Every culture has its own tasty holiday traditions. In France, one of the most recognized culinary traditions is the bûche de Noël, or what we often refer to as a yule log in the United States. This decadent treat is just as much about the presentation as it is the flavor, though the most diehard fans will argue that the tastebuds rule when it comes to judging the ranking of any bûche de Noël.

Most traditionally, the recipe for a classic bûche de Noël is quite simple. It’s a blend of sponge cake and filling, all rolled up and covered with a glaze or frosting. To accomplish what could seem like an intimidating end product, bûche de Noël experts follow a series of just several basic steps. First, an airy sponge cake is baked in a shallow, oversized pan. After a cooling period, a generous portion of chocolate buttercream frosting is applied, then it is gently rolled up into a giant roll. Finally, it is topped with more chocolate buttercream frosting and garnished with shaved chocolate or other decorative toppings.

Buche de Noel [Photo Credit: Creative Commons 3.0,, Visitor7]

Buche de Noel [Photo Credit: Creative Commons 3.0, Visitor7]

While this classic approach to bûche de Noël is guaranteed to be a hit among guests, if you’re thinking of whipping up a French-inspired treat for your friends and family, why not try something a little more unique? Here are 7 more combinations beyond the simple vanilla sponge cake-chocolate buttercream combo for an even more exciting bûche de Noël this Christmas:

Raspberry-Dark Chocolate: Add a few drops of raspberry flavoring to a dark chocolate sponge cake recipe, use a bitter chocolate frosting, and decorate with fresh raspberries.

Toffee-Almond: Use almond extract to enhance the flavor of a basic chocolate cake recipe and a smooth chocolate buttercream frosting mixed with toffee candy bar pieces, then, just before serving, coat the entire creation in almond slivers.

Lemon-Vanilla: Complement a simple vanilla sponge cake with a lemon-infused buttercream frosting and decorate the roll with fresh lemon zest. Create a border around the dessert using vanilla wafer cookies for added glam.

White Chocolate-Raspberry: Start with a basic sponge cake recipe and add raspberry flavoring for a subtle flavor enhancement. Use white chocolate buttercream frosting for the roll and as an outer layer, then decorate with white chocolate shavings and fresh raspberries.

Chocolate Ganache-Espresso: Find a sponge cake recipe that incorporates brewed espresso and pair that with an airy chocolate ganache filling. You can decorate this delicious bûche de Noël with chocolate covered espresso beans–the coffee lovers in the group will love it!

Dark Chocolate-Peppermint: Bake a dark chocolate sponge cake for your base, then add peppermint extract to your frosting for a peppermint patty-inspired combination that’s just perfect for winter.

Peanut Butter-Chocolate: Give your standard chocolate sponge cake a major flavor boost by topping it with a whipped peanut butter frosting. This flavor combination is a guaranteed hit for just about everyone, including kids, who love the peanut butter cup combo!

Buche de Noel [Photo Credit: Creative Commons 2.0, Kelly Sue DeConnick]

Buche de Noel [Photo Credit: Creative Commons 2.0, Kelly Sue DeConnick]

Whether you have French heritage, have French in-laws, or are just in love with French culture, there are plenty of reasons to take up the language. If you’ve made a resolution to learn French in 2015, be sure to contact us at Easy French. Our experienced teachers are ready to help you succeed!