Yule Log Cake

Yule log is a traditional holiday dessert made from a chocolate cake rolled with a chocolate filling and covered in a chocolatey ganache. It’s as beautiful as it is tasty!

While it does take time and effort it is not complicated. Each step is broken down for you below and is easy to follow. Just be sure to plan ahead and set aside plenty of time to create this tasty confection. For more delish treats try Christmas Crack Candy, Peppermint Bark Cheesecake, and Easy Toffee.

Yule Log Cake on a white plate

What is a Yule log?

The French Bûche de Noël is definitely one of the more unique, beautiful, and slightly intimidating Christmas desserts out there. However, it’s actually much easier to make than I thought. It does take time and patience so prepare to spend 3-4 hours creating this dessert. Thankfully, some of that time is chill time so you’ll have a chance to regroup and prepare for the next step. 

This cake has A LOT of steps and takes quite a long time to put together, but each of the steps is pretty easy and straightforward. It’s mostly a lot of chill time. I was a little intimidated by it, but it turned out that it was pretty easy to make. It’s definitely something I would save for a special occasion, though!

I’ve included a lot of notes that I think you’ll find helpful when creating this dessert in your own kitchens. Bonne Cuisson! (French for Happy Baking) 

Mixing cake batter in a bowl for yule log recipe

How to Make the Filling

BEAT. To make the filling, beat the butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy.

COMBINE. Add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, milk, and vanilla, and mix until well combined. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until light and fluffy.

FOLD. Fold in the mascarpone using a rubber spatula.

REFRIGERATE. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Frosting: When making the buttercream filling it is really helpful to have softened butter. It mixes up more quickly and more smoothly. 

The mascarpone cheese is an Italian style cream cheese. It is added to give a subtle tangy layer to this decadent dessert.

Step by step pictures of how to make a yule log

Things To Note Before You Start

Sifting Confession: There are some recipes that call for combining the dry ingredients together and sifting them. Here’s my confession: Instead of sifting I’ll just give the ingredients a mix with my whisk and sometimes, if it’s a recipe I make often, I’ll skip the dry ingredient mixing altogether.  HOWEVER, there is one dry ingredient that I will always take time to sift, and that is cocoa powder. It has a tendency to clump together even when combined with other ingredients. Without sifting you run the risk of biting into a beautifully baked dessert only to find a pocket of dry cocoa powder. YUCK! I would hate for the effort it takes to make this beautiful Buche de Noel to be marred because I didn’t take a few extra minutes to sift the dry ingredients. 

Mixing the cake: You will need to use room temperature eggs NOT cold eggs. Using an electric mixer will be most effective. Also, be sure you use a clean metal bowl. Mix until white in color and thickens. When you lift the beater the mixture should run off like a thick cream. You do not want it to form peaks at all. Add the sifted cocoa mixture a little at a time. Do not over mix. In fact, finish mixing it with a spoon to keep it light and fluffy.

Prep the Pan: lightly brush the baking pan with butter before adding the parchment paper. The butter will help keep the parchment paper in place while you generously brush the top of the paper with butter. 

Baking tip:  Use a baking spatula to evenly spread the batter, but leave a bit of space between the batter and the edge of the pan. The finished cake will have a bit thinner edges, but it actually is beneficial when rolling. Also, lift and tap the pan down on the counter a few times to remove any of the larger air bubbles before putting it in the oven. 

Rolling yule log cake in a dish towel

How to Make a Yule Log

PREP. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 400. Spray a 13 x 18 baking sheet with cooking spray, then line with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray and set aside.

WHISK. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, salt, and flour.

CREAM. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together until they are light in color, fluffy, and slightly thickened.

COMBINE. Add the vanilla and half of the cocoa powder mixture, and mix until combined. Add the remaining cocoa powder, and mix until combined.

BAKE. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly. Tap lightly on the counter to remove any large air bubbles. Bake the cake 8-10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, and the edges of the cake pull away from the sides of the pan.

TOWEL ROLL. Dust a clean kitchen towel evenly with powdered sugar, then invert the cake onto the towel. Remove the parchment paper and sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar. Roll the cake up into a spiral, starting from the long edge, wrapping the towel inside the cake. Let cool 15-20 minutes.

Why roll the sponge cake in the towel?

This sponge cake is very delicate and by rolling it when it is warm is allows that sponge to adapt to a rolled shape. This keeps the cake from cracking when you roll it later. 

  • Use a kitchen towel that is smooth and without texture
  • Add powdered sugar to the top of the towel AND The top of the cake to help keep this sticky sponge cake from clinging to the towel.
  • Be gentle when you roll it in the towel. Donot press firmly or wrap tightly. 

Step by step pictures of trimming and cutting the yule log

Continued….

FILL. After the cake has cooled, gently unroll the cake and spread the filling evenly across the cake, reserving about ½ cup of filling.

ROLL. Gently roll up the cake, being careful not to roll so tightly the filling squishes out.

REFRIGERATE. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours.

