Buy yule log cake

Christmas is almost here, and ‘tis the season for rich food traditions. Be it cookies and milk under the tree for Santa, candy canes or figgy puddings, it’s hard to think of a Christmas ritual that isn’t tied to food. And what proper bakery would go through a holiday season without a giant, delicate Yule log in the front case? The Yule log cake (or bûche de Noël for French speakers) is an elaborate creation consisting of a rolled, filled sponge cake, frosted with chocolate buttercream to look like tree bark and festooned with meringue mushrooms, marzipan holly sprigs, spun sugar cobwebs and any other sort of edible decoration.

The history of the Yule log cake stretches all the way back to Europe’s Iron Age, before the medieval era. Back then, Celtic Brits and Gaelic Europeans would gather to welcome the winter solstice at December’s end. People would feast to celebrate the days finally becoming longer, signaling the end of the winter season. To cleanse the air of the previous year’s events and to usher in the spring, families would burn logs decorated with holly, pinecones or ivy. Wine and salt were also often used to anoint the logs. Once burned, the log’s ashes were valuable treasures said to have medicinal benefits and to guard against evil. Some groups claimed the ashes would protect the bearer from lightning—an important quality at a time when houses (and most of the contents in them) were made of wood.

With the advent of Christianity, the Yule log tradition continued, albeit on a smaller scale. Families may have burned a log on Christmas Eve, but smaller hearths became the norm so huge logs were impractical. Those small hearths, however, were perfect for baking cakes. We don’t know who exactly made the first Yule log cake, but judging from the individual ingredients it could have been as early as the 1600s. Marzipan and meringue decorations, two of the most popular choices for Yule logs, appeared on many a medieval table. Sponge cake, which often constitutes the base of the log, is one of the oldest cakes still made today. It dates back to at least 1615, when the first known recipe appeared in Gervaise Markham’s tome “The English Huswife.”

Parisian bakers popularized the cake in the 19th century, and different bakeries became known for their more elaborate decorations. Nowadays, few people make Yule logs at home, but that doesn’t mean you should pass up a slice in favor of apple pie or a second helping of mashed potatoes. Enjoy your bûche de Noël, and think of the hundreds of years of history behind it.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper and grease with cooking spray. In a medium bowl mix together flour, cocoa powder, and salt.
  2. In a large bowl beat egg yolks until thick. Slowly add ½ cup sugar and beat until pale then beat in flour mixture.
  3. In another large bowl beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add remaining ¼ cup sugar a little at a time and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into batter in two batches.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Bake until top springs back when lightly pressed, 12 minutes.
  5. Dust a clean kitchen towel with powdered sugar and invert warm cake onto towel. Peel off parchment paper.
  6. Starting at the short end, use the towel to tightly roll cake into a log. Let cool completely.
  7. Make filling: if using gelatin, place 2 tablespoons cold water in a shallow microwave-safe bowl and sprinkle gelatin in an even layer on top. Let bloom for 5 to 10 minutes, then microwave for 10 seconds until gelatin is runny—do not overheat!
  8. In a large bowl, beat together heavy cream, powdered sugar, pure vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt, until medium peaks form. If using gelatin, strain and stream into whipped cream at this point while continuing to beat the cream. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  9. When cake is cool, unroll and spread filling evenly over cake. Roll cake back into a log, using the towel to help create a tight roll. Place seam side down on a baking sheet and refrigerate until well chilled, 1 hour.
  10. Make frosting: In a large bowl beat butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar and cocoa powder and beat until no lumps remain then beat in vanilla, heavy cream, and salt.
  11. When ready to serve, trim ends and frost cake with chocolate buttercream. Dust lightly with powdered sugar and top with chocolate curls. Place cranberries and rosemary on log to create mistletoe.

