This festive yule log cake is chocolate cake filled with whipped cream, rolled into the shape of a log, and coated with a chocolate ganache – a classic European holiday tradition! Serve with a White Hot Chocolate or Cranberry Mimosa for an extra festive celebration.
Once Thanksgiving is over, I’m in full on Christmas mode now. I’m assuming I have some sort of invisible switch that flips on at midnight after Thanksgiving that apparently indicates that Christmas mode is now activated.
The tree and other Christmas decorations (however minimal they may be) went up the morning after Thanksgiving.
I’m playing Christmas music in the house, almost exclusively.
All baking involves Christmas cookies, peppermint, gingerbread, eggnog, and snowflake sprinkles.
Please tell me I’m not the only one.
So I was trying to decide what my first post-Thanksgiving recipe should be, and since last week I did a cookie recipe I figured now is as good a time as any to put a Christmas cake out there into the internet ether. Do you recall the most classic Christmas cake of aaaaaaaaaaaall?
(yes, that was sung to the tune of “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer”, shut up)
A Bûche de Noël!
What’s a Bûche de Noël?
If you’re not familiar, a Bûche de Noël (or “yule log”) is a traditional European dessert that’s served during the holidays, and it’s intentionally created to look like an actual yule log. It’s typically chocolate cake with a whipped cream filling.
Although not the same size as a real yule log, because sweetbabyjesus that would be a really big cake. That would be a yuleOMGCAKE.
Okay, now I kinda wanna make one. Can you imagine showing up to your family’s house with this log-shaped cake that’s the size of their Australian Shepard? Although, that would make a good story for future Christmases.
“Hey, remember that time that Leslie showed up to Christmas Eve with that giant cake that ended up all over the front door? And Snoopy’s face? And your niece?”
… good times.
Serving yule log cake
I know a lot of people like to slice off one end at an angle, and then attach it to one side so it really looks like a log, but I like to keep it simple. Easier to make, easier to plate, easier to serve. Easy.
What’s the difference between a yule log and a cake roll?
Cake rolls have no holiday affiliation, and a yule log is a cake roll that’s all dressed up for Christmas.
Just look at it, all fancy.
How I like to make yule log cake
I like my yule log cake to be simple: a light, spongey chocolate cake, lightly sweet whipped cream filling, and coated in a dark chocolate ganache. No crazy flavors or ingredients, and just the addition of some espresso powder to the cake to enhance the chocolate flavor.
For garnish, I like to top mine with a handful of fresh cranberries, a couple springs of rosemary, and a dusting of powdered sugar.
And for the ganache, I require a thick layer of ganache on the outside. I like to make enough that while I’m icing the cake, I’m thinking to myself, “Yikes, this is too much. OH GOD this is too much”, and then by the time I’m finished I remember that it’s exactly the right amount.
It’s kinda like when you’re making spaghetti and you keep adding more pasta to the pot, and then at the end you go, “OH GOD this is too much”, except this is the opposite of that.
Of which – why is spaghetti such a surprisingly difficult thing to measure the right amount of, even though you’re using the hole in the middle of the spaghetti spoon and it looks like it’s not enough so you add more than then remember that you’re an idiot and you should have trusted the spoon? WHY.
Okay, spaghetti rant over. And don’t make spaghetti – make this, and impress your family and friends with the presentation. I put very little effort into my design on the outside: I just drag a fork lengthwise across the top and down the sides.
You can do that, or use a toothpick or skewer to draw wavy lines lengthwise across the top, and in spirals on the ends. Or you can just use a small spatula to give it some wavy texture (I never seem to get this right, but it looks beautiful when it’s done right).
Make it, slice it, serve it, and enjoy it. And then forget about the calories because it’s the holidays and spending precious time with loved ones is what matters… right? [shrug]
After you’ve made this recipe, please leave a comment below with a rating – and if you came from Pinterest, add a photo to the Pin of what you make to the pin to share your experience!
Preheat oven to 350°F and line a 10×15 baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
In the large bowl of a stand mixer, whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Set aside.
In a separate large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well combined and a pale yellow color. Add vanilla and whisk to combine. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, espresso powder, and salt.
Add the dry mixture to the bowl of egg yolk mixture and stir to combine – it will be very thick!
Add half of the egg whites to the mixture and stir vigorously to combine completely.
Gently fold in the other half of the egg whites. Take your time and, again, be gentle – you don’t want to eliminate all the air you whipped into them.
Pour batter onto the prepared pan, gently using a spatula to evenly distribute the batter.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cake is spongey and bounces back when touched.
While it’s baking, lay out a flour sack or kitchen towel on the counter and sprinkle it with a layer of powdered sugar. Tip: I like to use my flour sifter(aff link) so that it’s a relatively even layer and I don’t miss any spots!
Let the cake cool for a minute on the baking sheet, then carefully turn it out onto the towel and remove the parchment paper from the bottom.
Starting from one of the short ends, roll the cake up (rolling the towel with it as you go). Lay the wrapped cake seam side down and let cool completely.
Chocolate ganache frosting:
While the cake is baking, make the ganache. In a small heatproof bowl, combine chocolate, butter, vanilla and salt.
In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream over low heat until you see the edges start to bubble. Remove from heat and pour over the bowl of chocolate mixture. Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir until completely combined and smooth. Set aside to cool (or place in the fridge until you’re ready to use it – you’ll just need to give it a stir once you take it out before you can frost the cake).
Whipped cream filling:
In the large bowl of a stand mixer, whip heavy cream until soft peaks form.
Add powdered sugar (to taste) and vanilla and whip until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
Assemble the cake roll:
Once the cake is completely cooled, carefully unroll it. Using a spatula, add an even layer of the whipped cream filling to the top of the cake, leaving about 1/2″ of space on the edges.
Gently re-roll the cake and then move it, seam side down, to a serving platter.
Use a spatula to coat the outside of the roll with the chocolate ganache frosting, on all sides.
Time to make it look like a log! Here are a few suggestions:
– Use a fork to drag lines down the ends and across the top, lengthwise.
– Use a toothpick or skewer to draw lines lengthwise across the top, and in spirals on the ends.
– Use a small spatula to give it some wavy texture.
Let set, then garnish! My personal favorite is to top it with fresh cranberries and rosemary sprigs, then a coating of powdered sugar. Slice, serve and enjoy!
Outstanding flavor! My friend brought it for dessert, it was the best I have had. We usually buy professionally baked Yule logs but not anymore!
Saturday 2nd of January 2021
That's amazing to hear!
Friday 1st of January 2021
Great. Easy to follow recipe that my tween daughters were able to follow and make. My whole family loved it. Served 10 people nicely. We made one addition that was a big success. We smashed 12 ounces of fresh raspberries into the whipped cream and decorated the outside with fresh raspberries. Everyone very impressed!
Thursday 31st of December 2020
This was my first time making a log cake and it was definitely much easier than I anticipated! The instructions were clear, easy to follow, and it turned out beautifully. Will definitely be adding this to my holiday baking list every year!
Wednesday 30th of December 2020
Easy to follow and prepare. Got it right the first time :) Thanks for the recipe!
Thursday 31st of December 2020
That's so great to hear!
Wednesday 30th of December 2020
This was easy to make for a first timer and wasn’t a piece left! Great instructions so hard to fail if you follow them. I did not use coffee and spread a little strawberry jam down first then the filling