Raspberry Bûche de Noël Recipe

Raspberry Bûche de Noël

Holiday meals are just around the corner, and if you’re still unsure what to make for dessert, I’m just one step ahead of you: we will be having Christmas lunch at Maxence’s mother’s, I’ve offered to bring dessert, and I’ve only made up my mind yesterday, when I did a trial run to make sure the recipe would work as I imagined it would.

The classic French dessert to serve at Christmas is the bûche de Noël (yule log), which people typically buy ready-made. Depending on the fanciness of the pastry shop, it is either A- loaded with buttercream, pretty kitschy, and entirely too sweet*, or B- a refined and elaborate affair that costs about twice the price of the rest of the meal, and requires you to wait in line among other stressed-out customers openly freaking out over the unchecked items on their to-do list.

I’m all for simple and peaceful during the holidays, so my plan instead is to bring this easy homemade bûche, rolled up with vanilla cream (a quick mix of yogurt and mascarpone cheese) and studded with raspberries. It is a moist and super refreshing dessert, light on the tongue and bright on the palate, moderately sweet and interspersed with the tangy, perfect notes of the berries. Just the kind of dessert I wish for at the end of a rich meal.

Two of the guests at our lunch don’t eat chocolate (I know!), but if that wasn’t the case I would likely have added dark chocolate shavings to the filling and some cacao powder dusted on top. I also considered adding chopped hazelnuts or toasted coconut to the cream, but decided to keep the flavors simple (sensing a pattern here?) and stick to the vanilla and raspberry pairing.

Raspberries aren’t exactly in season this time of year (unless of course you live in the Southern hemisphere) but I buy them frozen and can live with this exception to my season-abiding cooking habits. For a more winter-friendly filling, you could replace the raspberries with poached and diced pears, and add some toasted walnuts or crumbled bits of candied chestnut for flavor and color.

Mini Cookbook of French Tarts

As far as decorations go, again I’m going for simplicity, but you can place small paper stars on top the cake to act as stencils when you dust on the confectioner’s sugar, you can drizzle the top in a zig-zag pattern with melted chocolate or caramel sauce, or you can place little marzipan trees across the top.

Join the conversation!

Will you be doing any cooking or baking for holiday meals this year? What are your plans? And have you ever made, or wanted to make, a Bûche de Noël?

PS: An equally holiday-friendly raspberry dacquoise, some holiday gift suggestions, and my ginger and almond chocolate clusters.

* And not necessarily made in-house: more and more pastry shops just buy frozen, factory-made bûches and pass them off as their own. If a neighborhood pastry shop seems to be selling lots of different sizes and designs, it is worth asking whether they are homemade. You can view a France 5 documentary on that subject (in French) for another few days: Noël, une bûche à tout prix !

Raspberry Bûche de Noël

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Raspberry Bûche de Noël

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Total Time: 5 hours

Serves 6 to 8.

Raspberry Bûche de Noël

Ingredients

    For the syrup:
  • 30 grams (2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) unrefined blond cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum or rosewater
  • For the cake base:
  • 4 large organic eggs, separated
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) unrefined blond cane sugar
  • 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces, about 3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • For the filling:
  • 120 grams (1/2 cup) plain Greek-style yogurt or fromage blanc
  • 120 grams (1/2 cup) mascarpone cheese
  • 20 grams (1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons) unrefined blond cane sugar
  • 1 fresh pod vanilla (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
  • 230 grams (8 ounces) raspberries, fresh in season, frozen otherwise (no need to thaw)

