This Traditional Yule Log recipe has all of our favorites. Chocolate cake is rolled up with chocolate buttercream frosting, then the outside is made to have a bark texture. It’s the classic holiday dessert.
We save this recipe for extra special holiday occasions. When we visit relatives for Christmas, we’ll make this beautiful cake and bring it along. It’s not that the yule log is hard to make so much as it is keeping the specialness of it all. After all, if we made it all the time, it would lose some of the charm. It’s tough, though, because this is one delicious dessert!
Recipe For Yule Log
This recipe for Yule Log may look hard to make but it really isn’t! Read the directions a couple of times and get all your ingredients ready and set to go. That always makes baking and cooking easier. This Yule log recipe will come together quickly and easily that way. Remember this isn’t a race! You will be surprised at how impressed you will be with yourself!
Traditional Yule Log
This is one delicious dessert, you guys. The chocolate cake is so full of rich, deep chocolate flavor, and the chocolate buttercream filling is extra rich and decadent thanks to the addition of a special secret ingredient – meringue powder. If you’ve never heard of it or used it before, this recipe is the perfect vehicle for giving it a try.
Every bite of this traditional yule log is absolutely overflowing with chocolaty flavor. If there was such a thing as chocolate overload, this dessert might be it. But then again, we all know you can never have too much chocolate, right?
Ingredients For Traditional Yule Log
It only takes a few simple ingredients to make both the cake and frosting portions of this recipe. If you do any amount of baking at all, almost all of them are kitchen staples. In fact, the only ingredients that you might have to shop for are meringue powder and egg whites.
For the Cake
- All purpose flour
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- Baking powder
- Large eggs, separated
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- Heavy whipping cream
- Pasteurized egg whites
- Meringue powder
- Cocoa powder
- Powdered sugar
- Unsalted butter, room temperature
**See the recipe card at the end of the post for quantities.
There are quite a few steps to making this traditional yule log, but don’t let that throw you. The recipe itself is basically making a cake and frosting. There’s just a little bit of extra work involved with rolling it. You can do it, though!
Step 1: Make the Cake
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
Next, add the egg whites to a large mixer bowl and whip on high speed until stiff peaks form. While the egg whites are whipping, combine the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth. Then add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk until well combined.
Fold about half of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then add the remaining egg whites and fold together until the streaks disappear.
Finally, spread the cake batter evenly onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 – 12 minutes.
Step 2: Roll the Cake
Remove the cake from the oven, then run a knife around the edges of the baking sheet to loosen the cake. Dust the top of the cake liberally with powdered sugar and cover it with a tea towel.
Flip the cake over and carefully remove the parchment paper. Dust the bottom of the cake liberally with powdered sugar. Finally, while the cake is still hot, roll it in the tea towel as tightly as possible.
Step 3: Make the Frosting
Add heavy cream and egg whites to a mixing bowl with the whisk attachment. Mix for 30 seconds and add the meringue powder, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar, then whisk on high for 5 minutes.
While the mixture is whipping cut the butter into chunks. Slowly add the chunks to the mixing bowl while it’s still whisking. After all the butter is incorporated, add the vanilla and whisk for another 2 minutes.
Change to a paddle attachment to knock the air out of the frosting and beat for 3 to 5 minutes until the frosting is silky and smooth.
Step 4: Finish It Off
Unroll the cake and spread the chocolate buttercream evenly onto it. Roll the cake back up and wrap it in plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator seam side down for at least an hour.
When the cake is chilled, use a serrated knife to cut 3 inches off of the cake and use buttercream to attach it to the larger piece.
Then, frost the entire thing in more chocolate buttercream frosting. Use a fork to create a bark-like texture and chill until ready to serve.
Hint: Work quickly when it’s time to roll up the cake. It needs to be nice and hot so it rolls rather than cracking.
This traditional yule log will keep well in the refrigerator loosely covered in foil for up to 3 days. For longer storage, you can freeze it for up to a month.
As you might imagine with a recipe like this, there are some tips that will help you make the process easier and achieve a better final product. It’s very important to read over these tips, as they will literally make or break your yule log.
Work fast – Work fast when it’s time to roll up this cake. A hot cake will roll nicely, but cool cake will simply break. Begin rolling up the cake as soon as possible after removing it from the oven so it’s as hot as possible during the process.
Use a lot of powdered sugar – The cocoa in this cake will make it a bit sticky, so it’s important to go heavy on the powdered sugar when you roll it up. Otherwise, the cake will stick to the tea towel.
Springy means done – Before removing the cake from the baking sheet give it a gentle press. If it’s a bit springy, it’s done.
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Traditional Yule Log FAQ
If you have questions about this traditional yule log, we have answers. This FAQ covers all the most commonly asked questions about the yule log.
Where did the yule log come from?
The yule log was originally a Nordic tradition that celebrated the return of the sun at the winter solstice. It was actually originally an entire tree that was carefully chosen and brought into the house ceremoniously rather than a cake dessert.
What is the difference between a yule log and a Swiss roll?
The only difference is the look. Yule logs are simply Swiss rolls that are decorated to resemble a log.
How long is this yule log good?
This cake roll will keep in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to a month.
How do you freeze a yule log?
Place the yule log on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and open freeze it. Then, wrap it tightly in a double layer of cling wrap and then a layer or foil.
How do you defrost a yule log?
To defrost the cake, place it in the refrigerator overnight.
Why did my cake stick to the towel?
You probably didn’t put enough powdered sugar on the cake. It needs to be heavily coated to avoid sticking.
Why did my cake crack when I tried to roll it up?
If you let the cake cool for too long, it will crack instead of roll. It needs to be piping hot to avoid breakage.
Try This Traditional Yule Log This Holiday Season
This traditional yule log recipe might seem daunting at first, but if you take it one step at a time, it will all come out swimmingly. Give this recipe a try, and get ready to wow your family and friends with a beautiful, delicious cake that everyone will love.
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Traditional Yule Log
- parchment paper
- 11×13 baking sheet
- Large Offset Spatula
- Mixing Bowl
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Hand or Stand Mixer
For The Cake:
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For The Frosting:
- 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2/3 cup pasteurized egg whites
- 3 tablespoons meringue powder
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 2 lbs. powdered sugar
- 1 lb. unsalted, butter, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract Instructions
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Add the egg whites to a large mixer bowl and whip on High Speed until stiff peaks form.
- While the egg whites are whipping, combine the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla, in a large bowl until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and whisk together until well combined.
- Now fold about 1/2 of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Add the remaining egg whites and fold together until streaks disappear. Spread the cake batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 10-12 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the oven, take a knife around the edges to loosen the cake. Dust the top of the cake with a lot of powdered sugar. Cover with a tea towel. Flip the cake over and carefully remove the parchment paper. Dust with powdered sugar.
- While still hot, roll the cake in the tea towel. Set the cake aside to cool completely.
- For the frosting Add heavy cream and egg whites to a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment. Mix for 30 seconds. then add meringue powder, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar. Whip on HIGH for 5 mins.
- Cut the butter into chunks and while the base is whipping, begin adding them to the mixing bowl. After all the butter is incorporated add the vanilla and whip another 2 mins. Change the attachment to the paddle to knock out the air and beat for 3-5 mins. The result Is very silky and smooth. When the cake is smooth, spread the filling evenly onto the unrolled cake. Re-roll it and wrap it in plastic wrap, seam side down and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Using a serrated knife cut off 3 inches of the roll. Use the buttercream to attach it to the larger piece. Cover the outside of the roll with buttercream. Use a fork to create a wood-like texture on the cake. Decorate with sugared cranberries if you'd like. Chill until ready to serve