Bûche de Noël is a traditional French holiday dessert. It translates to “Christmas log.” It’s formed by filling a moist sponge cake with icing and rolling it up, then cutting one end off and reattaching to form a stump. Yule log cakes are often decorated with cute meringue mushrooms, and I garnished mine with tree bark (shards of dark chocolate) and a faint dusting of snow (powdered sugar). This classic French cake will be the centerpiece of your holiday dessert table!
Bûche de Noël (French Yule Log) Recipe
1/4 cup Swan’s Down Cake Flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
4 eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a 10 in. x 15 in. sheet pan with parchment paper.
Sift together the cake flour and cocoa powder. In a large bowl, combine the egg whites, 1/4 cup of sugar and salt. Using an electric mixer, whip it on high speed until foamy; add cream of tartar. Continue whisking until the whites are glossy and form stiff peaks, about 3-4 minutes.
In a large bowl, whip the egg yolks, 1/2 cup of sugar, and vanilla extract with an electric mixer until thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Carefully fold 1/3 of the beaten egg whites and all of the sifted flour/cocoa mixture into the beaten yolks until just combined. Add the remaining beaten egg whites into the bowl and gently fold until they are totally incorporated. Spread the batter gently into the parchment lined pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 7-8 minutes or until the center of the cake springs back when touched. Remove from the oven and immediately loosen the edges with a butter knife and turn out onto a clean kitchen towel. Remove the parchment paper from the back of the cake and roll the cake up from the short side and let cool completely, seam side down.
For Meringue Mushrooms:
2 egg whites at room temp
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cocoa powder for dusting
Preheat the oven to 200°F. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the egg whites, granulated sugar and salt until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat until the meringue is very dense, stiff, and glossy. Transfer the meringue to a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pipe 1 inch long cones for the mushroom stems and quarter-size circles for the mushroom caps onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Dip your finger in water and press down any harsh points, especially on the mushroom caps. Dust the caps lightly with cocoa powder and bake until the meringues are completely dry, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Cool completely. Attach the stems and caps with a dab of icing or melted chocolate.
For Filling and Icing:
4 whole eggs
1-1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 pound unsalted butter at room temp
6 ounces dark chocolate
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg whites, granulated sugar and salt. Set over a double boiler over simmering water and whisk frequently until the mixture reaches at least 140°F on a thermometer.
Whip the hot mixture at high speed with an electric mixer until the outside of the bowl is cool to the touch. While beating on medium-low speed, add the butter, one chunk at a time, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the vanilla and beat until well combined.
To assemble the yule log, unroll the cooled cake cake and spread 2 cups of vanilla icing over, leaving about 1/2 inch on every side clean. Re-roll and chill while preparing the chocolate. Melt 6 ounces of dark chocolate. Pour about 2/3 of the chocolate onto a parchment lined pan and spread into a thin layer. Use a spoon or a spatula to make irregular marks vertically all over the chocolate. Refrigerate to set. Pour the rest of the melted chocolate, which should be cooler by now, into the remaining vanilla buttercream and stir or beat until completely incorporated.
Make a 2 inch cut at a 45 degree angle at one end of the cake for the stump. Place the long piece of the cake on your serving plate. Attach the 2 inch cut stump with chocolate icing to the top or side of the cake, with the cut side facing outwards. Ice the rest of the cake with chocolate buttercream.
Break the cold chocolate sheet into large shards and arrange around the outside of the cake. If the chocolate begins to melt while working with it, just pop it back into the refrigerator or freezer for a minute before continuing. Attach the meringue mushrooms to the top and around the sides of the yule log and dust with powdered sugar.
Makes about 12 servings.