Bûche de Noël

Bûche_de_Noël_chocolat_framboise_maisonPat here, drooling over the images of the chocolate Yule Log (or bûche de Noël) fellow Wenches have been posting. I’ve never been in a place with a French bakery and have never tasted this dessert, although, since it’s made of sponge cake and decked out in meringue mushrooms (this image, disappointingly, isn't), I’m not much interested. I like my cake rich, flavorful, and moist—give me carrot cake, and we’ll talk. But the bûche de Noël is a symbol of our pagan past.

Many of you may be familiar with the tradition of the Yule log that burned in medieval fireplaces for the twelve days of Christmas. But did you know that the tradition dates back to the Iron Age? The pagan Celts Hillingford_Yule_Logcelebrated the winter solstice intelligently—by burning an enormous log and keeping warm. But because they were human like us and decorating is what we do, they made it special by adding holly, pinecones, ivy, and whatever else they could find. Sometimes they offered wine and salt to the fire as well, because all gods like to be appreciated. And once the log was burned to ashes, they collected the ashes for their perceived medicinal benefits and/or to guard against evil.

I don’t know who first dragged the log to an inside hearth—those medieval castles had fireplaces large enough to house half a dozen knights. But eventually, smaller fireplaces became prevalent and a twelve-day log no longer fit. We don’t know who baked the first bûche de Noël, either, although I’m betting they were French. But marzipan, meringue, and sponge cake can be found in recipes as far back as the 1600s. Chocolate, maybe not so much, but a cake worked better in the new smaller fireplaces!

I like the idea that the tradition of our pagan ancestors has carried through the generations in the form of a delicious little cake. What traditions do you enjoy?

45 thoughts on “Bûche de Noël”

  1. I have made Buches with marroonpuree and othernice moist ingredients. We lived in France for some years in the 90s and sort of tried our hand with the classic dessert from that country.
    But through it all we also stuck to the Danish traditional Christmas dessert og rice pudding with almonds and whipped cream acconpanied by either a cherry sauce or a clear caramel sauce. The fight is on every year to find the whole almond with skin that means an extra gift for the finder.

    Reply
  2. I have made Buches with marroonpuree and othernice moist ingredients. We lived in France for some years in the 90s and sort of tried our hand with the classic dessert from that country.
    But through it all we also stuck to the Danish traditional Christmas dessert og rice pudding with almonds and whipped cream acconpanied by either a cherry sauce or a clear caramel sauce. The fight is on every year to find the whole almond with skin that means an extra gift for the finder.

    Reply
  3. I have made Buches with marroonpuree and othernice moist ingredients. We lived in France for some years in the 90s and sort of tried our hand with the classic dessert from that country.
    But through it all we also stuck to the Danish traditional Christmas dessert og rice pudding with almonds and whipped cream acconpanied by either a cherry sauce or a clear caramel sauce. The fight is on every year to find the whole almond with skin that means an extra gift for the finder.

    Reply
  4. I have made Buches with marroonpuree and othernice moist ingredients. We lived in France for some years in the 90s and sort of tried our hand with the classic dessert from that country.
    But through it all we also stuck to the Danish traditional Christmas dessert og rice pudding with almonds and whipped cream acconpanied by either a cherry sauce or a clear caramel sauce. The fight is on every year to find the whole almond with skin that means an extra gift for the finder.

    Reply
  5. I have made Buches with marroonpuree and othernice moist ingredients. We lived in France for some years in the 90s and sort of tried our hand with the classic dessert from that country.
    But through it all we also stuck to the Danish traditional Christmas dessert og rice pudding with almonds and whipped cream acconpanied by either a cherry sauce or a clear caramel sauce. The fight is on every year to find the whole almond with skin that means an extra gift for the finder.

    Reply
  6. My family’s tradition for Christmas Dinner was steak and baked potatoes, but this year my sister in law, the founder of the feast, broke tradition by offering roasted tri tip and quinoa. I brought the champagne. We ate the neighbors’ cookies.
    Whatever one’s traditions are, the only one that matters is being with family and friends.

    Reply
  7. My family’s tradition for Christmas Dinner was steak and baked potatoes, but this year my sister in law, the founder of the feast, broke tradition by offering roasted tri tip and quinoa. I brought the champagne. We ate the neighbors’ cookies.
    Whatever one’s traditions are, the only one that matters is being with family and friends.

