An Easy Way to Make A Buche de Noel or Yule Log Cake for Christmas

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. We participate in other affiliate programs as well. For more details, please see our disclosure policy.

Many years ago, almost twenty, I spent a year in France as an exchange student. I adopted a family — or they adopted me — to call my own. I lived in a different French city, but thanks to mutual acquaintances, we connected and my life was changed.

I don’t think I would have experienced France in the same way if it had not been for the Durieux. Michele and Jean-Marc took me everywhere, even vacationing in the Alps. I visited them in Toulouse, at their vacation home in Collioure, and they came to see me in Bordeaux.

My French brother and sister, Delphine and Greg, treated me like a big sister and patiently corrected my terrible mispronunciations. They treated me to a beautiful 21st Birthday party, too.

It was only natural that I spend Christmas with them that year. And since my boyfriend Fish (aka FishPapa) had come to visit me in France, we  celebrated Christmas together chez Durieux.

I was astounded by the two meals Michele prepared– Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Both were huge feasts, featuring caviar, raw oysters, boudin blanc, and foie gras. We feted the holiday in a very French way. One of the meals concluded with a buche de noel, or yule log cake.

Our Buche de Noel

For many years since then, I’ve made a Buche de Noel at home. It’s not as fancy or as nicely done as those a French pastry shop might prepare, but it has become a family tradition at our house. My kids don’t notice the imperfections.

And, yes, I cheat by using a boxed cake mix. Yes, yes, I do.

Last year, I tried to get fancy with a cream cheese filling and my kids scraped it out and just ate the cake. Ah…. pearls before swine.

This year, I’ll use a whipped cream filling and chocolate frosting.

If you’d like to make a Buche de Noel at your house, it’s not that difficult — if you don’t mind some imperfections.

How to Make a Buche de Noel, Yule Log Cake

What you’ll need:
1 boxed cake mix, prepared according to package directions
2 cups filling of choice, such as cream cheese whipped with sugar, packaged cool whip, or Buttercream frosting
1 can chocolate frosting or 1 batch Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Playmobil elves, woodsmen, animals and plants

Here’s how you do it:
Grease a jelly roll pan and line it with waxed paper or parchment. Bake the cake in the prepared jelly roll pan according to package directions.

Meanwhile, sift cocoa or powdered sugar over a clean tea towel. Invert warm cake onto towel. Remove parchment paper. Roll cake up in the towel. Yes, really. You want it to cool with a curve to it otherwise the cake will break.

Gently unroll cake and spread your filling. Reroll, minus the towel. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm, about 1 hour.

Remove plastic wrap and cut off 2-3 inches off each end, at an angle. Place large piece of cake, seam side down, on a serving platter. Position smaller pieces on the side of the main log. These are like “branches” to the cake.

Frost cake with chocolate frosting, filling in the gaps between the main log and its branches. Do not frost the ends. Scrape frosting with a fork to resemble bark. Add Playmobil figures. If you want to get really fancy and Martha-like, you can make meringue mushrooms to add to the cake.

Alternatively, you could simply add toy greenery and call it a Stump of Jesse cake. Which isn’t such a bad idea, now that I think of it. Not quite traditional, but definitely in keeping with making Jesus the center of our celebrations.

See? That wasn’t so hard, was it?

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. I make a similar cake every year – but fill it with mint chip ice cream. I never thought to use the Playmobil pieces to decorate it though! Brilliant!

  2. I’ve never heard of this as a Christmas tradition. However, my mom always made something similar (just one log) in February for Lincoln’s birthday and called it a *Lincoln Log*! Thanks for the memory–I haven’t thought of that in years!

  3. We were planning to make a yule log for Jesus’ Birthday cake this year. I was unsure of how to decorate it though. I LOVE your little men on it. My husband is an arborist so the little guy with the saw is perfect! Did you get these in a special store or with a large set? I now need to do a bit of shopping because that cake is absolutely wonderful. Thanks.

