Festive Yule Log Recipe for Your Thanksgiving Feast
Jessica Kladerman – Editor-in-Chief
The traditional Yule log cake, also referred to its French name bûche de Noël, has been making appearances in kitchens since about the 1600’s, being truly popularized in the 19th century. When popularized in England, the term bûche de Noël was called a Yule log as the dessert is made to resemble the Yule logs used to keep fires warm during the cold winter nights surrounding the pagan holiday Yule, which coincides with Christmas time.
A classic Yule log is made with a genoise, or sponge cake, baked in a shallow cookie sheet or swiss roll pan. It’s then iced with a buttercream, and rolled to form a cylinder with a perfect swirl when sliced through. Some bakers like to prepare their Yule Logs with one end sliced and placed on top of the log, others prefer to create a second smaller log that gets attached and appears as a branch jutting out. In this recipe we’ll prepare the latter version.
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cook Time: Appx. 3 hours
Yields: 12 Servings
Ingredients For the cake
1. 4 tbsp. salted butter, melted in a microwave (Use 30 second intervals) Plus extra for the pan
2. 6 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
3. ¼ tsp. cream of tartar
4. ¼ tsp. kosher salt
5. ¾ c. granulated sugar
6. ¾ c. all-purpose flour
7. ¼ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
8. ½ baking powder
9. 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
10. ¼ c. strong brewed coffee, at room temperature.
11. ¼ c. powdered sugar
For the Filling
1. 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
2. ½ c. powdered sugar, sifted
3. 1 c. heavy cream
4. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the Frosting
1. 12 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
2. ¾ c. heavy cream
3. 1 tbsp sugar syrup This can be made by combining ¼ cup of water with 1 cup of cane sugar over low heat until sugar crystals are gone, and solution is a liquid. Then add ¼ teaspoon of lemon juice or cream of tartar until mixture gains slightly more elasticity.
4. Rosemary springs and pomegranate seeds or small berries for garnish.
Directions For the Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350˚ then butter a 12×7 inch rimmed baking sheet. Line the sheet with parchment paper, letting the paper hang over the sides. Butter the parchment paper as well.
2. Beat the egg whites, the cream of tartar and the salt with a mixer on medium-high speed until frothy. Next add ¼ cup of granulated sugar, beat on high spend until stiff glossy peaks form, can take up to 2 minutes.
3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder jointly in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl combine the egg yolks, the remaining ½ cup sugar with the vanilla extract. Beat this mixture on high speed until thick and creamy, this can take 3-4 minutes. Beat in the melted butter and coffee until ingredients are thoroughly combined.
4. Add the dry flour mixture to the wet yolk mixture and beat on low speed until the new mixture is totally mingled. Fold a spoonful of the beaten egg whites into the batter until there are no streaks. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites until completely combined.
5. Empty the batter into the prepared pan or baking sheet, gently pushing the batter so it fills the corners. Tap the edges of the pan to even the layer of batter out. Bake until the top of the cake starts to bounce back when pressed gently, this may take 10-12 minutes. The top may still feel a bit tacky, be careful not to overcook the cake or it will not roll the way it needs to.
6. Place a clean dish towel on a larger wire rack and dusted with 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar. While the cake is still hot, carefully, loosen the edges from the pan, then turn the cake out onto the towel. Cautiously, remove the parchment paper and dust the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar.
7. Beginning at one of the long sides, use the towel to tightly roll up the cake with the towel inside. Place the cake ‘seam’ side down and let cool for about an hour.
For the Filling
1. Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl with a mixer on low speed until the mixture is smoothened. Add powdered sugar, continue to beat for another minute. Gradually beat in heavy cream, ¼ cup at a time, ensuring the mixture is smooth before adding more cream. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until stiff peaks form, this can take
2-4 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat for a few more seconds until solution is combined through.
2. Carefully unroll the cooled cake and spread the filling evenly across, leaving a ¼ to ½ inch border on all sides. Re-roll the cake, using the towel to assist. Cover the cake roll with parchment paper and tightly wrap with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours.
For the Frosting and Garnish
1. Add the chopped chocolate to a medium bowl. Bring the heavy cream and sugared syrup to a simmer in a small saucepan, then pour out over the chocolate, let mixture sit for 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth and blended. Allow to thicken until room temperature and is spreadable.
2. Unwrap the cake roll on a cutting board. Cut off ¼ of the cake on a diagonal line, this is for the branch. Position the branch against the remaining cake roll on a serving platter. Cover the cake with frosting, using an offset spatula. Drag a fork through the frosting, this will create the bark-like texture throughout the cake roll. Garnish with rosemary sprigs to create leaves, and pomegranate seeds for a festive berry look.
3. Enjoy with friends and family or enjoy by yourself with a fork!