Bûche de Noel (Yule Log)

4.67 from 12 votes

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Bûche de Noel (Yule Log) is a classic Christmas recipe that you need to make this holiday season.

A chocolate ganache Yule log on a plate.

When most of us think of holiday treats, traditional Christmas cookies come to mind, in all of their variations of color, glitter, and flavor.

For me though, there is but one festive holiday dessert that signifies the Yule season like no other:  The traditional Bûche de Noel, or Yule Log.

What is a Yule Log?

The name of this recipe, Bûche de Noel, literally translates as “Christmas log,” referring to the traditional Yule log burned centuries past.  Traditionally, in France and other parts of Europe, the yule log cake is served at the midnight feast that follows Mass on Christmas Eve.

Overhead view of a Bûche de Noel.

I can’t remember when I fell in love with the Bûche de Noel.  I’m pretty certain that it started in my high school days with the stellar French teachers Kay Harris Doyle and George Laribee, two of my favorite high school teachers, ever.

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Through them, a love of all things French took seed in me at a young age. Including this Bûche de Noel.

I initially learned about this Bûche de Noel recipe in French class, and then I really learned about it by preparing this in my sister’s kitchen when she was the chef at The Candlelight Restaurant at Snow Ridge Ski Resort, in Turin, New York.  It was, shall we say, love at first bite.

My sister loved this Yule log, the guests loved it, and at 16 or so, I discovered the first culinary creation I was pretty good at making.

Throughout a couple of holiday seasons, I made dozens of these Christmas logs at Snow Ridge.  It was a thrill to have anything I needed to make these at my disposal.

Additionally, the kitchen in The Candlelight was huge, with a galore of work space.  I would put these Yule logs together in my own little area while the other staff did their thing: salads, soups, lunches, sandwiches, and of course, dinner entrees.

Usually there was music playing, kitchen banter going on, and always anticipation of creating an impressionable dining experience for the evening guests.

A sliced Yule log.

I always marveled a bit at the beauty of a Bûche de Noel, but the real thrill always came (with a bit of a wonder) when dinner guests specifically asked for this dessert, even when it wasn’t on the dinner menu.

Slices of these Christmas cakes freeze exceptionally well when wrapped properly.  Eventually, we learned to keep a supply of this in the huge walk-in freezers.  Still, it was always bitter-sweet when we sold out.

Eve, though we did our best to always have this available, there was always a thrill withing my heart to know that something I had made was sold out!

As time went on, with some regret, I took a break from making these.  A pretty long break, as in maybe 20 years or so.

When I initially attempted to get back into the “Yule Log groove,”  I found it wasn’t the same.  My sister was no longer at The Candlelight; I was living 1,200 miles to the south in Sarasota, and I seemed to have lost my mojo.

I shelved the idea of making a Bûche de Noel again. Instead, I decided to keep those special memories of way back when front and center.

Until last week.   All I  can say is I was in a bûche de Noel kind of mood.  Oddly enough, this one came together just like it was nobody’s business.

How to make a Yule Log

(Full directions in the recipe card below.)

Kitchen Equipment You Need

Start by making the Genoise (Sponge Cake)

You’ll make the sponge cake as described in the recipe card below.

Key Points:

  1. Do not over-bake the genoise. (I’ve tossed more than a few of these in the garbage because I have baked them just a minute too long.). Overbaking will cause the sponge cake to crack (like cardboard) while rolling.
  2. Roll the genoise while it is still warm. This means you have to have everything “ready to go” when it comes out of the oven.
  3. Generously sprinkle the kitchen towel with powdered sugar. This will create a barrier between the warm cake and the towel when rolling.
A rolled up Yule log.

Make the Frosting and Filling

While the rolled cake is cooling with the towel, it’s a good time to make the Yule log filling and frosting.

Some frosting on some beaters.
  • The filling for the Yule log and the frosting are the same. The only difference is that you’ll add some cocoa powder to the frosting portion.
An unfrosted Yule log.

Apply the Filling for the Yule Log

Allow the cake to cool to room temperature, then:

  • Unroll the cake, and remove the towel.
  • Use a spatula and evenly spread the filling for the Yule log.
  • Re-roll the sponge cake and place it on a platter with the seam side down.

Looking back, I think I wasn’t paying attention to a few critical points when making this, in the past.  Baking can sometimes be unforgiving and there are few greater examples than when putting one of these together.

Key Points for Making a Yule Log

Oven temperature is critical, as is removing the cake from the oven at the right time, while it is light and spongy and before the edges begin to harden.

A slice of a Yule log on a plate.

Take a look at the Bûche de Noel recipe below, as well as the tips.  Then, give this Yule log a try. Your success will give you more confidence for more kitchen adventures. And your family and guests will be wowed by your ability!

