Bûche de Noël (Grain-free, Gluten-free Holiday Cake)

Bûche de Noël, an homage to the yule log in velvety rich chocolate form, is a welcome if not essential holiday treat in many homes.  A thick and luscious layer of dense chocolate sponge cake is wrapped around a layer of mouse or chantilly cream, dusted with cocoa powder and often finished with chocolate ganache and meringue or marzipan mushrooms.  Decadent doesn’t even begin to describe the dessert and we’re fortunate that this sort of a treat is a once a year affair – reserved for the solstice or for Christmas.

For years upon years, generations celebrated the changing of the seasons.  At the winter solstice when the darkness shrouded the world and daylight waned to but a few grim hours, families and tribesmen would venture out into the bleak and bitter cold winter to harvest the yule log.  They’d light it afire, beckoning the return of the sun on the darkest day of the year.  The tradition of the yule log, of mistletoe and of the Christmas tree are, perhaps, the last vestiges of ancient winter rites still celebrated, albeit quietly, in modern times.  Of course the Bûche de Noël is a totem to the once popular yule log – a chocolate treat rolled and formed to resemble to resemble the rough bark, rings and knots of a log.

In this Bûche de Noël recipe, we omit flour altogether for an intensely rich sponge cake that resembles a souffle in texture and ingredients.  Cocoa (or carob) powder pairs with pastured eggs, unrefined cane sugar, vanilla and orange for a decadent winter treat.  As rich an complex as the dessert may seem, it’s easy to prepare. This weekend, as I spooned cocoa into egg yolks, neighborhood children gathered in my kitchen with my son – each anxious to dip a finger into the chantilly cream or to help roll the cake.  If you have small children, you’ll enjoy the time spent making this dish with them – forging new holiday traditions in your home.

bûche de noël recipe

By Jenny Published: December 19, 2010

  • Yield: 1 cake, about 12 twelve servings
  • Prep: 15 (active) mins
  • Cook: 15(oven) mins
  • Ready In: 30 mins

Complex with chocolate and cream, this Bûche de Noël recipe is naturally gluten-free and grain-free, featuring only pure and rich ingredients like whole pastured eggs, unrefined cane sugar and cocoa powder. The zest of an orange adds a touch of faint and subtle brightness to the intense chocolate flavor.


  • for the sponge cake:
  • 6 pastured eggs ( separated)
  • 6 tbsp whole unrefined cane sugar (divided)
  • dash unrefined sea salt
  • 1/2 cup carob or cocao powder (plus extra for flouring the pan)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • butter or coconut oil (for greasing the pan)
  • for the filling:
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream (preferably raw, not ultrapasteurized)
  • 1 tsp unrefined cane sugar
  • the contents of 1 vanilla bean


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut the parchment paper to fit inside the jelly roll pan.
  3. Grease the parchment paper with butter or coconut oil, then dust with a sprinkling of carob or cocoa powder then line the jelly roll pan with the prepared parchment paper.
  4. Whisk six egg yolks together with four tablespoons unrefined cane sugar, dash sea salt, carob or cocoa powder and vanilla extract with the zest of one orange until smooth, creamy and thickened.
  5. Beat six egg whites with one-quarter teaspoons cream of tarter and remaining two tablespoons unrefined cane sugar until soft peaks form.
  6. Fold beaten egg white mixture into the egg yolk and cocoa mixture.
  7. Pout the batter over into the jelly roll pan over the parchment.
  8. Bake the cake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for fifteen minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  9. As the cake cools whip heavy cream with one tablespoon unrefined cane sugar and the contents of one vanilla bean until stiff peaks form. Reserve.
  10. Generously dust the cake with additional cocoa or carob powder.
  11. After the cake has cooled, gently invert it onto a stretch of aluminum foil or a kitchen towel.
  12. Spread whipped cream onto the cake, then gently roll the cake length-wise and place it seam down on a serving platter. The cocoa dusted cake make crack, revealing a bark-like texture and appearance; however, if you find the cracks unappealing you can also frost the cake with chocolate ganache.
  13. Slice the ends of the roll off at an angle, then affix them to the side of the log.
  14. Dust with additional cocoa or carob powder, if desired, and serve.

