Christmas season is a festive time full of traditions in Germany. It is a time for baking cookies, decorations, ornaments, and fairy-tale like Christmas markets. It is the time of the year where you are continuously enchanted by the sweet smell of mulled wine, hot chocolate and exotic spices. You won’t be missing any magic except when you are Lebanese like me.
Bûche de Noël has become main Christmas dessert in Lebanon ever since it conquered Lebanese homes most probably one hundred year ago. As I couldn’t imagine my Christmases without it, I had to overcome my fear or better call it reservation, and try making it, relying on my sister’s recipes and guidance. She was the expert after all as she started her home baking career very early in life, spoiling us with excellent, and beautifully decorated cakes.
So years ago in 1989 a young mother entered her kitchen, closed the door behind her and spent her first fun session in the kitchen. No Internet to search, no phone calls to mom or sister for help (lines to Beirut were not functioning all the time!), only some notes written quickly on a piece of paper. Hours later the first Bûche de Noël was born in Schwandorf, perhaps in all Germany, who knows?
The process of making a perfect Yule log could be overwhelming to some. But if you follow my instructions in the recipe, and the additional tips how to organise yourself, you will be enjoying this new baking adventure of yours.
This traditional Christmas cake will surely become a favourite. My sponge cake is coffee flavoured, filled with alcohol flavoured butter cream (alcohol is optional), and topped with chocolate butter cream, chocolate shavings dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Then comes the final touch: Your imagination to garnish your signature Yule log!
Tools and Tips:
- Kitchen scale for accurate measurements. A few mixing bowls, rubber spatula, cutting board, saucepan, a sharp knife, a nice platter.
- Electric mixer for the batter and filling.
- A large baking sheet. The size really depends on where you live. A standard baking sheet in Germany is 12”x14.5”, a size that doesn’t exist everywhere. My cake fills the surface more or less. A 12”x17” sheet will do when you don’t spread your batter on the whole surface. If using a smaller sheet than mine, the cake will be thicker, but shouldn’t be a problem.
- Parchment paper for the cake.
- A clean kitchen towel to roll the cake in it.
- Fine mesh strainer for dusting confectioners’ sugar on the towel before placing the cake on it, it keeps the warm cake from sticking on the towel, also for dusting the cake before rolling, for the same reason, and of course for garnish.
- A small offset spatula to spread the cream. You can use a knife as well.
Some garnish suggestions:
- Good quality semi-sweet Chocolate shavings, a must
- Dusting of confectioners’s sugar, a must
- Mushroom-like meringue, optional
- Sugared cranberries, optional
- Last but not least, old Christmas ornaments, nostalgic and less time consuming.
The recipe below is for one roll only. If you want to make a big yule log like in the photo, you will need two rolls, and double the recipe of the butter cream. Give it a try, and good luck!
Bûche de Noël - French Yule Log
- For the Jelly Roll
- 5 medium-size eggs
- 2 tablespoons strong coffee
- 200 g sugar
- 160 g all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- For the butter cream
- 100 g sugar
- 60 ml water
- 3 egg yolks
- 250 g butter
- 50 g melted semi-sweet dark chocolate
- 2 cl Coffee liqueur
- For the jellyroll: Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift flour and baking powder. Preheat oven 180°C/ 350°F).
- Separate eggs. Add the salt to the egg whites and beat at high speed with a hand mixer until it reaches the perfect foamy stiffness. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl beat egg yolks with the sugar until smooth and double in size. Add coffee and beat for 1 minute. Fold in egg white and flour and mix well.
- Evenly spread onto the baking sheet and bake 10-15 minutes. While the cake is baking, spread a clean dry kitchen towel on working surface. Dust with confectioner’s sugar. You will need for the roll.
- Carefully remove the cake with parchment still on it from the baking sheet holding it with your hands and turning it onto the towel. Carefully remove parchment paper and dust the cake with confectioner’s sugar. Roll immediately and let cool.
- For the butter cream: In a small saucepan mix the sugar and water. Cook over medium-high heat stirring all the time with a wooden spoon to avoid crystallization of sugar. Bring to a boil and continue cooking under medium heat about 5-10 minutes until syrup is thick. Set aside until butter and eggs are ready. Syrup should be warm when used.
- In a mixing bowl beat butter until smooth. In a separate mixing bowl add the egg yolks and beat on high speed while gradually adding the warm syrup. Continue beating until batter is double in size. With a tablespoon gradually add the butter and continue beating until butter cream is very smooth.
- To make the filling for the log use half of the cream. Place it in another bowl and add the coffee liqueur and beat for few seconds. To the remaining half of the cream, add the melted chocolate and beat for few seconds to get a smooth cover for the log.
- Carefully unfold the jellyroll but don’t open completely to avoid breaking it. Spread with the filling and roll again. Cut into one two-third piece and one-third piece. Cut the one- third piece in half. Assemble the log, cover with chocolate butter cream. As for the decoration, there is no limit to your imagination.