Yule Log Recipe (Buche de Noel)
Yule Log Cake or as the French call it Buche de Noel is your fancy cake roll that is served around Christmas time. This cake roll is made with the best Caramel Cake, soaked with a delicious caramel syrup, then frosted with Caramel Frosting and Chocolate Glaze.
With this much caramel in the cake (it’s in the cake, frosting, and soaking syrup), one might think that it’s too sweet, but the recipe is balanced in a way that it is not. The crunchy roasted hazelnuts are also a beautiful addition to the recipe that cuts down the sweetness and adds a little bit of crunch.
If you want to impress your family this Christmas, present to them this masterpiece of a Yule Log and watch their eyes get wide with excitement!
What is a Yule Log?
Yule Log cake is a special cake roll made with a filled sponge, then covered in chocolate glaze or buttercream to make it look like the outside of a tree. Meringue mushrooms, meringue logs, or other marzipan decorations often adorn the beautiful Christmas Cake roll as well.
The tradition to bake a cake in the form of a log came from a different tradition to burn a specially selected log around Christmas.
Cake to use for this Christmas Roll
Any kind of cake roll can work for this Christmas roll (like this Chocolate Custard Roll, or this Chocolate Roll with Walnuts & Dulce de leche cream). For my Yule Log, I decided to go with this delicious Caramel Cake or (Golden Key Cake). This cake roll has been well-loved by everyone who tries it. In fact, every holiday this cake is the most requested and the most frequently made cake from my site. I’m happy to share the well-beloved cake in the Christmas roll form. I hope you give it a try!
What to decorate the Yule Log – Buche de Noel with?
There are many things you can use, but here are the most common ones –
- Meringue mushrooms – both caps and tops are made with meringue and baked separately, glued together with chocolate.
- Meringue logs – piped meringue logs baked until dry.
- Marzipan mushrooms (mushrooms made with almond paste)
- Marzipan Holly Leaves
- Sugared Cranberries – cranberries rolled in syrup, then sugar.
- Chocolate “Bark” is made by melting chocolate, spreading it over a piece of acetate, rolling it, then unrolling it once hardened to reveal what looks like bark now.
- Shredded Coconut – to represent snow.
- Ground pistachios – to make look like moss from the forest.
Cake Roll Ingredients: (see more mdetailed recipe & ingredient list at the bottom)
This cake roll is made with a sponge cake (sugar, eggs, flour) that has dulce de leche added for caramel flavor and sour cream, which adds moisture to the cake and makes it soft, but durable.
How to make the Caramel Cake Layers
- Whip the eggs and sugar for about 10 minutes.
- In a separate dish combine the sour cream, dulce de leche, and baking soda with a whisk. Add the mixture into the whipped eggs and gently fold.
- Sift in the flour and the baking powder and minimally fold until combined.
- Pour out onto the parchment-lined baking pan and bake for about 9-10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Then invert onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
Make the Caramel Syrup
- Combine the dulce de leche with the evaporated milk with an immersion blender, or by whisking vigorously. Then pour the prepared caramel syrup into a squeeze bottle, if available, and set aside.
Make the Caramel Cream
- Whip room temperature butter and cream cheese until fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Add the dulce de leche in two additions, minimally whipping after each. Next, carefully add the whipped topping or whipped heavy cream in halves to form a smooth and fluffy caramel cream.
- Flip the baked cake onto parchment paper or parchment paper. Drizzle the prepared caramel syrup all over the cake.
- Then, reserve 2 cups of frosting for decorating and spread the rest of the cream all over the cake. Sprinkle with the nuts evenly.
- Roll the cake roll tightly, using parchment paper or plastic wrap to help hold it together and twist the ends to keep the cake roll rolled and secure. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight.
How to Make the meringue decorations (Click the link for thorough step pictures and instructions).
- Whip the egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks.
- Load the piping bag with the prepared meringue and pipe 3 inches long, 1/4 inch thick logs. Sprinkle with desiccated coconut.
- Also, pipe 3/4 inch thick, 1-inch tall mushroom stems. Then pipe the round mushroom caps.
- Bake at 200F for 2 hours or until the meringues are dried and no longer wet on the inside. Then, turn off the oven and leave it in the oven for 30 minutes before removing it from the oven and allowing it to cool completely.
How to assemble the meringue mushrooms
- Using the fine grater, grate the tip that would attach to the mushroom cap flat.
- Then, dip that side into melted chocolate and press firmly to the bottom of the mushroom cap. Leave to harden.
How to decorate the Yule Log
- Make chocolate ganache (click the link for thorough step by step instructions and ingredients)
- Remove the wrapped cake from the fridge, unwrap and cover it in reserved cream.
- Pour the ganache over the top of the cake. Use a fork to go along the cake lengthwise and make it look like the bark of a tree if desired.
- Trim one end of the cake diagonally, making the piece about 3 inches long, then attach it to the side of the roll with the diagonal side of the cake towards the roll to resemble a branch.
- Spread some cream around the cake roll here and there, then sprinkle the cream with shredded coconut to resemble snow. Arrange a couple of meringue mushrooms around the “snow”.
- Top the cake with the prepared meringue logs.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
How to store the Yule Log
- Store in the fridge for up to 3-4 days, covered. If possible, do not refrigerate the meringue as it tends to weep in the fridge.
