One of my favorite Christmas traditions is the moment when bakeries all across Paris bring out
their most beautiful bûches de noël. When it comes to food especially, the holidays seem all
about indulging and entertaining, and the bûche de noel is the ultimate seasonal treat in France.
Some of you might know this holiday cake as a “yule log” in English and for others it might be an
entirely new discovery!
In its most traditional form, the bûche de noël takes the shape of an actual log decorated in
forest scenery. This unusual choice for design is an ode to the Christmas log which was
specially selected to burn in the fireplace on Christmas. I must admit that the design is a bit
kitsch indeed but absolutely adorable if you ask me! Leaves, bundles of berries, mushrooms,
and even little forest creatures are things you will find atop this cake. Bakeries get quite creative
concocting these little landscapes to be visually enticing, but what’s inside is as delicious to
match! Inside the bûche de noël is usually a moist vanilla or chocolate sponge cake, thinly slice
and layered with icing then rolled into the shape of the log and topped off with chocolate icing to
resemble the tree’s bark.
While the traditional bûche de noël cake will always hold a sentimental place this time of year in
the hearts of the French, bakers nowadays have taken it upon themselves to continually
reinvent France’s favorite Christmas cake in chic, modern, and other whimsical designs. Each
year I love to do the rounds of the most famous bakers and neighborhood patissiers alike to see
what forms and flavors they have designed. There seems to be no limit!
Like at Angelina’s on the rue de Rivoli, where their bûche de noël is inspired by one massive
snowball adorned with a bit of gold leafing, and meringue and chestnut cream inside. Around
the corner, the contemporary baker Patrick Roger at Place de la Madeleine has grown what
used to be a simple log into an entire Christmas tree for this year’s bûche de noël! The famous
Fauchon has reimagined the traditional yule log in a minimalist and contemporary way complete
with vanilla snow. And as usual, the master bakers at Lenôtre have dreamed up an enchanted
collection of Christmas cakes for Parisians to choose from.
Whatever you choose to indulge in these holidays or bake up for guests you might be
entertaining, let our French Christmas cakes inspire you to be audacious and creative in the kitchen!