This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure for details.
Hi Bold Bakers!
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE: When you bake this Christmas Yule Log (Bûche de Noël), you’ll be a holiday star! Your family and guests will adore this fluffy chocolate sponge roll filled with divine Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream and covered with decadent Best-Ever Chocolate Buttercream.
- Christmas Yule Log (Bûche de Noël) is a showstopper finale, and its festive decoration—frosting spread to resemble bark, charming meringue mushrooms, and a dusting of powdered sugar snow—will put everyone in a celebratory mood.
- This generous cake feeds a crowd, so it’s a practical as well as a beautiful and delicious holiday dessert choice.
If you’ve ever been intimidated by making a Christmas Yule Log, I’m here to tell you that you can do it! Follow our easy step-by-step directions, and before you know it, you’ll be carrying this gorgeous cake to the table and basking in compliments! For other fancy-looking holiday desserts that are easy to pull off, check out my Simple and Beautiful Christmas Cake Decorating, Christmas Wreath Pavola, and Aunty Marian’s No-Bake Christmas Cake.
Table of Contents
- What is a Christmas Yule Log (Bûche de Noël) Recipe?
- Tools You Need
- Key Ingredients and Why
- How to Make a Christmas Yule Log
- Can I Make a Christmas Yule Log in Advance?
- How to Store a Christmas Yule Log (Bûche de Noël)
- Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips
- More Festive Rolled Cake Recipes
What is a Christmas Yule Log (Bûche de Noël) Recipe?
- This Christmas Yule Log (Bûche de Noël) is a chocolate sponge cake roll filled with vanilla buttercream, frosted with chocolate buttercream, and decorated to look like a rustic yule log.
- A sponge cake’s signature texture is due to whisking egg whites and yolks separately, which aerates the batter and creates a foam structure. Sifting the flour mixture and the absence of butter or oil in the batter maintains the foam structure and keeps the cake light and airy.
- Burning a yule log is an ancient traditional ritual to bring light and good luck in the dark days of winter. This was incorporated into French Christmas traditions and evolved into baking a yule log cake. These whimsical cakes mimic the look of a log and are festively decorated with holiday garnishes.
Tools You Need
- 11×17 (28×43 cm) jelly roll pan and parchment paper
- Stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or a handheld electric mixer
- Mixing bowl
- Measuring cups and measuring spoons
- Metal spoon
- Tea towel
- Offset Spatula
- Serrated knife
Key Ingredients and Why
- Egg whites are whipped to add air bubbles to the batter, giving the Yule Log cake its signature light, delicate texture.
- The whipped egg whites also give the cake flexibility, making it easier to roll without cracking.
- The fat in egg yolks adds moisture and richness, contributing to the cake’s tender crumb.
- Egg yolks emulsify the batter, blending the ingredients and making it even and smooth.
- Granulated sugar sweetens the cake.
- Sugar attracts and retains moisture, keeping the cake from being too dry.
- When sugar is beaten in, it dissolves in the protein film on the surface of the air bubbles, retaining air to make the cake to rise during baking.
- All-purpose flour gives the cake structure and stability. With 9-11% protein, AP flour is perfect for making the Bûche de Noel cake stable but still tender.
- Unsweetened cocoa powder gives the cake its chocolate taste and rich, dark color.
- Natural cocoa powder is the best cocoa to use here.
- Baking powder contributes to a proper rise, making the cake airy, fluffy, and flexible.
- Baking soda, in conjunction with the baking powder and whipped egg whites, makes the Yule Log rise and contributes to a tender and delicate crumb.
- Salt enhances the flavor of the cake
- Salt reacts with the baking soda to contribute to the leavening process.
- Powdered sugar is dusted on the warm cake before rolling to keep it from sticking to itself.
1 recipe Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream
1 recipe Best-Ever Chocolate Buttercream
1 recipe Meringue Mushrooms
How to Make a Christmas Yule Log
- Prepare to bake: Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Butter an 11×17 (28×43 cm) jelly roll pan, line with parchment paper, and butter the paper.
- Whip egg whites: Whip egg whites to soft peaks. Add sugar gradually and whip to stiff, glossy peaks. Set aside.
- Complete the cake batter:
- Beat egg yolks and the remaining sugar.
- Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl.
- Combine flour mixture and egg yolks. Gently fold in egg whites. Spread batter into prepared pan.
- Bake the cake: Bake the cake in a preheated oven until puffed and set.
- Roll the cake: Immediately sift powdered sugar onto the cake, cover it with a tea towel, and use another baking sheet to flip the cake out of the pan. Lift off the pan and peel off the parchment. Starting on a long side, roll up the cake with the towel. Let it cool, and wrap it in the towel at room temperature.
- Assemble the cake:
- When cooled, unroll the cake.
- Spread with vanilla frosting. Without using the towel, re-roll the cake back into a long cylinder. Cut a 10-inch piece of the cake and place it seam-side down on a serving platter. Cut the remaining piece in half, and use frosting to attach one half upright on the top of the cake and the other on the side.
- Frost and decorate the cake: Using the chocolate buttercream, frost the cake to look like a log. Garnish with Meringue Mushrooms (pipe meringue into mushroom stems and mushroom caps) and powdered sugar. Add sugared cranberries (see Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips) and rosemary sprigs if desired.
