Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Yule Log Cake (Bûche de Noël)

I nearly chucked this Christmas Log Cake on Christmas Eve.

This is probably my 4th time making a swiss roll in my entire life, I had only succeeded rolling a swiss roll twice without cracks, once for my giraffe swiss roll which I did ages ago, and another for last year's christmas log cake. I always regard the swiss roll as one of my nemesis in baking, I hate it when everything is smooth-sailing until the minute I roll the cake, that kind of sinking feeling when you know that all your efforts have gone down the drain...

Luckily this is supposed to be a christmas yule log cake (bûche de Noël) and I can cheat and camouflage the cracks by covering it with chocolate ganache! Although I was quite fond of my cocoa tree log pattern I had baked earlier. Unfortunately it will now be covered by an extra layer of ganache and will never ever see (christmas) daylight again.

See my baked cocoa tree log pattern, it was so lovely but it cracked when I attempted to roll it! I think I might have wasted too much time as I started late in making the cocoa buttercream filling and as a result the swiss roll was already cold and not so easy to roll. Either that or I was simply too stressed out because my hubby was hurrying me to feed the kiddies lunch (it was already 2pm on Xmas eve) and yet I was not done with the rolling. So I kind of rushed through everything and the results turned out appalling of course. It pained my heart to see my swiss roll crack! My swiss roll suffered yet another blow when I wrapped it up to chill in the fridge. As my fridge was full due to all the christmas goodies, I had to place it among some fruits, unfortunately an orange fell and made a dent in the middle of the log cake. Double whammy on Xmas eve! This was supposed to be my birthday cake but ended up I can only eat it after patching with ganache on Xmas Day. :(

You can also see my inexperience when I cut part of the swiss roll to make the branches. At first I thought I cut it too thin, then when I cut it again, I realised it was too thick and the proportion looked weird, so I had to stick it back with chocolate ganache, haha!

Anyway, it was a good learning experience. I hope to make the baked cocoa tree log pattern again for next year's christmas log cake and I wish I will have more luck rolling it successfully. That will be my project for next year - a successful christmas log cake and birthday cake! :-)

Recipe adapted from 孟老师的美味蛋糕卷

(a) Cocoa Tree Log Pattern (可可木材蛋糕卷 p156)
25g unsalted butter at room temp 
20g icing sugar, sifted
25g egg white at room temp (1 egg white = 40g)
20g cake flour or any low protein flour
5g unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1. Allow the unsalted butter to soften at room temp. 

2. Then mix the butter, icing sugar, egg white, cake flour and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl, and mix well using a egg whisk or spoon.

3. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the cocoa batter into a lined and lightly greased swiss roll tin, and smoothen the batter evenly. (Note that the quantity of the cocoa batter is very little.)

4. Using a cake decorating scraper or a fork, make zig zag markings on the cocoa batter, and allow it to harden in the freezer for at least 15 min.

(b) Sponge Cake - Egg Separation Method (分蛋式海绵蛋糕 p68)
30g unsalted butter at room temp
80g egg yolks at room temp + 15g brown sugar, sifted
(1 egg yolk = 20g, about 4 egg yolks)
130g egg whites at room temp + 70g brown sugar, sifted
(1 egg white = 40g, about 3.5 egg whites)
45g cake flour, sifted

1. First, heat up the butter in a mixing bowl over a water bath (pot of boiling water beneath) until fully melted. I melted my butter for 20-30 sec in a microwave instead.

2. Then add the egg yolks in a mixing bowl placed over a water bath, add in sugar and use a egg whisk to whisk continuously until everything has melted and the batter becomes creamy in colour and thick in texture. You need to constantly stir otherwise the egg yolk may become cooked.

3. In a separate mixing bowl (dry, clean and grease-free), add in the egg whites and beat with a cake-mixer using low speed until bubbles appear and the batter becomes frothy. Slowly increase the speed to high, while adding sugar in 3 additions. Beat the egg whites until stiff peak is achieved. Finally reduce the speed to lowest speed and beat for 1 min to remove bubbles in the batter. Do not over beat.

4. Take about 1/3 of the egg white batter, add to the egg yolk batter and mix swiftly and gently with a rubber spatula. Then add in the remaining 2/3 of the egg white batter, and mix everything gently.

