Classic Bûche de Noël

Bûche de Noël

Bring the beauty of the natural world to your table with this time-honored French holiday dessert. For another recipe, look to our Birch-Inspired Bûche de Noël

We developed a streamlined recipe to make the traditional Bûche de Noël process slightly less laborious (although you might still need to plan a weekend around it). See our pro tips for helpful tricks to make it even easier. For a twist on the classic, try our Bûche de Noël cookies in our November/December 2017 issue

4.3 from 3 reviews
Classic Bûche de Noël
Makes 8 servings
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • ¾ cup (94 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup (25 grams) Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) kosher salt
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • ¼ cup (56 grams) vegetable oil
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  • Vanilla Bean Filling (recipe follows)
  • Whipped Ganache Frosting (recipe follows)
  • Meringue Mushrooms (recipe follow)
  • Sugared Rosemary (recipe follows)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 17½x12½ jelly-roll pan with baking spray with flour. Line pan with parchment paper, and spray pan again.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat eggs and granulated sugar at high speed until thick and pale, 5 to 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla bean paste. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Gently fold flour mixture into egg mixture. In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream and oil. Fold sour cream mixture into egg mixture, scraping bottom of bowl to fully incorporate. Spread batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with an offset spatula.
  3. Bake until cake is set and top springs back when touched, 10 to 12 minutes. Immediately run a sharp knife around edges of pan to loosen cake. Turn out cake onto a tea towel lightly dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Remove parchment paper, and dust cake with additional confectioners’ sugar. Roll up cake lengthwise in towel. Let cool completely.
  4. Carefully unroll cake, and spread with Vanilla Bean Filling. Reroll cake without towel, and place seam side down on a large serving platter. Cover and refrigerate until ready to frost cake, up to 4 hours before serving. Trim 3 to 4 inches off one end of cake diagonally. Place cut section at an angle off side of the cake, and attach with Whipped Ganache Frosting. Spread remaining frosting all over cake. Using a fork, make a bark-like pattern all over cake. Decorate with Meringue Mushrooms, Sugared Rosemary, and confectioners’ sugar “snow” as desired. Serve immediately.
Pro Tip: Be creative with your Bûche de Noël. It can be assembled with one limb on the side or with two limbs (one on the side and top). Simply cut the 3 to 4 inch piece of cake in half to form top. Ganache may be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated. Remove from refrigerator, and let stand at room temperature for 45 minutes to 2 hours before beating.

4.3 from 3 reviews
Vanilla Bean Filling
Makes about 4 cups
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • ⅔ cup (80 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla bean seeds at medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes.

4.3 from 3 reviews
Whipped Ganache Frosting
Makes about 2 cups
  • 4 (4-ounce) bars (460 grams) high-quality dark (60% to 65%) chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  1. Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream to just below a simmer over medium-high heat. Pour cream over chocolate; cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk together chocolate and cream until smooth. Let stand until ganache reaches room temperature, 45 minutes to 2 hours. (If necessary, refrigerate for 15 minutes.) Transfer ganache to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat at medium-high speed until a spreadable consistency is reached, 5 to 8 minutes.

4.3 from 3 reviews
Meringue Mushrooms
Makes about 48
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1¼ cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon (1 gram) cream of tartar
  • ½ cup (85 grams) semisweet chocolate morsels, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 225°F. Line 3 or 4 baking sheets with parchment paper, and dust lightly with cocoa.
  2. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a simmer over medium-high heat. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together egg whites, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar. Place bowl over pan of simmering water. Cook, whisking constantly, until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Return bowl to mixer; beat at high speed until stiff glossy peaks form, 5 to 8 minutes.
  3. Fit a large piping bag with a small, round tip; fill with meringue. Use half of meringue to pipe mushroom tops onto prepared pans. With remaining half, pipe stems using a vertical up-and-down motion. Dust lightly with cocoa.
  4. Bake mushroom tops and stems for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1½ hours. (Mushrooms might feel soft when they come out of the oven, but they will continue to crisp as they cool.)
  5. Once mushroom tops and stems are cool, use melted chocolate to attach stems to tops. Let mushrooms dry upside down for 30 minutes before using.

4.3 from 3 reviews
Sugared Rosemary
Makes 8 to 12 branches
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (424 grams) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 to 12 rosemary branches
  1. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup (200 grams) sugar and 1 cup water to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool for 10 minutes. Place remaining 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (224 grams) sugar in a shallow dish. Dip each rosemary branch in simple syrup; roll in sugar. Let dry for 5 minutes before using.


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    • Hi Debbie! Before the ganache set, we used the tines of a fork to make strokes and marks on the surface to make it look like tree bark.

  1. Hi I am making this now. This is to be served tomorrow for a large family gathering. I was going to complete tonight and place in fridge so I am not rushing to make it tomorrow. I see your instructions state serve immediately.

    Can you advise how I can make this tonight without cause for concern? Sorry I am new at baking

    • Hi Anne Marie, the frosted cake should be fine in the refrigerator overnight, though the texture will change slightly, but we recommend you wait until the day you will serve to make the Meringue Mushrooms and add any garnish of confectioners’ sugar. The Meringue Mushrooms lose their crispness if attached to the cake too long before serving, and the confectioners’ sugar will look fresher if dusted over top at the last minute. You will also want to take the cake out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes to an hour before serving to let it come to room temperature.

    • Hi, thank you for checking in. It’s best to use the Dutch process cocoa powder the recipe calls for. You could substitute the Dutch process cocoa powder for high quality cocoa powder, but it will probably throw off the taste and texture of the cake. For Dutch process cocoa powder, the cocoa beans that make the powder are washed in an alkaline solution to neutralize their acidity. Because Dutch process cocoa powder isn’t acidic, it does not react with alkaline leaveners like baking soda, and is often paired with baking powder (like in this recipe.) If you can’t find Dutch process cocoa powder at a store near you, you can easily order it online. Let us know if you have any more questions!

  2. I made this for Christmas 2016 and it was fabulous. Is a keeper in our house and am again making it today for 2017 Christmas. It dawned on me after last year that I may be rolling it the wrong way as it was very long and hard to store in the fridge last year. is it to be rolled from the short end forward or long side forward? The pumpkin log with the orange blossom water in the september/october issue was rolled from the short end and much more manageable. Thank you for your response in advance,

    • Hey Linda,

      In our recipe, we advise our readers to roll the cake lengthwise, which means from the long-end, not the sorter end. It gives you more cake length to work with when make your log (and it’s extra short stump, if you choose). You might run out of filling if you do it from the short end, creating a larger spiral that might lead to cracking your cake roll with the weight. Let us know if you have any trouble rolling your cake for the yule log. Note, that is it’s too long for your liking, you can always shave off however many inches you chose to create a mini log or a stump appendage! Happy baking!

  3. I made this last year for Christmas. I made my meringues coffee flavor by adding 2 tsp instant espresso powder to the sugar. You can make them ahead but keep them in an airtight plastic bag or other container so they retain crispness. Meringue easily lasts 3 days this way. The cake was delicious and a huge hit. I would make this again.

  4. I have to say,…. I didn’t love this cake. The cake itself is chocolate-y, but somewhat dry. Both filling and ganache made way more than I needed to assemble this cake. The ganache kept getting seized up and unspreadable while decorating even though I wasn’t too slow. I had to reheat it several times which made it a lot more work than it really was. I have been making yule log for our Christmas dessert for years and I tried this recipe for a change this year, but I don’t think I’ll be making this one again in the future. Sorry!

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