Bûche de Noël

by Eddy Van Damme on December 22, 2009

buche de noel

Bûche de Noël

Nothing finishes a festive holiday meal like a bûche de Noël. It’s fitting and it always seems to bring a sense of joy to the guests. Every year I make a different flavor combination to keep things exciting. This time I choose to bring mascarpone cheese and chestnuts together for a delicious finally to any meal.

When I was a kid, bûche de Noël was finished to resemble a tree trunk. Decorated with chocolate shavings to mimic tree bark and usually topped with meringue mushrooms. Since I can never leave good enough alone, I give my bûche de Noël a fresh new look every year.

modern buche de noel

This time I spread white tempered chocolate very thin on a ribbed plastic sheet and once it was firm like leather I cut it in thin strips. Since the filling is made with chestnut paste, I dipped some roasted chestnuts in caramel and used to decorate the log.

Getting it all together!

Make the sponge cake first. Once baked, it can easily be frozen for time management. Prepare the simple syrup and set aside in the refrigerator. The mascarpone chestnut cream can be made using homemade chestnut paste or use a sweetened purchased variety. Once the log is rolled up, it can be frozen. Simply remove from the freezer and place in the refrigerator the day before needed. The chocolate plaques can be made ahead of time and be kept covered at room temperature.

Assembly: Moisten the sponge cake with the flavored simple syrup. Spread the chestnut mascarpone cream over the moistened cake. (If the cream is a little soft, mix it with a spatula to firm it up) Roll up the sponge cake. Place in the freezer or refrigerator. Stick the chocolate plaques on the log using crème Chantilly or butter cream. Decorate as desired.

sponge cake

chestnut mascarpone

mascarpone chestnut cream

chestnut cream

spongecake roll

chestnuts in caramel

Sponge cake

Yield: 1 baking sheet 16 x 12 inches (40 x 30 cm)

4 (4) Large eggs 4
2 (2) Large egg yolk 2
1 teaspoon (1 tsp) Vanilla extract 1 tsp
pinch (pinch) salt pinch
½ Cup (4 oz) Extra fine granulated sugar (B) 120 g
½ Cup + 2 Tablespoons (2.75 oz) All purpose or pastry flour 80 g
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F (200C). Line the baking sheet with parchment paper and butter lightly. Sprinkle with flour and shake off excess. Set aside.
  2. Whip the eggs and yolks for 1 minute. Add the vanilla, salt and sugar and whip until the mixture is light in color and thick ribbons fall of the whip attachment.
  3. Turn of mixer and gently fold in the flour.
  4. Spread the mixture evenly on the baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake until light golden and the cake bounces back when lightly pressed. Upon removal from the oven turn the cake upside  down onto parchment or a kitchen towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Let cool.

Simple syrup

½ Cup (4 oz) Extra fine granulated sugar 120 g
½ Cup (4 oz Water 120 g
  1. Place the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil one minute. Let cool.
  2. To flavor the syrup add 2 oz of Chestnut or Rum liquor.

Chestnut mascarpone cream

8 oz (8 oz) Chestnut paste, sweetened 240 g
8 oz (8 oz) Mascarpone cheese 240 g
  1. Place the chestnut paste in a bowl. If needed add a small amount of simple syrup to the chestnut paste to make it soft as mayonnaise.
  2. Gently stir in the mascarpone cream.

27 comments on “Bûche de Noël

  1. Oh my, I’m speechless, really. I love chestnuts, I’ve got to try this mascarpone-chestnut cream…

  2. Steven R. on said:

    As always, amazingly beautiful.
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Patricia on said:

    I will make this for Xmas.
    By the way, we LOVE your corn syrup free pecan pie.

  4. Chef Eddy,
    This is the most beautiful yule log I have ever seen! I made your Meyer lemon tart last week and we are still talking about it. We have lots of Meyer lemon on our trees and I am so happy to have found a great Meyer lemon curd recipe.
    Many thanks and happy holidays.
    Joy H.

  5. OMG. I am making this for the holidays!
    Toby H.

  6. Gorgeous!!

  7. heather on said:

    Our friends in Angers just sent us Chestnut Creme; I’ll make this today.