Instructions

    Prepare the syrup.
  1. Put 60 ml (1/4 cup) water and the 30 grams (2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) sugar in a small saucepan and heat just enough for the sugar to dissolve. Set aside to cool and add the rum.
  2. Prepare the cake base.
  3. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Have ready a metal jelly roll pan (sides greased and bottom lined with parchment paper) or a silicon jelly roll pan (no need to grease or line), about 28 by 38 cm (10 by 15 inches).
  4. Run a clean kitchen towel (not terry cloth) under running water and wring it thoroughly so it is just moist.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the 100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar until pale and fluffy.
  6. Sugar + yolks
  7. Fold in the flour, mixing just until incorporated.
  8. Sugar + yolks + flour
  9. In a separate, perfectly clean bowl, and using a perfectly clean whisk, whisk the egg whites with the salt until they form soft peaks.
  10. Beaten egg whites
  11. Stir one third of the egg whites into the batter to loosen. Fold in another third, working gently with a spatula to lift the mixture and keep it from deflating. Repeat with the remaining third.
  12. Batter
  13. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and level the surface with a spatula.
  14. In mold
  15. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the top of the cake is golden. Don't overbake or it will be hard to roll.
  16. Cooked base
  17. Top the cake with the moist kitchen towel, place a baking sheet or tray over it, and flip the whole thing. Unmold the cake carefully, removing the parchment paper if present.
  18. Unmolded
  19. Brush the cake with the syrup, and roll it up with the kitchen towel; this will initiate the proper shape to make the final rolling easier. Let cool completely, seam side down.
  20. Rolled
    Fill and roll the bûche.
  21. In a bowl, whisk together the yogurt, mascarpone, 20 grams (1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons) sugar, and vanilla.
  22. Yogurt + mascarpone
  23. Unroll the cake carefully and spread it with the yogurt mixture (in the photo I didn't spread the filling up to the edges, but that's not necessary.) Arrange the raspberries on top.
  24. Filled
  25. Roll the cake back up as tightly and evenly as you can, using the kitchen towel for support (but not rolling it up this time).
  26. Transfer cautiously to a dish or platter, seam side down, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, and up to 8.
  27. Rolled
    Serve the bûche.
  28. Using a serrated bread knife, slice off both ends of the roll to get clean edges. Dust with confectioner's sugar and serve.
http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/cakes-tarts/raspberry-buche-de-noel/
  • these look fantastic! I have been wanting to try a version with chocolate and peppermint.

    • Nice pairing! Would you use crushed peppermint candy, or fresh peppermint leaves?

      • i am thinking crushed peppermint candy and maybe extract for more concentrated flavor..what do you think?

        • I would maybe just stick with the candy, whizz it to a fine powder in the blender and use it in place of the sugar and vanilla in the cream. How does that sound?

  • Annabel Smyth

    Here in the UK, one eats Christmas pudding after the main course – very few people don’t at least serve one, even if there are alternatives offered. I like it once a year…. In the past, people made their own, but there are some excellent versions available in the supermarkets now, especially in their top-of-the-range ranges, that my family, at any rate, hasn’t bothered for some years!

    If I were making a Bûche de Noël for Christmas Day, though, I think I’d make it with cranberries rather than raspberries, as in the birthday cake I made for my husband yesterday.

    • I actually haven’t tasted Christmas pudding since I first did as a young teenager and didn’t like it one bit. :) I need to give it another chance!

      And using cranberries instead of raspberries is a great idea. They are very hard to find here, though, aside from the week before Thanksgiving, and even that is a very recent development!

      • Annabel Smyth

        Here, most supermarkets start selling them in the second week of December, but that is a relatively recent development – certainly within the past 20 years. The first packet we ever bought had a recipe for a cranberry sponge cake on it, in American, and my daughter decided to make it – she was then 16 or 17 and still living at home. Only, as she had no idea what “Shortening” was, she decided to leave it out – and the cake was still excellent without it!

        • Love the story. Don’t know what shortening is? Just leave it out! Very cute.

  • Joy Wotherspoon Hoppenot

    After five Christmases in France, I’ve worked up the nerve to attempt my first buche de noel this year! I’ll be going with a different flavor profile, but am definitely bookmarking this recipe for the excellent step-by-step instructions. Thanks for the emotional support, Clotilde!

  • Ursula

    Clotilde, if you were to make this a day ahead of serving it, would you fully assemble it, or is there a stage where it would be better to pause – perhaps once rolled up in the towel? Or is it just impossible to make ahead at all?

    • My friend Pascale recommends just that: make the cake the day before and roll it up in the towel, and prepare the cream also, so all you have to do the day of is garnish and roll back up.

      I actually won’t have time to do these steps the day before or the day of, so I’m planning to try and freeze the whole thing a few days in advance. I’ll report back on that!

  • Not eating chocolate may seem strange, but I have a friend who is allergic to it, not that I make mainly chocolate puddings, I prefer fruity ones, so this is right up my street. We are not keen on Christmas Puddings and I usually make a trifle (definitely NO jelly) or more recently, the Three Chimney’s Marmalade Pudding, which I first saw Nick Nairn make on TV, it’s lovely, not at all stodgy as it’s made with breadcrumbs. I have also made the “Hidden Orange Pudding” made by Heston Blumenthal for Waitrose, which caused so much furore by selling out within a day and appearing on Ebay for extortionate amounts of money. It was easy and really good. These two puddings are also not too sweet, so, my cousin’s husband who insists that he doesn’t eat puddings always has a second helping.

    • I was just teasing about the chocolate: one of the guests just doesn’t like it in desserts, and the other can’t have it for health reasons, and I fully respect both.

      I myself adore the stuff, but think it’s too rich an option for a holiday meal. I have to look up the recipes you mention, they sound really good!

