Yule Log Cake is a sweet and tender, chocolaty roll, that is the perfect fancy dessert to celebrate the holidays. Made with fresh cocoa powder, delicious creamy filling, and light and fluffy chocolate ganache frosting, your family will love this cake.
If you are a fan of chocolate, try our Chocolate Banana Bread recipe for a delicious dessert any time of the year. Another fantastic and scrumptious dessert is this Lemon Blueberry Cake. For more lemony flavor, try our silky and tangy Lemon Poke Cake.
Although there are a lot of steps to creating this amazing dessert and many ingredients, do not let that intimidate you. Each of the steps is straightforward and easy so you should have no problem in making this beautiful Christmas delight.
This is the perfect recipe for Christmas eve to commemorate the Germanic Yule tradition. Once you see the stunning results, you will be glad you took the time.
Check out our printable recipe card at the bottom of the page for the detailed instructions but here are the basic things you will need:
- Butter: Softened.
- Powdered sugar: Also known as confectioners’ sugar.
- Cocoa powder: Use premium cocoa for best results.
- Vanilla: Pure vanilla extract is best.
- Milk: Whole milk works best.
- Mascarpone cheese: You could also use cream cheese, but mascarpone is the best.
- Cocoa powder
- Large eggs: At room temperature.
- Flour: All purpose flour is what we used.
- Sugar: Granulated white sugar.
- Salt: We used kosher salt.
- Powdered sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Heavy cream: Also known as heavy whipped cream.
- Chocolate chips: Semi-sweet (not milk chocolate).
How do you make yule log cake?
Make the filling:
- Mix: First, using a large bowl, mix the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until it is light and fluffy.
- Make peaks: Next, add the other ingredients and mix well at high speed until stiff peaks form.
- Fold: Then, use a spatula to fold in the mascarpone cheese.
- Chill: Last, put in the fridge, covered until you are ready for it.
Make the cake:
- Preheat: To start, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Prepare: Meanwhile, grease a jelly roll pan with butter and then add parchment paper. Spray the paper with cooking spray too.
- Whisk: Next, whisk together the dry ingredients in a small bowl.
- Mix: After, using a large bowl of a stand mixer or a mixing bowl and hand mixer, beat the sugar and eggs until they are light, thick, and fluffy. Add the vanilla and half of the flour mixture and stir well before mixing in the other half.
- Pour: Last, pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for eight to 10 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test, and the side of the cake pulls in away from the edges of the pan.
- Prepare: While it is cooking, dust a clean dish towel with powdered sugar, making sure you cover it all.
- Roll: After it is done, turn it onto the towel and remove the paper. Then sprinkle with powdered sugar and roll it up with the towel, starting with the long end of the cake. Let it cool for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Frost: Next, unroll gently and spread half of the filling onto the top of the cake using an offset spatula. Roll it back up (without the towel), wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for two to three hours.
- Cut: After the cake is cold, cut about ½ inch off each end to show the spiral pattern inside. Then, cut a diagonal piece of it about three inches long. Attach it to the side of the cake using the rest of the filling.
Make the ganache:
- Microwave: First, heat up the heavy cream in the microwave until it is boiling. This should take about two minutes.
- Mix: Meanwhile, put the chocolate chips into a medium bowl. Pour the boiling cream over the top and let it sit for one minute. Then stir it until the chips are melted and the ganache is smooth.
- Frost: After the ganache is cooled and thick, spoon it over the log and cover all the surfaces except the ends. Chill for 15 minutes in the fridge.
- Decorate: Finally, use a fork to make lines like tree bark and then use the back of a spoon to make some circles to look like knots.
- Serve: Last, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and add decorations around it on a serving platter if desired.
How to serve:
This Yule log is best served cold, so it is firm and cuts cleanly. Here are some serving ideas:
- Add a dollop of homemade whipped cream or ice cream on the side of this delicious cake.
- Alternatively, serve with a drizzle of warm caramel sauce.
- This makes an excellent dessert for the holiday season with this glazed smoked ham.
- In addition, you could add some pumpkin candies and candy corn as decorations.
- A glass of Christmas punch would also go great with this delicious cake.
