The traditional Christmas Yule Log, reimagined.
Christmastime sees many traditions, but none as greatly anticipated as the grand festive day-of feast. On a carefully curated table, laid out by a very thoughtful host, there’ll likely be a perfectly roasted turkey, all golden and glazed, and its accompanying cast of colourful sides. Warm mugfuls of deliciously spiced mulled wine. And on the dessert table, a classic Christmas Yule Log, or Bûche de Noël, that’s easily mistaken for another piece of holiday decor.
Part of an age-old Norwegian tradition once upon a time, the Yule Log is a well-timed signal for the return of sunshine during the dark winter solstice. The Yule Log is burned in a fire as symbolic indicator of new beginnings. Today, this holiday ritual has somewhat faded, but fortunately has been replaced with something much more palatable: a roulade cake, moulded in the shape of a wooden log. It’s a soft, chocolate chiffon recipe that looks and feels very much like Swiss roll, except it’s lighter, airier — to be enjoyed after a gargantuan holiday meal.
There has been a constantly revolving selection of Yule Logs since its inception. From the classic rolled shape and presentation, to its flavour combination of chocolate and cream. For this holiday season, four pastry chefs share their renewed edition of the classic holiday dessert.
Chestnut Christmas House by Thomas Cabrit of Butterfly Patisserie
“To stir a pleasant emotion through sight and taste, and remember this special festive day once a year. It’s good to share something with your family — the perfect opportunity to gather around with the magic of Christmas on your table. For a while, you can build your own Christmas story.” — Thomas Cabrit
At Rosewood Hong Kong’s Butterfly Patisserie, newly appointed pastry chef Thomas Cabrit’s Chestnut Christmas House leans towards unconventionality. First, the decorative construction of the tiny windows, doors and tiled roofing that resembles a neat row of brick houses picked out from a wintry village scene. And second, a palate of ingredients that’s been adjusted to the cool, winter season: naturally sweetened chestnut cream sandwiched within almond cookie layers, spiked with a dash of rum before covered in a thin, smooth layer of milk chocolate that’s finished with a dusting of powdered sugar.
Butterfly Patisserie, Rosewood Hong Kong, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 3891 8732
“Holiday Tram” by Dominique Ansel of Dang Wen Li by Dominique Ansel
“For us, our pastries are ones that can tell a story, something that creates an emotional connection or reminds you of a special memory in your life. I remember visiting Hong Kong during Christmas years ago and riding the “ding ding”, and seeing all the beautiful lights of the buildings and the skyline. And the first time I rode the Star Ferry and saw the lights across the harbour, it’s something that I’ll always remember. So I wanted to create a bûche de noël that reminded me of those memories, something that’s nostalgic that you can share with your friends and family.” — Dominique Ansel
It might look nothing like the original, but nestled within this candy cane-red casing of the Holiday Tram by Dominique Ansel is a very classic rendition of the holiday Yule Log made with a list of premium ingredients like Italian hazelnuts, fresh raspberries and fine Valrhona chocolate. It’s a vanilla genoise sponge wrapped in velvety Piedmont hazelnut mousse, salted caramel cremeux and a tart homemade raspberry & cranberry compote, all situated atop a crunchy gianduja chocolate feuilletine base.
Dang Wen Li by Dominique Ansel, various locations including G/F, Shop 2, H Queen’s, 80 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong, +852 3482 7735
Christmas Yule Log by Valentin Mille by LMO Festive Delicatessen
“The inspiration was to use comfy and warm flavours such as vanilla, almonds & hazelnuts, twisted with a touch of Maldon Sea Salt. It is the same base as our best-seller cake from the LMO online cake shop, the Vanilla Cloud Cake, which is my signature.” — Valentin Mille
The Landmark Mandarin Oriental’s Christmas Yule Log resumes a classic cylindrical shape with a “pure classic pastry technique” perfected by pastry chef Valentin Mille. Within the soft, sponge-cake base is an equal-part mixture of hazelnut almonds and sea salt praline, topped with bourbon vanilla mousse and carefully rolled in a traditional method for the perfect cream to cake cross-section. Over the top, hand-piped ribbons of light vanilla ganache, finished off with a light coat of white chocolate and a spray of shimmery gold glitter.
LMO Festive Delicatessen is available online here.
Büche de Noël by Karys Logue of Black Sheep Restaurants
“A must-have for the holidays, each year I like to feature a few different flavour combinations for the festive Yule log/Bûche de Nöel. While I try not to steer too far away from the classic shape, I always look to bring a few more modern or sleek components to it. For this year’s dessert, we use piped buttercream, vanilla Chantilly, and little white chocolate stars, making the overall look and feel of it something that reminds me of snowy winters from my past.” — Karys Logue
It’s a very French take on the traditional Yule Log for Black Sheep Restaurant’s La Vache by group pastry chef Karys, who combines a chestnut filling with a refreshing bite of a lightly poached pear. She explains the very “straightforward process”: soaking a fluffy vanilla sponge in caramel syrup before smearing a chestnut mousse over the top. It’s topped off with dark caramel, candied chestnut pieces and diced pear, before rolled — “the fun part,” she adds — into a very classic log. Refrigerated overnight, the log is piped over with vanilla buttercream the next morning and decorated with meringue kisses and white chocolate stars.
La Vache, G/F, 48 Peel St, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2880 0248