Bûche de Noël Recipe

There won’t be a need to put much in the way of recipes up this week, since the main components of the cake are already on the blog. You’ll need:

– One recipe génoise, prepared jelly roll style (but no jelly)
– About half a recipe of Swiss meringe buttercream, flavored with a shot of espresso
– 16 ounces ganache (8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 8 ounces heavy cream)
– Meringue mushrooms
– A few ounces marzipan

The nice thing about this ingredient list is that all of it can be made in advance, and most of it should be. If you’re a normal working person, you’ll want to start on the components of your bûche well in advance of your event. A week ahead or more isn’t too early for the marzipan since it will keep for months, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator. Kept in an airtight container, the meringue mushrooms will keep for several days. Likewise with the buttercream (though maybe you have half a recipe or so of plain buttercream hanging around the freezer already…maybe?). The ganache must be made the day before, since it needs to sit on the counter all night. As for the génoise, it will keep overnight wrapped up in a towel if you wish.

The main thing to avoid is trying to prepare all the components for a multi-component pastry like this on the same day. The vast majority of home-made yule logs fail because the baker was trying to do too much at once, got tired or rushed and then got sloppy. I mean let’s face it, how many home-made yule logs have you seen that were consistently good from the cake to the filling to the garnishes? Probably very few, if any. That’s because time pressure forces a home baker to cut corners. Maybe the cake is good, but the ganache is runny. Or the mushrooms are perfect but the shape of the roll is poor. Start a week ahead and you’ll have plenty of time to get everything right.

A bûche de Noël is a pretty mundane thing, ultimately. Spongecake, chocolate and buttercream, no big deal. It’s the presentation that sets this pastry apart. So give yourself the time. You need not do a perfect job on everything (God knows, I don’t). However if you do an adequate job on all the pieces, they’ll add up to a truly sparkling bûche.

12 thoughts on “Bûche de Noël Recipe”

  1. Hey, Joe – the links in this recipe seem to be wrong. Jelly Roll takes me to yogurt, and genoise batter to sour cream (and the other two are wrong, as well). On the other hand, now I want gougeres!

    1. Sorry about that. Fixed those links (I hadn’t updated them since my site redesign many months back). Thanks for letting me know!

      – Joe

  2. Hello joe, is the GeNoise recipe, break resistant? I tried to make Yule cake with sponge cake batter but it keeps on cracking n breaking every time I try to roll it. Thank you.

    1. Hi Rand! It’s about as break-resistant as a génoise can reasonably be. The key is to roll the cake around a towel while it’s still hot and flexible, that’s the best way to prevent major breaks. You’ll get some cracks of course, there’s no way to avoid those since the bottom skin is forced to stretch as it rolls, but you should avoid any major breaks. The innermost curl of a roll is always a dicey proposition of course, and that’s where most breaks happen. The best way to mitigate the risk is by heaping filling along that end to give the cake something to roll around instead of simply folding. Best of luck and let me know how it goes!

      – Joe

  3. Thank you for replying. I have had so much Yule cake disasters, the cakes itself tastes and looks nice but it’s no good if I cannot roll the cake. It always cracks n breaks. I have tried the method you have mentioned but when I unroll the cake it cracks n breaks. I will try this recipe. Thank you

    1. Let me know how it goes, Rand! There are two different génoise recipe on the site to choose from. The “nouveau” one is easier to make, but the traditional probably rolls a bit better. It’s hard to know what to recommend…but keep me updated on your progress!


      – Joe

  4. I have used the neo classic genoise. It is soft, moise n fluffy. I was able to roll it without major cracks n breakage. But after I rolled my cake, then I cut my cake and look from the side, I could not make so many spirals, like you were able to make. Just one and a half circle. My baking tray is rectangle, I rolled it from the largest side. My spiral in the cake looked like the “@” sign. Overall I am still very happy, that I was able to roll the entire cake without breaking it into pieces.
    !!!!Thank you!!!!

    1. Hey Rand! Glad to hear the good news! But yes, when you roll the long side you don’t get much curl even under the best of circumstances. Rolling the short side gives you a more dramatic presentation. Still I’m very pleased it worked!

      – Joe

  5. Hello joe, i have hazelnut FLOUR n I want to add hazelnut flour in the neo classic genoise cake. Can I put hazelnut FLOUR? If, yes then how much ounce or grams should I put? Also, will the cake crack n break if I add hazelnut flour? I have made Yule cake twice using your neo classice genoise cake. I am very happy how my cake turns out and i can roll the cake without cracking and breaking. Thank you!!!

    1. Hi Rand!

      You certainly can add some hazelnut flour to the mix. The cake probably won’t be quite as elastic, but it should taste very good. I would substitute the hazelnut flour for up to 1/3 of the flour in the recipe. Let me know how it goes…I’ll want to hear!

      Best of luck and have fun with it!

      – Joe

  6. Hello Joe,
    thanks for all the recipes. I do have a question on the Bûche de Noël recipe, regarding the génoise. Do you think 1 recipe is enough to serve 11 to 12 people? How many people would you say your recipe serves, using a regular-size baking sheet for the génoise?
    Thanks in advance

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