Mum’s Buche de Noel and it’s Gluten-Free

A few posts ago I told you about my family’s traditions of celebrating Christmas and how one of these involved a Buche de Noel. Buche de Noel is a French Yule Log or Christmas log and is traditionally served late on Christmas Eve as a family gathers together to await the arrival of Santa, bounding down the chimney.

Buche de Noel

Buche de Noel

But it wasn’t always an edible chocolate log.  It is believed the tradition evolved centuries ago with people coming together to celebrate the end of the winter solstice.  This would mark the end of winter and the days getting longer.  People would bring logs garnished with holly, ivy or pinecones and burn them on a fire.  Sometime during the 19th Century an innovative French chef took the idea of a Yule Log and turned it into a wonderful edible creation.

A chocolate roll filled with cream and boysenberries

A chocolate roll filled with cream and boysenberries

Every Christmas Eve, after my father had finished ‘tinkling the ivories’ and having us all gather around to sing carols, my mother would disappear into the kitchen and return with a Buche de Noel she would have made earlier that day.  It was served on fine china and perhaps with an egg nog dusted in nutmeg to go with it and my four sisters and I would sit around the Christmas tree and enjoy the festivities of the most exciting day of the year.

Turning 2 chocolate rolls into a log

Turning 2 chocolate rolls into a loggry

These logs are actually quite easy to make and require very basic ingredients.  You can decorate it however you like but it is traditional to ice it in chocolate frosting and then decorate with mushrooms, holly, chocolate bark etc.  If you haven’t made a Buche de Noel before, I’d encourage you to give it a try as what could be better on Christmas Eve than sitting around the lit-up Christmas tree, listening to carols, sipping on a favourite beverage (make mine sparkling) and enjoying a slice of Yule Log.

Texturing the log

Texturing the log

Buche de Noel (Yule Log)

Serves:  8-10

Degree of Difficulty:  3/5

Cost:  Extremely affordable.  I think I had every single ingredient on hand except for eggs, cream and berries. You will need to double this recipe to make 2 Swiss rolls.  My Kitchen Aid bowl was large enough to make a double quantity.

  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbspns cornflour
  • 1 tbspns cocoa

Preheat oven to 180C (375F). Line 2 Swiss roll tins with baking paper. Beat egg yolks and sugar together until as pale as possible.  Stir in cornflour and cocoa.  Beat egg whites until stiff.  Fold through mixture gently.  Divide mixture between Swiss roll tins.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Turn onto damp cloth and roll.

Yule Log

Yule Log

For the filling:

  • 600ml (21 oz) cream
  • 1 tbspn icing sugar
  • 1 1/2 tspns vanilla extract
  • 2 punnets berries

Whip cream until stiff peaks form.  Stir in icing sugar and vanilla.  Hold the berries!

A French dessert traditionally served on Christmas Eve

A French dessert traditionally served on Christmas Eve

For the Frosting:

  • 125gms (4.4 ozs) butter
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 2-3 tbspns cocoa
  • 2 tbspns milk

Beat butter until as white as possible.  Gradually add icing sugar.  Add cocoa and milk and continue to beat until fluffy and smooth. To Decorate: Unroll one of the chocolate rolls.   Spread with cream.  Scatter the berries along the edge of the chocolate roll.  Carefully roll up then gently transfer onto a cake board or suitably sized platter.  Do the same with the remaining chocolate roll but cut into log shapes and attach to the other log.  Spread chocolate frosting over the log but not over the ends.  Use a fork to make bark markings.  Make mushrooms by joining together two marshmallows with a bit of frosting and use frosting to stick them to the cake board or the cake.  Decorate with holly if desired.  Give mushrooms a light dusting with cocoa.

Very festive and Christmasy

Very festive and Christmasy

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

You can decorate any way you wish.  I chose holly and mushrooms

You can decorate any way you wish. I chose holly and mushrooms

Best eaten the day it is prepared.

Ahhh, there is a bit of mess with these!

Ahhh, there is a bit of mess with these!

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  1. What a lovely Christmas Eve tradition in your family and this recipe for the yule log is perfect as you don’t need many ingredients (many thanks to your mum, she’s the best with her festive recipes!). As my husband’s birthday falls on Christmas Eve, I could easily turn this into a festive yule log birthday cake!

  2. That looks lovely! I haven’t seen one of those in years. It used to be a must for Christmas.

  3. WOW! I can’t eat this one, because of watching it… So beautiful. Thank you, love, nia

  4. Lovely, tradition, Charlie. Beautiful log as well! I have always admired buche de noel, but was never brave enough to attempt one, you inspire!

  5. Gorgeous buche, Charlie. I love the meringue (?) mushroom decorations as well. I’ve made the chocolate sponge roll successfully, and one day, I might even go the whole hog and do the rest of the presentation.

    Thinking of you in balmy, Australia as I sit here shivering in Ontario. (My furnace motor died yesterday and it’s freezing in the house, woke up to 47 deg F. The repairman hopes to have a replacement by Monday.)

  6. Beautiful attention to detail.

  7. This is totally gorgeous! I always love the look of a Buche de Noel. Not something we’ve ever made – we should. I’m not a good baker, but Mrs K R is – definitely telling her about this! Thanks so much.

  8. beautiful–delicious.
    Xxx LOVE!

  9. I have tried making “buche de Noel’s” before but they have never turned out like this! Thanks for sharing

  10. I continue to be impressed with your creativity in the kitchen. Your food is always incredibly lovely in presentation and I’m certain equally as delicious.

  11. This is a great Buche De Noel and such a wonderful `christmassy scene you set to go with it. GG

  12. Nice one Charlie… I think I mentioned on Twitter, the one and only time I ever made Buche de Noel was in 1974 I think… I was in high school. They taste so delicious… yours looks wonderful. Merry Christmas.

