Philippe's Bûche de Noël

This is Philippe's favourite Christmas dessert, the one every child will be impatiently waiting for, La Bûche De Noel. The Bûche is a very traditional French dessert for Christmas that you'll find in every pastry and bakery shop around the country, and on every family's table.

It is usually made with buttercream as a filling but that may proved too heavy for the Irish palette, especially after a full Christmas dinner!This visually impressive dish is very simple to do.

Simply serve with some cream or ice-cream and you can easily feed 14 people with this single dessert!

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To prepare the Philippe's Bûche de Noël

Oven temp: 180C

Equipment Needed: Baking tray 40cm x 29cm approx  lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper

To make the genoise Separate the yolks and whites of the 4 eggs. Place the egg white in a mixing bowl and reserve. Pour 80% of the sugar into the egg yolk. Using an electric beater, whisk until about tripled in volume. If you lift the beater and allow the egg mixture to fall back into the bowl in the shape of a figure of 8, it should hold this shape for about 10 seconds. This is called the “ribbon” stage.

Whip up the egg white until soft peak. Add the remaining sugar little by little and whip for another 10 or 20 seconds. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a bowl. Mix in the ground almonds. Then incorporate the dry ingredients into the egg yolk mixture, along with a spoonful of the beaten egg white. Fold in the remaining egg white by degrees. It is important to keep as much air in the genoise as possible. Using a spatula, carefully spread the genoise mixture on the silicone or parchment paper to about 3-4mm high. Cook in a preheated oven for about 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and tip it upside down onto a clean tea towel. Remove the silicone sheet or parchment paper and trim the excess. While still warm, roll it into a log. This will prevent it from cracking too much if at all at a later stage. Leave to rest for about 10 minutes, allowing it to cool down and hold its shape. Then place in the fridge until ready to roll up with the cream. It must be completely cold.

To make the syrup Place all the syrup ingredients together and bring to boil. Make sure the sugar is fully dissolved. Set aside to cool.

To make the Chantilly cream Place the cream, alcohol and sugar together and whip until very soft peaks. Be careful not to overwhip or the cream will become grainy. It will thicken as you spread it on the cake. Next, unroll the genoise and brush it generously with the syrup. It has to be soaked to stay moist and absorb the flavour of the kirsch.

To assemble Spread the cream over the cake. Now delicately roll the cake into a log and allow to rest in the fridge.

For the ganache

Place the chocolate and butter in a bowl and sit the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. The bowl should not touch the water. It is important to melt the chocolate over a gentle heat so that it does not burn. Once the chocolate and butter are melted, gradually incorporate the cream with a spatula.

Remove the Bûche from the fridge. You might need to trim the ends a little. Then remove 1-2 wedges, to represent the cut-off branches of the log.

To glaze the Bûche

Sit a cooling rack on a tray (this will allow you to re-use any of the ganache that falls off the cake as you glaze it). Sit the buche on the cooling rack. Spread the ganache all over the log using a small spatula. Place one of the “tree cut-offs” on the side and one on the top and glaze them as well. To give the effect of bark, scrape all over the log with a fork. You might need to add a little more ganache as you do this and clean the fork once. When you have completed the task, place in the fridge for an hour to set.

To finish You can use a dusting of icing sugar or a combination of icing sugar and desiccated coconut to give the effect of snow. You can also use a candy cane, a little Santa figurine or whatever you feel looks Christmassy.

Finally, it is ready. Time to slice and dig in!

Joyeux Noel. Philippe.


  • Genoise/sponge cake
  • 4 eggs
  • 120g sugar
  • 70g flour
  • 30g ground almonds
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • Syrup
  • 100g sugar
  • 80g water
  • 20g kirsch (or a good dash of rum or Kahlua)

  • 175g dark chocolate
  • 25g butter
  • 175g cream

    Whipped cream
  • 250g cream
  • 50g sugar
  • Dash of kirsch, rum or Kahlua

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