    1. @Betsy M, the pieces are from a number of different sets. The man is a Viking. The “lady” is actually the Knights king with lady hair and a Viking hat (who knew?) and the saw is from the farm set. Sorry it isn’t easier, but I was lucky to find workable pieces.

      I’m liking the Stump of Jesse idea for ours this year, just trying to figure out if our Roman and Nativity guys will work.

      I love Playmobil. Sigh….

  4. As an exchange student myself twenty years ago (to Belgium), I just had to comment on the NAFNAF shirt – that brought back some memories! Thanks for the trip down memory lane and the big smile it brought to my face!

  5. I was just trying to talk my family into wanting one of these Buche de Noel yesterday. We saw them at Costco, but of course I didn’t want to pay that price! This looks pretty easy. I’m thinking that if I can’t find Playmobil people that will work, we’ve got tons of Lego guys to choose from… something should work! Thanks so much for sharing this great idea.

  6. I live right near Collioure! When my husband and I had fewer children, our great weekend pleasure was to go sit at one of the seaside cafés and order breakfast (baguette with butter and jam + café au lait) and stay for a couple of hours just looking at the sea and chatting. We don’t do it very often anymore because it is an hour drive now.
    And this morning I am making my list for those festive Christmas meals that I will be cooking. Oysters, foie gras, duck, deer, and lots of other yummie dishes! But I never do bûche. Maybe I will this year.

    1. @Jane, I’ve wondered where you were located. Michele’s family is Catalan, so we went there often. Love Collioure! Hubs and I spent a few days of our honeymoon there.

  7. I used to use a towel for the one step (I was actually making pumpkin roll, but it’s a similar concept) and we were eating some at a Grandma’s house. When we ate her pumpkin roll, there was a lot of hair in it. You know how hair sometimes sticks to towels….well, it joined the pumpkin roll. I now use waxed paper instead of a towel. It seems more sanitary and less hairy. After that experience, I just can’t stomach the thought of the other! Your directions brought back that memory. While not as pleasant as the other ones shared, I just had to comment! 🙂 I hope you have a great Christmas! I’ve never heard of a yule log, but may have to try one sometime! It looks like fun.

  8. You’ve inspired me to do this for Jesus’ birthday cake this year as well! I’m REALLY nervous about rolling a cake, but seems it can be done so I’ll give it a go!

  9. Ok, so I made it today. Baked the cake, check. Rolled in towel, check. Unrolled 0 oops – it broke into 5ish pieces….what did I do wrong???

    I frosted it anyway and ‘rerolled’, refrigerated and then tried to frost the outside. Still tasted good but not much to look at!

    1. @Tara, it is common for it to crack on the unrolling, but that can usually be fixed with frosting. Did it crack or completely break into chunks?

  10. This is SO cute! Every year, my son (now 17) makes a cake for Christmas Eve after church service. We have a question, though … after rolling in the towel, do we let it cool at that point? I am concerned that adding the filling while its hot would cause it to melt away. Thanks for the great idea. Like the other commenter, I’ve seen them at Costco but don’t want to spend the $$$!

    1. Yes, cool it all rolled up. It may crack when you unroll it, but in my experience, frosting covers a multitude of sins. 🙂

  11. This will absolutely make my Christmas a HUGE success. A whole closet shelf-full of playmobil, waiting years for such a showcase. (We don’t have kids. Don’t judge me.)
    My dad requests “LOG” for his birthday cake (the 20th) every year. For the first time in 3 decades, we’re doing Christmas at my house. I can’t WAIT for this showstopper. THAAAAANK YOU, you genius

    1. Thank YOU for the kind words. MY 25-year old brother has boxes of Playmobil, too. 😉

  12. This is awesome and so un-scary! Scary is how I felt about Martha Stewart’s version LOL! I even have the same towels as you do in the picture! 🙂 I loved the pearls before comment – sounds exactly like my kids!

  13. I make it yearly, ordered from Amazon the set with trees, Papa Noel ,deer, and more.
    Your instructions are very easy to follow.
    Thanks, Merry Christmas🎄🎁