Posted by: Rachel | December 24, 2012

i am not a cooking show…

I am not a cooking show, and because I am not a cooking show I couldn’t stop at every germane moment to photograph this process for you. Sorry! Still it turned out OK and so will yours if you try it.

See, my neighbor makes tamales this time of year. She makes truly great tamales, and I love them. She won’t let me pay her for the dozen or so she gives me, so I try to find something I can do for her. This year she happened to mention that she’d seen pictures of a buche de noel, a yule log cake, in a grocery store flier, and she wanted one.


I can do that… (and so can you!) It isn’t hard, just a bit tedious. Its nothing more than a thin sponge cake, rolled, filled and frosted! I filled mine with lemon curd because in my world lemon and chocolate together make me very happy. You can use a chocolate filling, mocha, almond, raspberry jam… whatever makes you happy.

The only trick is to follow the recipe. The powdered sugar does tend to get most everywhere, but maybe you’re a tidier baker than I am. In any event, here’s what I did:

Buche de Noel

finished Yule log cake


1 cup sifted cake flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

4 eggs yolks
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

4 egg whites
½ cup granulated sugar

Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375. Line a 15½ X 10½ X 1½ inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Sift together cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Separate the eggs. (This is the hardest part of the recipe.)

In a medium mixing bowl beat the egg yolks till thick and lemon-colored (about 5 minutes). Gradually add ½ cup granulated sugar, beating constantly. Stir in the vanilla extract.

In a god-sized mixing bowl (everything will end up in this bowl), beat the egg whites till soft peaks form. Gradually add ½ cup granulated sugar, beating till stiff peaks form. Fold in egg yolk mixture.

Fold flour mix into egg mixture. Pour into baking pan. Bake at 375° till done, 10 to 12 minutes (yes, really that fast).

Promptly loosen edges of cake; turn out onto a dish towel sprinkled with powdered sugar.* Carefully remove the parchment paper.

From the long side, roll warm cake and towel together; cool.

Gently unroll the cake; remove towel. Spread cake with your filling of choice. Reroll. Diagonally cut a piece of cake from the roll. Place the cut edge of piece against longer roll on a serving plate. Frost and decorate as desired**.

* Do *not* try to actually “turn this out” – it will make a huge mess and will probably break. Instead, thickly coat a clean dish towel with powdered sugar, lay it sugar-side down over the cake, cover with a second cookie sheet and carefully flip. Make sense? Then carefully remove the parchment paper and roll the cake up in the towel. This is one of the germane moments when I couldn’t stop for photos…

**You can add marzipan mushrooms, dust it with powdered sugar to make it look “snowy”, just have fun – there’s no “wrong” way and kids can enjoy doing this part too!

“The fairest trade is when both sides are sure they’ve come out ahead.” I’m sure I did – mmmm tamales! Bonne fete, be happy no matter what you celebrate, and bon appetit!!



  1. Wow! I’m impressed. But I’ll have to take your word for it being easy to make. My skills aren’t there yet and may never be but thank you for the recipe and instructions.

    • It is easy, honest! And, you can make a GF version…

  2. I’m sure your friend loved your lovely Christmas cake. I love tamales too and a gift of them sounds like a very fair trade to me.

    • I forgot to say Merry Christmas…have a wonderful day!

      • You too! Mmmm…

    • Yah, I think we *both* won! Mmmm… tamales!!

  3. Love the idea of making things and sharing them. And am glad you are not a cooking show – you are a real cook who generously shares with us! Do hope you had a wonderful Christmas 🙂

  4. Oh! I love lemon and chocolate together too. I thought I was the only one!

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