How to serve the Yule Log
- Serve cold, straight out of the fridge, or leave at room temperature for 1 hour if you prefer a softer buttercream texture.
Yule Log - Caramel Cake Roll
Caramel Cake Ingredients
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk
- 7 oz dulce de leche 7 oz = 1/2 can
- 1 cup hazelnuts
- 4 oz butter unsalted, room temperate
- 4 oz cream cheese
- 6 oz dulce de leche 7 oz = 1/2 can
- 8 oz Cool Whip or heavy cream
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Make Meringue Mushrooms & Logs
Follow the directions here to make the meringue mushrooms and logs.
This step can be done now; or while the cake roll is already prepared and is being refrigerated; or up to 2-3 days in advance.
Store prepared meringue decorations at room temperature until needed.
How to make Caramel Cake Layers
Prep: Preheat oven to 350F degrees with the baking rack in the middle. Line a large 15 in x 21 in a baking sheet pan with parchment or a silicone mat, set aside (alternatively butter and flour the sheet pan).
Whip 1st mixture: In a bowl of a stand mixer whip together 2 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/4 tsp salt until the whipped eggs fall in a ribbon that doesn't disappear for about 2-3 seconds; about 10 minutes.
Whisk 2nd mixture: Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk together 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/2 can dulce de leche and 1/2 tsp of baking soda until no lumps of dulce de leche are seen.
Fold the two prepared mixtures together, being careful not to deflate the batter.
Add dry ingredients: Sift in 1 cup of flour and 2 teaspoons of baking powder, into the wet ingredients and fold the batter until fully incorporated. Do not overmix or the cakes will be tough.
Bake the cake: Pour the caramel cake batter out into the prepared baking sheet pan and spread the batter into an even layer. Bake for about 9 minutes or until the top is lightly golden and springs back when touched. Remove from the oven and completely cool.
Caramel Soaking Syrup
Make the syrup: Combine the evaporated milk and the dulce de leche with a whisk or an immersion blender until smooth. Pour into a squirt bottle if available. Set aside.
How to make the Caramel Cream
Skip this step, if using store-bought whipped topping (Cool Whip).
Whip cream: If using heavy whipped cream, whip the cream with a mixer until medium-stiff peaks. Transfer to a different bowl and refrigerate until the next step is complete.
Make the cream: In a mixer whip 4 oz cubed room temperature butter and 4 oz cubed cream cheese for about 4-5 minutes or until the mixture is very fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Add the dulce de leche in 2 additions and whip to incorporate after each.
Fold the prepared whipped cream (from step 1) or whipped topping in halves.
(skip this step if using pre-roasted hazelnuts)
Preheat oven to 325 with the baking rack centered.
Roast hazelnuts: Place the hazelnuts onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake tossing, every 3-4 minutes and tasting to see if they're roasted to your liking, ~15 minutes,
Cool: Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Remove the skins: Add the nuts to a ziplock bag and keep shaking and rubbing the nuts between the palms of your hands until the skin is removed.
Remove the nuts: The skins will fall to the bottom of the bag, the nuts will be on top. Remove the nuts to a separate bowl, discarding the skins.
Chop the nuts with a sharp knife to the desired size, or add them to a ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin. Set aside.
How to Assemble the Caramel Cake
Set cake on plastic wrap: Flip the cake upside down onto plastic wrap that's wider than the cake all around by about 3 inches. Peel off the parchment paper or the silicone mat.
Soak with syrup: Using a squeeze bottle or a spoon, pour the Caramel Soaking Syrup evenly all over the cake layer.
Fill with cream:
Reserve about 1 cup of cream, cover, and refrigerate until later.
Spread the rest of the cream evenly over the cake and sprinkle the hazelnuts.
Roll the cake roll tightly, starting with the shorter side of the roll. Wrap with the plastic wrap and twist the ends. Transfer to a plate and refrigerate.
The cake needs to be refrigerated to set the roll and make it easy to move as you decorate. You can do this for a minimum of 1 hour, or even overnight. The longer, the better.
If you didn't make the meringue decorations earlier, this is also a good time to make the meringue decorations.
Make chocolate ganache
Do this step right before removing the cake roll from the fridge for decorating.
Make ganache: Boil 1/2 cup of cream in the microwave. Add 1/2 cup of chopped chocolates or semi-sweet chocolate chips to a cup. Pour the boiling hot cream over the chocolate chips and allow to sit for 1-2 minutes. Stir until smooth.
Cover the yule log with cream and chocolte: Remove the cake roll from the fridge. Unwrap the plastic wrap. Set the cake roll on a wire rack. Spread the reserved 1 cup of cream over the top of the roll leaving about 1 tablespoon of cream for later.
Pour the prepared ganache from the step above over the yule log and spread all over the roll using a spatula.
Optional: To make the tree log design on top use the fork tines to gently go over the chocolate in a wave pattern.
Using a sharp knife even out both ends of the yule log by slicing off a thin slice.
Trim: With a sharp knife trim about 1/5th of the yule log making a diagonal cut. Transfer this piece diagonal cut side towards the side of the yule log.
Add meringue decor: add the meringue logs to the top of the yule log and the meringue mushrooms around it. Use leftovers of the cream or chocolate ganache as glue to secure to the serving platter or the yule log.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.