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Yule Log (Buche de Noel)

Over time, Yule Log has grown to be a Christmas staple in many European countries, in particular the United Kingdom. While it may seem daunting at first, the process of  making it is surprisingly straightforward, and is a great chance to express your creativity (not to mention it’s delicious!). I have included lots of photos to make the whole process easier.

Yule Log originally came from the very old Norse pagan winter solstice celebration called Yule, which eventually evolved to people burning an actual log in celebration of Yule. Yule marked the days becoming longer once more and the land becoming more fertile after the shortest day of the year.

Today, some people do still burn a Yule Log on Christmas Eve, but many have Yule Log cakes, which are synonymous with the festive season.

How to make Yule Log:

You will need:

For the cake:

  • 3 eggs
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 85g flour
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

For the chocolate ganache bark:

  • 150g bar dark chocolate
  • 50g butter
  • 5 tablespoons double cream from a 248/300ml tub
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup
  • 200g icing sugar

For the filling:

  • The rest of the double cream
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder

Making it:

To start with, we will make the cake part of the log.

Preheat oven to Gas 6/ 200°C/180°C fan.

Start by whisking the three eggs with the sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric whisk, until they go pale and are a bit frothy, however do not whisk until they are stiff, as this will make the cake crack very easily when rolling it.

eggs and sugar in bowl

egg and sugar whisked

In a separate bowl, combine the plain flour, cocoa powder and baking powder, and then sift over the egg mixture. Fold in gently with a spoon until well combined.

flour cocoa powder and baking powderall cake ingredients in bowl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cake mix in bowl

 

Line a rectangular cake tin with baking paper (about 23 x 30 cm or 9×12 inches, other dimensions will work, but the end log will be a different size). Use a bit of butter in the tin to make the paper stick to it.

lined rectangular tin

Pour in the cake mixture, using a spatula to get all of the mix out. Shake the tin and flatten with a spatula to make the mixture level in the tin.

cake mix in tin

Bake for 12 minutes. Don’t be alarmed, the cake will not rise very much.

Lay a sheet of baking paper on the side, and once it has finished cooking, turn it out onto the paper, peeling off the paper from when it was cooked. Turn off the oven, you will not need it any more.

cake on paper

 

As soon as it is cool enough to handle, when it is still hot, gently roll up the cake in a spiral, with the paper inside. I did mine from the long edge, but it really doesn’t matter, it just means mine will be longer but with less swirls inside.

rolling cake

Secure the baking paper with tape if it wants to unroll, and leave to cool rolled up.

cake rolled up

Next we will make the ganache bark. Ganache is basically a chocolate frosting that is a bit more fudgy in texture.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over boiling water, stirring it as it melts. We melt the chocolate gently like this rather than straight in the pan or in the microwave, so it doesn’t burn.

melted butter and chocolate

Remove from the heat. Add the 5 tablespoons double cream and the 1 tablespoon golden syrup, and mix until combined.

cream, chocolate and butter in bowlmixed ganache

Sift in the icing sugar and mix until well combined. To avoid a mess with the icing sugar, add a little bit at a time, and mix after each addition. Transfer to a larger bowl if needed. Set aside.

finished ganache

Woah, nearly there, just the easy bit to go now!

To make the filling, simple whip the remaining double cream with the tablespoon cocoa powder with an electric whisk (hand whisk will take a while!) until it holds its shape (while still being spreadable). When whipping, it will of ten look firmer in the bowl than when you start to spread it, so don’t worry if you think you have overdone it.

whipped cocoa cream

The assembly:

Gently unroll the (now cool) cake. Don’t try to press it flat, as it will likely crack. Spread the cocoa cream over the whole cake in an even layer, ideally with a palette knife.

cream put on cakecake with cream on

Gently roll up the cake in the same way you did when it came out of the oven, but make sure you remove the baking paper as you do.

yule rolled up

For some added flair, make a diagonal cut about 1/3 from the end of the log, and place the offcut on the side of the log to make a “Y” shape. Now is the time to place it on it’s final plate/cake board.

yule rolled and cut

Spread the ganache over the whole log, except the ends. Again using a palette knife will make it easier, but if not, you can use a normal knife and/or a spoon.

Use a fork or a cake scraper to etch lines into the ganache, to make it look more like tree bark. Wipe up any ganache or cream that has gone over the board for best presentation.

Sprinkle with a few pinches of icing sugar to represent snow. Add the final decorations, this could be sugar decorations from the supermarket, or flakes of chocolate scraped off a chocolate bar with a sharp knife (or both!).

finished yule log

Et voila! Your Yule log is done, a real wow bake to impress the family.

Yule Log (Buche de Noel)

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 12 minutes

This Christmas classic can seem a little intimidating at first, but is actually quite straightforward to make, and comes together in no time. Do not be swayed by the detailed instructions, it is definitely worth the effort!

Ingredients

Cake

  • 85g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 85g caster sugar

Ganache bark

  • 5 tbsp double cream from a 284/300ml pot
  • 150g dark chocolate (cooking is best)
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 200g icing sugar

Chocolate filling

  • Rest of the double cream
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder

Instructions

Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to Gas 6/ 200°C/180°C fan.
  2. In a bowl, combine the eggs and sugar with an electric whisk for a few minutes, until they go pale and creamy (stop once they are pale, do not overwhisk, as this will lead to a very tough cake).
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder, and then sift over the egg mixture. Fold in until combined.
  4. Line a deep rectangular tin (or a swiss roll tin) with baking paper, and pour the cake mixture in, using a spatula to ensure all the mixture is used. Shake the tin and use the spatula to make the cake mixture level in the tin.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Once done, flip out onto a large sheet of baking paper and remove the paper used in the oven (on top).
  6. Roll the cake with the baking paper while still hot from the long edge and leave to cool rolled up (I secured it with a little bit of tape)
  7. For the ganache, melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over hot water, on the hob, stirring well.
  8. Mix in the double cream and golden syrup.
  9. Mix in the icing sugar (transfer to a larger bowl if needed).
  10. For the filling, add the rest of the cream and the tablespoon of cocoa powder to a bowl, and whip with an electric whisk until it hold its shape. It should still be spreadable, but hold its shape and not slide away.
  11. Gently unroll the (now cool) cake in the baking paper, and spread the cocoa cream filling over the surface.
  12. Gently roll up, using the baking paper to help get you started.
  13. Diagonally cut the log about 1/3 from the end and place on the side of the branch to create a Y-shaped log.
  14. Cover with the ganache (if it is too runny, allow it to set for a few more minutes, if too thick, add a tiny bit of water to it first). Add detail lines with a fork or a cake scraper. Sprinkle icing sugar over the log to look like snow. Decorate as you please (I scraped a white chocolate bar with a knife to get white chocolate flakes, and I also used some Christmas sugar cake decorations).

Notes

Partly inspired by BBC Good Food

Did you make this recipe?

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