Bûche de Noël is one of my favorite traditional Christmas cakes to make because it is equal parts delicious and beautiful. It’s a holiday centerpiece you can eat! I’ve made a few different versions over the years including 2015’s Mulled Wine Stump de Noël, a Mint Chocolate Cheesecake Yule Log in 2013, and as far back as 2009 (my first year blogging!) with a step-by-step version that still sees a lot of traffic each December.
I’m happy to add another flavor to the list with this Black Forest Swiss roll. Tart black cherry plays well with dark chocolate sponge cake, and whipped vanilla buttercream tips to lighter side and gives the cake balance.
Black Forest cake is known for its whipped cream component, but I’ve replaced it (somewhat hesitantly) with a sturdier vanilla buttercream frosting. The consistency stands up better to the dense sponge cake and it slices neatly. Feel free to swap out the whipped vanilla buttercream for sweetened whipped cream if you prefer (or if you’re a purist!).
I decided that this cake needed something different than the usual meringue mushrooms, so I fashioned some colorful faux fungi from ready-made dipped meringues and macaron shells. They are really easy to make and using purchased cookies will greatly shortcut the work. Dip the stem bottoms of the mushrooms in poppy seed, and sprinkle the macaron tops with white confetti.
You can best see the assembly process in the following video!
I’ve been using fondant impression mats more than ever lately. My mom gifted me a wood grain mat for my birthday last year, and I’ve been saving it for just this occasion. Dark chocolate fondant is the best-tasting of all fondant (in my opinion) and after a roll across the wood grain texture mat it was a perfect fit for this cake. I think it turned out really pretty. I’m sure I’ll be using the mat for more woodland treats this winter – it’s so fun!
This recipe calls for kirschwasser, which is a cherry liqueur. If you’re serving this to children or would like to omit the alcohol you may replace it with simple syrup or cherry juice.
I’m so glad I found time to make a Yule Log Cake this year. It’s a lovely tradition that always makes my spirits bright!
Black Forest Bûche de Noël
Yields 8-10 servings
To make this cake exactly as I did, you will need a large wood grain texture mat for the fondant design. See blog post for sources.
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoon buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (90g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (25g) dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (30g) powdered sugar
1 cup/226g unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 -3 cups/320 to 384g confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 to 1/3 cup (60-80ml) heavy cream
1/3 cup (about 4 ounces) prepared black cherry jam
1/2 cup (120ml) kirschwasser cherry liqueur or cherry juice or simple syrup
1/2 lb. dark chocolate fondant
Chocolate twigs, optional
3 prepared French macarons
6 prepared chocolate-dipped meringues
Corn syrup or honey
1 tablespoon white confetti sprinkles
2 tablespoons poppy seed
To make the cake, preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 15×10-inch jelly roll pan and line with parchment paper.
Place eggs in large bowl; beat using electric mixer on high speed 5 minutes. The whipped eggs will become thick and lightened in color. With the mixer still running, slowly add sugar and oil, followed by buttermilk and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Slowly add to the liquid ingredients. Mix until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake 12-15 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back when pressed with fingers.
Sprinkle a tea towel with powdered sugar and rub sugar into towel with your hands. Immediately turn cake out onto the sugar-covered tea towel. Peel off the parchment paper and roll cake into the tea towel, beginning at the narrow end. Place rolled cake on a wire rack, seam-side down, and let cool completely while you make the vanilla buttercream
Make the frosting: In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together the butter and confectioners’ sugar. Begin on low speed until crumbly, and then increase to high and beat for 3 minutes.
Add vanilla extract and beat again for another minute. Add heavy cream 2 tablespoons at a time while mixing on high until the mixture is light and fluffy. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag with the tip snipped.
Assembly: Unroll the cooled Swiss roll cake carefully. Spread the inside with the black cherry jam. Evenly pipe lines of frosting down the length of the cake and smooth with a spatula (you may not have to use all of the frosting). Roll up the cake and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Unwrap the cake and place on a serving platter. Generously brush the kirschwasser all over the surface of the cake using a pastry brush.
Knead the chocolate fondant and roll it flat on a work surface. Transfer it to a wood grain texture mat and roll again briefly. Flip the mat over and peel it away from the fondant. Cover cake with the fondant piece and trim away excess with a sharp knife. Place the chocolate twigs around the edges of the cake, if using.
Make the mushroom decors: Use a paring knife to separate the macaron shells. Set aside.
Using a paintbrush, lightly coat the flat bottoms of the meringues with corn syrup or honey. Dip the bottoms into poppy seed and set aside to dry.
Sparsely brush corn syrup over the macaron shells. Sprinkle white confetti sprinkles over the shells. Let dry about 10 minutes.
Place a dot of corn syrup on the pointed end of each meringue and gently press a macaron shell on top, so that it becomes the top of the toadstool. Let dry for 10 minutes. Use the mushrooms to decorate the yule log cake.
Store cake loosely covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.