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Ooh La La! How to "Let Them Eat Cake!" Traditional Buche De Noel Recipe

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Traditional Buche de Noel French Christmas Cake

Traditional Buche de Noel French Christmas Cake

As many of you know, I recently returned from my Christmas in Paris adventure. It was fabulous and this being the Holiday Season, I'd love to share with you the recipe for a traditional French Christmas show-stopping dessert- Buche de Noel or Yule Log cake recipe.

A Bit About the Traditional Cake:
Yes, Christmas has passed but the day of Epiphany is upon us and as with many European countries, this is a huge holiday with festive celebrations. Celebrated every year on January 6th, Epiphany Day commemorates the day the Kings, also known as the wise men, came to visit Jesus in the Nativity story, also known as the 12 Days of Christmas When my kids were young, I used to tease them by telling them we would scrap Christmas and celebrate the day of Epiphany so I could take advantage of the after Christmas sales. Let's say, they hated that idea!

Walking the streets of Paris on Christmas Eve, I noticed many of the patisseries were hard at work decorating the Yule Logs. It brought back fond memories of all the years past when our Christmas Table showcased a Yule Log Cake.

How Did the Tradition Begin?

Let's look at a bit of the history of Buche de Noel before moving on to the recipe. The history of the Bûche de Noël starts, unsurprisingly, with a real tree log, supposed to bring good luck. In medieval times, this pagan ritual involved bringing in a log and putting it on the hearth, maybe sprinkling it with a little wine, to ensure a good grape harvest the following year.

The thing is that the log needed to burn for a minimum of three consecutive days after being lit on Christmas Eve to bring good luck. Eventually, the real log was replaced with a chocolate log, which is, luckily, not set alight. Instead, in cities such as Paris, the best pâtissiers compete against each other, trying to design the best and nicest-looking logs possible, and, of course, the tastiest. Creations are at times quite wild, but inside there is usually a sponge roll, cream, and sometimes fruit jam or other sweet creams. And it is always covered in chocolate and decorations.



You can change this cake up any way you want by making the cake white or adding jam to the filling, or, or, or. Use your imagination on the decorations; I've seen some cakes topped with meringue mushrooms and one of the latest trends is using white chocolate and a white buttercream frosting. The possibilities are endless. Your decorations don't have to be perfect there are no perfect tree logs, in fact, any imperfections will give your cake its own je ne sais quios! Have fun and let your inner artist go wild!

Buche de Noel/ Yule Log Cake

Nutrition Facts

Servings Per Recipe: 12

Serving Size: 1 serving

Amount Per Serving


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted, clarified butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ cup fine granulated sugar
  • ½ cup white, bleached all-purpose flour
  • Copper, stainless, or heat-resistant glass bowl. or use a double broiler
  • Jelly roll pan, approximately 12 by 17  spray the pan with cooking spray and then flour


  1. Place the eggs and sugar in a bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of hot water. Beat the mixture with an electric hand mixer until double in volume (3 to 4 minutes).
  2. Remove from the hot water and continue to beat until thick, cool, and glossy (5 minutes).
  3. Gradually sift in the all-purpose flour and fold in gently. Gently fold in the butter mixture.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Do not over-bake the cake. This is a critical step
  6. Invert on a cake rack and cool.
  7. Roll between two sheets of waxed paper and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.



  • ¼ cup hot water but not boiling
  • 1 tablespoon white finely granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Rum or Cognac. I like using Gran Mariner or any other Brandy
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  1. Stir the sugar into the water until dissolved.
  2. Stir in the rum or whatever alcohol you are using.
  3. Set aside.

Buche de Noel Buttercream Icing


  • 3 ounces milk chocolate, white chocolate, or dark chocolate. Make sure to use baker's chocolate. (A White Buche de Noel frosted cake is actually the new rage in Paris which is made using white chocolate for this step)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1/3 cup icing sugar (powdered)
  • 3 egg yolks. (Save the egg whites for making an omelet)
  • 2 (8 tablespoon sticks each) (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened. Do NOT Use melted butter
  • Red and green food coloring (for holly leaves and berries)


  1. Melt the chocolate in a small bowl over a saucepan of hot water. (double broiler)
  2. Add the sugar to the water and bring to a boil. Boil for two minutes.
  3. Place the yolks in a bowl and beat with an electric hand mixer. you can also use a hand blender.
  4. Pour the hot sugar water very slowly over the yolks, beating constantly. Beat for about five minutes, until thick and pale yellow. Continue to beat and add the butter very slowly.
  5. If decorating with holly leaves and berries, remove three tablespoons of the icing and set it aside.
  6. Add the melted chocolate to the remaining buttercream and beat until smooth.
  7. Using the food coloring, color a small amount of the buttercream that has been set aside red, and the rest green.

Whipped Cream Filling


  • 1 ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons white finely granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons Rum or Cognac or whatever alcohol you have chosen


  1. Beat the heavy cream until thick. Usually about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the sugar, vanilla, and alcohol and beat until stiff. If your heavy cream does not thicken, you can add about 1/4 tsp cream of tartar to thicken more. Do not use already prepared whipped cream.

To Assemble and Decorate the Buche de Noel Cake

  1. Carefully unroll the cake. Remove the waxed paper on top.
  2. Carefully pour the syrup over the cake letting it soak in. Spread the whipped cream filling over the rolled-out cake.
  3. Carefully, roll the cake back up. and then place the rolled cake on a serving platter.
  4. Cut off one end of the cake and put the cut piece next to the log (rolled cake) to resemble a cut branch.
  5. Using a spatula, spread the buttercream icing over the entire cake and branch.
  6. Use the spatula or a fork to create a bark-like texturing.
  7. To create the holly leaves, place the green icing in a pastry bag with a fluted tip.
  8. To create the berries, place the red icing in a pastry bag with a plain tip.
  9. There is no wrong to decorate. Use your imagination and have fun with this! You can even use uncolored buttercream icing to simulate snow on the log OR
  10. Dust a small amount of powdered sugar over the cake and edges to resemble snow.
  11. Refrigerate until served. Slice with a serrated knife. The cake can be made up to two days in advance

Feel free to post your pictures of your very own Buche de Noel cake in the comments section!

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Until next time, friends, remember: "To Travel is to  Live"!

Until next time, friends, remember: "To Travel is to  Live"!

© 2022 Dee Serkin

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