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What people are saying

  1. Rachel says

    Hi There! I just made your recipe and it is delicious but looks nothing like yours. When trying to roll it, it broke into pieces instead of rolling. How big of a pan do you use? Also, I think mine might have cooked too much because there were burnt edges but i did exactly 15 minutes. How do you know it’s done apart from the time? And lastly, how thin should the mixture be prior to putting it into the oven? I’m hoping next time mine would look like yours. Thank you so much for the recipe! :)

    • Rachel says

      It says to add the contents of one vanilla bean to the whipped cream as you whip it. Usually that means you split open a bean with your knife and scrape out the contents. You could also just use some vanilla extract if you don’t have an actual bean. If you do use a vanilla bean don’t throw away the “skin.” You can chop it up and put it in a little jar covered with alcohol to make your own (tiny amount of) vanilla extract or put it, unchopped, into a bowl of sugar to make vanilla sugar. I’m sure you could put it in some honey to make vanilla honey, too, although the honey flavor might overpower the vanilla.

  2. Annette ormiston says

    I wrote but didn’t hear bac about gluten free receipts for teens with ASD I want simple ones that they can learn to make eventually for themselves

  3. Pam Barone says

    The recipe omits a vital technique for a successful roll. Here’s how to get a perfect rolled cake every time.
    1. Put a perfectly clean tea towel on a large baking pan or rimless cookie sheet. Dust the towel generously with cocoa, cornstarch or powdered sugar. Set aside until cake is done.
    2. Open oven door, place the prepared pan with the tea towel on the oven door.
    3. Remove the cake from the oven and flip the pan onto the prepared tea towel. Wiggle the baking pan a bit and the cake will release onto the tea towel.
    4. Now, while the cake is piping hot, peel the parchment off the cake.
    5. Quickly roll the hot cake into a spiral using the prepared towel.
    6. Set aside and allow to cool before unrolling.
    This will allow you to unroll a perfect cake, fill it, and roll it back up with no cracks.

    • Mrs. K says

      I was just thinking this is the way my mom made pumpkin rolls. I remember her rolling the hot cake into a tea towel while it cooled.

  4. Chris says

    I made this today and everyone loved it – you can’t even tell it’s gluten-free! The only change I will make in the future is to make the whipped cream a bit sweeter. Today I sprinkled it with powdered sugar so it looks like snow. :}

  5. dixie says

    I wanted to tell you that I made this recipe this Christmas and it was AMAZING! I want to eat it all of the time. I followed the commenter tip on using a clean towel to roll it. It was easy and delicious and guilt free!

  6. Bella says

    This was so lovely!!! The perfect blend of delicious and crafty. I am making it for the second time and just dropped my pan facedown on the floor. :(. This one might look a little more bark-like than the last one!

  7. Hannah says

    That looks beautiful! I’m wondering if this freezes well… I like to get a lot of my cooking and baking done before family comes to town for Christmas.

  8. Chris says

    Once filled, can you please tell me if this will weep or get soggy? I’m looking for something to bring to a work party when everyone else is bringing gluteny treats which I can’t have. If I make it the night before, will it still be as good the next afternoon?

    Thank you!

  9. Erin says

    I’m excited to make this for our big family dinner. We have to travel on Christmas Day, however, so I am wondering also of its possible to freeze it. Thanks for your help.

  10. Eleigh says

    This is the easiest awesome dessert I’ve made in a loooong time! Thanks for the tea towel trick. PSA: extra dark cocoa will make a black log (I’m saying ours came from a walnut or black oak tree) P-) Thanks for your fabulous blog!

  11. Dejah says

    This recipe omits a critical detail, and that is the jelly roll pan size. A couple commenters asked about it and never got an answer. I had the same question – scanning the comments as I was at the store trying to decide which size to buy. I got the larger size, which was a mistake. If you have a larger jelly roll pan, I suggest doubling the recipe, otherwise the edges will be crispy and the cake will be thin. I had to tilt the pan to get the batter to the edges.

    Also, cut the parchment to fit up the sides of the pan so it doesn’t stick. That is a detail I feel would have been helpful. Now I have to decide whether to try it again with a double batch for the cake batter.

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