Buche de Noel

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

The spectacular Buche de NoelThe Buche de Noel is a spectacular extravaganza from France and is one dessert, among many, of their gifts to the world of food. And what a gift it is! While it looks complicated, it can be done over several weeks.  I have posted a schedule below.  Buche de Noel translates to Yule Log.  It is basically a jelly roll with the ends cut off and decorated to look like a tree trunk lying on the ground.

We had a loyal following that would order the Buche de Noel every year.  The photograph to the left was from our online catalog.  It is one of my favorites.

The Buche de Noel consist of a sponge that is filled and rolled like a jelly roll.  Any number of buttercreams, curds or seedless raspberry preserves can be used inside.  The ends are cut off to make the knots on the top and side.  The entire creation is finished in chocolate buttercream.   It is then finished to look like a log.  It can be decorated in a number of ways.  We made meringue mushrooms, chocolate leaves and fondant holly berries.

For this Buche de Noel, I have used a coffee buttercream filling.   The strawberry buttercream would also be fantastic.  The chocolate buttercream used here is based on one from “The Cake Bible” by  Rose Levy Beranbaum.  It is ultra light,  smooth and unbelievably easy.  Just perfect for this cake.

Because there are several parts to the finished Buche de Noel, they can be scheduled as follows:
– Chocolate Leaves, make up to a month before using
– Meringue Mushrooms, make several weeks before using. Do not dust with cocoa. Store in an airtight container until needed.
– Holly Berries – several weeks before needing. Make and let dry out.
– Filled Sponge – up to a month before finishing. Thaw in refrigerator before finishing. It will cut better if the buttercream is cold.

Spongecake can be difficult to roll when cold.  There are several ways of getting the sponge to roll without cracking.

  1. The first is to cool the sponge in the pan.  Turn it out, remove the paper and wash it with a sugar syrup (equal parts of water and sugar brought to a boil)  to which liqueur of your choice  has been added.
  2. A second way is to powder sugar a piece of foil and place the warm sponge on it.  Roll it up and leave it rolled up until needed, then unroll it and fill it.  Re-roll it along the same lines as it was.
  3. Third, and this is the one we used since it was the simplest is to place a piece of foil directly on the hot cake as it comes from the oven.  Let it cool and keep it covered like this until needed.  The steam created by covering it will make it very supple.  The spongecake should be made and cooled just before filling, so be sure  your filling is either made or make it while the sponge is cooling.  After it is filled and rolled, it can be covered and frozen for up to a month before finishing.

The presentation of the Buche de Noel is very important.  We used these silver platters available at party stores as the perfect way to show it off and transport it.

Chocolate Spongecake – This must be made just before filling. However, it can be frozen after filling and finished later.ingredients for the Buche de Noel3/4 cup sifted cake flour (75 grams, 2 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup sifted cocoa (25 grams, 1 scant ounce)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 eggs separated
2/3 cup sugar, divided (140 grams, 5 ounces)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray the bottom of 1/2 sheet pan (11×17 inches) with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper and spray the paper. Do not spray sides of pan. Set aside.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa and baking powder, mixing well. Set aside.Dry ingredients in a bowl for the Buche de NoelDry ingredients for the spongecake whisked for Buche de NoelCombine the egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment. Egg yolks and vanilla in the mixing bowl for the Buche de NoelBeat until very thick and very pale yellow. It is important to scrape the bowl on the sides and particularly the bottom after a couple of minutes.  When  egg yolks and sugar are mixed, the egg yolks form little beads in the bottom of the bowl.  It is important to scrape them up and get them integrated into the rest of the mixture or they will spoil the sponge if left unmixed.   For the same reason, the yolks and sugar should be combined just before beating and not allowed to sit.    Egg yolks and sugar beating for the Buche de NoelScraping the bottom of the bowl with the egg yolks for the Buche de NoelEgg yolks and sugar beaten for the Buche de NoelIn a clean mixing bowl with a clean whisk, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Egg whites in a mixing bowl for the Buche de NoelEgg whites beating for the Buche de NoelEgg whites beaten to soft peaks and ready for the sugar for the Buche de NoelSlowly add the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and beat until fairly stiff.Adding sugar to the beaten whites for the Buche de NoelEgg whites finished for the Buche de Noel

