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BÛCHE DE NOËLAlso known as a chocolate yule log, this is a classic French Christmas-time treat. The French teacher at my children’s elementary school always asked me to bake this cake for her students to enjoy during the holiday season. It is not too difficult to make, if you have the proper equipment: a 12 × 18 × 1-inch half-sheet pan and a large flour-sack towel. Don’t let rolling the cake scare you. It’s really a fun cake to bake and decorate. For me, the smiles on the children’s faces make it all worthwhile.

  • Yield: 4 Servings


  • Butter or shortening for the pan
  • ¾ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus additional for the pan
  • 6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar, for rolling
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract  
  • Chocolate Frosting (this page)
  • Chocolate Sauce (this page)
How to Make It
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 12 × 18 × 1-inch half-sheet pan with butter or shortening and line it with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper with butter or shortening and dust lightly with Dutch-processed cocoa powder.
  2. Make the cake: In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, the remaining ocoa, and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks until thick and lemon colored, 5 minutes. Add ½ cup of the sugar and the vanilla. Beat on high speed for an additional 2 minutes. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and around the bottom of the bowl. Increase the speed to high and beat for 30 seconds. Transfer the batter to a separate bowl while beating the egg whites.
  4. Wash and fully dry the mixer bowl and whisk, then, in the clean bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until frothy, 1 minute. Add the cream of tartar and beat on high speed until stiff, 2 minutes. With the mixer still running, gradually add the remaining ½ cup sugar and continue beating the egg whites until the peaks are very stiff and glossy, 2 minutes.
  5. Gently fold the egg white mixture into the flour mixture just until combined. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake until the cake springs back when touched, 22 to 24 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
  7. Lay a flour-sack towel that is the same size or larger than the cake pan on your work surface (see the photo on this page). Use a fine-mesh sieve to sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the confectioners’ sugar over the towel. Be sure not to let the cake sit for longer than 10 minutes or it may break when you try to roll it. Turn the warm cake out of the pan onto the prepared flour-sack towel. Remove the parchment paper and sprinkle the cake with the remaining 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar. From one short end to the other, roll up the cake, keeping the towel inside it as you roll to keep the cake from sticking together. Let cool completely in the towel before unrolling the cake to spread with cream filling. Prepare the filling: Put the bowl of a stand mixer and the whisk attachment in the freezer for 5 minutes before starting.
  8. In the cold bowl of the stand mixer, beat the cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla on high speed until stiff, 3 to 4 minutes.
  9. Unroll the cooled cake onto wax paper and remove the towel. Spread the cream filling onto the cooled cake. Reroll the cake carefully, lay the towel over the cake, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  10. Spread the chilled cake with the chocolate frosting. Slice and serve with the chocolate sauce.

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