This was a tradition amongst my friends back in school and with my own family with our french heritage, to create a Bûche de Noël for Christmas. The recipes can vary, some like the vanilla cake and others prefer chocolate, I have no preference as long as I get to eat it.
A Bûche de Noël or Yule Log, is a traditional Christmas dessert hailing from France, Canada, and other former French colonies. It is a jelly roll made of sponge cake, which is then rolled around a cream filling and topped with a chocolate buttercream or mocha buttercream frosting to give the color of rich dark bark. An end of the log is cut off and then placed on the side of the jelly roll to make it look like a real cut tree branch. Textures are added to the outsides of the jelly roll in the buttercream topping, and then other decorative features are added like powdered sugar to imitate freshly fallen snow, or meringue mushrooms, and more!
The history of this dish dates back to even Medieval times, where the symbolism first originated. Each year around the time of the Winter Solstice, the villagers would burn old logs covered in pine cones, holly, or ivy, as a way of eradicating any misfortunes that had happened in the year and to make way for the new year. They would even keep the ashes as a good luck charm! So through this tradition, they started making the cakes to represent this old pagan custom.
Just don't burn this log, or no one will want to keep any remnant of it.
Original Bûche de Noël Recipe
5 Eggs, separated
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
Mocha Buttercream Frosting:
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup baking cocoa
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon brewed coffee
2 to 3 tablespoons 2% milk
Line a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan with parchment paper; grease the paper. Place egg whites in a small bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
In a large bowl, beat egg yolks on high until light and fluffy. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar, beating until thick and lemon-colored. Combine the flour, cocoa and salt; gradually add to egg yolk mixture until blended.
Beat egg whites on medium until foamy. Add cream of tartar; beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high until stiff peaks form. Stir a fourth into chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining egg whites until no streaks remain.v Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until cake springs back (do not overbake). Cool for 5 minutes; invert onto a linen towel dusted with confectioners' sugar. Peel off parchment paper. Roll up in the towel, starting with a short side. Cool on a wire rack.
In a large bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar and coffee granules. Beat until stiff peaks form; chill. Unroll cooled cake; spread cream filling to within 1/2 in. of edges. Roll up again. Place on serving platter; chill.
In a large bowl, beat frosting ingredients until smooth. Frost cake. Using a fork, make lines resembling tree bark. Yield: 12 servings.
1/2 cup sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring), plus additional for dusting pan
5 large eggs, separated, left at room temperature for 30 minutes
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup espresso or very strong black coffee
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon Cognac or brandy
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon Cognac or brandy
1/2 cup chilled heavy cream
12 ounces 60% bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Meringue mushrooms (optional)
Unsweetened cocoa for dusting
Confectioners' sugar for dusting
A 15- by 10- by 1-inch rimmed sheet pan (aka jelly-roll pan; small offset spatula (optional, but really helpful); long rectangular or oval platter or wooden serving board
Heat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter pan and line bottom and sides with 1 sheet of parchment paper. Butter paper and dust with additional flour, knocking out excess.
Beat together yolks, vanilla, and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until thick and pale and mixture forms a ribbon that takes 2 seconds to dissolve when beaters are lifted, 5 to 8 minutes in a stand mixer or 8 to 12 minutes with a handheld. Sift half of flour over yolks and fold it in gently but thoroughly, then sift and fold in remaining flour.
Beat whites with salt and cream of tartar in a large metal bowl with cleaned beaters at medium speed until they just hold soft peaks. Beat in remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat until whites just hold stiff peaks.
Fold 1/4 of whites into yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly. Stir 1/2 cup batter into melted butter in a small bowl until combined, then fold butter mixture into batter gently but thoroughly. Spread batter evenly in sheet pan and rap once on counter to help eliminate air bubbles.
Bake until top of cake springs back when gently pressed with finger, 7 to 10 minutes. Sift top of hot cake evenly with confectioners' sugar and cover cake with a clean kitchen towel (not terry cloth) followed by a baking sheet. Holding sheet and cake pan together with oven mitts, flip cake onto cloth on baking sheet. Carefully peel off and discard parchment paper.
With a long side nearest you and using towel as an aid, roll up cake in towel, jelly-roll style, keeping it wrapped in towel. Cool cake completely, seam-side down in towel, on a rack.
Make Espresso Syrup:
Bring espresso and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves, then boil until reduced to a scant 1/4 cup. Remove pan from heat and stir in Cognac, then cool to room temperature.
Slowly mix mascarpone, sugar, cinnamon, and Cognac in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined. If mixture is very loose after adding sugar, beat mixture briefly to thicken slightly (see Cooks' Notes).
Beat heavy cream in another bowl with same beaters at medium speed until it just holds stiff peaks. Fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture.
Put chopped chocolate in a large bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just comes to a boil, then pour over chocolate and let stand 3 minutes. Stir slowly with a whisk until smooth. If bits of chocolate remain unmelted, set bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and heat, stirring gently, until completely smooth, and remove from pan. Stir in corn syrup. Chill, stirring a couple of times, until it thickens to an easily spreadable consistency, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Assemble Yule Log:
Gently unroll cooled cake on a baking sheet, keeping it on towel, then arrange baking sheet so that long side of cake that was inside roll is nearest to you. Brush all of cooled espresso syrup all over surface of cake.
Spread filling with offset spatula evenly over cake, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Starting from long side nearest you, roll up cake without towel, leaving it seam-side down on baking sheet. Gently brush off any excess confectioners' sugar.
Cut a 1 1/2-inch-long diagonal slice from each end of roll and reserve. Transfer cake, using 2 metal slotted spatulas as aids, seam-side down on platter. Using ganache as "glue," attach end pieces, diagonal sides down, on top and side of log to resemble branches. Spread ganache all over roll and branches with offset spatula, making it resemble tree bark.
Arrange a few meringue mushrooms, if using, around Yule log, and very lightly sift a little cocoa over log and mushrooms first, followed by a little confectioners' sugar to resemble a light dusting of snow.