Place the egg yolks over the egg whites Beaten egg yolks over beaten egg whites for the Buche de Noeland sift half the flour/cocoa mixture over the beaten eggs.  Sifting half the dry ingredients over the egg mixture for the Buche de NoelFold together. Folding the first amount of flour over the beaten eggs for the Buche de NoelFold in the remaining flour/cocoa. Last of the flour mixture over the eggs for the Buche de NoelFolding in the last of the flour for the Buche de NoelSponge batter finished for the Buche de NoelGently pour into the prepared pan Pouring the batter into the pan for the Buche de Noeland spread out evenly. Spreading chocolate spongecake for the Buche de NoelBake 10 to 12 minutes. The top will spring back when lightly touched.Baked sponge cake for Buche de Noel

Immediately cover directly with foil and place on a rack to cool completely. Spongecake covered with foil for the Buche de NoelCoffee Buttercreamclick here for how to photos
2 eggs
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar (150 grams, 5 1/2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature (225 grams, 1/2 pound)
1 teaspoon instant coffee (not espresso)
1/4 teaspoon water

Beat eggs with the whisk attachment in a mixing bowl until very pale in color. Lower the speed to low and keep mixing.

Place the water, sugar and cream of tarter in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Wash the sides down with cold water. Cook to 242 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Slowly add the hot syrup to the eggs and beat on medium until cool. Add the butter about 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat until smooth.

Add the coffee mixture and beat until completely mixed in.

Chocolate Buttercream – While making this buttercream, it can curdle before the chocolate is added.   Do not panic – keep beating and it will become beautifully.Ingredients for chocolate buttercream for Buche de Noel

10 ounces semi sweet chocolate, melted and cooled (285 grams)
4 egg whites (1/2 cup, 120 grams or 4.25 ounces)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup sugar (200 grams or 7 ounces)
1 pound unsalted butter, room temperature (454 grams or 2 cups)

Melt the chocolate by microwaving on half power until the outer edge is melted but the inner part still looks intact.  Chocolate melting for chocolate buttercream for the Buche de NoelWhisk gently until melted and cool.  Whisking chocolate for the chocolate buttercream for the Buche de NoelChocolate melted for the Buche de NoelPlace the egg whites and vanilla in a mixing bowl Egg whites and vanilla for chocolate buttercream for the Buche de Noeland beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar Adding sugar to the meringue for the Buche de Noeland beat until stiff when beaters are raised slowly. Add the butter slowly, scraping often.  Adding butter to the buttercream for the Buche de NoelIf the mixture looks curdled, raise the mixer speed and continue beating. Curdled buttercream for the Buche de Noel It will come together. Buttercream before adding the chocolateAdd the chocolate all at once and beat until smooth and uniform in color, scraping often.Adidng chocolate to the buttercream for the Buche de NoelFinished chocolate buttercream or the Buche de Noel

Holly Berries– Make a batch of Marshmallow Fondant.

Cut off a small piece and color it with red food coloring – gel colors are preferable to liquid. Colored fondant for the Buche de NoelTake a very small piece and place it in the palm of your hand.  Shaping a holly berry for the Buche de NoelShape it into a berry by rolling it around your palm with your finger.  Shaping the holly berry for the Buche de NoelShaping holly berry for the Buche de NoelLet dry.  Store at room temperature.Berries drying for the Buche de Noel

Meringue Mushrooms– While only a few mushrooms, 8 to 12 at the most, will be needed, this is the smallest amount of ingredients that my mixer will make.  So what to do with the rest of the meringue?  Fold some shaved or mini chocolate chips into it, drop by teaspoons on a parchment lined baking sheet and enjoy a great tasting cookie.  Bake as for the mushrooms.Ingredients for Meringue Mushrooms for the Buche de Noel2 egg whites
1/2 cup +1 tablespoon sugar
White Chocolate
Cocoa

