Since cake decoration is not my forte (a gross understatement to be sure), I’m quite impressed with elaborate cakes. And a great example of a fancy (and labor-intensive) cake is the Buche de Noel.
A Buche de Noel Cake resembles a Yule Log. Yule Logs were burnt by ancient Europeans to commemorate the Winter Solstice and today Buche de Noel Cakes help usher in the Christmas season.
So what is a Buche de Noel made of? Often a sheet of a Sponge Cake which is spread with a filling and then rolled up lengthwise. Icing or Chocolate Ganache, covers the log. Striations in the icing resemble bark and mushrooms (made out of Buttercream or Meringue) and other decorations complete the outdoor scene.
As you’ll see, Buche de Noel Cakes are available in a variety of classic as well as modern flavors.
While the Cake Bakeshop (Manhattan Beach, CA) offers a classic Buche de Noel with Chocolate Cake and Vanilla Cream, there’s a twist. A small gnome stands guard over the Cake and winter scene. Cake Bakeshop Owner Laura Mandracchia said she’s toyed with the idea of offering different flavors, but her classic Cake is getting more and more popular. Laura also believes that Buche de Noel Cakes overall are gaining in popularity — not just traditional, fun versions like hers, but also the super fancy types.
Craig Anderson of Fleur de Cocoa (Los Gatos, CA) isn’t sure if Buche de Noel Cakes are becoming more popular but his kitchen staff told him Costco is now carrying them. So perhaps they are more popular (and more mainstream). Fleur de Cocoa’s namesake, and most popular, Buche de Noel Cake contains Dark Chocolate Mousse and Chocolate Sponge Cake lightly soaked with Grand Marnier. But there are three other varieties, including one with Dark Chocolate Marion Berry Mousse, Marion Berry Coulis, and Dark Chocolate Sponge Cake.
Six types of Buche de Noel Cake are available at Douceur de France (Marietta and Roswell, GA). The most popular Buche de Noel Cake is the classic Chocolate Buche. Other varieties include: the Three Chocolate Buche; the Ardechois (Chestnut Bavarois [similar to a Mousse], with a center of pears sautéed in vanilla and honey, all encased in a gingerbread cookie crust; and the Madagascar (Vanilla Cream with Hazelnut Cremeux [similar to a Pudding] on top of a crunchy Almond Paste Crust with Hazelnut Streusel on the side. The co-owner, Danielle Beaudet, had this to say about Buche de Noel Cakes: “I have noticed that recently Buche have become much more popular in the U.S. When I first moved here, almost no one knew about them. Now we are literally making hundreds for our Atlanta clients! Most Americans, I think, prefer the traditional Chocolate Buche de Noel…”
Toronto-based Dufflet Pastries has been offering Buche de Noel Cakes seasonally for 35 years and they’re an annual tradition for many families as well as a mainstay at many office holiday parties. While some of Dufflet’s flavors and designs change each year, the Hazelnut Buche de Noel has been a best seller for many years — at Dufflet’s stores as well as through its wholesale division. This is a Hazelnut Sponge rolled with Hazelnut Mousse and glazed with Hazelnut Crunch Milk Chocolate Ganache. Also on the Buche de Noel line-up is a gluten-free Caramel Chocolate version, with Chocolate Sponge, Caramel Whipped Cream, Bittersweet Chocolate, and Gold-Dusted Chocolate Leaves.
So many Buche. So little time.