A yule log or bûche de Noël is a traditional dessert served near Christmas, especially inFrance, Quebec and several other francophone countries and former French colonies. The traditional bûche is made from a genoise or other sponge cake, generally baked in a large, shallow Swiss roll pan, frosted, rolled to form a cylinder, and frosted again on the outside.
Bûches are often served with a portion of one end of the cake cut off and set on top of the cake or protruding from its side to resemble a chopped off branch, and bark-like texture is often produced in the buttercream, or ganache for further realism. This can be done by piping with a star nozzle or dragging a fork through the icing. Finishing touches of powdered sugar to resemble snow, tree branches, fresh berries, and mushrooms made of meringue can be used.
Not everone like a Christmas fruit cake so this is a really good alternate cake to have.
This sponge recipe came from Colenso High School in 1977 when I was studying home economics and we made a plain sponge roll filled with jam. My home economics book is one of the few relics I have kept from my time at Colenso. Kim Diack was my cooking partner in those days and several of those recipes, such as the Armenian Nutmeg Cake, have become family favourites.
Make the Sponge
- ¾ Cup Flour
- 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 2 eggs
- ½ Cup Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Water
- 100 mls cream for Ganache
- 100 grams dark Chocolate (Chopped)
- 200 mls Cream for whipping
- ¼ teaspoon Vanilla Essence
- 1 teaspoon Sugar
For a Chocolate Sponge replace 1 Tablespoon of the Flour with 1 Tablespoon of Cocoa before sifting.
- Grease a Swiss roll tin (20x30cm approx) and line the base with baking paper
- Sift flour and Baking powder. Set aside. Do not skip this step as sifting the four adds extra air and lightness to the sponge.
- Break eggs into a deep bowl and beat eggs until thick. If you are using a hand beater – stand the bowl in warm water (not hot) as this will speed up the process.
- Add Sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well between each addition.
- Keep beating until mix is very thick and pale lemon in colour.
- Sift in ¼ of the flour and fold into eggs
- Mix in water then sift in remaining Flour and fold gently. The aim is to keep all the air bubbles that you have beaten into the eggs
- Spread gently and evenly into prepared tin
- Bake 180ºC for 10 – 12 minutes. The sponge will spring back when pressed gently.
Form the roll
- Tip the cooked sponge onto fresh baking paper straight from the oven.
- Remove paper from base of sponge (it may have stayed in the tin) and trim edges
- Roll into a tight log, keeping the fresh paper rolled inside the cake.
- Leave to cool.
There are some very good video clips on you tube that show how to roll the sponge while it is hot.
While the cake is baking….
Make the Ganache
- Heat 100 ml Cream until small bubbles begin to appear
- Remove from heat
- Add the Chocolate and stir until smooth and glossy
- Set aside to thicken as it cools
Whip the Cream
- Beat the 200 ml Cream with Vanilla and Sugar
- This needs to be firm, but not beaten to butter!!
- Place in fridge
- Once the Cake is totally cold, Unroll it carefully
- Spread the cake with the whipped cream and re roll
- Diagonally slice one end off the roll and place alongside as a branch
- Pipe Ganache along roll and branch, with a star nozzle, to represent bark
- Pipe a spiral of Ganache on each exposed end.
- Serve immeadiately or keep chilled until ready to serve
- Fill with a Mock Cream or Butter cream Icing
- Cover with a Chocolate Butter Cream
Mock Cream and Butter Cream do not need to be kept refrigerated – Whipped fresh cream does.