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Yule Log (Buche de Noel)

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This festive Yule Log, a traditional rolled, flourless Christmas cake, is filled with luscious whipped cream and adorned with bark-like etchings of decadent chocolate buttercream frosting. The simple-to-create meringue mushrooms add a charming touch, bringing this woodland cake to life.

Top view of Yule Log cake with meringue mushrooms and sugared cranberries and rosemary on a white oval platter.

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While there are a few steps to making this delicious Christmas cake, each is rather easy and oh-so-satisfying.

So turn up the holiday music and put on a simmer pot because Christmas is coming to your kitchen!

What I Love About This Yule Log

  • Delicious: This rich but light chocolate cake is much like a sponge cake and contains no flour, making it a nice gluten-free option!
  • Festive: Presenting a Yule Log at Christmas is like ushering in the season with flair!
  • Dessert centerpiece: Whether serving as the main dessert on Christmas Day or on the Christmas Eve dessert table, it is a beautiful holiday centerpiece.
1892 vintage image of Christmas Eve Yule log dragging across the snow.

Yule Log Traditions

While sources trace the Yule log to Celtic traditions, the Yule Log cake is believed to have originated in 19th-century France and is called “Bûche de Noël.”

Early customs associated with the Yule log are centered around winter celebrations that most commonly included a hearty feast, revelry that included wassailing and carols, and burning a Yule log for warmth.

Later, in the 4th century British Isles, customs of celebrating the birth of Christ included a Christmas feast day, set on December 25th, using lights and candles to light the night. The burning of a Yule log then became a tradition where families would bring in a large trunk of a Yule tree and burn it through the 12 Days of Christmas— From Christmas Day through the evening of January 5th, or Twelfth Night.

Today, traditions of a Christmas Yule log remain. For some, it is a log burning brightly in a Christmas Eve fireplace. For others, it is a log-shaped chocolate cake enjoyed as a Christmas dessert.

With years of French language learning, I became enamored with Bûche de Noël early in life. And for me, when you combine chocolate cake and Christmas and my love of all things French, it stands to reason it became one of my favorite holiday traditions.

Side, top view of decorated Yule Log with meringue mushrooms, chocolate buttercream frosting and sugared cranberries and rosemary on a white oval platter.

Yule Log Ingredients

Eggs: Use large eggs and separate the yolks and whites. Egg whites are easiest to whip when at room temperature.

Cre​​am of tartar: This ingredient is very important to the cake as it helps to stabilize the egg whites both in the cake and the meringue mushrooms.

Unsweetened cocoa powder: I’m using natural 100% cocoa powder, but Dutch-processed cocoa works well too.

Heavy cream: For the cream filling, it’s important to use heavy cream with a fat content above 35%. The higher the fat content, the thicker the filling will be. When whipping the cream, be sure it’s cold for the highest volume.

Butter: You can use either salted or unsalted butter. When making the buttercream frosting, be sure it is softened to room temperature for easy beating.

Powdered sugar: This sweetener is used in the cake, and the filling, and the buttercream frosting.

How to Make a Yule Log

Here are the steps to making a delicious Christmas Yule Log cake. I’ve also included steps for making meringue mushrooms, which are surprisingly easy and fun. However, you can skip this step and move directly to cake-making.

Meringue Mushrooms

I like to make these meringue mushrooms ahead of time and store them in an airtight container until I make the cake. But I’ve also made them while the cake was chilling as well.

Preheat the oven to 275℉ and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Then combine the meringue ingredients and beat until stiff and glossy. Fit a pastry bag with a round tip and pipe 12 stems and 12 mushroom caps. Bake for 45 minutes, or until they are dry, and let them cool completely before dipping caps into melted chocolate and adhering to the stems.

Yule Log Cake

Preheat the oven to 350℉. Grease or line a 10 1/2 by 15 1/2 by 1-inch baking sheet (or jelly roll pan) with parchment.

Beat the egg yolks until thick and light with a mixer. In a separate bowl, sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder together. While mixing, gradually add to the egg yolk mixture.

In another large bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until frothy, and then add the cream of tartar and salt and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold the 1/2 of the egg whites into the batter until mixed in. Then, carefully fold in the remaining egg whites until combined.

Spread the batter evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the center of the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched.

While the cake is baking, place a clean dish towel on the counter and generously sift powdered sugar over the top. Remove the cake from the oven, immediately invert it onto the towel, and remove the parchment paper layer.

Start at the long end, and tightly roll the cake with the tea towel. Place seam side down to cool completely.

Cream Filling

While the cake is cooling, beat the heavy cream until thickened, and then add the sugar and vanilla and continue beating until stiff.

Unroll the cooled cake and spread the filling evening over the cake, leaving a 1-inch border. Roll the cake again using the towel, starting from the same long end. Remove any excess filling from the seams or ends and place the cake seam-side down on a tray. Chill the cake until firm.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Cream butter and salt until smooth. Add the cocoa powdered and continue beating until combined. Then, mix in the powdered sugar and vanilla. With the mixer running, slowly stream in heavy cream until the frosting is fluffy and spreadable.

Assembling the Christmas Cake

Remove the chilled cake and place on a platter. Slice off the cake ends for a neat edge, and then diagonally cut a section of cake 2-3 inches from the end. This section will be a branch. Add the branch to the side of the cake, facing outward. Use frosting to adhere the branch to the cake.