Beat whites to soft peak stage.  Slowly add sugarAdding sugar to egg whites for the meringue mushrooms for the Buche de Noeland beat until very, very stiff. Whipped whites for the Meringue Mushrooms for the Buche de NoelWhipped egg whites for the meringue mushrooms for the Buche de NoelPipe the caps and stems onto a parchment lined baking sheet with a number 4 plain tip. Piping the mushroom caps for the Buche de noelFor the stems, pull the piping bag straight up.  Make some high, some low, some skinny and some fat.  Piping Stems for the meringue mushrooms for the Buche de NoelPiping stems for the meringue mushrooms for the Buche de NoelTo remove the points from the caps only, wet your finger and lightly press down on the point. Smoothing the point on a meringue mushroom for the Buche de NoelSmoothing the point on a meringue mushroom for the Buche de NoelPreheat the oven to 200 degrees and bake for about 40 minutes. Turn oven off and leave in overnight. The next day with a cake tester or toothpick, hollow out a small hole in the bottom of the mushroom cap.Making a hole in the mushroom cap for the Buche de NoelHole made in mushroom cap for the Buche de Noel

Melt a small amount of white chocolate in the microwave at half power. Using a spatula, fill the hole with a little of the white chocolate. Filling the hole in the mushroom cap with chocolate for the Buche de NoelWipe off any excess chocolate with a spatula.  Excess chocolate removed from the bottom of the mushroom cap for the Buche de NoelPlace a stem in the white chocolate and allow to dry.Stem inserted into mushroom cap for the Buche de Noel

These may be made weeks ahead and stored in an airtight tin at room temperature.

Chocolate Leaves – These may be made a weeks ahead and stored in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Real green leaves with good veining, such as rose leaves, Israeli Ruskus or any non toxic leaf. Do not use holly leaves.

Semi sweet chocolate, melted

Wipe the leaves to make sure they are clean. Holding the leaf by the stem end, drag it through the chocolate on the bottom side of the leaf to pick up the veining. Leaf being dragged through chocolate for chocolate leaves for Buche de NoelTurn over and Underside of leaf coated for chocolate leaves for Buche de Noelplace on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Chocolate coated leaves for the Buche de NoelPlace in the refrigerator briefly to set.Chocolate leaves chilled for Buche de NoelVery carefully remove the real leaf by pulling it back from the stem end, holding it down with the tip of a offset spatula.Pulling the leaf off the chocolate leaf for Buche de NoelPulling the leaf off chocolate leaf for Buch de NoelFinished chocolate leaf for the Buche de NoelAssembly
1 recipe Coffee Buttercream, above
1 recipe, Chocolate Buttercream, above (or any other you may prefer)
Chocolate Leaves, above
Meringue Mushrooms, above
Holly Berries, above or small red jelly beans cut in half
Powdered sugar, optional

If  you are going to freeze the filled roll, cut a board about 10″ wide by 20″ long.  Set aside.Cutting a board to roll log onto for Buch de Noel

When cooled, lightly dust a new piece of foil with powdered sugar.Foil dusted with powdered sugar for the Buche de Noel

