Buche de Noel is a showstopping French Christmas Cake that’s delicious, chocolaty, and much easier to make than it looks!
This Yule Log Cake Recipe is entirely from scratch with layers of chocolate sponge cake, chocolate buttercream, and chocolate ganache and includes step-by-step photos, recipe tips, and variations to help you make the perfect one this holiday season!
All the other holiday baking you’ve done was just a warmup, preparing you for this grand finale Chocolate Yule Log! Warning: the end result may leave you thinking it’s too beautiful to eat, but that’s actually the best part!
Looking at this dessert may leave you feeling intimidated, but I promise it’s easier to make than it looks! I’ve broken the ingredients and process into sections with step-by-step photos.
This will make it easier to follow along so you’ll feel more comfortable as you work your way through it!
5 Reasons I Love This Recipe
- Total Showstopper – It’s an incredibly spectacular edible centerpiece on any dessert table!
- Easy To Make – Though its appearance is impressive, it’s actually fairly easy to make using common ingredients!
- Extremely Delicious – The layers of chocolate complement each other perfectly!
- Make Ahead Of Time – When made with buttercream you can make it in advance, giving you plenty of time to prepare!
- So Many Variations – With multiple filling options it keeps this recipe exciting no matter how many times you make it! Scroll down to the Recipe Variations section for some ideas!
Chocolate Yule Log Cake Ingredients
Flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, eggs, and whole milk will bake together to get this log rolling!
This recipe is adapted from my Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, so you know it’s going to be good! Whipping together vanilla extract, unsweetened cocoa powder, heavy cream, powdered sugar, and unsalted butter will deliver a mouthwatering filling!
Chocolate Ganache Topping
My tried and true Chocolate Ganache is used for lathering over this Buche de Noel. It comes together quickly with just two ingredients: semi-sweet chocolate chips and heavy cream.
Chopped baking chocolate may also be used.
Begin by mixing up a batch of Simple Syrup and use it to make sparkling rosemary and cranberries with granulated sugar. Then dust the whole thing with powdered sugar to finish decorating the yule log cake!
The sparkling Sugared Cranberries really dress this Yule Log up beautifully!
How To Make Buche de Noel
Beginning with the chocolate sponge cake layer, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a 13×18-inch half baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, and cocoa powder.
Add in the eggs and milk, then use an electric mixer on medium to beat the mixture until thoroughly combined. Afterward, spread the batter evenly onto your prepared pan.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes and check the center using a toothpick. If it comes out clean the cake is finished baking. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for a few minutes.
Work on the buttercream filling layer while the cake bakes.
Cream the butter on low speed using an electric mixer until pale and creamy in a medium bowl. Slowly add in powdered sugar, heavy cream, and cocoa powder, and continue mixing on low for 3 minutes.
Add the remaining sugar a little at a time alternating with the cream. Mix in the vanilla and salt, beating on medium-high speed until frosting is light and fluffy.
If the frosting needs to be thinned out, you can add in small amounts of cream at a time until the desired consistency is reached. If you need to do the opposite and thicken it, add in small amounts of powdered sugar.
Once the cake has cooled, fold the edges of parchment paper over the short end and roll it up. You could also place the cake onto a clean kitchen towel and roll the cake up around the kitchen towel.
After it’s cooled for an additional 10 to 15 minutes in that position, unroll it, cutting away any hard edges.
Spread the buttercream filling evenly all over the cake using an offset spatula. Save out a few tablespoons of the filling to use in attaching the offshoot branch later.
Roll the cake back up and cover it loosely with aluminum foil. Then move it to the refrigerator to chill for 15 minutes.
As the cake chills, let’s prepare the garnishes for the Buche de Noel! Grab the simple syrup (you can make it while the cake is baking) and dip sprigs of rosemary and fresh cranberries into it.
Once dipped into the simple syrup, dip or roll them in granulated sugar until well coated, then set them aside.
Head to the refrigerator and remove the chilled cake. Make a diagonal slice about 3 to 4 inches from the end of your log to use for the branch.
Place the cake on your favorite serving platter and use the buttercream from earlier to attach the branch to the log.
Now move on to the topping, the chocolate ganache!
Add the semi-sweet chocolate chips to a heat-safe bowl and set them aside. In a separate microwave-safe bowl heat heavy cream for 50 seconds, keep an eye on this so it doesn’t overflow!
Pour the heated heavy cream over the bowl of chocolate chips and allow them to sit uninterrupted so the chips will melt. After a few minutes whisk slowly into a ganache.
Spread the ganache onto the yule log cake with an offset spatula. Using the spatula, create texture in the ganache to make it look like bark on a tree. If more texture is desired simply use a fork on the ganache as well!
To finish up your Buche de Noel, add your sugared cranberries and rosemary on top of and around the cake. Once you have your sugared decorations exactly how you want them, lightly dust the log with powdered sugar.
Cover loosely with tin foil or plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for another 15 to 20 minutes. Then it’s time to slice and enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Yule Log Variations
Substitute the chocolate buttercream filling to add in a taste of vanilla using my Classic Vanilla Buttercream recipe!
