The Bûche de Noël is a bit of a tricky recipe to master, hence Bûche de Noël for beginners… Not exactly made for a novice, this elaborate take on the sponge cake requires a little bit of finesse and at times patience (whatever you do, do not over whisk!). A three part cake, the Bûche de Noël consists of filling, cake, and frosting. The most important aspect of the recipe is the sponge cake! It needs to retain a texture that is as light and airy as possible, and is the glue that can make or break your masterpiece.
You’ll be happy you dove into this French holiday culinary adventure. The amount of creativity and ability to create your own signature version makes it all worth it. There are so many versions of the Bûche de Noël as you can imagine, yet we were most inspired by Dominique Ansel and of course, by the the French master, Francois Payard.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Make sure you have a 11x10x1-inch jelly roll pan and line bottom with parchment paper. Butter and flour the parchment paper
- Heat a medium saucepan with simmering water (you will need this later for the egg mixture!)
- Keep an electric mixer with a whisk attachment and food processor handy
- You will need a towel with a thin layer of sifted powered sugar covering it nearby
It is important to note that you should start the filling in advance as it takes four hours to set. In total, the cake takes six hours with breaks for cooling and setting. Perfect for a cozy, leisurely holiday day.
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup marzipan, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Bring the whole milk to a boil in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Whisk yolks and sugar together in a small bowl and then whisk the flour into the mixture. Whisk the hot whole milk into the egg mixture and return to the same saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until the custard thickens and simmers (about 1 1/2 minutes). Transfer to a food processor and cool to room temperature. This will take about about 1 hour. After an hour, add the marzipan and process until it is smooth. Blend in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time and then the extracts. Cover and refrigerate filling at least 4 hours or 24 hours.
- 6 large eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
In a large metal bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, and vanilla together for a minute. Set bowl over your preheated pot of simmering water. Whisk until just warm or 2 minutes and remove bowl from over water. Using an electric mixer beat for about 6 minutes. Make sure not to over beat or whisk causing your mixture to go flat! Very slowly, sift the flour over and fold the flour into the mixture and then carefully fold the butter in as well. Pour the batter into the pan covered with parchment paper. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Once the cake is done, turn it upside down onto the towel. The parchment paper should be facing up. Peel off the paper and roll the cake using the towel like a jelly roll. Let the cake cool while you prepare the frosting.
- 3/4 cup whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 5 ounces white chocolate, chopped
Boil the cream and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring to melt butter. Once combined, remove from heat. Add the chocolate and whisk until melted. Transfer to medium sized bowl and let the frosting cool at room temperature for one hour.