" when you touch it.
- Invert the warm cake onto a clean kitchen towel sprinkled with powdered sugar and remove parchment paper. Use the towel to help you roll the cake into a tight log. Let cool completely while you make the filling.
- Use a mixer to beat together heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla until thick and rich. Be careful not to overbeat! Chill the cream filling until you're ready to assemble the cake.
- Unroll the cake carefully. Spread the cream filling evenly over the cake, then top with jam. Roll back up tightly and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Now make the frosting! Cream the butter, then slowly add in the powdered sugar and cocoa. Beat until smooth, then add in the heavy cream and salt and beat until thick and smooth again. Chill.
- Here comes the fun part: trim the ends of the roulade and spread the frosting over the cake. Use a pastry brush or a fork to form the faux bois (wood grain) pattern, then decorate using the tips above!