Chocolate Yule Log

  • Prep

    50 m

  • Cook

    10 m

  • Ready In

    3 h 30 m

  1. Whip powdered sugar, butter, cocoa powder, salt, and coffee liqueur together in the bowl of a stand mixer on high speed. Transfer buttercream into a separate bowl and add mascarpone cheese. Mix until combined; set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Brush a little melted butter over a 13×18-inch rimmed sheet pan. Line pan with parchment paper and brush remaining melted butter on top.
  3. Combine cocoa powder, salt, and flour together in a bowl; whisk or sift to break up clumps.
  4. Place eggs in the clean bowl of your stand mixer. Add sugar and whip until fluffy, thick, and very light in color. Add 1/2 of the cocoa powder mixture and vanilla extract; mix on low speed for a few seconds. Beat in remaining cocoa mixture on low for a few seconds. Switch to high speed; stop once mixture is moistened but not fully blended. Pull off the whisk attachment and whisk batter with it until evenly blended.
  5. Pour batter onto the prepared sheet pan and spread out with a spatula, leaving some room around the edges. Tap pan on the counter to knock out the large bubbles.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven until top is dry and edges start to pull away from the sides, 8 to 10 minutes.
  7. Dust a clean kitchen towel with enough powdered sugar to cover an area slightly larger than the sponge cake. Remove cake from the oven. Run a knife around the edges of the pan. Sprinkle some powdered sugar over the top. Run a spatula under the parchment paper to make sure it’s not stuck to the pan.
  8. Quickly flip pan on top of the sugared area to invert the cake. Remove parchment paper and dust cake with more powdered sugar. Gently roll cake up inside the towel; allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  9. Unroll cake and dollop buttercream on top, reserving some for later. Spread frosting to the edges. Roll cake up over the frosting, using the towel to lift it if needed. Sprinkle more powdered sugar on top. Wrap log in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
  10. Combine chocolate chips and hot cream in a bowl. Let sit for 1 minute. Whisk until chocolate melts.
  11. Make an angled cut 3 inches from one end of the log. Place log on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Apply some buttercream to the angled slice and attach it to one side. Spread a layer of ganache all over the cake, except for the swirls. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to firm up ganache.
  12. Carve lines into the ganache using the tip of a knife to create the appearance of tree bark. Refrigerate until completely chilled before serving. Dust with cocoa powder and powdered sugar.

What’s a yule log?

In a holiday season often defined by snowmen and sleigh rides, staying warm is important. Anyone who dreams of snow on Christmas morning knows that scarves, mittens and hot chocolate must never be far behind. And perhaps nothing symbolizes holiday coziness better than the yule log, the centerpiece of any fireside gathering. But what makes this hunk of wood so prized? Where else can you find one, besides your fireplace? And how did a New York television impresario bring the yule log into so many American homes?

The tradition of yule logs has its roots in pagan rituals. In fact, the word “yule” is old English for a festival known to take place in December and January. Northern Europeans, like Vikings, celebrated the Festival of Yule to honor the winter solstice by journeying into the woods in search of a hearty oak tree. The event was a family affair, with family members venturing out in search of a choice cut of wood. They would return with the most robust log they could find and burn it in deference to various gods as well as in celebration of life and prosperity.

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Ultimately, the yule log was thought to determine a person’s good or bad luck, and there are many variations on this superstition. One European belief held that the log had to catch fire on the first attempt to light it, lest all the inhabitants of the home where it burned suffer bad luck. Another stated that the remains of a log must be kept for the following year’s ceremony for good luck, which would extend across successive generations. The ashes were sometimes stored under a bed in order to make a home immune to evil spirits and lightning strikes. English Christmas traditions called for the yule log to burn as a sign of goodwill through all 12 days of Christmas, during which time family members would refrain from labor to celebrate the season .

In the next section, we’ll look at how the yule log is celebrated in modern times.­

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Yule log cake, or bûche de Noël, is a Christmas cake with a ritualistic past. Cleverly shaped and decorated to look like a 3-D log, the cake represents a melding of ancient midwinter traditions: one that celebrated the end of winter, and another honoring the Norse god Thor.

The Yule log cake is a rolled Genoise sponge cake, filled with buttercream and decorated with chocolate frosting or ganache, which is combed with a fork to create a bark-like texture. Woodsy decorations are a must. Crushed pistachio moss, marzipan mushrooms, and holly garnishes give the impression that these cakes were lifted from the forest floor.

But the Victorians bakers who invented this novelty cake had a far older tradition in mind. In pre-industrial Europe, the Yule log was an actual piece of wood. The name comes from the Nordic midwinter festival that involved burning logs in honor of the god of thunder and lightning, Thor. Viking invasions spread the tradition across Europe, and the celebration became entwined with Northern European winter solstice rites, especially those of the Celts, who believed that burning a massive log vanquished the winter darkness. Yule logs had to be large enough to burn throughout the longest, coldest night of the year, with some unburned wood left over. The remainder of the log would be lit next year, as a symbol of continuity.

The combination of traditions gave the Yule log surprising longevity. According to the writings of folklorist Sir James George Frazer, the practice of burning the Yule log survived long past the introduction of Christianity. Some 17th century French families believed that a piece of leftover log could, “if kept under the bed, protect the house for a whole year from fire and thunder.” To Frazer, this suggested the pagan belief of being spared Thor’s lightning bolts.