Nutella Frosting would be another excellent filling variation to bring in a hazelnut flavor!
Caramel and Chocolate are a match made in heaven with this Yule Log cake! Try this variation using my Easy Salted Caramel Frosting recipe.
A Whipped Cream center for this Buche de Noel never disappoints either! If you go this route I recommend the dessert be eaten within a day or so.
Buche de Noel Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Tradition Of The Yule Log?
This tradition originated in Norway where a large log was burned in the fireplace. Families Celebrate in different ways with traditions surrounding a fire on Christmas Eve.
This Yule Log Cake can be enjoyed throughout Yule, which starts on December 21st and lasts for 12 days. As well as the entire holiday season!
How Can I Make Sure This Cake Cuts Easily To Serve?
Chill the Bûche de Noël in the refrigerator so that the ganache topping hardens, this will give you a cleaner cut. You can also wipe off your knife between slices.
What If I Don’t Have A Baker’s Half Sheet?
You can use a jelly roll pan instead, though keep in mind the half sheet is slightly larger.
Serve Up A Drink With This Dessert!
- Slow Cooker Wassail Drink – Cooks in the crockpot while you make the Yule Log!
- Cranberry Orange Christmas Mimosa Punch – Punch goes with anything!
- Homemade Eggnog – This is a holiday classic you can’t resist!
- Hot Chocolate Coffee – Warm, thick, and creamy hot chocolate with a coffee boost!
Yule LogPin For Later
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👋 Let’s Connect!
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Bûche de Noël / Yule Log Cake
- ½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup granulated sugar for simple syrup
- ½ cup water for simple syrup
- Fresh Rosemary
- Fresh Cranberries
- Powdered Sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 13”x18” half baking sheet with parchment paper (allowing a few inches to hang over the edge), spray with cooking spray, and set aside.
- For the chocolate sponge cake layer, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, and cocoa powder in a large mixing bowl. Add in the eggs and milk. With an electric mixer, beat on medium until well combined.
- Pour cake mixture onto your baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread into an even layer. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for 3 to 4 minutes.
- While the cake is baking in the oven, make the buttercream filling layer. In a large mixing bowl, add unsalted butter and cream butter on low speed until pale and creamy.
- Slowly add in 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1 tbsp heavy cream, and cocoa powder while mixing on low for about 3 minutes. Add in remaining amounts of sugar and cream, alternating a little at a time
- Add in vanilla and salt and beat on medium-high for about 2 to 3 minutes until frosting is light and fluffy. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add cream in small amounts at a time. If your frosting needs to be thicker, add more powdered sugar in small amounts at a time. Set aside.
- Make simple syrup while the cake is in the oven and/or cooling. Pour water and granulated sugar into a small saucepan and stir. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Once your cake has cooled for a few minutes, fold the edge of the parchment paper over the short edge and roll it up. Allow it to cool for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.
- Unroll the cake and cut away any hard edges. With an offset spatula, spread the buttercream filling in an even layer all over the cake, reserving a few tablespoons (to later attach the offshoot branch). Roll the cake, loosely cover with foil, and chill in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.
- While the cake is chilling, make garnishes. Dip sprigs of rosemary and fresh cranberries in simple syrup and then in granulated sugar until well coated. Set aside.
- Remove chilled cake from the refrigerator and slice on a diagonal, about 3 to 4 inches from the end for your log. Slice any rough ends off of the log to make them straight. Transfer the cake to a serving platter and attach the log on the side with the reserved buttercream.
- Next, make the chocolate ganache. Place semi-sweet chocolate chips in a heat-safe glass bowl. Pour ½ cup heavy cream into a microwave-safe bowl or coffee mug and heat for 50 seconds (watch this closely so it doesn’t overflow). Pour over chocolate chips and set aside for 4 to 5 minutes to allow the chips to melt. Whisk slowly into a ganache.
- With an offset spatula, spread ganache onto the yule log cake. Use the spatula to create texture in the ganache to make it look like bark on a tree.
- Add sugared cranberries and rosemary on top of and around the cake. Lightly dust with powdered sugar.
- Loosely cover with foil and chill for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Slice and enjoy!
- Chilling in the refrigerator allows the ganache to harden and makes the cake easier to cut.
- The garnishes are optional, but really give that wow factor and make the log look a bit more realistic and festive.
- Bûche de Noël is another name for Yule Log cake.
- To add more texture to the ganache, you could also use a fork.
- If you don’t have a baker’s half sheet, you could also use a jelly roll pan. The half sheet is slightly larger than a jelly roll pan.
- It is ok if your cake doesn’t spread all the way to the sides. You will be cutting away any hard pieces along the edges.
- If you don’t have an offset spatula, you could use a butter knife instead.
- Your sponge cake may get indentations on it from the parchment paper. This is totally fine since it will be covered anyway.
- You may eliminate cocoa powder in the buttercream if you like.
- You could also dust your yule log with cocoa powder instead of powdered sugar.