TRIM. After the cake has chilled, trim ½ inch from both ends of the log to display the spiral pattern. Make a diagonal cut about 3 inches from one end of the cake, then attach the cut piece on one side of the log with the remaining filling. Fill in any gaps with the filling.

To make the ganache:

HEAT. To make the ganache, heat the heavy cream to boiling in a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup, about 2 minutes.

POUR & STIR.  Place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and let sit for one minute, then stir until the ganache is smooth and the chocolate chips are completely melted.

COOL. Let the ganache cool 10-15 minutes, until slightly thickened.

To decorate the log:

SPOON. Spoon the ganache over the yule log, covering all surfaces except the cut ends of the cake.

SWIRL & REFRIGERATE. Refrigerate 15 minutes, then make a swirl pattern in the ganache using the back of a spoon to resemble tree bark. Refrigerate at least one hour, until set.

SERVE. When ready to serve, move the cake to a serving platter and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Frosting filling: You can add as much or as little frosting as you desire. You really want a nice even frosting so that you can recognize the rolled cake assembling the rings of a tree. Keep in mind that the more frosting you add the more likely it is to ooze out the rolled cake. Also, if the consistency of the frosting is too thin it will leak out.. 

Rolling it up: After frosting it, use a nice light touch to roll it up. It should be pretty easy as it should “remember” the rolled shape it had while cooling.

A slice of yule log cake on a white plate

Decorating the Log

The yule log itself is absolutely amazing and can certainly stand alone. However, to really make this a show stopper add decorative toppings:

  • Make cute Meringue mushrooms
  • Add Sprigs of rosemary and Sugared cranberries
  • Dust with dirt/cocoa powder
  • Dust with snow/powdered sugar
  • If you’re good at using your piping tips you can pipe on a frosting poinsettia
  • Nestle clean pine cones to the side of the yule log

Step by step pictures of covering yule log with chocolate ganache

Making Ahead + Storing

Make ahead of time: As mentioned before this is a time consuming recipe. If you want to break up the recipes and get things made ahead of time you can.

  1. The sponge cake can be baked 1-2 days in advance. Once it has cooled in the towel remove the towel, place a piece of wax paper over the top and reroll it, then wrap it with plastic wrap until you’re ready for the assembly. 
  2. The filling can also be made 1-2 days before. Keep it stored in a separate airtight container in the fridge. 
  3. When ready  let the frosting come to room temperature. Unwrap the cake on a dusted towel and spread on the frosting.  Roll, wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. You can also wrap it again with foil and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. 
  4. When you’re ready to decorate, thaw if applicable, cut the little side log and top with  ganache frosting and other decorations.   

Storage: Store the finished cake, and any leftovers, in the fridge. Covered with plastic wrap or in an airtight container the yule log should last around 5 days. You can also place it in a freezer safe container and keep it frozen for about 4-6 weeks.  

A decorated yule log on a white plate

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Yule Log Recipe

Yule log is a traditional holiday dessert made from a chocolate cake rolled with a chocolate filling and covered in a chocolatey ganache. It's as beautiful as it is tasty!
Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Chill time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 40 minutes
Servings 10
Calories 475 kcal
Author Lil' Luna

Ingredients

for the filling:

  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1 2/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese

for the cake:

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 5 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

for the ganache:

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions
 

  • To make the filling, beat the butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, milk, and vanilla, and mix until well combined. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until light and fluffy. Fold in the mascarpone using a rubber spatula. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • To make the cake, preheat the oven to 400. Spray a 13 x 18 baking sheet with cooking spray, then line with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, salt, and flour.
  • In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together until they are light in color, fluffy, and slightly thickened. Add the vanilla and half of the cocoa powder mixture, and mix until combined. Add the remaining cocoa powder, and mix until combined.
  • Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly. Tap lightly on the counter to remove any large air bubbles. Bake the cake 8-10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, and the edges of the cake pull away from the sides of the pan.
  • Dust a clean kitchen towel evenly with powdered sugar, then invert the cake onto the towel. Remove the parchment paper and sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar. Roll the cake up into a spiral, starting from the long edge, wrapping the towel inside the cake. Let cool 15-20 minutes.
  • After the cake has cooled, gently unroll the cake and spread the filling evenly across the cake, reserving about 1/2 cup of filling. Gently roll up the cake, being careful not to roll so tightly the filling squishes out. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours.
  • After the cake has chilled, trim 1/2 inch from both ends of the log to display the spiral pattern. Make a diagonal cut about 3 inches from one end of the cake, then attach the cut piece on one side of the log with the remaining filling. Fill in any gaps with the filling.
  • To make the ganache, heat the heavy cream to boiling in a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup, about 2 minutes. Place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and let sit for one minute, then stir until the ganache is smooth and the chocolate chips are completely melted.
  • Let the ganache cool 10-15 minutes, until slightly thickened. Spoon the ganache over the yule log, covering all surfaces except the cut ends of the cake. Refrigerate 15 minutes, then make a swirl pattern in the ganache using the back of a spoon to resemble tree bark. Refrigerate at least one hour, until set. When ready to serve, move the cake to a serving platter and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

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About the Author

Kristyn Merkley

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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