5. Add in the sifted flour in 3 additions, and mix gently until smooth and well-combined.

6. Add in the melted butter and mix well.

7.  Pour the final batter onto the Cocoa Tree Log Pattern in the swiss roll baking tin (taken just 5 min ago from the freezer), and use a scraper to smoothen the surface evenly. Lightly tap the baking tin on the table-top a few times to remove air bubbles.

8. Place it in a preheated oven to bake at 190C for 12-14 min. 

9. Once the swiss roll is ready and out from the oven, hold onto the baking paper sticking out and lift the swiss roll out of the baking tin. Carefully invert it it onto a cake rack with the Cocoa Tree Log Pattern facing up. Gently peel off the baking paper. The place another piece of baking paper on top and flip it back such that now the pattern is facing down. Now the swiss roll is ready for the filling to be applied. 

10. Once the filling is applied, wrap the swiss roll in a layer of clipwrap and chill it in the fridge.

(c) Easy Cocoa Buttercream Filling (p 156)
100g unsalted butter at room temp
30g icing sugar, sifted
55g fresh milk at room temp
10g unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1. Allow the unsalted butter to soften at room temp. First use a spatula to mix the butter with icing sugar in a large mixing bowl. 

2. Then using a cake-mixer, increase the speed from slow to fast, and beat till light and fluffy.

3. Add in the milk slowly a little at a time and mix well.

4. Finally add in cocoa powder and mix until well-combined.

(d) Ganache For Covering Blemishes (adapted from Vivian Pang Kitchen)
200g dairy whipping cream
100g chocolate for baking, chopped finely 
(I am using callebaut fondant chocholate)
1 tbsp honey

1. Pour half of the whipping cream into a pot and let it come to a boil. 

2. Pour the boiling cream into a mixing bowl containing the chopped chocolate. Mix quickly using a fork or egg whisk. Add in 1 tbsp of honey and the rest of the whipping cream and mix until everything is melted and a smooth mixture is formed.

3. Keep the ganache mixture at room temp until its consistency has become thickened and more viscous. I chilled it in the fridge for 5 to 10 min before I started applying onto the log cake.

4. Before applying the log cake with the ganache, cut out 2 parts of the log cake to form branches on top and at the sides, and stick the branches to the main body by using the ganache. 

5. Then place the log cake on a cake rack which is then placed on top of a big plate or a piece of clingwrap, such that the ganache will flow down the cake rack onto the plate or clingwrap without dirtying the table-top. Once a layer of ganache has been applied, use a fork to make tree bark pattern on the log cake. Then chill the finished log cake in the fridge for the ganache to harden.

I am linking this post to Bake-Along #56 - Christmas Log organized by Zoe of Bake For HappyKids, Joyce of Kitchen Flavours and Lena of Frozen Wings.

Also linking this post to Cook Your Books #7 hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours.

And to Baby Sumo's Christmas Recipes Collection 2013 hosted by Yen from Eat Your Heart Out.


  1. let me tell you that i attempted the same log pattern that you did on my log cake..but the designs didnt manage to stick properly onto the swiss roll. When i pulled the paper out, some of the prints got stucked in the paper! so i just got to peel off everything and apply the cream on my log cake! yeah, luckily it was a christmas log and i hv to use cream to cover the cake instead! sorry that i had to laugh at that orange that fell onto the swiss roll :D anyway, i still think your finished log cake looks nice! thx for baking with us and happy belated birthday!

    1. Thank you, Lena.
      I greased the baking paper before I added the cocoa pattern, although the book did not state so, but it really helped in getting the baking paper off the tree log pattern. :)

  2. Hi Miss B,
    You have made a lovely cake in spite of all the "stressed out moments!" I think your cake is beautiful! Thanks for baking along with us!
    Merry Christmas and A Wonderful Year Ahead!

  3. Hi Miss B,

    Please don't feed this cake to Mr Bin!!! I can see that you are quite a perfectionist with everything... Mine has cracks too because I was extremely stingy with the amount of filling I used :p but no way that Mr Bin is eating my log cake... ha ha ha! Actually I'm also quite critical with myself but try to relax more these days :p

    Happy belated Christmas and 2014!!! Wish you and your family eating well and better in Flanders for 2014... Cheers!


  4. Ah your cake is really nice and I wouldn't have known of all the disasters if you had not mentioned it. I think yule logs are great as u can cover any imperfections with frosting.

    Anyway thanks for linking this to my Christmas event, and wishing you a wonderful 2014! -Yen


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