Skip to Content

A holiday meal without a yule log is like Christmas without snow: it would be missing a little je ne sais quoi! Some opt for a store-bought log, others prefer to make it themselves. If you’re in the latter category, check out our complete guide to this iconic holiday dessert.

A dessert that’s rich… in tradition

Despite its thousand-year-old history, the yule log hasn’t aged a bit! This dessert with ancestral origins comes from a custom practiced more than 2,000 years ago. At the time, Europeans, including the Germanic, Celtic, and Scandinavian peoples, burned a giant log to celebrate the winter solstice.

Christians adopted the tradition in the Middle Ages. However, it wasn’t until the end of the 19th century that the yule log was first enjoyed in its current form. In Quebec, it invited itself into our homes after the Second World War, when culinary exchanges with France multiplied. The yule log is now an integral part of our celebrations, tied with the meat pie, another holiday staple.

A thousand versions of this delight

Chocolate or vanilla, stuffed with caramel, jam and whipped cream, or ganache, there are a thousand different ways to enjoy the classic holiday yule log. However, chocolate seems to be the most popular choice here in Quebec. Our classic chocolate version is guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face!

The yule log in 3 easy steps!

1. Prepare the sponge cake

Some call it sponge cake, others call it biscuit cake, but no matter what you call it, it’s a cake like no other. This is because it must be thin and flexible enough so that it can be rolled without cracking. And that’s why the recipe calls for a lot of (tempered) eggs, which are mixed with sifted flour.

You can infuse your sponge cake with aromas to give it more flavour. Some enhance their recipe with lemon, orange, almond, or maple extracts. Others go bold by incorporating hazelnut powder or shredded coconut.

Now into the oven! As soon as it’s done baking, remove the sponge cake from the parchment paper-lined baking tray.

2. Roll and garnish the sponge cake

No need to crack under pressure! Rolling the cake is simpler than it sounds. If the sponge cake is cooked to perfection, it should be quite malleable, even once cooled.

To minimize the risk of cracking, here’s a tried-and-tested technique: place a slightly damp dish towel on the counter, then cover it with a sheet of parchment paper sprinkled with a little sugar. Invert the sponge cake onto this workspace when it comes out of the oven. Then peel off the parchment paper that was used for baking. Roll up the sponge cake with the cloth and paper, and let it rest for about ten minutes. You’ll see that you’ll be able to roll and unroll it with ease!

Now all that’s left to do is to fill the cake with the ingredients of your choice: butter or pastry cream, mascarpone, mousse, or jelly: the options are endless! The important thing is to choose flavours that pair well with the sponge cake.

3. Decorate the yule log

And now the part you’ve been waiting for: transforming your log into a work of art. Traditionally, the yule log is usually topped with a classic or buttercream frosting. Start by spreading the frosting with a spatula, then gently scrape a fork through it create a bark-like appearance. Some people opt for a more glamorous style, dressing the log with a mirror glaze.

Do you own a pastry bag? Have fun creating patterns in different colours, for example. You can also sprinkle your log with chocolate shavings, cookie pieces, dried fruit, or citrus zest, like in this deliciously festive recipe. Don’t forget to decorate your log with Christmas figurines, trees, or other ornaments. These little details will help bring a magical touch to your dessert.

An avalanche of practical tips

  • Prepare your yule log at least one day in advance. This will allow the sponge cake to really soak up all the flavours and be as moist as can be.

  • Pay close attention to the texture of the filling. You don’t want it to be too thin or liquid, otherwise it might run.

  • Cover the log completely before storing it in the fridge to prevent it from soaking in unwanted odours (like the dreaded onion!).

  • If you need to transport your log, take it out of the fridge at the last minute, as it will hold its shape much better if it’s cold.

  • The yule log, like most cakes, keeps well in the freezer. So you can get a head start in your preparations and simply take it out of the freezer when needed. Thaw it in the refrigerator at least six hours before serving.

There are several steps involved in preparing a yule log, but the effort is well worth the result. Now all that’s left to do is to gather around the table and enjoy!