The Bûche de Noël – A French Christmas Tradition

December 22, 2016

The Bûche de Noël – A French Christmas Tradition

Christmas is upon us and ‘tis the season for decadence! France is a country known for romance, pastries and ideal luxury. During the holidays, the French spare no effort when it comes to their Noël festivities. A traditional French dessert, known as the Bûche de Noël is often served following an abundant Christmas feast. This delicacy is made of a light sponge cake, rolled and covered in chocolate or coffee buttercream. The cake is then textured to resemble bark, as an evocation of the ancient tradition of burning the Yule Log.

This Christmas tradition was the act of burning a rather enormous and very dense log in the hearth of every home. It was meant to symbolize a new beginning for a new year and any misfortunes were burned in the flame. The Yule Log was never allowed to burn completely and the remaining pieces were then brought into the house to bring the family good luck and prosperity. The log was specially selected for the occasion, originally to mark the winter solstice, and carried in the main room to provide maximum lasting and reassuring warmth. The ceremony was celebrated by gathering friends and family together to enjoy dinner, dancing and singing. It must have been quite the event!

The tradition has since moved from the hearth to the table, yet the adaptation is still just as celebratory; now finding the Bûche de Noël in every French home. Many variations of this cake have been created, including some that are not cakes at all but made of sorbet, ice cream or elaborate confections and offer a multitude of flavor combinations.

If you are feeling adventurous and want to make the Bûche de Noël for your Christmas celebration, below is one version of this traditional French dessert by The Bonne Femme Cookbook.

If you’re not a baker, fear not! Your local bakery may carry the Bûche de Noël or Yule Log for your upcoming festivities. *Just keep in mind that you may need to put your order in now, as bakeries are so busy this time of year!

Whichever dessert you decide to serve on Christmas, consider the final presentation. Serve the Bûche de Noël to guests on our luxurious Marble Large Paddle (shown below).

Marble Cheese Paddle


For an extra special festive touch, don our Noel Apron and adorn your table with our Noel Tablecloth and Noel Napkins (shown below). With an array of finely detailed Christmas decorations, the Noel Collection is simply perfect for any Christmas celebration!

Noel Apron


Tablecloth


BÛCHE DE NOËL RECIPE, TIPS & TRICKS FROM The Bonne Femme Cookbook 

TIPS FOR MAKING THE BÛCHE DE NOËL

1. Use the Right Pan: Don’t even try to do this in anything but the pan called for (a 15 x 10 x 1-inch pan, what used to be called a jelly-roll pan).
    2. Grease and Flour the Pan Well.
      3. Roll the Cake While Warm: The minute the cake is done, get it out of the pan and roll it up. Let cool completely, then proceed with filling and decorating. Below is a reliable recipe, which I’ve adapted from a Better Homes and Gardens book that I worked on a few years back.

            TRICKS FOR DECORATING THE BÛCHE DE NOËL

            Meringue mushrooms are classic; a good recipe for these appear on about.com. However, I’ve discovered a few other ways to decorate a yule log that are much, much easier. A few ideas:

            - Strawberry Santa Clauses. Check out the photo. Simply split a strawberry in half, fill with whipped cream, and decorate with little candies for the face.

              Santa Claus Strawberries

              If you don’t feel like making a chocolate ganache, just frost the cake with stiffly beaten whipped cream, but be sure to serve it very soon thereafter. Whipped cream won’t stay stiff forever!

              - Small Ornaments. Simply add a few ornaments to the finished log. (Just be sure the kids at your table don’t try to put them in their mouths!).
                - Macarons! This is almost too easy: Simply stick a few purchased macaroons on top of the log for a whimsical way to simulate mushrooms. PS: Trader Joe’s to be quite good for the price.

                  Macaron Yule Log

                  Macarons as stand-ins for the meringue mushrooms.

                  RECIPE FOR THE BÛCHE DE NOËL

                  Tricks for decorating a Yule Log

                   Joyeux Noel or Merry Christmas from all of us at Couleur Nature! May you and your family have a sweet holiday!