  • Stephanie Doublait

    I just made the cake part as a test and this is going to be my Christmas dessert too! The cake is light and airy but not too sweet and I am going to fill it exactly as you recommend bc I love raspberry/marscapone. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • That’s wonderful to hear, Stephanie, thanks for reporting back! Hope you have a delicious holiday season.

  • LEE @ Modern Granola

    This looks amazing! I’ve never had one before, but i would love to try something like this!

    • I hope you get to try it sometime — really easy and such delicious results!

  • Lea

    Gingerbread cookies are stand-bys during the holidays at our house. The intense spice and molasses flavors make just a bite meaningful and they freeze well and travel wellso it is easy to make them ahead and have them on hand to bring to parties.

  • rachelsloan79

    I’ve never made a bûche de Noel myself, but this year, for the first time ever, I attempted the Polish equivalent – makowiec. Definitely one of the more complicated bakes I’ve ever attempted, which makes me think that I shouldn’t find bûche de Noel so intimidating!

    I completely agree about the merits of having a light(ish) dessert after a rich Christmas meal – last year I made David Lebovitz’s apple and red wine tarte Tatin and it worked really well, not heavy at all and so festive with the apples stained ruby red by the wine syrup.

    • I love makowiec! Is there a particular recipe you used, or did you mix and match from several sources?

      • rachelsloan79

        The recipe I used was from Classic Recipes of Poland by Ewa Michalik, but I can only recommend it with reservations – it was absolutely delicious, but it was also gargantuan (the recipe said ‘serves 6’ and I had to laugh – it barely fit in my oven and it just might serve six giants or six Tour de France cyclists who’d just conquered Mont Ventoux!) and I think the filling-to-dough ratio was off – the poor thing cracked and leaked in several places. This is the recipe I think I’ll try next: http://magdascauldron.com/2014/01/poppy-seed-roll-makowiec.html#.VEGmDIeSD8C and I’ll probably end up doing a bit of mixing and matching in the end, but definitely something I want to keep working on!

        • Your comment on “serves 6” made me laugh. Well, winters are cold in Poland, so perhaps you deserve a bigger serving there! :) Do keep me updated on your experiments — and happy holidays!

  • Kiri

    I note you recommend a jelly roll pan size of 28 by 38 cm but in your photo the pan/ cake looks much more square rather than rectangular. Does it matter much if my pan is 25x32cm and I use less batter?

    • The pan in the picture is in fact 25 by 35, but I’ve actually used that amount of batter in several size pans — what changes is the thickness of the cake and the baking time.

      I’ve indicated 28 by 38 here because that’s a size I’ve tried and it’s more standard, but feel free to use yours with that same amount of batter.

      • Kiri

        Thanks Clotilde once again for your highly informative advice! :)

  • Shivangni

    Though we don’t have Christmas traditions here, I’d love to try this on 25th and surprise the kids (they like to have a christmas tree every year), makes the house cheerful. Could I use dried dark cherries & walnuts as I won’t be able to get raspberries here? Thanks

    • Absolutely, dark cherries (pitted) and toasted walnuts would be delicious!

  • tunie

    I think I would not have been able to resist pouring white chocolate over it all and trying to stripe it with berry sauce (or more white chocolate tinted with berries or something), so it looks like a peppermint stick. But then, I’m American. Looks absolutely delicious as is!

    • That’s a great decoration idea! Just keep in mind that white chocolate is fairly sweet, so it will up the overall sweetness of the dessert.

  • Sandrine Droumenq

    I just finished rolling the cake filled with raspberries and yogurt filling, and it looks awesome…but then just realized I did not use the syrup, when am I supposed to use it, don’t seem to see it in the recipe. Thank you!

    • The syrup is meant to be brushed onto the cake just after baking (the instruction reads “Brush the cake with the syrup, and roll it up with the kitchen towel”). But don’t worry about it if you skipped that step, it will still be very good. Happy Christmas!

  • Cerise

    Clotilde, merci beaucoup pour cette recette ! Je l’ai faite ce soir et c’était super facile et super délicieux. Merci !!

  • This is one of my favorite Christmas desserts, but I’ve never seen it with raspberry! yum!
    http://www.rosecolorglass.com

    • You’re right, it’s much more commonly made with flavorings such as coffee, chocolate or caramel, but I find everyone is relieved when dessert comes and it’s not overwhelmingly rich!

  • Megan O’Grady

    Making this tomorrow for a dinner party, and I’m wondering: would heavy whipped cream work in place of the fromage blanc/greek yogurt in the filling? Combined with the mascarpone?

    • I think it would! It would make the filling richer, but still very tasty.

  • Jamie Morton

    Looks very delicious! I’m sure my kids would love it with raspberry. I will definitely try it! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe. :}
    Regular cleaners Wembley

  • truly, Addia

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