The Bûche de Noël (that's yule log to you
and me) is a classic holiday rolled cake that is decorated
to look like a log or branch. This cake is far simpler
than the traditional French génoise-and-ganache Bûche
de Noël. It features a moist, airy chocolate cake
with a light chocolate cream cheese filling inside and
a darker chocolate cream cheese icing outside. Perfect
even for a novice baker, this cake looks very
impressive, but it's actually easier than making a plain
old layer cake! Our step-by-step instructions and photos
make this cake a breeze!
The real fun is in the decorating. I skipped the traditional
(read: fussy) meringue mushrooms and made up some fun
chocolate "bark" and lemon leaf and sour candy
"holly." It looks terrific and it's a snap
(try it on any chocolate cake!). Use my suggestions,
or come up with your own fun ideas.
2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened
2 tbsp. brewed coffee
2 tbsp. Kahlua
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 of an 8-oz. block of cream
2 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1-oz square baking
- 1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 of an 8-oz. block of cream
2/3 cup chocolate chips
1 tbsp. Kahlua
bark and holly:
1 large (3 - 3.5 oz) chocolate
bar, milk, semisweet, or dark, plain or with
nuts or flavoring (I used dark chocolate)
1 tsp. butter
nuts, or sliced
almonds, for texture (optional)
3 fresh lemon, lime or other leathery edible leaves
3 small red candies
(red hots, sour cherry, gumdrop, etc.)
the oven to 350°. Lightly spray a 10x15 inch jelly
roll pan. Line with parchment paper. Sift flour with
baking powder and salt and set aside.
large mixing bowl, beat the eggs on high for 5 minutes.
They'll be very pale and foamy. Gradually add in the
sugar and beat another 2 minutes. Gently but thoroughly
fold in the flour mixture.
the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave
(see sidebar). In a small bowl, combine the coffee,
the Kahlua, the 2 tablespoons of sugar and the baking
soda. Gradually stir into the melted chocolate, blending
until smooth. Quickly but completely fold chocolate
mixture into batter.
batter into prepared pan. Bake a for 18 to 20 minutes,
or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out
the cake is baking, lightly sift an even layer of confectioners
sugar over a clean, flat-weave dish towel (not terry
cloth). Flip the cake out of its pan onto the prepared
cloth as soon as it comes from the oven. Carefully peel
away parchment paper. Dust top of cake with confectioners
sugar, then trim away crisp edges with a sharp knife.
Gobble them up now or save for decorations.
with one of the short sides of the cake, immediately
roll the cake up in the cloth, jellyroll style, and
cool thoroughly on a rack.
the filling: Melt the chocolate in a double boiler
or the microwave. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine
cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla. Beat
until fluffy. Reserve 1/4 cup of the icing for the "cut"
parts of the log. Beat in the melted chocolate.
the cake and spread the filling evenly over the surface.
If you're using pecans, sprinkle them evenly over the
filling. Roll the cake back up and cool for an hour
Decorating the cake:
Make the frosting: Melt the chocolate chips in
a double boiler or the microwave. Set aside. Beat cream
cheese with powdered sugar until smooth, then blend
in the Kahlua and the melted chocolate.
the bark: Cover a cookie sheet with plastic wrap.
Break up and melt candy bar, mix in 1 tsp. of butter
and powdered sugar if you wish, then spread on plastic
wrap and freeze while cake is cooling.
Frost the log:
Cut a diagonal chunk off of one end of the cake to make
into a branch (see photo below) and set aside. Frost
log, leaving ends unfrosted. Stick the cut side of the
chunk of cake onto the frosted log to form a cut "branch."
It can go anywhere you want it to. Frost the sides of
the branch, leaving the flat end unfrosted for now.
Save a spoonful or two for "rings" of cut
If you like, you can cut a chunk off either end and
make two "branches."
Use the reserved filling, as-is, or with a spoonful
of dark frosting added for color, to frost the three
ends of the cake. If you'd like, make "rings"
on the cut ends to mimic the look of a real log. I wanted
to avoid any specialty tools, so I simply used a chopstick.
You could use the tip of a knife, or a fork drawn around
in concentric circles, whatever you like. If you have
cake-decorating supplies, pipe in the circles for a
more polished look.
The finishing touches:
Take the chocolate sheet out of the freezer and
peel off the plastic wrap, breaking off irregular pieces
of "bark" and layering them casually around
the sides of the log. You'll need to work quickly to
keep the chocolate from melting in your hands, but that's
actually good, because you don't want it to look too
To make the holly, snip semicircles out of the sides
of the lemon leaves to make them look like holly leaves.
Stick them into the cake, and place 3 sour cherry candies
in the center of the cluster for holly berries.
If you like, sift powdered sugar around the plate or
the log itself for a snowy look.