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Bûche de Noël (Yule Log Cake) is my kind of dessert. It’s is a beautiful French Christmas cake that looks impressive but is actually very easy to make!
I’ve made made Bûche de Noël before but I’ve never made one with meringue mushrooms, so I decided to give it a try. It’s worth the effort because they add such a nice touch to the cake.
I decided to make a triple chocolate Bûche de Noël, meaning chocolate cake with chocolate filling and chocolate ganache icing. The chocolate filling is light and goes well with the heavier chocolate ganache topping. Eating more than one piece of this cake is very easy!
In addition to the meringue mushrooms I added a few fir springs (which I washed before adding to the cake!) and pomegranate seeds for some color.
How to Make Bûche de Noël – French Christmas Cake
Since the meringue mushrooms need time to dry, I recommend making them 12-24 hours before you want to serve your Bûche de Noël. You can prepare the mushrooms, cake, filling, and ganache a day (or more) in advance, and then assemble the cake the day you want to serve it.
Step 1: Make Meringue Mushrooms
I was always impressed by bakers who added meringue mushrooms to their Bûche de Noël and I had no idea how easy it is to make them!
To make the meringue mushrooms, separate 3 eggs and let the egg whites warm to room temperature.
Then beat the egg whites on low until they form soft peaks. I used my stand mixer for this (whisk attachment) but a hand mixer will work just fine. Increase to high speed and slowly the sugar. When the egg whites are glossy and form stiff peaks, it’s ready.
Now you want to fill a pastry bag with the meringue. I used a plastic pastry bag and with a bit of the end snipped off instead of using a metal piping tip. That way I could just throw away the entire bag without having to fish out the tip. Don’t have a pastry bag on hand? Fill a sandwich-sized ziplock bag with meringue and cut a bit off one corner.
Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and then start piping mushroom tops and stems! Just point your pastry bag straight down and apply even pressure as you slowly lift the bag upwards. Do the same type of thing for the stems, but lift the pasty bag more quickly to get a thinner column. Try a few and if you don’t like the way they look, scrape the meringue off the parchment paper and start over!
I made mushroom tops and stems of various sizes, which also allowed for a little experimentation. Make more than you think you’ll need because meringue is delicate and some are sure to break. Be sure to keep any left-over meringue because I’ve got a post-Christmas recipe that will use them up in a very delicious way!
You probably noticed that the tops are all pointy. Not very mushroom-like, right? It’s easy to fix. Just dip your finger in a little water and smooth down the tops.
Now it’s time to bake the meringue. Pop the cookie sheet into a 200 F oven for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. They’re done when you can easily lift a piece of meringue off the parchment. At this point, turn off the oven, open the door slightly, and let the meringue mushrooms sit for at least a couple hours (overnight is ideal). This will allow the meringue to dry.
Step 2: Make the Chocolate Ganache
This is the “glue” that holds the mushroom tops and stems together, and what you’ll use to frost the cake. It needs to cool for an hour or two, so make it while the meringue is baking.
Pour 1 cup chocolate pieces (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips) into a mixing bow. Heat 1 cup heavy cream on the stove until it starts to bubble around the sides. Take it off the heat and let it cool for a few minutes. Then pour the warm cream over the chocolate and stir until chocolate has melted. Chill in the fridge until spreadable.
Step 3: Make the Cake
Beat the eggs until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).
Sift the flour, cornstarch, and cocoa powder into a bowl.
Carefully fold sifted ingredients into the beaten eggs with a spatula.
Line a 10 x 15 jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Pour the cake batter in the pan.
Spread the batter around with a spatula until evenly distributed.
Bake about 10 minutes at 400F or until cake springs back when you touch it. When the cake is finished, sprinkle a clean towel with powdered sugar, then place over the cake, sugared side down.
Then turn the cake over onto the towel and take off the baking sheet. Carefully peel off the parchment paper (do this slowly and carefully – I lost some of my cake during this step!). Sprinkle the cake with a little more powdered sugar.
Carefully roll up the cake in the towel. This will allow you to later re-roll the cake with the filling inside without it breaking apart. Let cake cool for 30 minutes.
Step 4: Make the Cake Filling
Beat heavy cream, vanilla extract, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl on high to stiff peaks. If you’d prefer vanilla filling, leave out the cocoa powder.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge until you’re ready to spread it on the cake.
Step 5: Assemble the Mushrooms
Put the mushroom tops to one side and the stems to the other. Take a top and use a paring knife to make a hole in the middle of under side of the mushroom top. Place a small amount of chocolate ganache in the hole. Place a stem into the hole filled with ganache. Let mushrooms dry on a cookie sheet.
Step 6: Assemble and Decorate the Cake
This is the fun part! Grab the whipped cream filling and spread it on the cake with an off-set spatula. Leave a little room around edges so the cream doesn’t spill out when you roll it up.
Carefully roll up the cake.
Transfer to a serving plate. (I put two sheets of waxed paper underneath to keep the serving plate clean while I decorated the cake.) Slice a small portion of end of the log at a diagonal. Keep this because you’ll use it to create a “knot” on the log.
Frost the cake using the chocolate ganache. You might need to let it warm up a bit if it’s been in the fridge. An off-set spatula makes this process easy but a regular butter knife will work if you don’t have one. The log is supposed to look like a log, so don’t smooth out the ganache too much. Take the piece you cut in the previous step and place it on the iced top of the log, then the frost the “knot.”
Get out your meringue mushrooms and cocoa powder. Dust the tops of the mushrooms with cocoa powder.
I smoothed out the cocoa powder on the tops of some of the mushrooms for a varied look. Once you’re happy with your mushrooms, place them on and around your cake.
Then dust the top of the cake and mushrooms with a bit of powdered sugar and then cocoa powder. Add any other embellishments you want! I snipped a few fir twigs off my Christmas tree, washed them with dish soap, and stuck them under the mushrooms and added some pomegranate seeds for color. Enjoy the oohs and ahs you’ll get when you serve your Bûche de Noël!