Bûche de Noël

This vanilla twist on the holiday classic Yule Log cake is inspired by bonfires used to celebrate the Winter solstice. A light sponge cake filled with whipped chocolate ganache becomes a pretty log when decorated with white chocolate and dusted with cocoa. It's a delicious way to welcome the season.
Prep
40 mins
Bake
15 to 18 mins
Total
1 hr 50 mins
Yield
1 cake
Bûche de Noël

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and spritz with cooking spray.
  2. To make the cake: In a large bowl, whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add 1/2 cup of sugar, continue beating the whites until medium peaks form. Set whites aside.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together the dry ingredients, including the remaining one cup of the sugar. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the egg yolks, oil, milk, vanilla and hazelnut flavoring until blended. Mix on medium speed until lightened and pale lemon colored. Add the dry ingredients and continue to mix, about 1 minute until well incorporated.
  5. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a large spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter, 1/3 at a time. Use gentle motions to preserve the air in the whites.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown on top and the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan slightly.
  7. To make the ganache: While the cake is baking, heat the cream until just simmering. Add the chopped chocolate and remove from the heat. Stir gently until the chocolate melts completely. Remove from the pan and place in a large bowl to cool. You may refrigerate or freeze the ganache to speed the cooling.
  8. Once the ganache is cooled to pudding consistency, whip with a whisk or hand mixer until fluffy and frosting like.
  9. Remove the cake from the pan by lifting the parchment paper. Place cake side up on the counter and trim off the edges of the cake to make rolling easier. Turn the cake over on a large, clean kitchen towel dusted with confectioners' sugar. Peel off the parchment paper.
  10. Roll the cake up as though the towel were the filling. Cool the cake, rolled up, for 20 to 30 minutes.
  11. Unroll the towel and remove it. Brush the cake with the simple syrup; let it sit for 5 minutes so the syrup can soak in.
  12. Spread with the prepared ganache filling and re-roll. Place in the fridge to chill for 20 to 30 minutes. The roll can be wrapped tightly and frozen at this point for up to 3 months.
  13. To decorate the cake: Melt 8 ounces of white chocolate very slowly over low heat in a double boiler. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and spread a thin layer of chocolate over the entire surface. Return to the fridge to set up, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  14. Add a second layer of white chocolate to the cake, spreading the chocolate to resemble tree bark. A fork may be used to add texture by dragging the tines through the cooling chocolate. Once the chocolate has firmed, decorate as desired with a dusting of confectioners' sugar, cocoa or chocolate curls.
  15. Cake will keep for about 3 days in the fridge, well covered. Let it warm up on the counter before serving.

Tips from our Bakers

  • To sugar cranberries and leaves for decoration, dip the fruit in lightly beaten egg white. Wipe off any extra white and roll the fruit in granulated sugar. Set aside on parchment to dry. Use the same technique on edible leaves (bay leaves were used in the photo) to add sparkle to your plate.
  • For a chocolate bûche, sift 1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces, 43g) dutch-processed cocoa in with the other dry ingredients. Proceed as directed.
  • To make simple syrup, bring a cup of water and a cup of sugar to a boil for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat and chill before using. Kept crumb free, it keeps for months in the fridge.