What the heck is bûche de Noël? And, more importantly, where to get the yuletide treat in Houston

Yule Log Cake (Unsplash)

In the late 19th century, a new holiday cake emerged in France (It’s unclear exactly which brilliant Parisian pastry chef deserves credit for the creation). The confection paid tribute to – and resembled – the Yule log, burned by ancient Europeans to honor the winter solstice. Now, bûche de Noël, which literally translates as “Christmas log,” is a beloved yuletide treat in many countries, including the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Though the decorative, rolled dessert looks complex (at least to an inexperienced baker such as myself), the recipe, at least conceptually, seems quite simple: A sponge cake, coated with buttercream, rolled into a cylinder, coated in chocolate buttercream, and finally, garnished with meringue or marzipan. Often, the cake is scored along its sides to look like bark. Ideally, the final product resembles a wooden log freshly chopped from some grand, enchanted forest, the likes of which is only depicted in oil paintings or Tolkien novels.

In short, the treat, which also functions as a delightful centerpiece, is sweet, celebratory and a beautiful addition to any holiday table. If you’d like to “bring the bûche” to your holiday gathering this year but have absolutely no desire to pull out a pastry tube, try one of these beloved Houston bakeries.

French Gourmet Bakery

The bakery’s traditional French Yule Log is available in five flavors: Chocolate mousse with rum, white chocolate mousse with Grand Marnier, chocolate raspberry, rocha rum with rum and hazelnut with Frangelico. The confection is offered in two sizes – an 11-inch log which serves 12 to 15 people and a 13-inch log which serves 15 to 18 people.

Made to order, $79.99 to $89.99, 2250 Westheimer Road, (713) 524-3744, fgbakery.com.

Pâtisserie Paris Je T’aime

The bakery’s seasonal French Yule Log is available in three sizes and four flavors: 1) Caramel salted buttercream, hazelnut praline, and chocolate mousse with chocolate cake 2) Mango confit, hazelnut praline, and chocolate mousse with moist chocolate cake 3) Pistachio buttercream on a layer of raspberry confit, pistachio praline, crunchy pistachio paste and a pistachio cake 4) And a modern rolled bûche with vanilla cream, dark chocolate ganache, and orange confit under ladyfingers.

Made to order, 11660 Westheimer Road, Suite 107A, (281) 531-1222, patisserie-paris-je-t-aime.com.

Common Bond

Common Bond’s Yuletide dessert is a chocolate mousse layered with spiced hazelnut cremeux, hazelnut crunch, chocolate biscuit, and covered with a caramel glaze. It is garnished with white chocolate feathers, gold luster dust, crunchy pearls, gold leaf, chocolate buttercream, and dark chocolate. The Yule Log is made to order.

Made to order, $50, multiple locations, commonbondcafe.com.

Phoenicia Specialty Foods

French Yule Logs are available for purchase online and are offered in two sizes, a 4-inch log and an 8-inch log.

Made to order, $13 to $25, multiple locations, (832) 360-2222, CaterDT@phoeniciafoods.com.

Harris & Essex

The bakery’s Yule Log consists of a chocolate cake rolled with vanilla cream, covered in chocolate ganache and decorated with meringue and marzipan leaves and mushrooms. The deadline to order for delivery or pickup by Christmas Eve is Monday, Dec. 20.

Made to order, $85, 227 Cavalcade Street, (832) 856-0307, harrisandessex.com.

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About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team as a community associate producer in 2019. During her time in H-Town, she's covered everything from fancy Houston homes to tropical storms. Previously, she worked at Austin Monthly Magazine and KAGS TV, where she earned a Regional Edward R. Murrow award for her work as a digital producer.