Christmas Cooking Traditions in France: Bûche de Noël, a Christmas Dessert
Making a Bûche de Noël, or a Christmas log dessert, is one of the hallmarks of the French Christmas season.
The Bûche de Noël got its start in something inedible: the Yule log, a tradition popular the world over since the time of the Vikings. Throughout history, many cultures would burn logs covered in decorations and sweet spices from Christmas Eve to the New Year as a reminder that warmer weather was on its way. Now these wonderful smells also remind us of the time of year: it’s Christmas time!
As fireplaces were replaced by ovens, other ways of celebrating the Christmas log came into being, such as the French making an edible version of the holiday log. The original Bûche de Noël was a thin sponge cake shaped like a log and filled with cream or jam. Today, there’s a wide variety of Christmas dessert logs that the French make to celebrate the holidays. No matter what the flavors though, the log is most easily made with baking molds. Then come the decorations; chocolate buttercream frosting resembles the bark, while sugar represents snow. Meringue designs, often in the shape of mushrooms, and berries topping the dessert also add to the Yule log effect.
During a Christmas cooking adventure, you can enjoy a hands-on class entirely based on making delicious and beautiful Bûche de Noël desserts, as well as a variety of other traditional French Christmas dishes and desserts such as Christmas nougat. Whether fish dishes for the Christmas Eve feast, or succulent meats and game, Christmas time is full of amazing French recipes to explore, and the Bûche de Noël is just one example!
Sign up to receive our newsletter, which includes travel tips, recipes, promotions, and information on our best culinary vacations.