If you live in France, the chances are you’ll buy one of these classic Christmas cakes in the boulangerie rather than make one at home. There’s such a huge choice of Buches and every baker likes to add his or her own personal touch to these delicious gateaux.
But, if you’re not in France, that doesn’t mean you can’t have your cake and eat it because the good news is – this is a fabulous and easy recipe for a French buche de Noel. Add your own finishing touches and personalise the perfect Christmas dessert.
Ingredients for a buche de Noel
seeds of 1 vanilla pod
Pinch of salt
4 tbsps good-quality cocoa powder
150g white chocolate, chopped
125g sour cream
250g powdered sugar
How to make a French Buche de Noel
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla until creamy and thick.
In the meantime, whisk the egg whites (to which you’ve added a pinch of salt) until stiff. Now sift the flour and cocoa into the egg yolk mixture and fold in. You will notice that the mixture is thick and heavy. Add the egg whites in three batches. Do this gently so you don’t lose air. Spread the batter evenly over the baking sheet. The batter should measure approximately 33 x 27cm.
Bake for 12-15 minutes. Allow the cake to cool slightly on a wire rack.
Lay another sheet of parchment paper on your work surface, flip the cake onto the paper and gently peel off the sheet it baked on.
To make the frosting, gently melt the chocolate and butter au bain-marie. Allow the mixture to cool and whisk in the rest of the ingredients until you have a smooth consistency. Pop into the fridge for 10 minutes so that it thickens.
Spread the genoise with a layer of frosting and roll tightly from the long side. Cut a small piece from both ends at an angle. These will be used as branches. Use a little of the frosting to ‘glue’ the branches to the sides of the roll. Spread the rest of the frosting over the entire surface and use the prongs of a fork to swirl texture into the frosting.
Decorate as you wish and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
Recipe for a traditional Galette des Rois, the French Kings’ Cake eaten at new year
Paola Westbeek is a food, wine and travel journalist. For more of her recipes, please visit ladoucevie.eu, thefrenchlife.org and her YouTube channel, LaDouceVieFood.