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How to Make a Bûche de Noël

A Bûche de Noël is a traditional Christmas cake in the shape of a log that is served for dessert around Christmas time in countries such as France, Belgium, and Switzerland. The tradition dates back to the 19th century when families would burn a yule log in their homes starting on Christmas Eve. Some say the log was cut from the bottom of the Christmas tree, and others say it had to be big enough to burn for twelve whole days, up until Epiphany. The burning of the log symbolized the new year to come, and it was believed to bring good luck.


An annual family tradition of ours, prior to this year, was that the children would prepare this specialty cake with their father and then bring the cake to school right before the holiday break to share with their peers. My husband had done the same with his father as a young boy in France, and it was important to him that he carried the tradition over with his own children. This year may have posed its challenges and robbed many social opportunities and traditions from us, but it would not take away our tradition of making a Bûche de Noël together, as a family.


Rather than the children taking the cake to school due to the new Covid restrictions, or even having it as a celebratory dessert on Christmas Day, we served ours on New Year's Day. After all, this was the log that was to symbolize good luck in the new year.



Our version of the yule log is a gluten-free one that consists of vanilla sponge cake, chocolate ganache, and a chocolate glaçage. We chose to decorate ours with sprigs of faux holly and berries, as well as, you guessed it, a red cardinal! If you choose to become exceptionally creative, you can create mushrooms out of meringues and sprinkle powdered sugar over the top of the log to appear as snow. We'd love to see your creations!



Bûche de Noël


Sponge Cake


Ingredients


9 Eggs

3/4 C Flour (*we used gluten-free flour)

2/3 C Sugar


Equipment & Utensils


Hand Mixer

Large Pastry Knife

12" x 16" Sheet Pan

Parchment Paper


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Prepare all of your ingredients. First, sift the flour and put it aside. Next, separate 9 egg yolks from their whites. Keep all nine of the egg yolks and five of the whites. Reserve aside. Put 1/4 C of the sugar aside.

  3. Mix 5 of the egg whites together with 1/4 C of sugar. We like to use a hand mixer, as it takes many turns until you get the right consistency - which should be firm, but not overly so.

  4. Slowly add the egg yolks to the egg white mixture, one by one, by taking a spin to the bowl at the same time. We are attempting to keep the airy consistency of the egg whites.

  5. Next, slowly incorporate the flour, by making the same turns of the bowl, maintaining a light and airy consistency.

  6. Line a 12" x 16" sheet pan with parchment paper. We additionally like to grease the edges and corners to ensure the cake does not stick to the pan.

  7. Pour the batter into the pan, while maintaining the same layer of thickness all around. We like to use a large pastry knife to spread the batter evenly.



8. Bake the sponge cake for 5-6 minutes at 400 degrees.

9. Once the cake is out of the oven, let it cool for just a few minutes prior to flipping the cake out of the pan and onto a cooling rack.


Chocolate Ganache


Ingredients


8 oz. Milk Chocolate

8 oz. Heavy Whipping Cream


Equipment & Utensils


Sauce Pan

Butcher's Knife

Two Mixing Bowls

A Whisk

  1. Chop the chocolate thinly into small pieces. Put it into a bowl and set aside.

  2. In a pan, heat 1/2 of the cream over the stovetop, but do not bring to a boil.

  3. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for five minutes. Be sure it is fully melted.

  4. Place the other half of the cream into a very cold fridge, or into the freezer for 10 minutes.

  5. At the same time, place a mixing bowl into the freezer for also 10 minutes.

  6. Take the cold cream out of the freezer and whip it into the cold bowl until it becomes a thicker consistency, but not tough.

  7. Now, fold the warm chocolate mixture, which is room temperature at this point, into the lightly whipped cream.

  8. The ideal texture should be light and creamy. It should look and feel like chocolate whipped cream.


Chocolate Glaçage


Ingredients


4 oz. Heavy Whipping Cream

6 oz. Dark Chocolate (75% Cocoa)

1 oz. Butter

1 oz. Simple Syrup


Equipment & Utensils


Sauce Pan

Whisk

Bowl

  1. In a saucepan, heat the cream over the stovetop, but do not bring to a boil.

  2. Put the cream aside.

  3. Chop the dark chocolate thinly, as was done for the ganache.

  4. Cut the cold butter into cubes.

  5. Combine the chocolate, the cold butter, and the syrup into a bowl.

  6. Pour the warm cream over the chocolate, butter, and syrup.

  7. Let the ingredients sit for five minutes and then stir.

  8. Allow the mixture to cool down until it has the consistency of a smooth paste.


Rolling & Assembling the Bûche


Ingredients


Simple Syrup, Vanilla, Coffee, Caramel, or Alcohol such as Grand Marnier

Hot Water


Equipment & Utensils


Pastry Brush

Large Pastry Knife

Parchment Paper

Plastic Wrap

Fork

  1. Once the cake is entirely cooled, you are going to add moisture to it by brushing it with flavored simple syrup, or alcohol such as Grand Marnier, coffee, caramel, or vanilla extract, whichever flavor you prefer. (We chose simple syrup).



2. Next, you are going to place an even layer of the ganache with your pastry knife over the top of the sheet cake. The cream must be a firm consistency at this point.



3. Now, you are going to roll the cake with parchment paper. This is tricky, as it needs to be rolled tightly, yet you do not want to press the cake too hard at the same time, as the even layer of ganache will need to stay in its place.

4. Wrap the bûche in plastic wrap, tightly on each end, and place in the freezer.

5. Once the bûche is 'set' from the freezer, it is time to spread the glaçage. Once again, take your large pastry knife to achieve this.



6. Allow the cake to set and cool at room temperature for a few minutes.

7. To achieve the rustic look of a log, and to create a wood-like pattern as we do, use a fork. Dip it into hot water between strokes.



We hope you will enjoy the preparation as much as the tradition of serving a bûche de noël with your loved ones at home. We would love to see your creations.


Sending you all wishes for nothing but happiness, health & prosperity in the new year!


xx Amanda


#bûchedenoël #logcake #yulelog #spongecake #ganache #glacage #frenchtraditions #christmascake #christmastraditions #backcountrymercantile #fimaderutaforbackcountrymercantile

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