8 Modern Takes on the Bûche de Noël

Donna Yen

Bûche de Noël is the French term for Yule log cake, that traditional Christmas dessert shaped like a tree trunk. Why is it shaped like a tree trunk? The story goes back to Medieval times, when families would burn logs to rid themselves of the year’s negativities and start the new year fresh. At some point, that ceremony was memorialized in yellow sponge cake rolled and frosted with chocolate buttercream.

Yule log cakes also look like…yule logs. Which is the point, of course, but it’s not so pretty. These days, talented pastry chefs are reinterpreting this cake with various colors, exotic fillings and extravagant designs. Here are some of their modern takes on this Christmas classic dessert.

Santa bûche de Noël from Paris chocolatier, À La Mère de Famille. Photo: colette/À La Mère de Famille

Mandarin bûche topped with orange macarons from French pastry chef Pierre Hermé. Photo: Pierre Hermé Paris

Chocolate and green tea cake made by Dutch pastry chef Frank Haasnoot. Photo: frankhaasnoot/FH Patissiere

Strawberry sorbet bûche with vanilla meringue from La Fabrique Givrèe, an ice cream parlor in France. Photo: lafabriquegivree/La Fabrique Givrèe

Dark chocolate and berry macarons cake from New York’s Payard. Photo: francoispayard/Payard


A pink raspberry sponge cake from LADURÉE in Paris. Photo: maisonladuree/ LADURÉE


A gluten-free coconut mousse cake with passionfruit cream and strawberry jelly from PATISSERIE VANIYÉ in New ZealandPhoto: PATISSERIE VANIYÉ

A bûche de Noël covered in dark chocolate shards and filled with a hazelnut frosting from New York’s Breads Bakery. Photo: breadsbakery/Breads Bakery

Learn how to make your own Bûche de Noël and other holiday sweets:

How to make Bûche de Noël

Make your own candy canes 

Gluten-free cranberry lemon cake