In France, it had always been a Christmastime tradition to burn a Yule log to celebrate light and rebirth, bringing families together for warmth during the holidays. During the Napoleonic years, a mandate required all chimneys to remain closed, prohibiting the use of fireplaces. The innovative minds of Parisian pastry chefs produced a delicious substitution for Yule logs during the chimney blockage: la bûche de Noël (pronounce it like a Francophone, la BYOOSH duh no-EHL). The cake, also known as a yule log, is now a holiday classic, a children’s favorite, and recognized worldwide as a symbol of Christmas celebration. La bûche de Noël is a staple dessert for France, Quebec, and Belgium.
Bûche de Noël
5 eggs, separated
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
½ cup sifted cake flour
½ teaspoon salt
3½ cups heavy whipped cream
1 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
¼ cup butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a jelly roll pan with waxed paper and grease paper with butter.
In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
Beat the egg yolks until light in color.
Slowly add the sugar and cocoa to the yolks, and beat until thick.
Add the flour and salt, and mix well.
Carefully fold in the mixture with the beaten egg whites.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cake tests done.
Remove the pan from the oven, and loosen the edges of the cake quickly. Sprinkle a clean towel with powdered sugar, and turn out the cake onto the towel.
Remove the wax paper, and trim the edges of the cake.
Roll the cake from narrow end, and set aside to cool.
Whip 1½ cups of the whipping cream until thick.
Unroll the cake once it’s cool, and remove the towel. Cover the top with whipped cream to within 1 inch of the edges.
Re-roll the cake, and place seam-side down on desired serving plate.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the semisweet chocolate, and then add the remaining whipping cream and softened butter. Stir.
Once thoroughly mixed, remove from heat and allow the frosting to stand until set.
Spread frosting over top and sides of the cake, leaving ends bare, and garnish with desired decorations.