  13. I really like your presentation of this Charlie. Your kitchen looks just like mine when I’ve got my bake on too- not always a pretty sight! Your family is lucky to be spoiled with so many Christmas goodies, how do you all stay so thin, I need to learn your secret before it’s too late for me 🙂 xox

  14. I have a favourite recipe for buche de noel that takes an entire day to make. It starts with a genoise and then moves along to swiss meringue buttercream and chocolate buttercream made with swiss meringue. The night before I make the meringue mushrooms then put a little icing on my hands to make the mushies look good. Every year I tell myself, “I’ll make one this year.” I haven’t for ages. I can gain 10 pounds just thinking about it. I love your mother’s recipe!

  15. This looks amazing. You’re such a great cook and baker! Wish I will be like that when I have kids to know they’ll never be hungry hehe

  16. So impressive, Charlie!

  17. Funnily enough, it is not the dessert that I love in your story, but the tradition of singing carols around the piano.

  18. So pretty! And I bet it tastes good too.

  19. Looks yummy!

  20. Egg nog, chocolate log and singing carols: what delicious memories. Gluten free always gets my attention, but I’m finding that so many gluten free recipes are really heavy on sugar. That’s quite a catch as I like to keep my sugar intake low. Any ideas? (My son uses stevia and I will use a little manuka honey. I don’t need much as my taste buds have adjusted to less sweetness)

  21. Growing up we always had one around Christmas time even though we didn’t celebrate Christmas as such. It was always so good, and I miss eating them here. I’ve been wanting to make one ever since I started this blog, and was thinking of doing it next week.
    Yours is beautiful and I love the fruit filling! We always had like a chestnut filling with chocolate.
    Very festive, I love the tradition too and was reading up on it myself the other day.

  22. I loved watching the process, Charlie. This is an excellent tutorial. My grandmother often made a yule log, but perhaps because she, too, found it necessary to to make the day it was served, I never got to see how she made it. I think I would have fun making this as it brings up some lovely nostalgic memories. Thank you! And my kitchen so often looks just like yours even when I’ve made a much less complex recipe!

  23. I think turning real logs into edible chocolate ones was a great switch to make! This looks so log-like yet so delicious 🙂

  24. I think your mothers recipe is fabulous Charlie, frugal yet it looks a million bucks!

  25. So pretty!! I’ve been toying with the idea of making a buche de noel this year, and you’ve pushed me firmly in the YES category.

  26. I love a buche de noel and agree that it’s surprisingly easy! And any dodgy sculpting (not that you would have any) can be covered with icing and wood squiggles 😀

  27. Right, didn’t know the story of bouche de noel, but yours looks great! Your works are truly inspiring 🙂

  28. This type of log is tradition with my family too! My Mom used to make it with a sponge cake base that she rolled in damp, sugar covered tea towels and then once cooled filled with a delightful butter cream. She always made the mushroom meringues too. Such a beautiful cake Charlie.

  29. Your family has such lovely traditions.

  30. It’s beautiful Charlie! I made my first one last year but it was the cheat’s version made with Arnott’s Choc-ripple biscuits.

  31. I can’t wait to give this one a try over the weekend. Very festive and perfect for the holidays.

  32. I love reading of family’s holiday traditions! I’ve made a roulade, so I “get” the idea of how to make it, but yours branching off and decorated so pretty is a bit intimidating!! You definitely have the touch to make desserts pretty!

  33. It’s like pure frosting. I love it.

  34. What a fun, neat holiday recipe! I would love to make this for my family, they would love this.

  35. Well done you! Your Buche de Noel looks very appetizing & tasty, tasty, tasty too! GF that is great to hear! Yummmmmmmm! xxx

  36. Looks like the mess is worth it!! Looks beautiful, this is a lovely tradition 🙂

  37. I so love hearing about the traditions of Christmas, so many ways to make wonderful memories. What cute little mushrooms you put around your log ~ adorable.

  38. Gluten Free!! Yay!! And it looks so real!!

  39. Charlie, it’s a work of art! Gluten-free too! I can’t believe there’s so little cornflour and cocoa in the batter – so it’s basically a meringue, is that right?

  40. This may be easy for you to prepare, Charlie, but I should have started practicing a month ago if I expect to serve one on Christmas Eve. You’ve such warm memories involving it, though, and I think it great that you carry the tradition forward to your kids. I hope one of them is paying attention and does the same. 🙂

  41. One of these days I’m going to make one of these. Yours is so beautiful and I can just imagine how wonderful it would be to have a slice of this on Christmas Eve with some egg nog.

  42. your yule log looks beautiful and I liked the little background on it – I had images of people brandishing logs at the strange little man coming down their chimney 🙂 Your family traditions sound great. I have never eaten or made a yule log but then I am no expert at swiss rolls either so it is a bit out of my comfort zone but maybe one year (I suspect it wont be this one)

  43. I love this tradition! I’ve only made one buche de noel…and need to try again. I love that you’ve added berries to your filling…and you decorated yours so perfectly! This may have to be our Christmas dessert 🙂

  44. Wow you even made your own Swiss rolls. That is just all kinds of lovely.

  45. Now that I’ve married someone who celebrates Christmas, I think it’s time I attempt a buche de noel. Yours looks delicious, Charlie! Love the fruit in the filling!

  46. I was drooling over these on Instagram 🙂 I love how your mum makes all these festive dishes from scratch wish my mum was like that hehe

    I haven’t attempted to make a swiss roll before but i am going to soon!

  47. Just gorgeous! My mom made this once when I was young. Such an impressive and fun dessert! 🙂

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