The first known Yule log cake recipe was published in 1895 by French pastry chef Pierre Lacan in Le Mémorial Historique et Géographique de la Pâtisserie. Francophone countries most avidly consume Yule log cakes, although they’re common in many countries that celebrate Christmas. Modern recipes have added eggnog and gingerbread frostings to the mix.

By the time of Lacan’s recipe, the Yule log tradition was fading. Stoves replaced massive stone hearths, and city life made carrying giant logs out of the woods difficult. Instead, in an ode to provincial life, city-dwellers enjoyed bûche de Noël cakes … and unwittingly paid homage to an ancient ritual.

Dig In

Bûche de Noël (Yule Log) Ice Cream

December 11, 2018 in Category: What’s New

Originally, the Yule log—or, in French, Bûche de Noël —wasn’t a delightful, log-shaped French Christmas cake, but rather an actual log, decorated with holly or pine cones and burned in celebration of the winter solstice. Pretty to look at, sure, but definitely not as tasty.

While the tradition of burning the Bûche de Noël has faded, the tradition of consuming its cake-y doppelgänger has not. Now, in the 21st century, it’s making its way to our freezer aisle—in the form of Ice Cream!

We’ve never seen Bûche de Noël Ice Cream anywhere else, and Trader Joe’s Bûche de Noël (Yule Log) Ice Cream honors its namesake well. It’s a classic, custard-flavored ice cream with pieces of decadent chocolate cake and a rich, cocoa swirl. You’ll get the elements of a classic Bûche de Noël cake in each bite, and it’s easy to see how one spoonful could quickly lead to two, or three, or four…

This Yule Log Ice Cream could not be further in character from the original, burning-hot Bûche, and yet its tastiness alone earns it key placement in Bûche de Noël evolution. So grab a pint and a spoon, get cozy by the fire, and enjoy. If you feel like baking, it pairs (unsurprisingly) well with a Bûche de Noël cake, too!

We’re selling each pint of Trader Joe’s Bûche de Noël (Yule Log) Ice Cream for $2.99—a fantastic price for what will surely be your new favorite Christmas dessert tradition. You’ll find it in our freezers, for a very limited time.

INGREDIENTS:
CREAM, MILK, SUGAR, COCOA SWIRL (WATER, POWDERED SUGAR , SUGAR, RICE STARCH, COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, NATURAL FLAVOR, CITRIC ACID, GUAR GUM), CHOCOLATE CAKE PIECES (SUGAR, SALTED BUTTER , WHEAT FLOUR, PASTEURIZED EGGS, COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, WATER, BROWN SUGAR, COCOA, NATURAL FLAVORS, SALT), EGG YOLKS, CULTURED BUTTERMILK (CULTURED MILK, SALT, SODIUM CITRATE), NATURAL FLAVOR, CAROB BEAN GUM, GUAR GUM, SALT, CITRIC ACID, ANNATTO EXTRACT (COLOR), XANTHAN GUM.
CONTAINS MILK, EGG, WHEAT. NUTRITION FACTS:
3 servings per container | Serving size 2/3 cup (132g) | Amount per serving: Calories 320
Total Fat 17g (22% DV), Saturated Fat 9g (45% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 90mg (30% DV), Sodium 70mg (3% DV), Total Carbohydrate 39g (14% DV), Dietary Fiber <1g (3% DV), Total Sugars 34g—Includes 30g Added Sugars (60% DV), Protein 5g, Vitamin D (4% DV), Calcium (10% DV), Iron (6% DV), Potassium (4% DV).

The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

NOTE: Since posting, the details of this item may have changed due to fluctuating market prices, federal regulations, currency rates, drought, pestilence, bandits, rush hour traffic, filibusters, zombie apocalypse, punctilious product developers… Contact our Crew for current price and availability.

Ice-Cream Cake Roll

Make It

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 15 x 10 x 1-inch jelly-roll pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment or waxed paper. Spray paper.

2. Stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer on medium speed for 5 minutes, until very light yellow. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating until smooth. Beat in vanilla extract.

3. Fold flour mixture into egg mixture until no lumps remain. Pour into prepared pan, spreading level. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.

4. Dust a clean kitchen towel with confectioners sugar. Turn cake out onto towel. Roll up towel and cake from short end; cool completely.