Spread the remaining frosting over the cake roll, leaving the ends exposed. Run fork tines through the frosting to create lines resembling bark. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, decorate the log with meringue mushrooms. You can also add sugared cranberries for color and sugared fresh rosemary for a woodland texture—dust lightly with powdered sugar before serving.

Top view of Yule Log cake with meringue mushrooms and sugared cranberries and rosemary on a white oval platter.

Sugared Cranberries and Rosemary

Make a simple syrup using equal parts water and sugar. Bring a boil and simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Let it cool completely before dipping fresh cranberries and rosemary into the syrup.

Set on a plate or parchment to dry and become sticky. Then roll and dip in granulated sugar.

How to Store Leftover Yule Log

Insert toothpicks into the unsliced cake and loosely cover it with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator up for up 3 days. If you have leftover unsliced Yule log, stick a few toothpicks across the cake. The toothpicks keep the plastic wrap from clinging onto the cake.

Can You Freeze This Christmas Cake?

Absolutely! ​​Place the undecorated Yule log cake on a parchment-lined baking sheet and flash freeze until completely frozen. Then, first wrap in plastic tightly, followed by a layer of foil and freeze for up to 3 months. For serving, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and decorate as desired. The meringue mushrooms can only be stored at room temperature.

More Christmas Ideas You May Enjoy

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Top view of Christmas Yule Log on a white oval serving platter dusted with powdered sugar.
Horizontal top view of Chocolate Yule Log cake with meringue mushrooms and sugared cranberries and rosemary on a white platter.

Yule Log Cake (Buche de Noel)

This festive Yule Log is a flourless Christmas cake filled with luscious cream and adorned with bark-like etchings of decadent buttercream frosting.
5 from 3 votes
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Prep Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 52 minutes
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients 

Meringue Mushrooms

  • 2 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 2 ounces chocolate (dark, milk, or semi-sweet) melted

Yule Log Cake

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 6 large egg whites at room temperature
  • dash of cream of tartar
  • dash of salt

Filling

  • 1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 1/4 cup butter softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Instructions

Meringue Mushrooms

  • These simple meringue mushrooms are easy to make ahead. Preheat the oven to 275℉ and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Beat the room-temperature egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar using a stand mixer or electric mixer until frothy and white. While the mixer runs, gradually sprinkle in the sugar and continue beating until stiff and glossy, about 5 minutes. Place meringue in a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip (about 3/8" round or a Wilton 2A tip).
  • On the prepared baking sheet, pipe 12 stems and 12 caps onto the parchment paper. Pipe the stems by squeezing the bag while slowly moving the tip up to form a column or stem. For the round mushroom tops, place tip 1/2 inch above parchment and squeeze until desired size. Remember, mushrooms are NOT perfect, so irregularities in stems and tops will make the Yule Log even more beautiful.
  • Bake for 45 minutes, or until the meringue is dry. Let cool completely and then dust lightly with cocoa powder. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Avoid storing in the refrigerator.
  • To assemble, use a sharp knife to remove any sharp points from the tops of stems if needed. Dip the flat mushroom top in melted chocolate and place on a stem. Turn upside down until set.

Yule Log Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350℉. Grease or line with parchment a 10 1/2 by 15 1/2 by 1-inch baking sheet (or jelly roll pan). If using parchment, lightly spray the paper with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  • In the bowl of a mixer or with an electric mixer, beat egg yolks until thick and light. In a separate bowl, sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder together. While mixing, gradually add to the egg yolk mixture.
  • Beat the egg whites until frothy, and then add the cream of tartar and salt. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
  • Fold the 1/2 of the egg whites into the batter until mixed in. Then, carefully fold in the remaining egg whites until combined.
  • Spread the batter evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the center of the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly touched.
  • While the cake is baking, place a clean dish towel on the counter and generously sift powdered sugar over the top. I like to use a fine mesh strainer. Remove the cake from the oven and immediately invert onto the towel, and pull off the parchment paper layer. Starting at the long end, tightly roll up the cake with the tea towel. Place seam side down to cool completely.

Cream Filling

  • While the cake is cooling, beat the heavy cream until thickened, and then add the sugar and vanilla. Continue beating until stiff.
  • Carefully unroll the cooled cake and spread the cream filling over the cake, leaving a 1-inch border. Using the towel, roll the cake again, starting from the same long end. Remove any excess filling from the seams or ends and place the cake seam-side down on a tray. Chill the cake until firm and you're ready to frost and decorate.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • Add butter and salt to a mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat until smooth and creamy. Add the cocoa powdered and continue to beat until combined. With the mixer running, beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla. With the mixer running, slowly stream in heavy cream, mixing until the frosting is fluffy and spreadable.

Assembling the Yule Log

  • Remove the chilled cake from the refrigerator and place on a serving platter. Slice and remove the ends of the cake for a neat edge, and then diagonally cut a section of cake 2-3 inches from the end. This section will be a branch. Add the branch to the side of the cake, facing outward. Use frosting to adhere the branch to the cake.
  • Spread the remaining frosting over the cake roll, leaving the ends exposed. Run fork tines through the frosting to create lines resembling bark. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • To serve, decorate the log with meringue mushrooms. You can also add sugared cranberries for color and sugared fresh rosemary for a woodland texture. Dust lightly with powdered sugar before serving.

Video

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Course: Christmas, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Yule Log Cake, Buche de Noel cake recipe

One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Love this recipe! I added “pinecones” made from marzipan and sliced almonds, berries made with marzipan and dried cherries, and the leaves are fresh bay leaves.

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