This tasty yule log cake recipe features a delicate chocolate sponge cake wrapped around a silky cream cheese filling and covered in whipped chocolate ganache. It’s festive enough to be the centerpiece at your holiday table!
I’m smitten with yule log cakes, also known as Bûche de Noël. The tradition of this Christmas cake is inspired by the custom of burning the yule log.
The traditional yule log is a chocolate cake roll filled with cream and covered in chocolate. It’s often decorated to look like an actual log with bark and surrounded with marzipan mushrooms.
I put my own spin on this traditional recipe by filling it with cream cheese and decorating it with sugared cranberries and rosemary stems.
I have never made a roll cake before this so I turned to Bake from Scratch to guide me. I used their recipe as a guide and only minimal changes to it.
I found that while the cake looks complex and intimidating, it’s actually quite easy. Read through the instructions first. That way you have an idea of what’s ahead of you. This will make the process even easier!
I also highly recommend using weight measurements for the cake ingredients. It’s important that the measurements are precise. You’ll have a much better cake texture this way!
Yule log cake ingredients
There are 3 components to this yule log recipe and the ingredient list is quite long. Let’s take a look…
- Egg – They get whipped to add air into the cake
- Sugar – Needed for sweetness
- Vanilla – As always, use a high-quality extract
- Flour – Just a little is needed in order to give the cake structure
- Cocoa Powder – For this recipe, I used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa
- Leavener – A little baking powder is needed to help the cake rise
- salt – Always add salt
- Yogurt – Keeps the cake supremely tender and delicate
- Oil – Keeps the cake from drying out so it won’t break when you roll it
- Confectioners’ Sugar – Used for dusting the cake to roll it and it’s used in the filling
- Cream cheese – The base of the filling
- Butter – Mixed with the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar to make a silky but sturdy filling
- Semi-sweet chocolate – Use a high-quality baking chocolate, not chocolate chips
- Heavy cream – Is used to make chocolate ganache
How to make a yule log?
Making a yule log cake can seem daunting but it’s actually quite easy to do. Let me show you how…
1) First, make the chocolate sponge cake in a 17×12-inch jelly roll pan. Be sure to line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and grease it well!
2) Turn the warm cake out onto a tea towel that has been generously dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Remove the parchment paper and dust the top of the cake with another generous amount of confectioners’ sugar.
3) Starting with the short side, roll the cake tightly with the towel and let it cool completely. This will help it keep its shape without breaking once you fill and reroll it.
4) Make the cream cheese filling then carefully unroll the cooled cake and spread the filling evenly over the cake. I like to leave a 1/2-inch naked border around the edges so the filling doesn’t squeeze out once rolled.
5) Reroll the cake without the towel this time, and place it seam side down on a serving platter. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the frosting.
6) Make the frosting by pouring warm cream over finely chopped chocolate and stirring until melted and smooth. Pop the ganache in the refrigerator for 15 minutes so it cools then whip it with an electric mixer until it becomes a spreadable consistency.
7) Cut a 3-inch piece off the end of the cake diagonally. Use a smear of ganache to attach8) the piece to the side of the cake so it looks like a branch coming out the side.
8) Spread ganache all over the cake and use the tip of a small offset spatula to create marks that resemble bark. Garnish with sugared cranberries and rosemary sprigs.
I’ll leave notes at the end of the recipe with instructions on how to make the sugared cranberries and rosemary.
How to decorate yule log?
A yule log cake can be decorated in a variety of ways! My favorite way is to slater whipped ganache over it then use a small offset spatula to create marks that resemble bark on a tree. This can also be achieved by using a fork.
The traditional yule log is garnished with marzipan mushrooms but I personally like the pops of color offered by cranberries and rosemary sprigs coated in sugar.
Tips for making this yule log cake recipe?
Each component of the cake can be made a day in advance! Store the cake rolled in the towel in the refrigerator. Cover both the filling and unwhipped chocolate ganache with a plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Bring everything to room temperature the next day and continue with assembling the cake.
Take extra care not to overbake the cake! Overbaking it will cause it to dry out. A dry cake is near impossible to roll without it breaking.
More Christmas recipes for you to try
Yule Log Cake
For the cake
For the filling
For the frosting
- 8 ounces (226g) (226 g) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 cups (240ml) (240 ml) heavy cream
- sugared rosemary*
- sugared cranberries*
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 17×12-inch jelly roll pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Lightly grease the parchment paper as well.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or handheld electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together in medium speed until pale, about 7 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, stir the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt together. Add it to the egg mixture and gently fold everything together.
- In another small bowl, whisk the yogurt, oil, and vanilla together. Add it to the egg mixture and gently fold it all together, scraping the bottom of the bowl to fully incorporate.
- Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched. Take care to not overbake the cake or it will dry out and be impossible to roll without breaking.
- Cool on a wire rack for 3 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake then turn the cake out onto a tea towel that has been generously dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Remove the parchment paper and generously dust the top of the cake with more confectioners’ sugar. Starting with one of the short sides, roll the cake in the towel and cool completely.
Make the filling
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a handheld electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
- Beat in the butter until well combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy.
- Carefully unroll the cake and spread the filling over the surface. Reroll the cake without the towel, and place seam side down on a large serving platter. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the frosting.
Make the frosting
- Place chocolate in a medium-size heatproof bowl.
- In a small sauce pan, bring the cream to a simmer over medium-high heat. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk together until the smooth.
- Refrigerate the ganache for 15 minutes, until it has cooled.
- Transfer the ganache to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high for 5-8 minutes until the ganache is whipped and spreadable.
- Trim 3 inches off one end of the cake diagonally. Use ganache to attach the section at an angle on the side of the cake roll.
- Spread the remaining ganache all over the cake and use a small offset spatula to make a bark-like pattern all over the cake. Decorate with sugared cranberries and sugared rosemary.
Make ahead tip
- The cake can be prepared through step 7. Refrigerate the rolled up cake for up to 1 day.
- The filling can be made 1 day in advance. Cover and store in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using.
- The frosting can also be made up to 2 days in advance. Prepare through step 3, cover, and refrigerate. When ready to use, let stand at room temperature 1-2 hours then continue with step 4.
- The baked and filled cake can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before adding the frosting. Frost up to 4 hours of serving.
- Fully filled and frosted cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.