Bûche de Noël, which literally means Christmas Log, is the traditional French dessert for Christmas day. Christmas figurines or other Christmas decorations are usually placed on the log. It comes in all flavors, and there are many different techniques to make the cake. For my bûche de Noël, I chose a traditional recipe of a rolled almond and chocolate cake, with a shiny red icing. I love the color red, and I think it is perfect for the holidays! The cake is easy to make, light, moist, and delicious! Happy Holidays!
A few notes about the Bûche de Noël recipe
For the actual cake, I got my inspiration from this French recipe. However, I did changed it up by using almond flour instead of hazelnut powder. I also made less chocolate ganache since I decided to make red icing instead.
For the red icing, I used the recipe available in French here. Please note that the icing needs to be refrigerated for at least 2 hours before you use it. Preparing it the night before, and keeping it in the fridge overnight, is a good idea.
To decorate your bûche, you can use any cake holiday decoration you want. It could be figurines or snowflakes or Christmas trees…etc. Anything you wish!
Finding the ingredients
Ingredients for the cake are easy to find. For the red icing, there are two ingredients that are a little bit more challenging to find. One is gelatin sheets. You might find gelatin sheets in your grocery store, but if you don’t, you can order the sheets online:
The other ingredient that might be challenging to find is glucose syrup. I got mine at Michael’s. Otherwise, you can order it online:
First, prepare the dark chocolate ganache. Melt the chocolate in the microwave (it took 1min 30s in my microwave.) On the stove, heat up the cream. Pour the cream on the chocolate gradually, mixing each time. Add the butter in small pieces, and mix to melt the butter and incorporate it into the chocolate. Set aside the ganache in the fridge. The ganache is ready when it becomes thick like Nutella®. (if not the case, it just means it needs to stay in the fridge longer.) See picture.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. In a mixing bowl, with a whisker, mix the egg yolks with the sugar until the mixture whitens. Separately, whip the egg whites. To do this, put a pinch of salt in the egg whites and beat the egg whites, using an electric mixer, first at low speed and then at higher speed. Make sure you beat the egg whites always in the same direction, so as to not break the egg whites. It is ready once the egg whites turn into a thick white mixture. See picture.
Add the whipped egg whites to the yolk/sugar mixture. Do this gradually, in 3 separate times. Mix with a whisker each time, making sure you do not break the egg whites. Add the all purpose flour and almond flour gradually, and mix gently with the whisker.
Pour the mixture on a rectangular baking pan covered with parchment paper, so as to make a rectangular shape with the mixture.
Bake in oven for 10 minutes. To test if it is ready, touch it with the tip of your finger, and see if it is sticky. It is ready when no longer sticky, and slightly brownish.As soon as it is done, take it out of the oven, and place it on a wet kitchen towel
Immediately roll it with the help of the kitchen towel. Set it aside and wait until it cools down. About 15 minutes or so. In the meantime, check on the chocolate ganache to see if it is ready.
Once the chocolate ganache is ready, unroll the roll, and spread the ganache over it. Then, roll it again with the ganache in it. If you still have some chocolate ganache left, you can use it to cover the rolled up cake with chocolate. See picture. Place your rolled up cake in the fridge or freezer (you want it to get very cold so you can later pour the icing on it.)
For the red icing
Place the gelatin sheets in a bowl with water so the water covers the sheets.
Separately, in a pot on the stove, heat up the water (2.7tbs or 40ml) with the granulated sugar and the glucose syrup. Heat it up until it starts boiling. Once it starts boiling, turn off the stove, and away from the stove, add the gelatin sheets (that you took out of the bowl of water and wrung out of any excess water.) Add the white chocolate cut in little pieces. Mix until the white chocolate completely melts, and is fully incorporated into the mixture. Add the sweet condensed milk (make sure it isn’t fat free.) Mix.
Add the food coloring. Use a few drops of food coloring at a time, and mix until you get the desired color. Mix with a hand blender so the mixture is uniform.
Place the icing in a bowl and put it in the fridge for 2 hours (or overnight.)
Bringing it all together
The rolled up cake should be very cold or frozen before you pour icing on it.
Heat up the icing in the microwave until it reaches the temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius.) To do that, place it in the microwave in increments of 30 seconds, and check the temperature each time with a cooking thermometer.
Place the rolled up cake on a cooling rack or grid, with a plate or pan underneath (I put a paper towel on the plate so it would be easier to clean up the mess.) Once the icing is at the correct temperature, pour it on the cake. It is easier to pour it quickly, all at once. You can fix the sides with a spatula. Place your cake in the fridge for a few hours so the icing cools down. Once the icing is no longer sticky, you can place your Christmas decorations on it. Enjoy the cake cold.