The Eye

These Redesigns of a French Christmas Dessert Will Make You Salivate

Christophe Roussel’s Red Forest is a reinvented nod to the woodsy spirit of the original.

Courtesy of Christophe Roussel

The French don’t do Christmas cookies, but the French Christmas dessert known as a yule log (or bûche de Noël) has been around since the 19th century. By now it is both a staple on French tables and a nostalgic classic made in its most traditional version of rolled sponge cake iced with chocolate to resemble a log, dusted with powdered sugar snow, and scattered with meringue mushrooms to add to its rustic woodsy charm.

A traditional yule log decorated with powdered sugar snow and meringue mushrooms.

Courtesy of Kelly Sue DeConnick/Flickr

But while Martha Stewart can show you how to make an old-school version, in France every Christmas it’s a battle of the bûches in which home cooks comb through culinary magazines and websites for fresh takes on the iconic cake.

And every pâtisserie and fancy hotel pastry chef brings out their most high-concept limited edition designs that offer a visual twist on the traditional dessert. Whether it’s a deconstructed take on the conventional yule log shape or an ambitious design that uses the classic dessert as a takeoff for a wild flight of culinary fancy, for a few weeks each holiday season Parisian pastry chefs vie for the most creative and imaginative ode to the Christmas dessert—and charge customers a pretty euro cent for the pleasure.

Here’s a handful of some of the most innovative bûches de Noël being whipped up just in time for French Christmas tables.

Bûche Magie de Noël - ALMF,Bûche Magie de Noël - ALMF
The Magic of Christmas bûche de Noël from chocolatier A la Mère de Famille has Santa caught in some kind of magic act.
Jean-Paul Hévin turned his log into a Christmas bauble.

Courtesy of Jean-Paul Hévin

Buche Creation 2014 Ananas 1
Ladurée’s “exotic yule log” with a chocolate shell designed to look like a pineapple.

Courtesy of Ladurée

Chef Eric Kayser revisited a classic French lemon tart, turning it into a contemporary bûche with a forest of meringue pine trees on top.

Courtesy of Paquin M/Eric Kayser  

A deconstructed yule log from the Westin hotel in Paris.

Courtesy of Le Westin Paris

Jean-François Piège and Ludovic Chaussard of Gâteaux Thoumieux were inspired by a medieval fortress.

Courtesy of Gâteaux Thoumieux

Bûche L'Etoile du Burgundy - Le Burgundy Paris - 1
A reinterpreted yule log from pastry chef Stéphane Tranchet at Hotel Le Burgundy Paris is inspired by the star on top of a Christmas tree.

Courtesy of Hotel Le Burgundy Paris

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Chef Christophe Michalak chose a cosmic theme with his “Fantastik Galactik” bûche de Noël inspired by outer space and shaped like a planet.

Courtesy of Christophe Michalak