Bûche de Noël

The Bûche de Noël (or Yule Log) is a tradition for my family. In France you can find them anywhere but it’s a little tougher to find bakeries that sell them here. It’s a traditional dessert served in France for Christmas that is composed of a Génoise (similar to sponge cake), filled with mousse, icing, etc., rolled, and then frosted with buttercream.

There are many variations but usually, part of the roll is cut and placed on top to form the log’s stump. The Bûche is then decorated with meringue mushrooms, branches and berries, and even plastic figurines.

This year I made holly leaves and berries using marzipan dyed with food coloring. I found ready-to-use marzipan at Kroger and just had to use it!

Although I’ve made 3 of these so far, I had a really tough time with the Génoise this year. It took 3 tries (and 2 recipes) to roll the Génoise without it breaking.


Here is the final recipe that ended up working the best:

Bûche De Noël

For The Génoise:

4 large eggs, separated

2/3 cup sugar, divided

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup sifted cake flour

3 tablespoons cocoa

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

dash of salt

For The Filling:

4 oz. semisweet chocolate

6 tablespoons sugar

3 egg yolks

12 tablespoons unsalted butter

For The Icing:

12 oz. semisweet chocolate

8 tablespoons unsalted butter

2/3 cup heavy cream

For The Meringue Mushrooms:

10 tablespoons sugar

2 large egg whites

2 pinches cream of tartar

dash of salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup cocoa

1/2 cup powdered sugar


Make The Icing:

– Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler on medium low heat, whisking often

– Remove from heat and gradually whisk in cream

– Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside at room temperature, stirring occasionally until the icing thickens, about 4 hours (don’t refrigerate, the icing will be too hard to spread)

Make the Meringue:

– Preheat oven to 200 degrees

– Combine sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, swirling pan several times until sugar has dissolved, 1-2 minutes

– Uncover pan and continue to boil until syrup reaches softball stage or 236° on a candy thermometer, about 4 minutes more

– Put egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk and beat on medium speed until frothy, then add cream of tartar and salt

– Gradually increase speed to high and beat until soft peaks form, about 30 seconds

– Slowly pour in sugar syrup while continuing to beat until whites cool to room temperature and become thick and shiny, about 10 minutes

– Stir in vanilla

– Use a rubber spatula to transfer meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4″ plain pastry tip

– To make meringue mushrooms, hold pastry tip perpendicular to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and pipe meringue into the shapes of mushroom caps and stems of various sizes, then set aside for 5 minutes

– Lightly moisten a fingertip in cold water and smooth out any “tails” left behind on mushroom caps

– Bake meringues for 1 1/2 hours

– Turn off oven and allow meringues to rest in oven until dry and crisp, about 1 hour

– Bore a small, shallow hole in center of underside of each mushroom cap with the tip of a knife

– Glue stems to caps by dipping tips of stems into icing, then sticking into holes in caps

– Sift a little cocoa powder on tops of caps

Make The Génoise:

– Grease bottom and sides of 15 x 10 inch jellyroll pan and line with parchment paper

– Beat egg yolks in a large mixing bowl at high speed until thick and pale

– Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar, beating well

– Add water and vanilla

– Gradually fold in cake flour and cocoa

– Beat egg whites at high speed until foamy

– Add cream of tartar and salt, beat until soft peaks form

– Add remaining 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form

– Gently fold into egg yolk mixture

– Spread batter evenly into prepared pan

– Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until the top springs back when touched

Make The Filling:

– Melt chocolate with 2 tbsp. water in the top of a double boiler over medium  heat

– Stir to combine, then set aside to cool

– Combine sugar and 3 tbsp. water in a small heavy saucepan; cover and bring to a boil over medium heat, swirling pan several times until sugar has dissolved, about 1 minute

– Uncover and continue to boil until syrup reaches the softball stage or 236° on a candy thermometer, about 5 minutes more

– Meanwhile, beat yolks in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk on high speed until thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes

– Reduce speed to medium and gradually pour in hot syrup. Beat constantly until mixture cools to room temperature, about 10 minutes

– Allow butter to soften, then beat into egg mixture 1 tbsp. at a time, waiting until it’s completely incorporated before adding more; continue beating until thick and smooth, about 5 minutes total

– Stir in cooled chocolate and set aside


– Transfer génoise with parchment to a clean work surface, then spread filling evenly over top using a metal spatula

– Grab the long edge of the parchment paper with two hands and gently roll génoise onto itself, pulling off paper as you roll

– To make stump, diagonally cut a 2″ length from one end of the bûche; then, to make the stump thinner than the bûche, partially unroll the piece, trim off flap, and discard

– Glue stumps onto bûche with some of the icing

– Spread icing on bûche, dragging spatula along icing to simulate tree bark

– Decorate with mushrooms, then sift powdered sugar over mushrooms and bûche


*Recipe adapted from Saveur Recipe & My Recipes

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  1. For next Christmas, try this authentic French recipe: Christmas yule log with chocolate and chestnut paste – Bûche de Noël au chocolat et crème de marrons

  2. sweetlizbakes

     /  February 2, 2011

    Thanks for sharing! I did one very similar to that recipe a while ago and I’m always looking for different ones to try out.

  1. A Birthday Cake « Sweet Elizabeth

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    I inherited my passion for baking from the best baker and teacher I know, my grandmother Elisabeth. Today, I embark on my baking adventures with the help of my trusted sidekick, my sweet daughter Jude. Thanks for stopping by!
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