Bûche de Noël

We had our first Bûche de Noël in Paris at New Year’s 1974. We had spent Christmas in Britain and arrived in Paris to celebrate the New Year with the Fouché family, who had welcomed us into their family while we were living in France that academic year. They lived on the sixth floor of an apartment building and had put the bûche on the kitchen window sill to keep cool. When they went to serve the bûche, it wasn’t there. It had fallen down the six stories onto the ground. M. Fouché ran down to retrieve the remains only to discover that the cake, still in its box, was no worse for wear. So we enjoyed a well-traveled bûche with a story to tell.

Since then we have occasionally had a homemade bûche for Christmas. Initially we used a fairly complicated French recipe, but, over the years, Anne has simplified the process by using  this recipe for a Jelly Roll sheet cake, either vanilla or chocolate, from a Betty Crocker Cookbook of the 1960's. This is a pretty simple cake and cooks in 15 minutes. Follow directions for rolling and cooling it. 

1 cup sifted flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp salt
3 large eggs (2/3 cup)
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla

If you prefer a chocolate log, add ¼ cup of cocoa powder to the dry ingredients.

Heat oven to 375°. Grease a jelly roll pan, 15½” x 10” x 1” and line bottom with greased brown paper or with aluminum foil. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together; set aside. Beat eggs in a small bowl until very think and lemon-colored. Pour beaten eggs into large bowl. Gradually beat in sugar. Blend in water and vanilla on slow speed. Slowly mix in dry ingredients (low speed) just until the batter is smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 12-15 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Loosen edges and immediately turn upside down on a towel sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar. Carefully remove paper. Trim off any stiff edges. While cake is still hot, roll cake and towel from narrow end. Cool on a wire rack. Unroll cake and remove towel. Spread with butter cream icing (see below) and reroll and decorate as desired.



We don’t really have a recipe for the icing. We start with a half pound of very soft (room temperature) butter.
Cream the butter. Add one tsp. of vanilla and ½ cup of milk. Then use an electric mixer to blend in confectioner’s sugar until you have a good consistency for decorating.

Anne makes one small batch in dark chocolate mode (using melted chocolate chips) and a second using strong coffee for the liquid (instead of the milk) to make a light brown coffee flavored butter cream. Unroll the cooled cake and spread with about 2/3 coffee icing. Slice the rolled ends off at an angle to represent the cut ends of the log and set the pieces aside to attach later as branches. Frost the sides with dark chocolate icing, the "bark" and use the knife tip to make the rough bark surface. Place the "branches" on the log surface, frost the branch ends and the log ends with the rest of the coffee frosting. 

Now anything you feel is pretty and appropriate for woodsy themes decoration. Bon appétit!


The chocolate roll, filled and frosted with whipped cream could be a snowy log.

Here is a picture of our 2016 version of blessed memory.