La Bûche de Noël: a Traditional French Christmas Dessert

When in France, you must absolutely indulge in the dessert, la Bûche de Noël, over the holiday season. After eating oysters, smoked salmon, foie gras, champagne, duck, cheese and baguettes, it’s a Christmas miracle if you find you still have some space left for dessert. But when you know what’s coming, you save room. 

La Bûche de Noël (Yule Log) is a log-shaped cake or ice-cream cake made with chocolate or other tempting flavors. It is prepared, presented and garnished to look like a log ready for the fire. The traditional bûche is made from a sponge cake in a shallow Swiss roll pan, then frosted and filled with a chocolate (or other flavor) buttercream, rolled to form a cylinder, and then frosted again! Bring on the frosting says this American. 

our 2011 bûche de Noël
Gazing through the display cases of many shops and bakeries, I’ve seen several different variations of this scrumptious and sinfully delicious dessert. And because it’s France we’re talking about here, looks and presentation are very important; this applies to dessert as much as it does the sunglasses you wear. La bûche is often served with one end cut off and placed on the top or on the side of the cake (rings facing out) to resemble a chopped off branch. 

Or, you can buy one shaped like a Christmas Tree! un sapin de Noël (available at Picard) 

I've added 2 photos of the packaging which gives the mouth-watering details and a great dissection photo. It looks exactly like the picture! And tastes better than I could ever describe...

looks too good to eat? naa

To give the yule log a bark-like texture, drag a fork through the icing. Don’t forget to garnish! Why not place a couple of small real spruce boughs around the cake, maybe a pinecone too, add some fresh raspberries, and then sprinkle powdered sugar on the icing to resemble snow. Look too good to eat? Hmm, nope! 

A lot of people make their own bûche de Noël, or possibly buy one from a French grocery store. But gourmets and those with deep pockets will perhaps serve their guests la bûche made from a top chocolatier or pâtissier.

Each year these masters of chocolate and pastries manage to out-do even themselves. To tease you I’ve added some photos of these gorgeous creations, which do look too good to eat (again, just an expression). Merry Christmas everyone!

amazing presentation on this cake


  1. I lOVE buche de noel, I make one every year for Christmas. One year we got ambitious and even made the mushrooms for the top! Worth a trip to France for Christmas just to sample the lovely ones at the patisseries.

  2. Hello, can we link to this page? We're posting about the Buche de Noel

    1. Dear LooknBook, I do hope that you received my reply via email... The answer was in fact yes!
      : ) Dani