Looking for a new cake to be the centerpiece of your December 25 dessert table? This Christmas Yule log is the perfect food decoration.
Bûche de Noël (a Christmas Yule log) is a dessert traditionally made in France for Christmas. When I managed a French artisan bakery, it was Christophe's specialty cake recipe and he used to make three flavors: chocolate, coffee, and a white chocolate and raspberry. Hotels and restaurants loved to order them for a centerpiece amidst their decorations.
Christmas Yule Log recipe: Chocolate Bûche de Noël
The first thing to make is the crème au beurre or buttercream.
Christmas Yule Log recipe: Crème au beurre
2/3 cup (125g) unsalted butter
1 egg and 1 egg yolk (reserve the white)
1/2 cup (87g) sugar
1/3 cup (25g) water
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of rum
Soften and whisk the butter in one bowl. In another bowl whisk the eggs and stand aside.
Measure out the sugar and water accurately and place in a small pan with a sugar thermometer.
Dissolve the sugar and then heat until you reach 250°F (121°C).
If you are using a heavy based Le Creuset pan for example remove from heat when you hit 250°F (120°C) as the temperature will continue to rise. Cool to 230°F (110°C).
Continue to whisk the eggs adding the cooled sugar syrup in a steady stream.
Continue whisking for another few minutes. Add this mixture to your whipped butter. Add in cocoa powder and rum and place in fridge to stiffen up.
Read more: The ten best Irish Christmas food and drink treats
Christmas Yule Log recipe: For the sponge
4 eggs and the reserved egg white
2/3 cups (140g) sugar
3/4 cups (100g) flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
Line a Swiss roll tin with baking parchment and grease it with a knob of melted butter. Mine was 36 x 25cm or 14 x 10 inches but you can use a bigger one to get a thinner sponge which makes rolling it easier.
Preheat your oven to 340°F (170°C) or 320°F (160°C) if fan assisted.
Put the eggs and sugar in a bowl and place over a saucepan of water. Put the heat on under the pan and bring to a gentle simmer all the time whisking the eggs and sugar. When it turns thick and creamy and you can write on the mixture with your whisk and it remains visible for a few seconds it is done.
Sieve in your flour and cocoa powder and gently fold in with a metal spoon. Pour the mixture into the tin and tilt the tin to move the mixture into the corners.
Place on the bottom shelf in the oven and bake until it springs back to a gentle touch for 25-35 minutes. Place a damp tea towel on a board and slide the sponge out of the tin onto it. Cover with a dry tea towel and leave to cool.
When it is cool spread the buttercream gently all over it with a pallet knife or a spatula. Cut a line about 1cm in along the shorter side and fold this over and start to roll from here using the grease-proof paper to guide it into a tight roll.
Set aside and prepare your ganache to cover the log.
Christmas Yule Log recipe: Ganache
1 1/2 cup (250g) dark chocolate or half and half dark and milk if you don't like it too bitter
1/2 cup (100ml) cream
Break up the chocolate pieces into the cream in a heavy-based pan and put on a gentle heat until the chocolate starts to melt. Stir until it all melts and then set aside to cool. When it is the right consistency to spread, cover the sponge and make marks in it to resemble a log. Decorate and serve.
For the coffee flavor replace the cocoa powder with 2 teaspoons of coffee liquid extract. For the white chocolate add 75g of melted white chocolate to the buttercream and make a white chocolate ganache as above to cover.
* Originally published in 2012.