    Reply
  8. My family’s tradition for Christmas Dinner was steak and baked potatoes, but this year my sister in law, the founder of the feast, broke tradition by offering roasted tri tip and quinoa. I brought the champagne. We ate the neighbors’ cookies.
    Whatever one’s traditions are, the only one that matters is being with family and friends.

    Reply
  9. My family’s tradition for Christmas Dinner was steak and baked potatoes, but this year my sister in law, the founder of the feast, broke tradition by offering roasted tri tip and quinoa. I brought the champagne. We ate the neighbors’ cookies.
    Whatever one’s traditions are, the only one that matters is being with family and friends.

    Reply
  10. My family’s tradition for Christmas Dinner was steak and baked potatoes, but this year my sister in law, the founder of the feast, broke tradition by offering roasted tri tip and quinoa. I brought the champagne. We ate the neighbors’ cookies.
    Whatever one’s traditions are, the only one that matters is being with family and friends.

    Reply
  11. When my kids were home, we had a summer picnic for Christmas dinner, ham, potato salad, fruit salad etc. It was a way to change up from the Thanksgiving feast.

    Reply
  12. When my kids were home, we had a summer picnic for Christmas dinner, ham, potato salad, fruit salad etc. It was a way to change up from the Thanksgiving feast.

    Reply
  13. When my kids were home, we had a summer picnic for Christmas dinner, ham, potato salad, fruit salad etc. It was a way to change up from the Thanksgiving feast.

    Reply
  14. When my kids were home, we had a summer picnic for Christmas dinner, ham, potato salad, fruit salad etc. It was a way to change up from the Thanksgiving feast.

    Reply
  15. When my kids were home, we had a summer picnic for Christmas dinner, ham, potato salad, fruit salad etc. It was a way to change up from the Thanksgiving feast.

    Reply
  16. The buche de noel cake has always looked too complicated to me and now that I’m older I have multiple reasons to take a pass on it, although it looks so charming and yummy.
    Our holidays/Christmas celebrations used to be rather traditional until our son went off to college. Then, it seemed like every year was somewhat different, so that just about the only thing written in stone was that we were all together for Thanksgiving. Now things have changed again. After a move back to our home state near family and old friends, and his move across country in the other direction to be near his girlfriend the ‘traditions’ have been tossed into the air again this year.
    The things we used to cook and bake around the holidays have changed a lot in the last couple of decades too. Moving from a much warmer climate where we would have to crank up the A.C. in order to cook a ‘familiar’ festive dinner, to a much colder winter climate tends to change things some. But age has probably been the most deciding factor of change. Not having the stamina for baking, nor the desire to have lingering sweets around the house, our very little family has all but given up baking anything special. That is, except one recipe and that was a recent (15 years or so ago) addition to the family vault. These little grown up things called espresso biscuits. Grown up because they pack a wallop of caffeine, zing. You can look them up on Martha Stewart’s website, I think. Utterly easy, too.
    Happy New Year Wenches. And to all your lovely followers.

    Reply
  17. The buche de noel cake has always looked too complicated to me and now that I’m older I have multiple reasons to take a pass on it, although it looks so charming and yummy.
    Our holidays/Christmas celebrations used to be rather traditional until our son went off to college. Then, it seemed like every year was somewhat different, so that just about the only thing written in stone was that we were all together for Thanksgiving. Now things have changed again. After a move back to our home state near family and old friends, and his move across country in the other direction to be near his girlfriend the ‘traditions’ have been tossed into the air again this year.
    The things we used to cook and bake around the holidays have changed a lot in the last couple of decades too. Moving from a much warmer climate where we would have to crank up the A.C. in order to cook a ‘familiar’ festive dinner, to a much colder winter climate tends to change things some. But age has probably been the most deciding factor of change. Not having the stamina for baking, nor the desire to have lingering sweets around the house, our very little family has all but given up baking anything special. That is, except one recipe and that was a recent (15 years or so ago) addition to the family vault. These little grown up things called espresso biscuits. Grown up because they pack a wallop of caffeine, zing. You can look them up on Martha Stewart’s website, I think. Utterly easy, too.
    Happy New Year Wenches. And to all your lovely followers.

