This French Bûche de Noël, or Christmas Yule Log Cake, as you may know, is a decadent show-stopper for your dessert table. Chocolate sponge, Chocolate hazelnut spread and sweetened cream come together to create perfection.
There is nothing more Festive in Europe than enjoying a Buche de Noël at Christmas time. Not only does it look spectacular, but it also tastes supreme, decadent and delicious.
The chocolate log roll cake is made using my popular recipe from my Chocolate Swiss Roll Cake. Today's recipe though is filled with a layer of Nutella and sweetened cream and then rolled.
Decorated in chocolate whipped cream and chocolate shards that look like bark, this yule log recipe is not as complicated as you may think to make. I'll take you through each component step-by step with plenty of tips and images so that you have no problem making this in your own home.
❓ What is a Bûche De Noël?
The origin of Bûche de Noël refers to pagan rituals where households burned a large log that had been blessed during solstice (the longest day in winter). The log had to burn until Christmas morning, so the size and type of wood mattered!
As households became smaller and large fireplaces became less common, the wood morphed into cakes shaped like logs. These cakes, also known as Yule Logs, are most popular in France and served after a big Christmas feast.
Traditionally, Bûche de Noël cakes are made with a flat rectangular sponge pliable enough to roll with chocolate or coffee buttercream. Once rolled, it's covered with more buttercream, and the tines of a fork scraped through the cream to make the ridges of the bark.
Often the logs are decorated with holly, meringue mushrooms and edible pistachio crumb 'moss'. The overall effect is beautiful and eye-catching.
🌟 Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Uses basic ingredients. All the ingredients are basic pantry or fridge staples.
- This Bûche de Noël can be easily customised in a variety of ways. Truly make it your own.
- Simple to make. When broken down into three components, each of them separately is not hard to make. Follow along my instructions to succeed.
- Chocolatey delight. The chocolate and hazelnut pairing is fantastic. If you love Nutella, then you'll love the flavours from this recipe.
🧾 Ingredients Needed
This is the best yule log recipe because the ingredients are all pretty standard ingredients you may already have or can be easily bought at the store. I've included a couple of notes regarding some ingredients that are worth reading.
For the Chocolate Sponge
- Eggs - provide structure and, more importantly, moisture to the sponge. Make sure to whip them for the required time.
- Sugar - to sweeten the cake roll. Granulated or caster sugar works great.
- Plain flour - To provide structure. Weigh the flour, so you don’t add too much, which will cause a dry sponge to crack.
- Cocoa powder - use Dutch or natural cocoa powder in this recipe.
- Espresso powder - just a little goes a long way. It helps intensify the chocolate flavour, but you won’t taste the coffee.
- Baking powder - adds a little additional lift to the sponge.
Chocolate Cream and Decoration
To make the chocolate cream, we use the same ingredients as my Creme Chantilly Cream spiked with liquor and then cocoa powder added to a portion.
- Cream - It's best to use a cream with a high percentage of butter fat. In the UK, that’s double cream or whipping cream. In the US, that’s heavy cream with 40% butter fat or heavy whipping cream with 30-35% butter fat. Don’t go any lower than 30%, for example, by using a single cream. Refrigerate the cream until just before pouring it into the bowl to whip.
- Cocoa powder - use Dutch or natural cocoa powder in this recipe.
- Hazelnut Liquor - optional but helps build on the chocolate hazelnut taste we are after. Frangelico, Chambord or Amarula and liquor brands I go for.
- Chocolate Hazelnut Spread - Nutella is by far the better-known brand, but you may prefer another brand. If it's pretty stiff, microwave it for ten seconds or so to loosen it and make it easier to spread.
- Chocolate Buttercream: Buttercream will dry out to form a crus, which might be preferable if you need a sturdier cream as you are transporting your log, for example.
- Ditch the chocolate shards and go for fork-drawn bark. Use the ganache from my chocolate swiss roll recipe and wait for it to cool enough to whip until light and fluffy. Then smooth the outside and use the fork to draw the bark marks.
- Switch up the flavour to chocolate orange or chocolate mint: Instead of hazelnut, add orange zest to the sponge and orange extract into the cream. Or add peppermint extract into the cream and sprinkle crushed candy cakes all over the outside.
- Different decorating ideas: I let the chocolate shards shine, but you can also decorate the Christmas log cake with sugared cranberries, rosemary, and meringue mushrooms.
👩🏻🍳 How to Make a Yule Log Cake
Split into 3 components: the sponge cake; the whipped cream, sweetened and chocolate cream ; and lastly the chocolate bark.
Read below as I take you through each step with tips thrown in and plenty of process photos so that you can master the techniques at home.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
Make the Chocolate Sponge
STEP 1. Prepare your pan - grease with butter the base and sides of your baking pan and line with parchment paper. The paper should overhang the side, so it’s easier to remove the sponge from the tray later.
Grease the parchment paper, as I find this will help with peeling off the paper before rolling the sponge. (Image 1)
STEP 2. Whisk the eggs and sugar. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add eggs, sugar and vanilla extract and whip for a good 4 minutes until they are pale and thick (Image 2). Add in the oil and whisk until mixed.
TIP: When you lift the whisk up, you should be able to see the trail of mixture for a couple of seconds.
STEP 3. Sift dry ingredients and add. Into a separate bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder and salt.
Add dry ingredients to whipped eggs. Add ¼ of the flour mix onto the whipped eggs and fold through gently (Image 3). Next, sift the remaining dry ingredients evenly over the eggs (Image 4). (This will stop the flour mix from sinking to the bottom of the bowl.
Using a rubber spatula, fold the ingredients together, ensuring that you get right to the bottom of the bowl, rotating the bowl as you go. There should be no dry bits remaining, but you don’t want to over-mix and knock out all the air from your whipped eggs.
STEP 4. Pour batter into the baking pan. Pour the batter into the prepared pan (Image 5) and wiggle/turn the pan to move the batter to the pan's corners. (Image 6) Use an offset spatula if needed. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes until the centre springs back.
Be careful not to overbake the sponge; otherwise, you may get cracks when rolling the cake roll later.
STEP 5. Prepare your tea towel. While baking the sponge, sift cocoa powder onto a tea towel or sheet of parchment paper laid flat on the work surface. (Image 7) The cocoa powder needs to cover a slightly larger surface area than the pan the sponge is baking in.
STEP 6. Invert the sponge onto the tea towel and roll it up. Once the sponge has baked, remove it from the oven and leave it to cool in the pan for ten minutes. This allows the steam to dissipate before being trapped in the roll, which then causes the sponge to stick to the tea total or paper.
Then invert it onto the cocoa powder-prepared tea towel (Image 8), and gently peel off the backing paper (Image 9). Tuck over the excess material from the short end and roll the sponge within the tea towel (Image 10). Set to one side to cool completely
Make the Whipped Cream
Whilst the sponge is baking, or at the very least, cooling, it's an excellent chance to make the whipped cream for the filling and the chocolate cream for the outside of the bûche noel.
STEP 7. Whisk the cream. Add the cream into a stand mixer bowl and whisk until soft peaks form (Image 11). Add the icing sugar, vanilla bean paste, and hazelnut liquor and whisk until firm peaks form (Image 12).
STEP 8. Make the chocolate cream. Remove half of the sweetened whipped cream from the bowl and set aside. This is the filling for the cake roll.
Sift the cocoa powder into the remaining whipped cream (Image 13). Fold through with a spoon until combined. The chocolate cream is now ready for the outside of the roll. Cover and refrigerate both creams (Image 14).
Fill and Roll the Cake
STEP 9. Fill the roll with chocolate hazelnut spread. If the hazelnut spread is quite solid due to it being cold- microwave it for ten seconds or so to loosen it up to a more spreadable consistency. Unroll the sponge and spread it over evenly (Image 11).
STEP 10. Spread over cream and re-roll. Dollop the firmly whipped cream over the chocolate spread, and with an offset spatular, spread to an even layer over the sponge (Image 12).
From the shortened, re-roll the sponge back up, taking care not to squeeze the filling out and wrap it in baking paper and plastic wrap to keep the roll secure (Images 13 & 14). Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours. Longer if you have the time.
