Our classic bûche de Noël is a proper holiday centerpiece. With a stiff buttercream filling and moist syrup-soaked genoise, it can be stored in the refrigerator a day before decorating.
Before you get to baking, see our test kitchen’s top tips for making the perfect genoise and take a look at our visual guide to assembling your bûche.
Classic Bûche de Noël
- ¼ cup (21 grams) Dutch process cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
- ¼ cup (60 grams) hot water
- 3 ounces (86 grams) 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate, melted
- 5 large eggs (250 grams)
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 large egg yolks (37 grams)
- ¾ cup (94 grams) cake flour
- ½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- Cold Brew Simple Syrup (recipe follows)
- Vanilla Bean Buttercream (recipe follows)
- Chocolate Buttercream (recipe follows)
- Meringue Mushrooms (recipe follows)
- Garnish: ground pistachios, confectioners’ sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray an 18×13-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray; line pan with parchment paper, and spray pan again.
- In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa and ¼ cup (60 grams) hot water until dissolved. Add melted chocolate, and whisk until smooth.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together eggs, granulated sugar, and egg yolks by hand. Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Cook, whisking occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer registers 110°F (43°F), about 5 minutes. Return bowl to stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat at high speed until thick and tripled in volume, about 5 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, place about 2 cups egg mixture. Fold in warm chocolate mixture. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, sift together flour and salt. Using a large balloon whisk, gently fold flour mixture into remaining egg mixture in two additions just until combined. Fold in chocolate mixture. Fold in warm melted butter in two additions. Using an offset spatula, quickly and gently spread batter evenly in prepared pan.
- Bake until cake starts to pull away from sides of pan, 10 to 12 minutes. Loosen cake from sides of pan, if needed. Invert onto a tea towel dusted with cocoa. Gently peel off parchment. Starting with one long side, roll up cake and towel together. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
- Carefully unroll cake, and brush with Cold Brew Simple Syrup. Spread with Vanilla Bean Buttercream. Reroll cake without towel, and place, seam side down, on a baking sheet, using towel as a sling. Cover with towel, and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
- Trim ends of cake flat. Trim 3 to 4 inches diagonally from one end; set aside. Trim a ¾-inch slice from same end; set aside. Place large cut piece at an angle off side of cake, and attach with Chocolate Buttercream. Place small cut piece, angle cut side up, on top, and attach with Chocolate Buttercream. Spread remaining Chocolate Buttercream on outside of cake. Use an offset spatula to create detailed bark ridges. Decorate with Meringue Mushrooms; garnish with ground pistachios and confectioners’ sugar, if desired.
Cold Brew Simple Syrup
- ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (60 grams) water
- ¼ cup (60 grams) cold brew coffee
- In a small saucepan, bring sugar and ¼ cup (60 grams) water to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, and stir in coffee. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight contatainer in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Vanilla Bean Buttercream
- 3 large egg whites (90 grams), room temperature
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
- 1¼ cups (284 grams) unsalted butter, cubed and softened
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together egg whites, sugar, and reserved vanilla bean seeds by hand. Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Cook, whisking occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer registers 155°F (68°C) to 160°F (71°C).
- Carefully return bowl to stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on high until bowl is cool to the touch, about 8 minutes. Add butter, 2 tablespoons (28 grams) at a time, beating until combined after each addition. Beat in salt. Use immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days. If refrigerating, let stand at room temperature for 2 hours and rewhip until smooth before using.
- ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 3 tablespoons (15 grams) Dutch process cocoa powder
- ⅓ cup (80 grams) sour cream
- 2½ cups (300 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add cocoa, beating until combined. Beat in sour cream until smooth. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth and creamy. Use immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days. If refrigerating, let stand at room temperature for 2 hours before using.
- 2 large egg whites (60 grams)
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (40 grams) dark chocolate melting wafers, melted according to package directions and cooled slightly
- Cocoa powder, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 275°F (140°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt at low speed until foamy. With mixer on high speed, add sugar in a slow, steady stream. Beat until stiff peaks form.
- Place meringue in a large piping bag fitted with a ½-inch round tip. Holding tip perpendicular to parchment paper, pipe half of meringue as mushroom tops, ¾ to 1¼ inches across. (Use a wet finger to press down any points.) With remaining meringue, pipe stems as large kisses with ½-inch wide base. (It is OK if the kisses don’t have smooth tips.)
- Bake until meringues look dry and have started to brown slightly, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely.
- Using a wooden pick, poke a small hole in bottom of each mushroom top. Dip or brush melted chocolate on bottom of each mushroom top, and insert pointed stem end. Let stand until chocolate is set, about 5 minutes. Lightly dust with cocoa before serving. Best served the same day.