  8. yumz… my fav chestnut creme log….
    classic indeed…

  9. Hilary Adams on said:

    This is what happens when you don’t check out the blog for a few days – something else amazing pops up and you don’t know it’s there to share it! My cousin and I were discussing Buche de Noel recipes for Christmas dinner and this would have been SO perfect! Oh, well! Maybe an “apres Noel” dessert instead? ;0)

    Joyeux Noel, Chef Eddy! I hope your Christmas is all things wonderful!


  10. Hi Eddy, gorgeous Bûche de Noël, very nice, very elegant, thanks for sharing.
    One question, why you made the sponge cake with eggs and yolks instead of the method that uses whites and yolk separated? does it has something to do with the flexibility of the sponge?

  11. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Nico,
    Great question.
    The recipe for spongecake we have in On Baking on page 489 is one of my favorites. It is flexible and works great for many applications. The reason for this recipe for sponge cake is simply to give you options. Either sponge cake will work great for a Buche.
    All the best, Eddy.

  12. Thanks for answering so quickly. I also saw in the food network the other day a guy that replaces half of the flour with corn starch in order to make the cake more flexible, have you ever try that?

  13. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Replacing part of the flour with cornstarch is mainly to reduce the gluten content and to make the starch (Flour and cornstarch) lighter. Certainly it can help to make the cake more flexible. The negative about cornstarch is that some people do not like the flavor it gives. Nico, A huge thing in making sure the cake is flexible enough to roll is that the oven temp is set at high. If it bakes too low, it will dry out more and making it harder to roll.

  14. Thanks Eddy, I’ll try this recipe for the sponge cake this week.
    have a fantastic 2010.

  15. Diana Wallace on said:

    Beautiful! I can’t wait to try this! It looks fantastic!

  16. Spongecake is 100% fat free to eat… I am lovin it…

  17. I am not a fan of any site that contains pictures of people who you do not really know. The chef eddy Blog is better and it is a way of questioning types of ingredients that are interesting to notify. Look at all of the comments that I made in chef eddies blog. They were true to everything that chef eddy is talking about. What I saw in chef eddies blog were pictures of the product. He made it so that we all should think about it. Therefore, I believe in chef eddies work and dedication. Chef Eddy likes his work… Chef Eddy, make some more of the desserts and put more pictures into your blog. Later…

  18. Though not absolutely essential for making the sponge cake, I find a raplette dough spreader a wonderful tool to have in the kitchen. It helps me to achieve a very professional result. Without it, I just can’t seem to get a perfectly even surface.

    Thank you again for another wonderful post, Chef. Inspiring as always!

  19. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    You are very correct about this. Thank you very much for sharing your great tip! Hope you inspired others to share as well.
    All the best,

  20. Exactly how many minutes would you bake this for?

  21. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Sorry I have been on Holiday and was not able to check comments…About 12 minutes I would say, as always it is best to go by your experience. Once the cake bounces back when lightly pressed it is done.
    All the best,

  22. Chestnut! It is one of my favorite flavors, and I also know my family will love it as well! I must try it!

  23. Yvonne Davis on said:

    I have never tried Chestnut

  24. Renae Holman Murti on said:

    Chestnuts scream Christmas to me and your sugaring makes them delightfully whimsical. No visions of sugar plums dancing here. Christmas Eve I’m dreaming of decadent little sugared chestnuts.

  25. Nicholas Pringle on said:

    Can you use the Chestnut Mascarpone cream in or on other things??

  26. Nhu Ta on said:

    Chef Eddy,
    When I tried making the sponge cake, it become very dense and dry. I use the recipe in the on baking book and I used the chocolate sponge instead of the regular, but I put slightly more cocoa powder because I want to give it a more chocolate taste. Could that be the reason why my cake is not moist enough? If so what else can I do to make this cake extra moist?

  27. Hello chef,

    I wasn’t able to find chestnut paste. Is it okay to replace it with either almond or hazelnut paste? If so, do I use the sweetened or unsweetened one?

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