Vegan Bûche de Noël (Yule Log)
I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas. I meant to get this, and like four other recipes, up before the holiday… But I’m sure you all can see how well that turned out. The holidays were just too busy. However, I still wanted to share this recipe anyway because it’s just so damn good. And y’all can also just tuck the recipe away for next year.
If anyone is unfamiliar with Bûche de Noël, it’s a traditional Christmas cake that originates in France. It’s a rolled cake that has the appearance of a log, it’s also traditionally topped with meringue mushrooms. I first tried the cake as a child at a Christmas party thrown by a family friend that was from France. I remember being so impressed by how much the cake really resembled a log. I’ve always found the cakes to be amazingly beautiful and festive. This year I just knew I had to try veganizing this dessert.
Now, about this cake: it’s an amazingly soft and fluffy vanilla bean cake that’s filled with a speculoos cookie butter filling and frosted with a rich chocolate frosting. I garnished it with marzipan almond pine cones and aquafaba meringue mushrooms.
Feel free to applaud, I’ll wait.
Just kidding. Well, mostly. I’ll admit this cake was initially a bit of pain in the butt to create. Finding the right combination of ingredients to make a cake that could be rolled without falling a part ended up being quite a feat. Traditionally, rolled cakes are made with a lot of whipped egg whites and very little fat. This gives the cake a lot of flexibility and a very fluffy texture. So, I set about recreating this sort of batter without eggs.
I knew I could replace egg whites with aquafaba (aka, chickpea water). However, even though aquafaba makes an amazing meringue replacement, it doesn’t have quite the same binding power of an egg white. I knew I would need the cake to be light but also very sturdy so it wouldn’t fall apart.
After a lot of research and a lot of brainstorming (like, literally hours of brainstorming), I thought “CHICKPEA FLOUR!”. No joke, I literally yelled “chickpea flour” out loud; my mom happened to be around and thought I’d lost my mind.
Anyhoo, chickpea flour is very high in protein, as are eggs. When used in baking, it adds density and has a lot of binding power. I thought back to when I had made chickpea flour omelettes and remembered how flexible they were. I hoped adding a little to my batter would give some added flexibility. Luckily, it worked.
I will say, the texture is still a bit more delicate than a normal rolled cake, BUT; it does hold together and if you’re careful, you should experience very minimal cracking. It also tastes fantastic. I was initially worried the chickpea flour would add an unwanted bitterness, but the amount is so small I found it to be undetectable. None of my taste testers could tell it was in there either.
I would like to note, the aquafaba meringue mushrooms make quite a lot of mushrooms. Probably about two dozen. I personally enjoyed eating them on their own, but if you don’t want any extras, feel free cut the recipe amounts by half. Make sure to store any extra mushrooms in an airtight container to preserve their crispness.
I also recommend making this cake the day before serving. It actually tastes better after it’s been sitting out at room temperature. The flavors of the filling really meld with the cake. However, make sure you don’t garnish with the mushrooms until you’re just ready to serve, otherwise the mushrooms will become very soft and deflate just like a normal meringue.
Now, moving along. It’s recipe time. If you make this cake, please tag me on Instagram @Bitchy_Baker or #BitchyBaker <3
Vegan Bûche De Noël
Cook Time: 2 hours + 20 minutes
Prep Time: 2.5 hours
1 cup aquafaba (the liquid from canned chickpeas)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons chickpea flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons neutral-tasting oil, such as vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste, or 1 scraped vanilla pod, may sub extract
1/2 cup vegan butter
1/2 cups speculoos cookie butter, I used Trader Joe's brand, I think Biscoff is also vegan
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 - 4 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
1/2 cups vegan butter
2 tablespoons melted chocolate
1 1/2-2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup aquafaba
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
A couple tablespoons of melted chocolate
Marzipan and Almond Pine Cones:
4-5 tablespoons of marzipan
Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 400 F. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the aquafaba until stiff peaks form. This should take 6-8 minutes. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch, and chickpea flour. Whisk flour mixture until combined. Slowly add the granulated sugar, one tablespoon at a time, to the whipped aquafaba while the mixer is still running on medium-high. Once the sugar has been added, add the cream of tartar. Beat for another minute before adding the oil and vanilla bean paste to the aquafaba. Once thoroughly combined, add about half of the meringue mixture to the bowl with the dry mix, stir until thoroughly combined. Carefully fold the remaining meringue into the mixture, taking care not to deflate too much of the air. Prepare a jelly roll pan (mine is 10 x 15 inches), by spraying with non-stick spray and lining with parchment before spraying it again. Pour the batter inch the pan, spread evenly. Bake on center rack for about 15-20 minutes. The cake should be evenly browned and just set in the center. Carefully remove from the oven and allow to cool for only 5-10 minutes.