Frequently asked questions
What is the difference between a Yule log and a Swiss roll?
The main difference is in the appearance. A Yule log looks like an actual log and a Swiss roll looks like a rolled cake. Also, the Yule log is made of chocolate cake and creamy frosting with chocolate ganache and decorations like leaves, berries, and snow.
A Swiss roll is a sponge cake roll filled with jam or cream.
What does the Yule log cake represent?
The Yule log, also known as bûche de noël, is a Christmas tradition that began in Germany before medieval times using actual logs. Back then, they used a whole tree that they cut down and stuck one end into the fireplace with the rest sticking out into the room.
The fire was lit by using the remains of the log from the year before that was saved all year.
The remains of the previous year’s log was fed to the fire over the 12 days of Christmas. Therefore, this begins on Christmas day and ends on January 5th.
It is thought that this tradition may have started in Germany as a custom of Germanic paganism. They believed that burning the log would bring good luck.
What are the other traditions of Yule?
Yule actually began as a festival observed in Germany dating back as far as the 4th century. Some of the customs from back then include the Yule log, Yule goat, the Yule boar, and Yule singing.
The goat was related to the god, Thor, who rode in the sky on a chariot that was pulled by two goats.
Next, the boar was the animal they sacrificed and ate every year at Christmas. Today, we eat ham instead and we do not have to kill the animal ourselves.
Traditional singing, or wassailing, is like the modern Christmas caroling where you go door to door singing together.
How to store leftovers:
- Store: First, let the cake cool to room temperature before wrapping it in plastic wrap and putting it in an airtight container. Then, it will stay fresh for up to five days in the fridge.
- Freeze: If you cannot finish it all within five days, freeze it. It will be good in the freezer for up to three months in plastic wrap and an airtight container.
- Thaw: Be sure to thaw the cake out by letting it defrost in the fridge overnight.
More Christmas recipes:
Yule Log Cake
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened)
- 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (sifted)
- 8 ounces dark chocolate (chopped, melted, and cooled)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (sifted)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 5 large eggs (at room temperature)
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar (sifted)
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- In a large bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, milk, vanilla, and mix on medium speed until well combined.
- Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat in the cooled melted chocolate.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold in the mascarpone. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Spray a 13 x 18 baking sheet with cooking spray, line it with parchment paper, spray the parchment paper with cooking spray, and set the pan aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, salt, and flour.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Add the vanilla and half of the cocoa powder mixture, mix until combined. Add the remaining cocoa powder, and mix until combined.
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan, and spread it evenly. Tap the pan lightly on the counter to remove any air bubbles.
- Bake the cake 8-11 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, and the edges pull away from the sides of the pan.
- In the meantime, dust evenly a medium to large clean kitchen towel with powdered sugar, then invert the cake onto the towel, on the side with powdered sugar.
- Remove the parchment paper and sprinkle the cake with more powdered sugar. Immediately roll the cake up into a spiral, starting from the long edge, wrapping the towel inside the cake. Let it cool for 15-20 minutes.
Add the filling:
- After the cake has cooled, gently unroll it and spread the chilled filling in an even layer, reserving about 1/2 cup of filling.
- Gently roll back the cake, careful not to squish out the filling. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2-4 hours.
Make a log:
- After the cake has been chilled, trim about 1/2 inch from both ends to display the nice spiral pattern.
- After that, make a diagonal cut about 3-4 inches from one end of the cake. Then using a bit of filling, attach that piece on one side of the other piece, creating a log. Fill in any gaps with the remaining filling.
- Add the heavy cream to a microwave-safe bowl and heat to boiling, about 2 minutes.
- Place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl and pour the hot cream on top, let sit untouched for one minute, then stir until the ganache is smooth and the chocolate chips are completely melted.
- Let the ganache cool for 10-15 minutes, until slightly thickened.
- After that, spoon and spread the ganache over the yule log, do not cover the trimmed ends.
- Refrigerate the cake for another 15-30 minutes, then using the back of a spoon, make a swirl pattern in the ganache to resemble tree bark.
- Refrigerate for at least one hour, until set, before slicing and serving.