Christmas Log

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Christmas log, Bûche de Noël or Yule log if you prefer, is a traditional French dessert served, unsurprisingly, around Christmas time. The popular (but almost certainly wrong) origin of this dessert is that Napoleon I of France proclaimed households in Paris should keep their chimneys closed during winter in order to keep out the cold air and, not being able to use their fireplaces, this symbolic replacement was created.


Preparation Time: 35 – 40 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 10 – 15


  1. Heat the oven to 175°c.
  2. To make the sponge, weigh the plain flour, corn flour, baking powder and sugar for the sponge into a large mixing bowl.
    the dry ingredients
  3. Separate the eggs so the yolks are in one bowl and the whites are in another. Weigh the water and oil into the bowl with the egg yolks and whisk them to a foamy consistency.
    the whisked wet ingredients
  4. Whisk the egg whites to the stiff peak stage.
    the whisked egg whites
  5. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the dry ingredient and, using a hand whisk, combine them together until you have a runny batter. Then fold the egg whites into the batter as gently as you can (but don’t worry about it too much).
    the cake batter
  6. Pour the cake mix onto an oiled baking tray lined with greaseproof paper or a silicon mat.
    the cake batter ready for the oven
  7. Put the baking tray into the middle shelf of the oven and bake it for 15 – 20 minutes, until it is golden brown.
  8. While the sponge is baking, make the sugar syrup by placing the caster sugar and water into a saucepan and gently heat it until the two combine and have gone translucent. Then remove it from the heat and let it cool. When it is cool add the alcohol or water.
  9. When the sponge is cooked, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for 3 minutes. Then sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of caster sugar over the sponge, put a sheet of greaseproof paper over it and, while firmly holding the greaseproof paper to the baking tray, turn the whole lot upside down and rest it on the worktop.
  10. Remove the baking tray and the sheet of greaseproof paper that used to be underneath the sponge and then soak the sponge with the sugar syrup. This will help with rolling up the cake later.
    the turned out, cooked, soaked cake
  11. To make the butter cream, place the soft butter and icing sugar into a large bowl and beat them together until it turns very pale and is very soft. Then add the vanilla extract and beat that in.
    the whipped butter icing
  12. Melt the chocolate in the microwave on low power or in a bain marie and then beat it into the butter cream (make sure the melted chocolate is not too hot).
    the chocolate butter icing
  13. Place half the butter cream on the sponge sheet and spread it out leaving a 2cm gap at the end (in case the butter cream is squeezed over it).
    spreading the icing on the cake
  14. Using the sheet of greaseproof paper, roll up the sponge. Take your time and don’t worry too much about any cracks as they will be covered up later.
    rolling the cake
  15. When the cake is almost fully rolled, roll it onto a suitably sized serving dish.
    the rolled cake
  16. Evenly spread the remainder of the butter cream over the top and ends of the cake so that it fills any cracks in the sponge.
    the iced cake
  17. To make the decoration, melt the decoration chocolate in the microwave on low power or in a bain marie and then pour it onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, cling-film/plastic-wrap or a silicon mat. Let it chill until it has set completely solid. Then turn out the chocolate onto a chopping board and break it up into shards for the “bark”.
    the broken chocolate bark
  18. Stick the shards onto the cake so that they are overlapping and hiding the buttercream underneath.
    the cake with the bark
  19. Using a cocktail stick or a fork, draw lines at the ends of the cake to represent the trees growth rings and then dust the top with icing sugar. If you want, you could further decorate the cake with holly leaves (but make sure they are clean and dry).
    the finished cake
  20. After all that you can finally serve it. The easiest way to slice it is to heat a very sharp knife underneath the hot tap between each slice (this will melt through the chocolate and the cake) and to make sure that the cake is at room temperature. We served it with a couple of holly leaves. Don’t eat the holly.
    a slice of the finished cake
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Useful Information

Can it be frozen? Yes, for up to 1 month.
Can it be prepared in advance? Yes, it can be finished up to 1 week in advance.
Will leftovers be nice? Yes for up to 1 week if kept out of the fridge, 2 weeks if in the fridge.


- As an alternative, you could make a chocolate sponge by adding 50g of cocoa powder to the sponge mix and have a white icing by leaving out the chocolate for the buttercream.

Recipe Options
Units of Measurement
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  • teaspoon (AUS)
  • Distance
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  • Temperature
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