Turn the Cake Out: Lay a large kitchen towel out on the counter. Lay a sheet of parchment on top of it. Dust it liberally with powdered sugar. Turn the cake out directly onto the sugared parchment and remove the parchment the the cake was baked with. Dust the cake liberally with powdered sugar before laying another piece of parchment on top of it. Carefully roll the cake up lengthwise, with the towel and parchment. Don't roll too tightly, handle it delicately. Allow the cake to cool this way.
Make the Filling: Beat the butter until fluffy. Add the cookie butter, mix to combine. Add the vanilla, powdered sugar and milk. Beat until combined. Adjust the consistency with more milk or powdered sugar as needed to reach a thick but spreadable consistency. Set aside until ready to use.
Make the Frosting: Beat the butter until fluffy. Add the melted chocolate and beat to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Add the powdered sugar. Beat to combine. Add the vanilla and cocoa. Beat until light and fluffy. Set aside until ready to use.
Assemble the Cake: Carefully unroll the cake. Spread evenly with the cookie butter frosting, leaving about an inch border around the edge. Carefully roll the cake back up before gently placing it on a serving tray. Chill for an hour before frosting. This will make it easier to handle. Once chilled, frost the cake with the chocolate frosting. If desired, cut off about a 1/4 of the cake (at a diagonal), then place it on the side so it looks like a severed branch (see photo for reference). Smooth the frosting, then use a fork to add some lines so it appears like rough tree bark.
Bake the Meringue Mushrooms: Preheat oven to 225 F. Beat the aquafaba in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until stiff peaks form (about 6-8 minutes). Add the cream of tartar, beat for a minute more. With the mixer still running, add the granulated sugar a tablespoon at a time. Beat until glossy and very stiff. Add vanilla extract if desired. Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Using a piping bag fitted with a plain round tip (I used a Wilton 2A), pipe out the mushroom tops. Mine were about 2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter. They don't need to be exact. You can lightly smooth out any peaks with a finger dipped in a little water. For the stems, pipe much smaller and slightly taller shapes with a slight point. Bake at 225 F for two hours. Remove from oven and allow to cool for around 20 minutes. They will become crispier as they cool.
Assemble the Mushrooms: Before assembling, add a couple tablespoons of melted chocolate to a small piping bag or ziploc with the corner snipped. To assemble, take a mushroom top and drill a small hole into the flat side using a paring knife. Fill the hole with a bit of melted chocolate before inserting the pointy end of the mushroom stem into the chocolate. Allow the mushroom to set, resting on the cap, until the chocolate hardens. Repeat with remaining meringues. Feel free to dust the mushrooms with a bit of cocoa powder if desired, this gives them a more natural appearance.
Marzipan Pine Cones: Take a few tablespoons of marzipan and mold into a teardrop shape. Insert sliced almonds into the marzipan to create a pine cone pattern. I made two for my cake.
Decorate and Devour: Just before serving, decorate your yule log with the pine cones and meringue mushrooms. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve and enjoy!
Note: Don’t place the mushrooms on the cake until you’re ready to serve, otherwise they’ll become soft. Store leftover meringues in an airtight container to preserve their crispiness.