Every holiday season is full of delicious treats: cookies and milk for Santa, homemade fudge, gingerbread houses, hot cocoa with candy canes, macaroons, fruitcake and figgy pudding not to mention delectable pies like pumpkin, pecan and mincemeat. Another oft-demanded holiday treat that we make every year at Rossmoor Pastries is the Bûche de Noël.
Bûche de Noël dates back to at least 1615 when the first known recipe appeared in Gervaise Markham’s book, “The English Huswife.” The name bûche de Noël originally referred to the Yule Log, transferring to the dessert only after use of this holiday custom declined. The Yule Log may date back as far as Europe’s Iron Age. Records indicate that even before the medieval era, Celtic Brits and Gaelic Europeans would gather at the end of December to welcome the Winter Solstice, marking the end of the winter season, and celebrate the days getting longer. To welcome the New Year and clear the air of last year’s events, families would burn logs decorated with holly, pine cones, or ivy, keeping the ashes as a good luck charm, particularly as protection from lighting strikes.
A yule log or bûche de Noël is a traditional dessert, considered a type of sweet roulade, as it is rolled up with fillings, served during the Christmas season, especially in France, Canada, several other francophone countries and former French colonies.
The traditional bûche is made from a genoise or other sponge cake, baked in a large, shallow Swiss roll pan, frosted, rolled to form a cylinder, and frosted again on the outside. The most common recipe is a basic yellow sponge cake, frosted and filled with chocolate buttercream; however, many variations on the traditional recipe exist, including chocolate cake, ganache, espresso or other flavors of frostings and fillings.
Bûches are often served with a portion of one end of the cake cut off and set on top of the cake or protruding from its side to resemble a chopped off branch. Bark-like texture, often done by dragging a fork through the icing, is produced in the buttercream for further realism. Cakes can also be decorated with powdered sugar to resemble snow, tree branches, fresh berries, and mushrooms made of meringue.
Rossmoor Pastries’ bûche de Noël as pictured here is made with chocolate sponge, chocolate buttercream and fanciful decorations. Call us at 562.498.2253 to reserve yours by phone or come by the store to pick one up on the way to your next celebration from 7 AM to 6 PM Monday through Saturday.
Thank you to Stephanie Butler, author of The Delicious History of the Yule Log on history.com, and Wikipedia.com, Yule Log Cake, for the facts used in this article.