Buche de Noel (Christmas log) is a classic French chocolate Christmas cake. A delightfully light yet rich and chocolatey swiss roll with fresh cream filling that on the outside looks just like a real yule log.
This Buche de Noel is my daughter Idgy’s favourite cake and I just have to make one every Christmas.
Yule log cakes actually date back to at least 1615. The first known recipe appeared in the book The English Housewife by Gervaise Markham.
It was Parisian bakers who popularized the cake in the 19th century, and patisseries would compete to have the most elaborate of Buche de Noel in their shop windows.
The Yule Log
The tradition of burning a yule log dates back many centuries and originates in Norway. A huge log would be brought into the home and hoisted into the hearth where it would be burnt to celebrate the returning of the sun after the darkness of winter.
It then became a piece of wood that would be burned on Christmas Eve to ensure good luck for the household for the year to come.
So making this super simple Buche de Noel chocolate cake really harking back to an old traditional Christmas cake and an even more ancient winter tradition.
Ingredients for Buche de Noel
I have stuck with traditional Buch de Noel ingredients here. This Christmas yule log cake is basically a chocolate Swiss roll so there are just a few ingredients ; eggs, sugar, flour and cocoa powder.
For the filling I’ve just gone with double cream (thickened cream) and icing sugar (confectioners sugar).
Decorating the Buche de Noel
This is perhaps the most important part of the whole yule log experience. You just have to make that simple chocolate swiss roll cake look as much like a real log as possible.
How to make yule log cake
I love making swiss roll cakes, or roulades. They are super quick to bake, taking only 10 minutes in the oven. And once you get the hang of rolling them they are a breeze to make.
First, you want to beat the eggs and butter till light and fluffy and twice their original size.
Then you must carefully fold in the flour and cocoa powder with a metal spoon. You don’t want to knock out the air you have whipped into the mixture.
Spread the cake batter onto a lined swiss roll tin and bake for 20 minutes or until the cake bounces back when you lightly press the centre with your finger.
How to roll a roulade/swiss roll cake
Now comes the fun part! Tip the cake out of the tin onto a fresh piece of baking parchment.
Now you’ll have the base of the cake facing upwards with the used baking paper on it. Carefully remove this paper and discard it.
Now make a score (not right the way through) in the cake about 2cm in from the shorter end. This will make the yule log easier to roll up.
Using the fresh baking paper roll the cake with this paper into a sausage shape and leave it to cool. This will help the cake to hold its all-important log shape.
While the cake is cooling you can be making the filling and also the frosting.
For the filling simply use your mixer or a whisk to whip the cream with the icing sugar till it forms peaks.
Unroll the cake and carefully spread the sweetened whipped cream all over. Now roll the cake up again only this time without any paper and make sure that the end is facing down on the plate to help it hold together.
Do this on your serving plate as once you add your frosting you won’t want to try to move this gorgeous log cake again.
Decorating a yule log
Now we really want this to look like the branch of a tree and traditionally a Buche de Noel is presented as a split log. One slightly longer branch with a shorter piece sprouting out from the side.
To do this simply cut a thick diagonal slice off one end of the swiss roll you have made. Now place this at the side of the main log so you have a smaller cut branch sticking out on one side.
Melt the chocolate in a Bain Marie (bowl over simmering water) or the microwave if you have one. Then beat together all your frosting ingredients to get a lovely rich chocolate paste.
Spread this all over the cake making sure to cover both of those branches. You can cover the ends with chocolate frosting or leave the ends open to show the swirl of cream inside.
Taking a fork or back of a knife you can now rough up the chocolate frosting all over the yule log cake so that it resembles the bark of a real log.
Dust with icing sugar for snow effect.
Get as creative as you like with the decorations for your Buche de Noel. You could add a simple piece of holly. Add a little model robin.
Or go mad and make little toadstools and all sorts of woodland additives to make your Christmas log cake as realistic and fun as possible.
If you want you can use grated chocolate sprinkled over the yule log for the bark on top of the posting. A crumbled bar of flake chocolate would work here too.
Or use a potato peeler and shave off shards from a bar of chocolate and lay these on top of the frosting for a really rugged bark effect.
How long will a yule log cake keep
Your Buche de Noel should keep for up to 3 days in the fridge. Remember it is filled with fresh cream so won’t be good kept for longer than this.
Looking for more fun festive bakes? Then check these out before you go;
Or check out my whole Christmas section for lots of great festive inspiration!
Finally, if you do try this recipe don’t forget to leave a comment/star rating below as I just love to hear from readers. Want more Larder Love? Then follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter and sign up for my newsletter too of course.
Buche de Noel (Christmas Yule Log Cake)
- 150 g caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- 125 g self-raising flour
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 284 ml double cream thick cream
- 200 g icing sugar confectioner's sugar
- 50 g unsalted butter
- 50 g cream cheese
- 100 g dark chocolate
- 225 g icing sugar confectioner's sugar
- 100 g cocoa powder
- Preheat oven to 200C and line a swiss roll tin
- Beat eggs and sugar till at least twice their original volume
- Fold in sifted flour and cocoa powder with a metal spoon
- Spread onto swiss roll tin and bake for 10 mins till cake bounces back when pressed in the centre
- Tip cake onto a fresh piece of baking paper and roll with the old paper and leave to cool
- Whip cream and sugar and spread over the cake base and roll up again
- Cut a thick diagonal slice and arrange this as the branch of the yule log
- Melt chocolate in a Bain Marie or in bowl over bubbling water and beat with butter, cream cheese, icing sugar and cocoa
- this frosting all over the yule cake and roughen the top with a fork for bark effect, add holly for decoration and sift over some icing sugar like falling snow