Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays to All! My Gift to You: Orange Spice Bûche de Noël with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting & Chocolate Ganache

The very happiest of holidays to all of you. The past two weeks have been an absolute whirlwind due to an insanely busy work schedule and all of the holiday planning and preparations, so I haven't been able to post much. It wasn't until yesterday that I finally had a chance to start some holiday baking. And by holiday baking, I mean my annual attempt at creating a beautiful Bûche de Noël cake. My past attempts have been less than successful - the cake was too dry, it cracked/fell apart, the frosting looked ugly, etc. But finally, finally, this year I managed to make one that I am proud to share with you.

The Bûche de Noël, or Yule Log, is a big tradition in France and when living in Paris I always loved gazing upon the gorgeously-decorated creations in all the bakeries at Christmastime. I've adopted this tradition as my own, and once you taste this cake, you might too.

I simply veganized this recipe for the cake and the filling and will tell you that one of the reasons I chose it was because it was one of the only recipes I found that didn't call for a bunch of egg whites and other hard-to-veganize ingredients. I substituted flax "eggs" and the cake came out very tasty and with a heavenly aroma courtesy of the orange zest and spices. Just make sure you don't leave it out on the counter too long after it cools, or it will dry out. Wrap it up and refrigerate it until you are ready to move forward with the filling and frosting. Please note that this recipe below will give you enough of the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting to frost the entire cake. This would give you a beautiful white cake, which I might do another year, but for this one I wanted to use a chocolate ganache to frost it to give it the more traditional wooden "log" appearance. Besides, who doesn't love a chocolate/orange combo? The chocolate ganache is incredibly easy and I simply made a half portion of the recipe from Fran Costigan's More Great Good Dairy-Free Desserts. At any rate, you can either make a half-batch of the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting, or you can have leftover frosting to use on cupcakes, to stuff into some vegan French Toast, or whatever else suits your fancy. It's the holidays, so go crazy.

Vegan Orange-Spice Bûche de Noël with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
makes 10 - 12 servings

For the cake:
1 cup cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. ground flax seed, mixed with 6 Tbsp. water (equivalent of 3 eggs)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. grated orange peel
Powdered sugar
For the frosting:
1 8-oz package vegan cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) Earth Balance or margarine, room temperature
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 Tbsp. grated orange peel
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
For the ganache:
8 oz. vegan semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
3/4 cup vegan cream (I like MimicCreme)

Make the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Use EB to butter 15x10x1-inch jelly-roll pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; butter parchment. Whisk first 6 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. 

2. Heat non-dairy milk in medium saucepan over medium heat to 150°F. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and flax eggs in large bowl until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in vanilla and grated orange peel. Beat in flour mixture until just blended. Gradually beat in warm milk. Pour batter into pan. 

3. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 10 minutes. Spread kitchen towel on work surface; cover with parchment. Sprinkle parchment lightly with powdered sugar. Run knife around edge of pan to loosen cake. Invert hot cake onto parchment. Peel parchment off top of cake. Starting at 1 long side and using towel as aid, gently roll up cake jelly-roll style. Cool. 

Roll the cake up just like you would a sushi roll.

Make the frosting:
1. Using electric mixer, beat first 5 ingredients in large bowl until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until smooth. Cover and chill until firm but spreadable, about 45 minutes. 

2. Unroll cake; remove second sheet of parchment. Spread scant 2 cups frosting over cake; starting at 1 long side, roll up jelly-roll style. Place cake, seam side down, on platter. 

3. Starting 1 inch in from end of cake, turn knife on sharp diagonal and cut to remove one 3-inch-long triangular piece of cake. Spread 1 tablespoon frosting on cut side of cake piece. Attach frosted side of cake piece to side of cake near end. 

The assembled, but still undecorated cake, unless you're into a minimalist look. It really does look like a log!
Make the ganache:
1. Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Heat non-dairy cream in a small pan until it just comes to a boil. Pour cream immediately over chocolate, let sit one minute. Using a non-stick spatula, stir cream into chocolate until it is all melted and smooth.

2. Spread ganache over top and sides of cake and cake piece. Using tines of fork, draw circles on cake ends to resemble tree rings. Draw fork along length of cake to form bark design. Garnish as desired with dried or fresh fruit, candied orange peel, powdered sugar to resemble snow, marzipan mushrooms, etc. 

Enjoy the holidays and all the sweetness of the season!


  1. gorgeous! I keep meaning to make a yule log every year, and every year I never get around to it. One of these days...

  2. Hi!
    My name is Micah, and after reading blogs for years, I’ve finally started my own. You, along with many other lovely bloggers have inspired me to document my journey to culinary school. I’d love it if you would check out my blog Sweet Like Tea, and tell your friends about it!
    Happy holidays and hope to keep in touch!

  3. Ohhh, pretty! I love the bark effect!

  4. Wow, this is beyond gorgeous!!! I should really try making something like this sometime. So beautiful & fun!

  5. Look at that beautiful log cake! Very festive!

  6. HOw did I miss this??? I am glad I read your post. Such a great experience and recipe. Congrats on a beautiful job!

  7. Very impressive! Amazing that you're managing to remain a vegan in Paris, that always boggles my mind! Thanks for stopping over on my blog =)

  8. Wow, this looks so good! Gotta try it myself :)
    Lovely blog you have!!!