Can I Make a Christmas Yule Log in Advance?
Yes, you can make your Christmas Yule Log in Advance.
- This cake is best served the day it’s made, but you can prepare the cake up to the step where it’s filled with the Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream.
- Wrap it well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one day.
- The next day, frost and decorate the cake.
How to Store a Christmas Yule Log (Bûche de Noël)
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days.
How do I make sure my Christmas Yule Log is light and fluffy?
- The most common mistake when making a sponge cake like a Christmas Yule Log is over-mixing, which removes air and deflates the egg whites so the cake doesn’t rise and hold its shape. To keep the whipped egg whiles airy, use a thin metal spoon to delicately fold them into the batter.
- Make sure all of the ingredients are at room temperature. This ensures that the batter blends thoroughly, which helps aerate the batter, yielding a lighter, fluffier cake.
- Be careful not to overbake. The cake is ready when a thin knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Any more tips for successful rolling?
- Carefully monitor the Buche de Noel baking and take it out of the oven when it’s just set. An over-baked cake will be less flexible and harder to roll.
- Do not let the cake sit too long before rolling. This will also cause the cake to lose flexibility.
How do I make my frosting look like bark?
- This cake is meant to look rustic, so no need to be perfect here! You can use an offset spatula to make thick slashes of frosting or use the tines of a fork to make ridges in the frosting.
Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips
- Whenever you make a cake roll, be sure to cool the cake in a rolled-up shape so you don’t get any cracks.
- We like the taste and structure that the Vanilla Buttercream provides (as well as the fact that it can be stored at room temperature), but for a lighter version, you can fill the cake with Stabilized Whipped Cream. This version must stay refrigerated – decorate with the mushrooms just before serving, as the meringue will soften in the fridge.
- When decorating, if the Meringue Mushrooms are falling over, try putting a small dab of buttercream on the base of the stem to help hold it in place.
- You can make sugared cranberries for a pretty decoration: in a small saucepan, heat up ½ cup (4 oz/115 g) sugar and ½ cup (4 fl oz/120 ml) water until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup (5 oz/142 g) fresh cranberries. Let them sit in the syrup for 5 minutes, then transfer to parchment paper. Let the cranberries dry for 2 hours, then toss them in more granulated sugar to coat.
- Try making this with a different filling like my Peanut Butter Buttercream or Salted Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream. You can even make a coffee buttercream by dissolving 2 tablespoons of instant espresso powder into the milk before whipping it into my Vanilla Buttercream.
More Festive Rolled Cake Recipes
Bûche De Noël Recipe (Christmas Yule Log)
- 4 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
- ¼ cup (2 oz/57 g) plus ½ cup (4 oz/115 g) granulated sugar, divided
- ¾ cup (3¾ oz/105 g) all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup (1 oz/28 g) cocoa powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup (1 ⅓ oz/37 g) powdered sugar
- 1 recipe Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream
- 1 recipe Best-Ever Chocolate Buttercream
- 1 recipe Meringue Mushrooms
Make the Cake
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and butter an 11x17 (28x43 cm) jelly roll pan. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the parchment paper. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or with a medium bowl and handheld electric mixer) whip the egg whites on medium-high to soft peaks.
- Add ¼ cup (2 oz/57 g) sugar, one tablespoon at a time and continue to whip to stiff, glossy peaks. Transfer the whipped whites to a clean bowl.
- To the bowl used for whipping the whites, add the egg yolks and the remaining ½ cup (4 oz/115 g) of sugar. Whip on high speed until the yolks are thick and pale, about 4 minutes.
- In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then switch the mixer to low speed and mix the flour mixture into the yolks.
- With a metal spoon, fold in ⅓ of the whipped whites into the yolk mixture to lighten the batter, then gently fold in the remaining whites until fully mixed.
- Spread into the prepared pan and bake for about 10 minutes until puffed and set. The cake will spring back when pressed and a thin knife inserted in the center will come out clean.
- Sift a generous amount of powdered sugar all over the hot cake, then place a clean tea towel over the cake. Place the bottom of another baking sheet or jelly roll pan on top of the tea towel, and then holding both pans, flip them so the pan with the cake is on top.
- Lift up the pan to gently release the cake, then very gently peel off the parchment paper.
- Starting with a long end, roll up the cake with the tea towel and let it cool in the shape.
Assemble the Cake
- Unroll the cake and spread on a thick layer of Vanilla Buttercream.
- Reroll the cake (without the towel).
- Cut a 10-inch (25 cm) piece of the roll and place it, seam side down, on an oval serving plate. Trim the ends, if necessary, to make them look nice.
- Spread the roll with a generous layer of Chocolate Buttercream, leaving the ends exposed.
- Cut the remaining roll of cake in half and using the chocolate buttercream to help attach, place one piece upright on top of the log and the other piece on one side of the log. Spread more chocolate buttercream on the attached piece to make it look like one log.
- Decorate the plate and cake with Meringue Mushrooms or even cranberries, sprigs of rosemary or whatever else festive that you have on hand.
- This is best served the day it is made. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days.