    Reply
  18. The buche de noel cake has always looked too complicated to me and now that I’m older I have multiple reasons to take a pass on it, although it looks so charming and yummy.
    Our holidays/Christmas celebrations used to be rather traditional until our son went off to college. Then, it seemed like every year was somewhat different, so that just about the only thing written in stone was that we were all together for Thanksgiving. Now things have changed again. After a move back to our home state near family and old friends, and his move across country in the other direction to be near his girlfriend the ‘traditions’ have been tossed into the air again this year.
    The things we used to cook and bake around the holidays have changed a lot in the last couple of decades too. Moving from a much warmer climate where we would have to crank up the A.C. in order to cook a ‘familiar’ festive dinner, to a much colder winter climate tends to change things some. But age has probably been the most deciding factor of change. Not having the stamina for baking, nor the desire to have lingering sweets around the house, our very little family has all but given up baking anything special. That is, except one recipe and that was a recent (15 years or so ago) addition to the family vault. These little grown up things called espresso biscuits. Grown up because they pack a wallop of caffeine, zing. You can look them up on Martha Stewart’s website, I think. Utterly easy, too.
    Happy New Year Wenches. And to all your lovely followers.

    Reply
  19. The buche de noel cake has always looked too complicated to me and now that I’m older I have multiple reasons to take a pass on it, although it looks so charming and yummy.
    Our holidays/Christmas celebrations used to be rather traditional until our son went off to college. Then, it seemed like every year was somewhat different, so that just about the only thing written in stone was that we were all together for Thanksgiving. Now things have changed again. After a move back to our home state near family and old friends, and his move across country in the other direction to be near his girlfriend the ‘traditions’ have been tossed into the air again this year.
    The things we used to cook and bake around the holidays have changed a lot in the last couple of decades too. Moving from a much warmer climate where we would have to crank up the A.C. in order to cook a ‘familiar’ festive dinner, to a much colder winter climate tends to change things some. But age has probably been the most deciding factor of change. Not having the stamina for baking, nor the desire to have lingering sweets around the house, our very little family has all but given up baking anything special. That is, except one recipe and that was a recent (15 years or so ago) addition to the family vault. These little grown up things called espresso biscuits. Grown up because they pack a wallop of caffeine, zing. You can look them up on Martha Stewart’s website, I think. Utterly easy, too.
    Happy New Year Wenches. And to all your lovely followers.

    Reply
  20. The buche de noel cake has always looked too complicated to me and now that I’m older I have multiple reasons to take a pass on it, although it looks so charming and yummy.
    Our holidays/Christmas celebrations used to be rather traditional until our son went off to college. Then, it seemed like every year was somewhat different, so that just about the only thing written in stone was that we were all together for Thanksgiving. Now things have changed again. After a move back to our home state near family and old friends, and his move across country in the other direction to be near his girlfriend the ‘traditions’ have been tossed into the air again this year.
    The things we used to cook and bake around the holidays have changed a lot in the last couple of decades too. Moving from a much warmer climate where we would have to crank up the A.C. in order to cook a ‘familiar’ festive dinner, to a much colder winter climate tends to change things some. But age has probably been the most deciding factor of change. Not having the stamina for baking, nor the desire to have lingering sweets around the house, our very little family has all but given up baking anything special. That is, except one recipe and that was a recent (15 years or so ago) addition to the family vault. These little grown up things called espresso biscuits. Grown up because they pack a wallop of caffeine, zing. You can look them up on Martha Stewart’s website, I think. Utterly easy, too.
    Happy New Year Wenches. And to all your lovely followers.

    Reply
  21. Thank you for the recipe suggestion. Ill look it up! Ive about given up baking because so many of the ingredients have changed over the years. Butter doesnt have the fat we used to have. Crisco is totally different. And the results are disappointing! We probably dont need to be eating all that fat anyway. 😉

    Reply
  22. Thank you for the recipe suggestion. Ill look it up! Ive about given up baking because so many of the ingredients have changed over the years. Butter doesnt have the fat we used to have. Crisco is totally different. And the results are disappointing! We probably dont need to be eating all that fat anyway. 😉

    Reply
  23. Thank you for the recipe suggestion. Ill look it up! Ive about given up baking because so many of the ingredients have changed over the years. Butter doesnt have the fat we used to have. Crisco is totally different. And the results are disappointing! We probably dont need to be eating all that fat anyway. 😉

    Reply
  24. Thank you for the recipe suggestion. Ill look it up! Ive about given up baking because so many of the ingredients have changed over the years. Butter doesnt have the fat we used to have. Crisco is totally different. And the results are disappointing! We probably dont need to be eating all that fat anyway. 😉

    Reply
  25. Thank you for the recipe suggestion. Ill look it up! Ive about given up baking because so many of the ingredients have changed over the years. Butter doesnt have the fat we used to have. Crisco is totally different. And the results are disappointing! We probably dont need to be eating all that fat anyway. 😉

    Reply

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