This stunning Yule Log Cake recipe (aka a Bûche de Noël) is perfect for Christmas with a simple chocolate sponge cake, cream cheese filling, a whipped ganache icing and garnished with easy to make candy mushrooms.
If you’ve never made a French Yule Log Cake, then this recipe is for you. It’s a blast to make and easier than you think! It’s simply a cake roll shaped and decorated to look like a log.
Update: We’ve updated this post with new step-by-step photos and tips to make this Yule Log Cake Recipe streamlined and foolproof for your Christmas celebrations.
What Is a French Yule Log?
A Yule Log is a classic French dessert shared on Christmas or Christmas Eve. Classically, it’s made by rolling a light chocolate sponge cake into a log with a layer of cream filling. Sometimes, the cake is frozen like an ice cream cake.
Traditional garnishes for this log-like cake include powdered sugar, candy or meringue mushrooms, and other decorations that add to the natural, earthy look of the dish. The best part comes when it’s sliced to reveal swirls of dark chocolate sponge with fluffy cream filling.
You might also find this cake called a Bûche de Noël, which is French for “Christmas log.”
How to Make a Yule Log
Here are my best tips and tricks to perfect this Yule Log Cake Recipe for your holiday celebrations:
Making the Chocolate Sponge Cake
Before you start mixing up the cake batter, it’s best to let all of your ingredients come to room temperature. In addition, be sure to line with parchment and grease your jelly roll pan well for seamless unmolding.
When the batter is ready, pour it into your prepared pan and spread it into an even layer with an offset spatula.
After baking, while the cake is still warm, roll the cake into a tight spiral, starting at the long end. Cooling your cake in a roll shape will make it easier to roll the filled cake later. Let it sit with the seam side down.
Making the Filling
The filling for this Yule Log Cake Recipe is like a light cheesecake mousse. It is sweet and slightly tangy from the cream cheese. Be sure the cream cheese is softened to room temperature so it will blend easily with no lumps. The heavy cream should be chilled, however.
Tip: You can bring your cream cheese to room temperature quickly by putting it in a Ziploc page and placing it in a bowl of warm water for about 15 minutes.
Ganache Frosting for a Christmas Yule Log Cake
The ganache frosting is light, airy, and soft. It spreads quite easily and firms up once chilled. Be sure to let the chocolate ganache cool fully to room temperature before adding the butter and powdered sugar. Adding butter to warm ganache will cause a melty mess.
Also, avoid chilling the ganache frosting before spreading it on your cake. It will firm up too much and will not be spreadable.
Assembling a Homemade Yule Log Cake
When you’re ready to assemble your cake, the most important thing is that your cake is completely cooled. Otherwise, the filling will melt.
When unrolling your cooled cake, the inner edge may not unroll completely, this is fine. Just do your best to spread filling all the way up into the roll.
When spreading out the filling, leave a ¼-1/2 inch border around the cake (other than the inside roll). The filling will spread to the edges as it’s rolled. If any filling oozes out of the bottom of the cake near the seam, wipe it off as needed.
After filling and re-rolling, chill your cake. This helps the filling to stabilize and set.
I like to decorate the chilled cake on my serving platter. If you want to keep the platter totally clean, line it with parchment paper, which is easy to slip out from under the cake before serving.
Now, you’re ready to spread the chilled cake with ganache frosting. You don’t want it perfectly smooth, you’re trying to make it look like tree bark. The addition of sliced almonds also gives it a rustic tree bark look.
After frosting, chill it again for at least 10 minutes to set up the ganache.
Finally, garnish with your homemade mushrooms and a dusting of powdered sugar before serving.
Serving Homemade Yule Log Cake
This cake is meant to be served at chilled or at room temperature. Ideally, the Toffifay mushrooms should not be refrigerated.
You’ll want to make this Christmas dessert a day ahead of time to allow enough time for chilling and assembly.
More Christmas Dessert Recipes
While you’re in the holiday dessert making mood, why not try one of these other Christmastime recipes?
