It is time, mes amis, for that wonderful French dessert known as the Bûche de Noël—the yule log—a spectacular dessert served this time of year.
This chocolate-covered cake roll is designed to symbolize the bygone tradition of the yule log: a thick, hard hunk of wood specially chosen around Christmas to burn throughout the season. As such, the cake itself is meant to represent the warmth of the family hearth during Christmas-time.
Of course, if you live in France, you can easily slip into your neighborhood patisserie and grab one.
However, they’re quite easy to make. The only trick, however is this: you absolutely must use the exact baking pan called for—a 15x10x1-inch pan (which our grandmothers might have called a jelly-roll pan). Substitute a 13x9-inch cake pan, and you’ll be sorry: You’ll have a hard time releasing it from the pan, and it will be too thick to roll.
The only quandary, then, is how to decorate it. Meringue mushrooms are the classic decorations.
However, by the time I’ve made the cake, I’m generally ready to have some eggnog and not much interested in fussing with the meringues. (However, if it’s on your culinary bucket list, go for it with this detailed recipe.)
I, however, prefer to simply stuck a few pretty ornaments here and there on the log.
Here’s my recipe, adapted from the 2006 issue of Better Homes and Gardens “Celebrate the Seasons,” a craft and recipe annual for which I served as the food editor.
Bûche de Noël // Chocolate Yule Log
Makes 10 servings.
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Whipped Cream Filling (recipe follows)
Chocolate Ganache (recipe follows)
Meringue Mushrooms (optional)
1. Separate the eggs and allow them to come to room temperature (20 minutes). Line a 15 x 10 x 1-inch pan with parchment paper or grease and flour extremely well; set aside. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Beat egg yolks and vanilla with an electric mixer on high speed or until thick, about 5 minutes. Gradually add the 1/3 cup granulated sugar, beating on high speed until sugar is almost dissolved.
3. With thoroughly washed and dried beaters, beat the egg whites in a large bowl on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add the 1/2 cup granulated sugar, tablespoon by tablespoon, beating until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the egg yolk mixture. Sift the flour mixture over all, folding gently just until combined. Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan.
4. Bake for until cake springs back when lightly touched, 12 to 15 minutes. Immediately loosen edges of cake from pan and turn cake out onto a kitchen towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Remove the parchment paper. Roll up towel and cake into a spiral, starting from one of the cakes short sides. Cool on a wire rack.
5. When cake is cool, unroll; remove the towel and spread with Whipped Cream Filling. Re-roll cake; refrigerate up to 1 hour.
6. About 30 minutes before serving, spread the cake with the Chocolate Ganache. Place the cake roll in the refrigerator to set. With the tines of a fork, make a pattern in the icing to resemble the bark. Decorate with Meringue Mushrooms or Christmas decorations, if desired.
Whipped Cream Filling: Beat 1 cup heavy whipping cream, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a chilled mixing bowl until soft peaks form.
Chocolate Ganache: Place 6 ounces chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream to boil in a small saucepan. Pour hot cream over chocolate in bowl; do not stir. Allow to stand for five minutes. Stir until smooth. Let cool about 45 minutes before using to bring to spreading consistency.
Wini Moranville is the author of The Bonne Femme Cookbook: Simple, Splendid Food That French Women Cook Every Day. Follow Wini on Facebook at Chez Bonne Femme, or on her blog at chezbonnefemme.com.
I am pleased as punch to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Tours, which are 3-hour walking tours I will personally be leading. The Eye Prefer Paris Tour includes many of the places I have written about such as small museums & galleries, restaurants, cafes & food markets, secret addresses, fashion & home boutiques, parks, and much more.
Tours cost 210 euros for up to 3 people, and 70 euros for each additional person. I look forward to meeting you on my tours and it will be my pleasure and delight to show you my insiders Paris.
Check it out at www.eyepreferparistours.com
Click here to watch a video of our famous Marais tour
New! Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes
I am happy to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes. Come take an ethnic culinary journey with me and chef and caterer Charlotte Puckette, co-author of the bestseller The Ethnic Paris Cookbook (with Olivia Kiang-Snaije). First we will shop at a Paris green-market for the freshest ingredients and then return to Charlotte's professional kitchen near the Eiffel Tower to cook a three-course lunch. After, we will indulge in the delicious feast we prepared along with hand-selected wines.
Cost: 185 euros per person (about $240)
Time: 9:30AM- 2PM (approximately 4 1/2 hours)
Location: We will meet by a metro station close to the market
Class days: Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday,Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Minimum of 2 students, maximum 6 students.
Click here to sign up for the next class or for more info.
I am happy to announce the sale of a new set of prints of my Eye Prefer Paris Photos. I am offering 20 of my most popular and iconic images for sale including my doors, architectural details, statues, and monuments. They will make great gifts for all your Francophile friends, relatives, and colleagues but don't forget to buy some for yourself.
Click here to see photos and for full details including sizes, prices, and shipping. Here is a sample of some of the photos.