5. Unroll; spread with softened ice cream to within 1 inch of edges. Reroll cake without towel; wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze at least 4 hours or overnight. If frozen overnight, let stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving. To serve, carefully remove plastic wrap and drizzle cake with chocolate syrup.

How to make a chocolate yule log? Roxana Jullapat shows you

Roxana Jullapat, the pastry chef at Cooks County restaurant in Los Angeles, knows a thing or two about yule logs — not the ones you put on the fire, but the traditional Christmas cake, also known as bûche de Noël.

They’re usually filled and frosted with chocolate buttercream, dusted with powdered sugar and decorated with meringue mushrooms.

Jullapat’s version is a pastry-cream filled, chocolate-glazed frozen yule log that she serves at the restaurant. “It’s really nice because it’s like an ice cream cake and can be made in advance,” she says. “I can make a week’s worth in one day. saves every holiday season.”

Instead of the traditional genoise, hers is a moist chocolate cake, ever so slightly underbaked so that it’s still pliable for rolling into a log (much like you would a jelly roll). The filling is a combination of whipped cream, pastry cream and chocolate.

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Roll the yule log (“the fun part”), wrap it in plastic and let it freeze completely (ideally over night). Then you glaze the frozen cake, put it back in freezer for about 10 minutes, glaze the other side (optional), re-wrap it and put it back in the freezer until ready to serve.

You’ll need to take it out of the freezer and let it soften a bit at room temperature (about 30 minutes), then cut into slices. Merry yule log!

Here’s the recipe:

Frozen Chocolate Yule Log

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Makes one yule log, enough for 12 guests

Ingredients

For the chocolate sheet cake:

7 tablespoons cocoa powder, Dutch processed
¾ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water
1¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
1¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the milk chocolate filling:

1 pound milk chocolate chips
1 ½ cups heavy cream
8 egg yolks
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup whole milk

For the chocolate glaze:

6 ounces unsalted butter, cubed
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon dark rum

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1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and set the oven rack in the middle position.

2. Start by making the cake: Put the cocoa powder in a small saucepan and add ¾ cup vegetable oil plus 2 tablespoons of water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring continuously to prevent the cocoa from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and set aside until completely cooled.

3. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, place the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in the mixer bowl. Mix for 1 minute to combine.

4. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla extract with the cooled cocoa mixture. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix to combine at medium speed. Increase the speed to high and mix for 2 more minutes.

5. Line a jellyroll pan (about 12 by 17 inches) with parchment paper. Pour the cake batter onto the pan. Use a spatula to spread the batter evenly on the pan. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cake is just done but still a bit soft in the middle. Remove the cake from the oven. Let it cool completely. You may bake the cake a day or two in advance, and store it at room temperature, covered with plastic film until ready to use.

6. Make the filling: Place the chocolate in a non-reactive bowl. Put the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Stir the chocolate with a rubber spatula until it is completely melted. Remove from the heat and set aside.

7. Whip the cream in the stand mixer still with the whisk attachment until it forms soft peaks. Transfer to a separate bowl and set aside.

8. Clean the mixer bowl and whisk attachment. Place the eggs yolks in the bowl. Whisk the yolks at medium speed for about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and add the sugar and continue to beat at full speed until the yolks turn pale yellow and the whisk leaves a trace on top of the mixture. Reduce the speed to low but keep whisking while you complete the next step.

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9. In a medium-sized pot, bring the milk up to a boil. Remove from the heat. Slowly add the warm milk into the beaten eggs while the mixer is running. Transfer the mixture back to the pot and mix non-stop with a hand whisk over medium heat until the mixture starts to thicken. Immediately transfer the mixture back to the mixer and whisk it at medium speed to cool.

10. In a large mixing bowl, fold the melted chocolate into the egg yolk mixture. Lastly, fold in the whipped cream. The resulting filling will be soft and mousse-like. Spread the filling over the chocolate sheet cake, using a spatula to distribute it evenly. Put the cake in the freezer for one hour or until the filling is half frozen.

11. Assemble the yule log: Take the cake out of the freezer. Lay a sheet of plastic film at least twice as big as the cake on a working surface. Carefully remove the cake from the pan making sure not to peel it off from the parchment paper underneath. Transfer the cake, filling side up, on top of the plastic. Gently start to roll the cake like a jellyroll starting at the bottom, peeling the parchment off the cake as you roll; the parchment will prevent the cake from crumbling. Wrap the cake tightly with the plastic and place in the freezer for at least 1 hour.

