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Bûche de Noël Gone Wrong

December 13, 2011 by Nina Spezzaferro

Two years ago I tried to make a Bûche de Noël and this is what happened. Isn’t this a sad, sad photo?

For those that don’t know, Bûche de Noël is a traditional French Christmas cake that resembles a yule log. They’re made out of a thin sheet cake rolled with frosting and decorated to look like rustic wood. I’ve recently seen cake pans shaped like yule logs so bakers can make a shortcut version of this traditional dessert. And to anyone that’s used one, consider yourself a cheater.

The allure of the Bûche de Noël started when I was 11 or 12. My dad was a partner at a store in a very chic neighborhood in Brooklyn. I worked weekends as a gift wrapper. One weekend the French bakery next door sent over a Bûche de Noël as a neighborly holiday gesture. It tasted… amazing.

The following year I asked my dad if he could pick up a Bûche for Christmas and he returned home empty-handed because they were going for $40, which was a lot to pay for a cake in the ’90s (in my opinion and clearly Dad’s too).

This is what a well-executed Bûche de Noël looks like. Photograph of a Bûche de Noël, by Andrew Pendleton

So I haven’t had a mere bite of Bûche de Noël since. Two years ago I attempted to make my own. I thought it would be easy and I was smart enough to do a trial run the weekend before Christmas. I even watched instructional YouTube videos. I baked the cake, made the buttercream, and even got the cake to successfully pop out of the jelly roll pan in one piece. Then I started to roll the cake and that’s when it started to crack and break and my dreams of baking a successful Bûche de Noël had crumbled.

In just a few weeks, once 2012 is upon us, I’m going to start baking a cake a week. And hopefully by this time next year, I’ll be brave and skilled enough to attempt another Bûche de Noël.

A version of this post originally appeared on my personal blog:


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