Yule log recipes have an interesting and long history even though I do not remember hearing this reference in my earlier days. It seems that Coca Cola made a commercial about the Yule log in the mid 1960’s. It showed a large log burning in a fireplace and perhaps this is when it came to my attention. The history can be traced back before Christianity relating the burning of the Yule log to paganism.
A whole tree was burned for twelve days in the hearth. Different members of the household would take turns feeding the wood into the fire. On the last day the remaining logs from the previous year would be fed into the fire. It was important to keep the fire going all through these twelve days. It was considered very bad luck to let the fire go out.
Christmas was declared a federal holiday on June 26, 1870. Before this is it was referred to as Yule with the origination most likely coming from Germany. I say this because my paternal great grandfather was from this time period. They already had their traditions set and they were strongly passed on through to my generation even though I do not know exactly what they called it then. The family has been in America since the 1700’s and I know my dad and grandfather referred to this day as Christmas.
As Christians began celebrating Christmas as Christ’s birthday, the Yule log was incorporated into our Christian holiday. In connection to our Christmas celebrations many Yule log recipes have come about. You might see yule log recipes in France and some European countries refer to yule log recipes as Buche de Noel. Although I do not like the origination of these recipes, I do the love the beauty and the delicious taste of these cakes. I have collected so many of these log cake recipes with so many different flavors and fillings. Each one is just as delicious as the next.
Yule log recipes are made with various cake batters. Most and probably the original are made with a sponge cake batter. As with other cake batters, better results are achieved by having the eggs at room temperature when using. All are baked in a flat pan called a jelly roll pan and it is important to use the right pan. By neatly lining the pan with wax paper the cake will be much easier to remove without damage.
After baking the cake, it is turned out onto a clean towel with each recipe giving you specific instructions. The cake and towel are rolled up together while still hot like a jelly roll. After cooling the cake is unrolled and spread with a filling. The cake is then rerolled without the towel and the focus should be on rolling it as tightly as possible. Now it is time to frost and decorate your Yule log recipes.
Yule log recipes for cakes will instruct you on how you should roll the cakes. You can follow the recipe or create your own design. Some are rolled from the short end making a wider and shorter log cake. The other way to roll is to start at the long side making a long skinny log. The long skinny log is then cut close to the end and placed on the side of the log to make it appear to have a knot. After choosing the way you want to arrange your log it is then frosted. Usually, some kind of lines are drawn in the frosting to look like a tree log.
Sometimes Yule log recipes will have other decorations on them. The prettiest and most typical which I have found is the placement of mushrooms on the logs. These mushrooms are usually made with meringue and baked before applying. Try the recipe and directions below.
All kinds of Yule log recipes can be decorated with these meringue mushrooms.
Preheat oven to 200F degrees; line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine egg whites and next 4 ingredients in mixing bowl.
Beat with mixer on high speed until foamy.
Gradually beat in sugar 1 tablespoon at a time.
Beat until stiff peaks form and sugar is dissolved (2-4 minutes).
Spoon mixture into a pastry bag with a large round tip.
Pipe 32 mounds (1 ¼ inches wide) for the mushroom caps.
Pipe 32 columns (1 inch tall) for the stems.
Place in oven and bake 1 hour and 30 minutes.
TURN OVEN OFF and keep mushrooms in oven for 2 hours.
Spread a thin layer of chocolate on the flat side of caps.
Trim rounded end of stem to make flat.
Press against the chocolate to attach stems to caps.
Sprinkle lightly with cocoa powder; makes 32.
This Yule log recipe is a family favorite.
Filling and Frosting
Preheat oven to 375F degrees.
Grease, line with parchment, grease again and flour jelly roll pan (15X10 Inches).
TO COOK DATES combine dates, water and sugar in a saucepan.
Cook over medium until thickened taking about 10 minutes; cool.
FOR BATTER beat the eggs in large bowl on high 5 minutes.
Gradually add the ½ cup of sugar beating until smooth; stir in the date mixture.
Sift together flour, baking powder, allspice and salt; fold into the mixture.
Pour batter into the prepared pan spreading evenly; sprinkle with ¾ cup of walnuts.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until pick comes out clean.
FOR ROLLING sift 1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar over a clean towel.
Remove cake from oven and immediately loosen edges; turn out onto towel.
Starting at narrow end roll up cake and towel together like jelly roll.
Place seam side down on cooling rack; cool completely.
NOTE: As soon as cake cools, spread with filling and roll. If you let the cake rolled in the towel too long it will dry out and crack (like mine did).
FOR FILLING AND FROSTING combine cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl.
Beat on medium speed until fluffy; add vanilla and 1 cup of powdered sugar.
Beat until smooth; unroll cake and spread with filling RESERVING 1/3 cup for topping.
Reroll the cake without towel; place seam side down on serving plate.
Garnish cake roll with reserved filling; sprinkle with ground nuts.
Refrigerate; serves 8 to 10.
The most common batter used for the old fashioned Yule log recipes is the sponge cake batter.
Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
Grease, line with parchment, grease and flour jelly roll pan (15x10 inches).
FOR CAKE beat egg YOLKS in large bowl until foamy.
Gradually add sugar beating until thick and pale yellow in color.
Beat in vanilla; sift flour and salt over the egg mixture; fold in thoroughly.
Fold in melted butter; set aside.
Beat egg WHITES in another bowl with clean beaters until stiff peaks form.
Fold the whites into the yolk mixture; spread evenly into prepared pan.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until top springs back when touched.