Make the Chocolate Bark
I took great inspiration from my friend and baker extraordinaire, Thida Bevington and her yule log that she made last year. She shared this chocolate bark effect on Instagram and I thought it was genius!!
Not only does it look fantastic, but it is SO easy to do. Thank you, Thida - I always learn so much from you!
STEP 11. Melt the chocolate and refrigerate. Melt the finely chopped chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of boiling water, stirring until fully melted.
Then spread chocolate thinly and evenly over a piece of parchment paper the same width or slightly bigger than the cake roll.
Place another piece of parchment over the top and then roll the two tightly together into a tube. I wrapped this in plastic wrap so that it wouldn't un-roll. Refrigerate until the chocolate is solid.
STEP 12. Make the chocolate shards. Once the chocolate is completely cool, unroll the baking paper. You'll hear the chocolate cracking as the paper unfurls and flattens. Remove the top layer of paper, and you'll have loads of chocolate shards. If any are still too big, then break them up further.
STEP 13. Decorate the cake roll. This is the best part. Unwrap the cake roll and place on your serving platter. Smother the roll all over with the chocolate whipped cream. The cream must be at the firm peak stage; otherwise, it won't hold its shape.
Then place the chocolate bark shards all over the top and sides. Leave the two ends free. The chocolate can overlap and be irregular- just like a real tree bark would be.
Sprinkle the finely chopped nuts all over, ensuring they get into all the cracks of the bark. Sprinkle the remainder around the base of the Bûche de Noël. Then dust simply with icing sugar, add a sprig of holly and your Yule log is complete!
🥣 How To Serve
Now that you've come to the end of this masterpiece, you can see that it's actually an easy yule log recipe to achieve. Once made, pop the final cake in the fridge until ready to serve after your Christmas meal.
It pairs beautifully with an espresso or sweet dessert wine. Use a sharp, heated knife to slice through. Wipe clean and warm in hot water before making the next slice. This ensures beautiful neat slices.
💭 Recipe Pro Tips
- Weigh out the flour and cocoa powder with digital scales. It's far more accurate than my measuring with cups.
- Don’t overbake the sponge. If you do, you’ll most likely develop cracks.
- Let the sponge sit for ten minutes or so before rolling. Hot out-of-the-oven cake creates steam which traps inside the tea towel when rolled. It'll stick all over the towel!
- The cream has to be whisked until firm peaks. If it's under-whipped, it'll be too sloppy and squeeze out all over the place when you roll it.
- Refrigerate the roll before topping it with the ganache. This allows the cream to be set in place and keeps the roll together.
📋 Recipe FAQs
This is a great make ahead cake. You can either make all the components ahead of time, ie make the sponge and roll it up to cool, make the creams and refrigerate and make the chocolate shards.
Alternatively, make the whole cake the day before serving and refrigerate. Cover it loosely in plastic wrap and it will last well. Take it out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.
Essentially yes! The interior of both will look the same, a flat sponge rolled with a type of cream. Its the outside that will look different. A Yule Log is decorated to look like a log, whereas Swiss Roll cakes are simply decorated in ganache, cream or fruit.
The best way to eat this classic French cake is to slice it and serve it after your main meal. It is a rich and decadent cake, so a thick slice goes a long way.
❄️ Storage and Freezer Instructions
To store: Chocolate Swiss Roll Cake can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
To freeze: Unfilled and rolled sponge can be wrapped in plastic wrap and then foil and frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and allow to come to room temperature before filling and continuing with the recipe instructions.
🎄 More Christmas Recipes
If you tried this Bûche de Noël recipe or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the comments below. I love hearing from you!
Chocolate Hazelnut Bûche de Noël Recipe
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 100 g caster sugar (super-fine)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 85 g plain flour (all-purpose)
- 20 g cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
Sweetened Whipped Cream
- 480 ml double cream (heavy cream), cold
- 45 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)
- 10 g cocoa powder
- 210 g chocolate hazelnut spread
- 100 g dark chocolate 70% , finely chopped
- 35 g whole hazelnuts, toasted, optional
- Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F)Prepare your pan. Grease with butter or spray with non-stick spray the base and sides of a 25x38cm (10x15-inch) baking pan /swiss roll pan/jelly roll pan. Line the pan with parchment paper, ensuring the paper overhangs the pan's sides. This will help you later when trying to remove the sponge from the tin. Grease the parchment paper with butter, as this will help with peeling the paper off once the sponge has baked.
