This classic holiday yule log cake (Bûche de Noël) is made with a tender and light chocolate sponge cake rolled and filled with an easy whipped cream filling, and coated in a rich whipped chocolate ganache. This beautiful traditional Christmas cake is styled to look like a log. It's a delicious festive treat that makes the perfect centrepiece on your holiday dessert table and is almost too pretty to eat.
What is a Yule Log Cake?
A holiday yule log cake, also known as a "Bûche de Noël" in French, is an old Christmas tradition that dates back to the 19th century in France. In the medieval times, families would gather and burn a yule log on Christmas Eve to to bring good luck. This yule log cake now represents that custom.
To make this fancy Christmas holiday yule log cake, you will need the following ingredients:
- all-purpose flour
- cornstarch - this key ingredient makes the cake soft and tender.
- cocoa powder
- eggs - divided into yolks and egg whites. The eggs whites will be beat separately and folded in, which creates a light spongy type of cake.
- granulated sugar
- vanilla extract
- whipped cream filling - made with heavy cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla extract.
- whipped chocolate ganache topping - semi-sweet chocolate and heavy cream.
You will also need measuring cups and spoons (or a kitchen scale for the most accurate measurements), hand mixer or stand mixer, mixing bowls, half sheet baking pan, parchment paper, dish towel, and a small saucepan.
How to Make the Best Holiday Yule Log Cake (Bûche de Noël)
Step 1: Make the Cake
- Prep: Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a half sheet baking pan (17x12-inches) with nonstick spray and line it with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with nonstick spray.
- Combine dry ingredients: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Combine wet ingredients: Use a stand mixer or hand mixer to combine egg yolks, all but 2 tablespoons of sugar (set aside to be used with the egg whites), and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat together mixer on high speed until thick, fluffy and very pale yellow, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients: Sift in half the dry ingredients into the bowl, and fold it in with a silicone spatula until just incorporated. Repeat with the remaining half of dry ingredients.
- Beat egg whites: In a medium bowl, beat egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 1-2 minutes. Gradually add in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 3-4 minutes.
- Fold in egg whites: Fold the egg whites into the batter using a silicone spatula, until just incorporated. Avoid overmixing and deflating the egg whites.
- Bake: Carefully pour the batter into the prepared half sheet baking pan and gently spread it out using a small icing spatula. Bake for 8-10 minutes. The cake is done when it springs back when lightly poked with your finger and a toothpick comes out clean.
Step 2: Roll the Cake
Once the cake is done, it will look a little puffed up and bubbly on the top. It will shrink down within a minute. Let it sit for a minute or two, then immediately run a small icing spatula or knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake.
Sift some confectioners' sugar on top to cover the cake. Flip the cake over onto a clean kitchen towel placed on the counter. Remove the parchment paper which was originally lining the baking pan. Sift the newly exposed side of the cake with confectioners' sugar. This will help prevent the cake from sticking to the towel when rolled.
Slowly and gently roll the cake from the narrow end with the towel until the entire cake is rolled and completely covered in the towel. The cake will be warm when first rolled. Allow the rolled up cake to cool completely in the towel, about one hour, up to overnight.
Step 3: Filling the Cake with Whipped Cream
When the cake has cooled down completely, gently and very slowly unroll the cake. Using a small icing spatula, carefully spread the whipped cream evenly on top of the cake, leaving a 1-inch border uncovered around the cake.
Carefully and slowly roll the cake back up without the dish towel. Cover tightly with plastic cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, up to overnight, to firm up before adding the whipped ganache topping.
Step 4: Make the Whipped Chocolate Ganache
Place chopped chocolate into a medium bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan until it begins to simmer. Immediately remove from heat before it begins to boil. Pour hot cream over top of the chopped chocolate, and let it sit for 5 minutes to allow it to soften the chocolate. Then use a spoon to slowly stir until completely combined. Allow the ganache to cool down and thicken uncovered in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Once the ganache has cooled down and is firm (but still soft), use a hand mixer to whip it on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
Step 5: Create a Yule Log Branch and Coat Cake with Whipped Ganache
Remove the cake from the refrigerator and carefully remove the plastic cling wrap. Leave the yule log cake in tact and cut ½-inch from each side to make the edges even. You can also cut 4-inches off of one end of the yule log cake on angle and place it on the side of the roll to look like a tree branch.
Cover the cake with the whipped ganache and spread evenly using a small icing spatula. Draw lines using a fork to give it a wooden texture look like tree bark.
How to Store a Holiday Yule Log Cake
- To store in the refrigerator: Loosely cover the yule log cake with plastic cling wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To store in the freezer: Place the yule log cake on a parchment-lined baking sheet until completely frozen, about 2 hours. Then, tightly wrap it in plastic cling film and a layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator or for a few hours at room temperature.
- Do not overbake the cake. The cake is quite thin so keep a close eye on it. Take it out as soon as it is done. If you overbake it, it will be dry and crack as it rolls.
- Immediately roll the cake. Let the cake to sit for a minute or two, then immediately flip it over and gently and slowly roll. Otherwise, it will dry be too hard to roll without cracking.
- Dust the cake before rolling. Generously dust the cake on both sides before you start rolling it with the dish towel. Otherwise, the cake will stick to the towel and can tear when unrolling it.
More Holiday Cake Recipes
- Gingerbread Bundt Cake with Maple Cinnamon Glaze
- Festive Yogurt Fruitcake
- Cranberry Sauce Swirl Pound Cake
- Caramel Pecan Pie Cheesecake Bars
- Double Chocolate Loaf Cake
- Gingerbread Muffins with Vanilla Bean Glaze
Did you make this recipe? I would greatly appreciate a comment and rating below, letting me know what you thought of the recipe. You can also snap a picture and tag me on Instagram @aheadofthyme or share it on the Pinterest pin so that I can follow along.
This post was originally published in 2017. It has been completely updated with new photographs, tweaks to the recipe, and tips.Print