Dust clean kitchen towel with powdered sugar; turn cake onto towel.
Remove paper from cake; immediately roll cake up starting at short end.
NOTE: Roll cake in the towel and place seam side down on cooling rack; cool.
When cold, unroll cake and spread with jam; spread with whipped cream and reroll.
Dust with powdered sugar or frost and decorate with icing.
Store in refrigerator; serves 8.
A favorite of the Yule log recipes is a filled chocolate cake.
Filling and Icing
Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
Grease, line, grease again and flour a jelly roll pan (9 ½ X 13 ½ inches).
FOR CAKE beat egg WHITES with sugar until stiff peaks form.
Beat the egg YOLKS until thick and pale yellow; fold into the whites.
Sift the flour and cornstarch together over the egg mixture; fold in gently.
Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan; bake 10 minutes until light golden.
Unmold cake onto a clean kitchen towel; remove paper used to line pan.
Starting at a short end roll hot cake up jelly roll style in kitchen towel; let cool.
FOR FILLING AND ICING cream the butter and sugar together.
Beat in melted chocolate and rum if desired.
Unroll the cake and spread with HALF of the filling; reroll without the towel.
Place the rolled cake on a serving plate with seam on the bottom.
Cover cake roll with remaining icing; using a fork draw lines on cake to look like bark.
Sprinkle log cake with chopped pistachios; chill before serving.
Kahlua makes a delicious flavor for Yule log recipes.
Preheat oven to 375F degrees.
Grease, line, grease again and flour jelly roll pan (15X10 inches).
Beat egg YOLKS on high speed until foamy.
Gradually add sugar beating until thick and pale.
Gradually stir in 3 TABLESPOONS of the cocoa powder.
With clean beaters beat egg WHITES until stiff peaks form.
Fold beaten whites into the yolk mixture; spread into prepared pan.
Bake cake 12 to 15 minutes.
Sift remaining 2 TABLESPOONS cocoa powder onto a clean kitchen towel.
Immediately loosen sides of hot cake with knife; turn out onto prepared towel.
Peel off paper; roll cake up in towel starting at short end like jelly roll.
Place seam side down on a wire rack to cool completely.
FOR TOPPING beat the heavy cream until foamy on high speed of mixer.
Add 3 tablespoons powdered sugar and kahlua (If desired) beating until stiff.
Unroll the cake and spread with whipped cream leaving a 1 inch border.
Reroll the cake without the towel; place seam side down on baking tray.
Cover and freeze for up to 3 months.
TO SERVE remove from freezer and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Slice cake while frozen; cover and let stand 30 minutes at room temperature.
This Yule log recipe made with lemon curd is very popular.
Sugar Toasted Coconut
FOR LEMON CURD whisk egg yolks, sugar and lemon juice in nonreactive saucepan.
Cook over low heat stirring constantly until mixture just begins to thicken.
NOTE: Do not boil mixture.
Immediately strain curd into a bowl; place plastic wrap directly on top.
Refrigerate curd until cold.
FOR TOASTED COCONUT PREHEAT OVEN to 350F degrees.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine coconut with boiling water stirring to dissolve sugar.
Add sugared water to coconut tossing to thoroughly coat coconut.
Spread coconut evenly on lined baking sheet.
Toast in oven 6-10 minute stirring occasionally until golden.
NOTE: Watch coconut carefully so it does not burn.
Transfer coconut to a plate to cool.
FOR SPONGE CAKE PREHEAT OVEN to 300F degrees.
Grease and line a jelly roll pan (15 X 10 Inches) with parchment paper.
Sift together the flour and baking powder; set aside.
In large heatproof bowl beat together eggs, egg yolk and sugar.
Place bowl over simmering water and whisk constantly.
When mixture is warm to the touch remove from the heat.
Beat mixture on high speed until it is pale in color and thick as whipped cream.
In a small saucepan melt the butter in the milk on low heat.
Turn the heat off and let stand on the stove.
Sift a THIRD of the flour mixture over the EGG mixture; gently fold in.
Fold in another THIRD of the flour mixture and HALF of the milk mixture.
Fold in the last THIRD of the flour mixture and HALF of the milk mixture.
Pour batter into prepared pan and gently smooth top.
Bake 10 minutes or until cake springs back when touched.
Cool cake completely in pan on rack.
FOR FROSTING place egg whites in a clean metal bowl; set aside.
Combine sugar and water in small saucepan; bring to a boil.
Wipe down sides of pan with wet pastry brush; boil to 242 F degrees.
Beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy; beat in cream of tartar.
Slowly pour hot syrup onto whites while beating.
Beat frosting until thick and fluffy around 3 minutes; beat in vanilla.
NOTE: Frosting should be thick (Stiff peaks) and slightly warm.
TO ASSEMBLE turn cake out onto a piece of foil; peel off paper.
Place a piece of plastic wrap over top of cake; flip so right side is up.
Remove foil; spread lemon curd evenly over cake.
Spread about 2/3 of the frosting over the lemon curd.
Starting at the short end of cake roll up like a jelly roll; place on cake plate.
Frost top and side with remaining frosting; top with sugar toasted coconut.
FOR OPTIONAL GARNISH tint marzipan green and shape into holly leaves.
Score leaves to look like leaf veins, drape over egg cartons and let dry 6 hours.
Tint marzipan red and shape into small berries.
OR use fresh cranberries, roll in beaten egg white and then in granulated sugar.