The classic French Christmas dessert, a Yule Log Cake, or otherwise known as Buche de Noel, is a really elegant and fun addition to your holiday entertaining! Traditionally made in France, Belgium, Quebec, Lebanon, and several other French colonies, this tasty treat is intended to replicate the log that burns in the fireplaces of French families during the Christmas holiday season. Historically, families would haul huge logs home which would represent good fortune and, once lit in the fireplace, would be said to burn out old wrongs. Part of the tradition has been to decorate the log with greenery, oils, and even salt, wine, and ribbons before burning it for several days. The cake is meant to represent the traditional log at this special time of year.
Our younger daughter's first-grade class spent time learning all about international holidays over the past month. She was assigned France, so after some research we learned all about the Yule Log Cake! What better excuse than to try and make one of our own to share with the class? And what a fun way to introduce an interesting new type of holiday food to share with our own family. I was a little intimidated at first to make it, but we found a very user-friendly recipe.
Yule Log Cake Recipe (from JoyofBaking.com)
Chocolate Sponge Cake ingredients:
1/4 cup cake flour
2 T cornstarch
2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3 large egg yolks, at room temp
2 large egg whites, at room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Chocolate Frosting (Ganache) ingredients:
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 T butter, cut into small pieces
Chocolate Whipped Cream ingredients:
1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 granulated sugar
2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
For the cake:
1) Preheat oven to 450. Butter (or spray with a non-stick vegetable spray) a 17X12 inch baking pan, line it with parchment paper, and then butter and flour the paper.
2) In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt.
3) Remove 1 T from the 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and set it aside to be added later to the whipped egg whites.
4) Place the two eggs and three yolks, along with the remaining granulated sugar and vanilla extract, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or a hand mixer). Beat on high speed until mixture is thick and pale (about five minutes). Sift half the flour mixture over the egg mixture and fold in gently with a rubber spatula, just until the flour is incorporated. Sift the remaining flour in and fold in.
5) In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. On high speed, gradually add the one T of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold a little of the whites into the batter, then the rest. Pour the batter onto your prepared pan, spreading evenly with a spatula. Bake for about 6-8 minutes, until set. Immediately when removed from oven, sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar and then invert the cake onto a clean dish towel. Remove the parchment paper, sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar, and gently roll up the sponge cake with a towel. Place on a wire rack to cool.
For the chocolate ganache frosting:
1) Place the chopped chocolate in a medium-sized heat-proof bowl. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to just a boil.
2) Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and stir gently with a spoon or whisk until smooth. Set aside until it thickens to spreading consistency.
For the chocolate whipped cream:
1) In a large mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment (or hand mixer), combine the whipping cream, vanilla, sugar, and cocoa powder. Beat the mixture on high speed until stiff peaks form.
2) Once the cake has cooled, unroll, spread with the cream, and gently roll the cake back into the log shape.
3) Frost with the ganache so that it resembles a log! Cover and place in the fridge until serving (can be refrigerated for 4-5 days). Just before serving, cover with powdered sugar. Enjoy!