- Whip the eggs & sugar. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract and whip until the mixture is light and creamy, about 4 minutes. When lifting out the whisk, you want to be able to see trails of the mixture for a few seconds. Add in the oil and whisk in.
- Sift dry ingredients. Into a separate bowl, sift in the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients to whipped eggs. Sift ¼ of the flour mixture into the whisked eggs and, using a metal spoon or rubber spatula, gently fold through until just combined. Sift in the remaining flour mixture and again fold through whilst rotating the bowl. Ensure that you scrape right to the bottom of the bowl where flour air pockets can remain. Try not to over mix/fold, as this will deflate the lovely air created during the initial whisking of the eggs.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and shake/wiggle the pan to help guide the batter into the pan's corners. Use an offset spatula if necessary to help smooth out the batter.Bake in the oven for 7-9 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean and springs back when pressed lightly.
- Prepare your tea towel. Whilst the sponge is baking, lay a tea towel or piece of parchment paper on your work surface and dust lightly with cocoa powder. (Alternatively, sprinkle with caster sugar or dust with powdered icing sugar)
- Invert the sponge onto the tea towel. Once the sponge has baked, remove it from the oven and set aside to cool for ten minutes. Then invert the sponge onto the tea towel. Peel off the parchment paper. Gently peel off the parchment paper on the bottom of the sponge. Roll sponge up. Starting from the sponge's short end, using your hands, roll the sponge up gently but firmly until it is totally rolled into the tea towel (or parchment paper). Set the roll aside with its seam side down to cool completely.
- Whilst the sponge roll is cooling, make the sweetened whipped cream.Whisk the cream. Add the cream into a bowl of a stand mixer and whisk until soft peaks form. Add the icing sugar, vanilla bean paste, and hazelnut liquor and whisk until firm peaks form.
- Make the chocolate cream. Remove half of the sweetened whipped cream from the bowl and set aside. This is the filling for the cake roll. Sift in the cocoa powder into the remaining whipped cream. Fold through with a spoon until combined. The chocolate cream is now ready for the outside of the roll. Cover and refrigerate both creams .
Fill andRoll the Cake
- Fill roll with chocolate hazelnut spread. If the hazelnut spread is quite solid due to it being cold- microwave it for ten seconds or so to loosen it up to a more spreadable consistency. Unroll the sponge and spread over evenly
- Spread over cream and re-roll. Dollop the firmly whipped cream over the chocolate spread and with an offset spatular, spread to an even layer over the sponge. From the shortened, re-roll the sponge back up taking care not to squeeze the filling out and wrap in baking paper and plastic wrap to keep the roll secure. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours. Longer if you have the time.
Make the Chocolate Bark
- Melt the chocolate and refrigerate. Melt the finely chopped chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of boiling water, stirring until fully melted. Then spread chocolate thinly and evenly over a piece of parchment paper the same width, or slightly bigger than the cake roll.Place another piece of parchment over the top and then roll the two tightly together into a tube. I wrapped this in plastic wrap so that it wouldn't un-roll. Refrigerate until the chocolate is solid.
- Make the chocolate shards. Once the chocolate is completely cool, unroll the baking paper. You'll hear the chocolate cracking as the paper unfurls and flattens. Remove the top layer of paper and you'll have loads of chocolate shards. If any are still too big then break them up further.
- Decorate the cake roll. Unwrap the cake roll and place on your serving platter. Smother the roll all over with the chocolate whipped cream. The cream must be at the firm peak stage otherwise it won't hold its shape.Then place the chocolate bark shards all over the top and sides. Leave the two ends free. The chocolate can overlap and be irregular- just like a real tree bark would be. Sprinkle the finely chopped nuts all over making sure they get into all the cracks of the bark. Sprinkle the remainder around the base of the Bûche de Noël. Then dust simply with icing sugar, add a sprig of holly and your Yule log is complete! Refrigerate until ready to serve.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.