- Peppermint Candy Cane Brownies are a seasonal spin on your favorite fudgy dessert.
- Lemon Glazed Christmas Wreath Cookies are a delicate and zesty addition to your holiday cookie spread.
- Cherry Lemon Candy Cane Cookies are the perfect shape for holiday gifts.
- Instant Pot Cheesecake Bites from Pressure Cooking Today are a sweet two-bite treat made in the pressure cooker.
Yule Log Cake
- ⅔ cup cake flour
- ⅓ cup good quality cocoa sifted
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 5 large eggs room temperature
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- ⅓ cup buttermilk room temperature
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- 8 oz cream cheese room temperature
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter room temp
- ⅓ cup powdered sugar
- Powdered sugar
- Almond slices for the rough tree bark
- Toffifay mushrooms optional:
- melted chocolate
- Toffifay candy
- pretzel dipping sticks
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 11×17 jelly roll pan (rimmed cookie sheet) with parchment.
- In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sifted cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Set aside
- In large mixing bowl beat the eggs with whisk attachment on medium-high speed until thick and pale in color about 5 minutes.
- Add sugar and vanilla, beat another 3 minutes or until well blended and mixture leaves a trail in the bowl.
- Fold dry ingredients into the batter. Batter will start out streaky, continuing folding until mixture is completely blended.
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk and oil. Fold the buttermilk mixture into the cake batter just until blended.
- Pour batter (batter is very runny) into prepared pan and evenly spread the batter to all four corners.
- Bake about 10 minutes or until center of cake springs back when gently pressed.
- Let cake cool 5 minutes in pan. Then use a small knife to loosen the edges of the cake.
- Using the parchment under the cake roll the cake up from the long side, not the short side.
- Place rolled up cake, seam side down, onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
- In a mixing bowl, whip heavy cream until soft peaks form.
- In separate mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture a little bit at a time until blended.
- Unroll cake. The inside edge may stay slightly rolled, this is ok.
- Spread filling onto the cake leaving ½ inch border on the outer edges as filling will be pressed to the edges as the cake is rolled back up. If inner edge keeps rolling back up do your best to spread filling under the fold.
- Roll cake back up without the parchment paper. Make sure it is set seam side down. Chill completely, about 1-2 hours before decorating.
- Place chopped chocolate into a mixing bowl.
- Heat heavy cream until just about to boil.
- Pour over the chocolate. Stir in small circular motions, as ganache begins to form expand your stirring circles to the outer edge of the bowl. Stir until completely combined and ganache is formed. Let cool completely to room temp.
- Once ganache is room temp pour into mixing bowl, add vanilla.
- With the whisk attachment whip ganache, slowly add in the butter and powdered sugar.
- Best until frosting is light and fluffy and has a spreadable consistency, about 8 minutes. Ganache frosting will be a softer frosting.
- For the stems break dipping pretzels into three pieces each.
- With sharp paring knife cut away a hole in the center of the flat side of each Toffifay candy.
- Dip one end of the pretzel stem into the melted chocolate and push gently into the carved hole of the Toffifay candy.
- Set aside to set. Repeat with remaining mushrooms.
- Once filled cake is chilled place rolled cake onto a platter. Use a serrated knife to cut one inch off each end of the rolled cake to give a nice crisp look to each end.
- Next cut a 4” piece at a 45-degree angle and position the angled edge against the side of the cake log to make a side branch.
- Cut off the pointed edge, cutting about two inches back and place this piece on top of the large cake roll to simulate a top branch.
- Remove the top and side branches and spread ganache frosting around large log. Make long swoops to emulate the look of tree bark.
- Press side and top branch into place and spread with frosting.
- Layer sliced almonds as desired around the cake.
- Chill to set.
- To serve, arrange mushrooms around the Buche De Noel. Sprinkle with powdered sugar to make it look like snow.
- Serve cold or at room temperature.
- Store in refrigerator in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap.