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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Y is for Yule Log Cake

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Christmas traditions add joy, laughter, sparkle, and continuity to the season. In the list of 26 traditions from A to Z, Y is for Yule Log Cake. No holiday season is complete without delicious signature recipes that represent the holiday.  

is for Yule Log Cake 

The origin of yule log cake stems from burning yule logs that once were part of celebrations of Winter Solstice by pagans. Like many Christmas traditions, burning a yule log first appeared in 17th century German writings. 

From the tradition of burning yule logs, the French created a yule log cake in the shape of a log during the 19th century. Now Bûche de Noël or yule log cake is a Christmas tradition in France. France is renowned for delicious recipes that gain popularity across the world, and Bûche de Noël is now a widespread Christmas tradition not just in France.  

For French country enthusiasts, adding Bûche de Noël to our Christmas traditions adds another layer of French style to our French-inspired homes. 

Yule log cake recipes come in many variations. My favorite version is a chocolate cake, creamy white icing inside the cake, and chocolate icing on the outside of the cake. 

Bûche de Noël Recipe 

Yule Log Cake Recipe 
adapted from Martha Stewart

Chocolate Genoise (chocolate cake)

10 ½ " x 15 ½" x ½" jelly roll pan
350°     15-20 min
  • 5 tbsp. butter, plus butter for pan and parchment paper
  • ⅔ cup sifted plain flour
  • ⅓ cup sifted cocoa powder, plus extra to dust baked cake
  • pinch baking soda
  • 6 large eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350°. Butter jelly roll pan, line with parchment paper. Butter and lightly flour parchment paper.

Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda into medium bowl. Set aside.

Melt butter in another bowl. Set aside.

Whisk together eggs and sugar in a third large bowl. Set bowl in double-boiler with water in the bottom. 

Simmer egg and sugar mixture in double-boiler to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat. Beat with mixer on high until thick and tripled in size. Add vanilla and beat. 

In 3 additions, sift flour mixture over egg mixture, folding in gently with a spatula. Dribble melted butter over batter and fold in.

Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake until cake springs back when touched in the center, about 15-20 minutes. 

Let sit in pan on wire rack to completely cool. Cover with damp dishtowel.

When cool. invert cake on work surface, peel off paper. Dust lightly with cocoa. 

Starting from long end, carefully roll up cake in a towel. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until ready to use.

inside creamy icing & Outer Creamy Chocolate Icing 

  • ¾ cup butter 
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tbsp.milk
In a large bowl, cream the butter by mixer until creamy and smooth.

Add powder sugar a little at a time to the creamed butter, mixing well after each sugar addition. Add small amounts of the1 tbsp of milk between additions of powdered sugar, mix well. Repeat until all sugar and 1 tbsp of milk are combined with the butter. Add the vanilla extract, mix well. 
*If the icing is too thick, add more small amounts of milk, up to 1 tbsp more, until icing is smooth and creamy, but not runny. Wait until after adding the vanilla flavoring to decide if the frosting is too thick and needs more milk. 


I buy Chocolate Cream Frosting in a can in the bakery aisle of the grocery store which saves time. 

Assemble the Cake 

Carefully unroll the genoise onto the back side of a baking sheet. Spread the creamy white frosting evenly on the cake to within 1"-2" of one long end. Re-roll cake, starting from the OTHER END, ending with the seam side down.  Chill until firm, about an hour. 

Place cake seam side down on serving platter.

Ice with creamy chocolate frosting. 

Garnish as desired. I used fresh raspberries and small snips of fresh rosemary. 

Another embellishment is to cut a short log from one end of the cake, and place it at an angle to the cake creating a joint in the log that represents a cut limb. Use some chocolate creamy frosting to cover the seam between the two parts of the cake.


A yule log cake takes more time than the usual 2-layer cake, but the extra effort is worth the stunning results. The cake makes a beautiful presentation and is delicious. Christmas only comes once a year, and a very special cake makes the season memorable. 

Bûche de Noël is a Christmas tradition you may wish to start at your home.