Remove the foil on top of the cake Removing the foil from the sponge cake for the Buche de Noeland go around the edges of the pan with a spatula. Loosening the edges of the spongecake for the Buche de NoelPick the spongecake up by the parchment Picking sponge cake for the Buche de Noeland turn it out onto the powdered sugar lined foil. The spongecake turned out of the pan onto the powdered sugar foil for the Buche de NoelRemove the parchment paper.  Removing the parchment from the bottom of the spongecake for the Buche de NoelSpongecake turned out on powdered sugar foil for Buche de NoelTuck the board you cut under the top of the cake several inches up the board.  Board tucked under the top of the spongecake for Buche de NoelImmediately spread with the coffee buttercream. Spreading buttercream on spongecake for Buche de NoelButtercream spread on spongecake for the Buche de Noel Using the foil as an assist, roll up the spongecake jelly roll style.Rolling spongecake up for the Buche de NoelRolling up spongecake for the Buche de NoelRolling up spongecake for the Buche de NoelRolling up spongecake for the Buche de NoelRolling up spongecake for the Buche de NoelThe last roll should put the spongecake on the board.  At this point, cover with foil and freeze for up to a month if making ahead.Rolled onto the board for the Buche de NoelRolled onto a board for the Buche de NoelCut both ends of the roll on a 3” diagonal.Ends cut off for the Buche de NoelCover with the chocolate buttercream.  Place one of the cut pieces on top of the cake about 2/3 of the way towards the back cut side down. Place the other on the side of the cake with the cut side touching the cake.Frosted with the knots in place for the Buche de NoelCover the “knots” on the top and side with the buttercream. Log completely frosted for the Buche de NoelPrepare the tray by wiping off any buttercream that got on it when covering the Buche de Noel. Cleaning tray for Buche de Noel Drag a fork through the buttercream from the long side, wiggling it from time to time to emulate the grain of wood. Go around the knots in a circular motion with the fork. Texturing with a fork for the Buche de NoelTexturing with a fork for the Buche de NoelTexturing with a fork for the Buche de NoelWith a toothpick, make circles on the exposed knot ends.Making circles on the ends of the knots for the Buche de Noel

Texturing finished for the Buche de Noel

Just before using, stand the mushrooms up. Mushrooms standing on tray for the Buche de NoelPlace the cocoa in a very fine strainer and very lightly dust the mushrooms.Cocoa on the meringue mushrooms for the Buche de Noel

While the buttercream is soft, place chocolate leaves as desired on the log and tuck meringue mushrooms under or around them. Placing a leaf on the Buche de NoelLeaf with berries for the Buche de NoelMushroom behind a chocolate leaf for the Buche de NoelBerries and leaves for the Buche de Noelfinished-buche-de-noel.jeg

Refrigerate the Buche de Noel to firm the buttercream and hold all the decorations in place.

To finish, just before serving, dust along one side of the log lightly with powdered sugar for the snow if desired.Buche de Noel with snow

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10 thoughts on “Buche de Noel

  1. Carolyn

    I have my own tried and true recipe for a buche de noel, but I really appreciate your decorating tips – I made one for a birthday celebration today and your tips took it to the next level. I couldn’t find untreated leaves, so I made modelling chocolate for the leaves and berries – maybe not as delicate, but they look great. I’ve never made mushrooms before this – they were so fun (and easy) to make and look awesome. Merry Christmas!

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Carolyn: I’m happy to know that some of the decorations helped you. Many people are afraid of the Buche because it looks so complicated but in reality it is not difficult at all. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you.

  2. Kitty Bennecke

    Helen, my sister wants to do this. I was delighted to send her your instructions. I don’t know anyone who does step by step instructions better than you do! Thanks for your timely posting of this recipe.

  3. Manisha

    Hi Helen
    This looks fabulous. I am both nervous and excited to try this.
    BTW Opera cake was delicious. Everyone who tried just loved it.
    Lots of love
    Manisha

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Manisha – This is nothing but a lot of small steps…..many of which can be done ahead. I think you will love the chocolate buttercream that finishes the buche. Let me know how it goes.

  4. rockyrd

    fabulous! i am drooling!
    my friends from france will be at my place for xmas so i will make this for them. the cakes i have seen in france are much smaller than ours.
    i love these and also enjoy making them off season- just no cut pieces on the sides- a straight log.
    my only difference is i put dark choc under the mushroom caps and make ridges with a knife to make them look sorta kinda real. i have made the mushrooms totally ahead and kept them in a sealed container w/o too much of a problem.
    again, totally awesome photography. thanks.
    merry xmas
    xo

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