12. In the meantime, make the chocolate glaze. Combine butter, chocolate and rum in a bowl, and melt over a pot of simmering water, stirring occasionally so that the butter and chocolate are well combined; always making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Keep chocolate glaze in a warm spot; if glaze cools down and starts to thicken, you can reheat it over the pot of water.

13. Place a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet (or the jelly roll pan in which you baked the cake). To glaze the yule log, remove from the freezer and peel the plastic film off the cake. Put the cake over the cooling rack, while the glaze is still warm, ladle it over the cake, allow it to set completely. At this point, you may wrap the cake in plastic and keep it in the freezer until ready to slice and serve, or you may glaze the opposite side. To do so, place the just-glazed cake in the refrigerator until the glaze has hardened, about 10 minutes, remove from the refrigerator, invert over the cooling rack and ladle with warm chocolate glaze once again. Wait until the glaze is completely set and then wrap with plastic film and keep in the freezer until ready to serve.

13. To serve the yule log, remove from the freezer 30 minutes in advance to let it temp. Using a large knife, slice the yule log and serve immediately.

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Yule Log Recipe &
Video

Chocolate Sponge Cake: Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of your oven. Butter, or spray with a nonstick vegetable spray, a 17×12 inch (43×30 cm) baking pan, line it with parchment paper, and then butter and flour the paper (or spray with a nonstick vegetable/flour spray).

In a bowl, whisk the flour with the cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt.

Next, remove 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of the granulated white sugar called for in the recipe and set it aside. It will be added to the whipped egg whites.

Then, place the two eggs and three egg yolks, along with the remaining granulated white sugar and vanilla extract, in the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment (can use a hand mixer). Beat on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow, and fluffy (this will take about five minutes). (When you slowly raise the beaters the batter will fall back into the bowl in a slow ribbon.) Sift half the flour mixture over the beaten egg mixture and fold in gently with a rubber spatula, just until the flour is incorporated. Sift the remaining flour mixture into the batter and fold in.

In a clean bowl, with the whisk attachment, (or with a hand mixer) beat the egg whites and cream of tartar, on medium low speed, until soft peaks form. On high speed, gradually add the one tablespoon (15 grams) sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold a little of the whites into the batter to lighten it, and then fold in the rest of the whites. Pour the batter into your prepared pan, spreading evenly with an offset spatula or back of a spoon. Bake for about 6 – 8 minutes, or until set, and when the top of the cake is lightly pressed, it springs back (a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean). Immediately upon removing the cake from the oven, sprinkle the top of the cake with some powdered sugar and then invert the cake onto a clean dish towel (the powdered sugar will prevent the cake from sticking to the towel). Remove the parchment paper, sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar, and gently roll up the sponge cake, with the towel (this helps prevent cracking and sets the log shape). Place on a wire rack to cool.

Chocolate Frosting: Place the chopped chocolates in a medium sized heatproof bowl. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. (Can also heat the cream and butter in the microwave.) Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and stir gently (as you do not want to incorporate too much air into the mixture) with a spoon or whisk until smooth. Set aside until it thickens to spreading consistency (this may take a couple of hours).

Chocolate Whipped Cream: In a large mixing bowl, fitted with the whisk attachment (can use a hand mixer), place the whipping cream, vanilla extract, sugar, and cocoa powder and whisk to combine. Then beat the mixture, on high speed, until stiff peaks form. Once the cake has cooled, unroll, spread with the cream and then gently roll the cake back into a log shape.

Next, cut about a 1 – 1 1/2 inch (2.5 – 3.75 cm) diagonal slice from one end of the cake and, using a little of the frosting, attach it to one side of the cake (so it looks like a tree limb). Then cut a slice straight across the cake (to make the cake even) and again, use a little of the frosting, attach it to the other side of the cake (so you have two tree limbs). Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. If you like you can run the tines of a fork through the frosting so it looks like the “bark” of a tree. Cover and place in the refrigerator until serving. This cake can be stored in the refrigerator for about 4-5 days. Just before serving remove the cake from the fridge, dust the top with powdered sugar (for snow) and decorate with meringue mushrooms, if using.

Note: You can make chocolate truffles from any leftover chocolate frosting. First, cover and refrigerate the chocolate frosting until firm. Then form into small balls and roll in cocoa powder, confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar or chopped nuts. You can use your hands to form the truffles, a melon baller or small spoon. Truffles can be refrigerated for a couple of weeks or else frozen for a couple of months.

Serves about 6-8 people.

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