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Bûche de Noel (Yule Log)

4.67 from 12 votes
This Yule log cake, also known as a Bûche de Noël, starts with a light and airy genoise sponge made with ordinary pantry ingredients. You can add a hint of coffee flavor by mixing in instant coffee granules. After baking, the cake is rolled up with a rich frosting made from cream cheese, butter, more vanilla, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder. If you like, you can add a touch of almond extract to the frosting for an extra layer of flavor. The cake is then decorated to look like a log, perfect for a festive Christmas treat. Adapted from Better Homes and Garden
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Total: 1 hour 12 minutes
Yield: 10


for the genoise

  • 1/3   cup  all-purpose flour
  • 1/3   cup  cornstarch
  • 1/4   cup  unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4   teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/4   teaspoon  salt
  • 4   eggs at room temperature
  • 4   egg yolks at room temperature
  • 1   teaspoon  vanilla
  • 3/4   cup  granulated sugar
  • powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee granules, optional

for the frosting and filling

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2   cup  butter, softened
  • 2   teaspoons  vanilla
  • 4 1/2   cups  powdered sugar
  • 1/2   teaspoon  almond extract, optional
  • 1/3   cup  unsweetened cocoa powder


for the genoise (cake)

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.   Grease a 15x10x1-inch lipped cookie sheet or baking pan.   Line the pan with parchment paper. Generously grease parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Stir flour, cornstarch, and cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Stir baking soda, salt, and optional instant coffee into flour mixture. In a large bowl beat eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla with an electric mixer on high speed for 4 to 5 minutes or until thick and lemon-color. Gradually beat in granulated sugar, beating on high speed about 2 minutes more or until sugar is almost dissolved. Sprinkle flour mixture, one-third at a time, over egg mixture; using a large rubber spatula, gently fold in flour mixture just until combined. Evenly spread the batter in the prepared baking pan. Bake about 12 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.
  • Remove the cake from the oven. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 3 minutes. Loosen the edges of cake with a small knife or thin spatula and turn cake out onto a clean towel generously sprinkled with powdered sugar. Carefully remove the waxed paper; discard.
  • While cake is warm, roll up the cake and the towel into a spiral, starting from a short side* of the cake. (It is important to roll the cake while it is still warm to avoid cracking.) Cool on a wire rack. Unroll cake; remove towel. With a thin metal spatula, spread the white Cream Cheese Frosting and Filling on the cake to within 1 inch of the edges.
  • Carefully roll up cake (without the towel) starting from a short side. Place, seam side down, on serving platter; chill for 30 minutes. With a serrated knife, diagonally cut off a 3-inch slice from one end of the cake. Place the diagonally cut edge of piece against the side of longer roll on the serving plate. This forms a “branch” on the “log.
  • Frost the entire cake with the chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting and Filling, carefully “cementing” the limb to the trunk with frosting. If necessary, chill until frosting firms. With the tines of a table fork, create a pattern of “rings” on the cut ends of the roll, and “bark” on the rest of the log. If desired, garnish log with Sugared Cranberries and rosemary sprigs.  Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar to give it that “just snowed on” look.  Chill until ready to serve.

for the frosting and filling

  • In a large bowl beat cream cheese; butter; and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft and fluffy.
  • Gradually beat in powdered sugar.
  • Place half of the mixture in a separate bowl; if desired, beat in almond extract. Set aside.
  • Beat unsweetened cocoa powder into the remaining cream cheese mixture.


  • Carefully monitor the temperature of the oven and time while the genoise (cake) is baking. It should be baked completely, but just barely.
  • The frosting does miracles in terms of covering the sins of the genoise. Cracks can easily be repaired and then covered with the frosting.


Calories: 525kcal, Carbohydrates: 81g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Cholesterol: 193mg, Sodium: 271mg, Potassium: 171mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 69g, Vitamin A: 787IU, Calcium: 52mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French, Holiday
Tried this recipe?Mention @plattertalk or tag #plattertalk!

This post was updated from the original one from Dec 10, 2013.

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Dan & Scott split their time between Wisconsin and Southwest Florida and are dads to six boys. Good food runs through their veins, and they love showing others how to cook easy recipes.

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  1. 5 stars
    Oh well done, your bouche de Noel looks fantabulous. Every year I vow to make one, but my rolling skills are rubbish and I back out each time.

  2. Looks incredible! I never have had a yule log – but I find them so festive that I think I have to try it out!!

  3. 5 stars
    This looks divine! We always had a yule log at christmas when I was a kid growing up i the UK. I definitely need to bring this tradition back into our holiday!

  4. 5 stars
    This looks so festive and yummy! I’ve never made a yule log before. This is so going to happen this year!