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Gingerbread Bûche de Noël

Servings: 12

Ingredients

Gingerbread Jelly Roll Cake

  • 3 room temperature eggs separated
  • 1/2 c molasses
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter melted and cooled
  • 1 tbs orange juice [optional]
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp orange zest [optional]
  • 2 tsp  freshly grated ginger [optional but if you don’t use this, double the ground ginger]
  • 1/4 c white sugar to be added to the soft peaked egg whites
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • icing sugar and clean towel for rolling the cake
  • wax paper

Orange or Orange Cinnamon Whiskey Soak

  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/3 c water
  • zest of 1/2 orange AND/OR 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1/4 c orange juice OR 1/8 c orange juice and 1/8 c Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey

Orange Cream

  • 1 c whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2-3 tbs orange juice
  • 1/2 c sifted icing sugar
  • zest of 1/2 orange

Orange Cream Cheese Icing

  • 6 tbs butter
  • 8 oz [1 package] light cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 tbs orange juice
  • zest of 1/2 orange
  • 3-4 + c icing sugar sifted

Additional Optional Decor 

  • cinnamon or cinnamon sugar
  • diced pistachios or other nuts
  • fresh or toasted coconut shredded or flaked
  • orange peels or candied ginger

Make-Ahead Meringue Mushrooms [Not pictured]

  • 2 egg whites room temperature
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
  • 2 tsp cinnamon or cocoa powder for dusting [optional]

Instructions

Cake and Assembly

  • Heat oven to 350.
  • Grease a 15x10x1 baking or jelly roll pan or spray it with baking spray.
  • Line it with wax paper cut 1/2-in smaller than the pan.
  • Grease the paper or spray it with baking spray.
  • Sift flour, ground spices, salt, baking soda, and baking powder into a bowl or onto another sheet of wax paper.
  • In a mixer, beat egg yolks, optional orange juice, and vanilla until thick and yellow.
  • Add the molasses and butter and beat on high until thoroughly combined.
  • Add optional fresh grated ginger and orange zest.
  • Pour mixture into a clean bowl and set aside.
  • In a clean mixer, beat the egg whites on medium until soft peaks form.
  • Add the white sugar slowly and beat until stiff peaks form.
  • Fold the egg yolk mixture into the beaten egg white mixture with a spatula.
  • Quickly but gently, with a spatula, fold in the flour mixture.
  • Spread the batter as evenly as possible into the pan.
  • Bake 12-15 minutes until centre springs back when pressed lighly with a fingertip. [The cake may look a bit bubbly or even mountainous! No worries! It will flatten out with the folding, anyway!]
  • Immediately loosen the edges of the cake with a knife.
  • Invert warm cake onto a clean towel dusted generously with icing sugar.
  • Peel off waxed paper.
  • Gently roll wider length of cake jelly-roll-style in the towel.
  • Cool rolled and wrapped cake completely on wire rack. [You can store the cake like this for up to one day or re-roll the cake in wax paper, wrap wax-paper-rolled cake in foil and freeze for 2-3 weeks.]
  • Unroll your cake from the towel.
  • Using a pastry or baking-style brush, spread some of the soak (below, about 1/16 c) generously on the surface of the unrolled cake.
  • Spread the surface of the unrolled cake with the cream (below).
  • Gently re-roll the cake.
  • Brush the rolled cake with additional soak if desired.
  • Place the filled cake on a serving plate.
  • Cut 1-in or thicker slices from the ends of the cake roll to use as the knots/branches of the yule log.
  • Use the icing (below) to attach these knots/limbs to the cake roll where you see fit.
  • [Optional] Take a small bit of icing and “dirty ice” the exposed cake areas and iced edges with a thin layer of icing and let cake sit in the refrigerator for a while.
  • Ice the cake. You do not have to ice the open ends and open knots of the cake. This is a bit tricky, but can be done with a clean icing spreader.
  • If desired, use the tines of a fork or an icing spatula to make the log look like “tree bark.”
  • If desired, sprinkle certain areas of the log, such as the "knots" with cinnamon or nuts.
  • If desired, decorate with Make-Ahead Meringue Mushrooms, below.
  • If desired, decorate with candied or fresh orange peels or bits of candied ginger.
  • Chill until 20 minutes before serving.

Orange or Orange Cinnamon Whiskey Soak [Optional]

  • Place the sugar and water in a small pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  • You do not need to boil this.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add zest and/or grated ginger, juice, and optional alcohol.
  • Let cool.

Orange Cream

  • Combine all ingredients in a chilled mixing bowl and beat with cold beaters or whisks until stiff.

Orange Cream Cheese Icing

  • Cream the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and 2 tbs orange juice in a mixer.
  • Add icing sugar by the cupful until blended in.
  • If necessary, Add more orange juice by the teaspoon-full until the icing is of spreadable consistency.

Make-Ahead Meringue Mushrooms [Not pictured]

  • Heat oven to 200.
  • Line two large cookie sheets with parchment.
  • Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at medium speed until soft peaks form.
  • Increase speed and, one tablespoon at a time, sprinkle in the sugar until the sugar dissolves and the meringue forms stiff peaks. It will be thick and shiny, a cross between marshmallow fluff and taffy.
  • Attach a 1/2-inch round tip to a pastry bag or ziploc bag.
  • Fill the bag halfway with meringue and make an equal number of caps and stems, as described in the next two steps. 
  • For the mushroom caps, squeeze meringue into 1.5-in rounds, pulling off to the side to avoid pointy tips.
  • For the stems, hold pastry bag upright and squeeze out meringue, creating either an elongated cylinder or a "kiss" shape with a fairly pointy tip, about an inch tall.
  • Place the sheeets in the oven and bake for approximately 2 hours, until firm but not brown. You'll want to rotate the sheets at the first and third half hour and swap them at the 1 hour point.  
  • Let the caps and tips stand for a few moments on the cookie sheets.
  • Then, remove the mushrooms on their parchment to wire racks to cool completely.
  • When the mushrooms are cool, you may store them in pieces in a spacious air-tight container or assemble right away.
  • To assemble, melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over boiling water or in slow bursts at half-power in the microwave.
  • OPTION A: Carefully make a small indentation in the centre underside of each mushroom cap with the back of a spoon or the tip of a knife. Working one at a time, fill the hollow in a cap with about a 1/4 teaspoon of melted chocolate. Then, press the top of a stem into the indentation. If possible, cool cap-side down on a tray until the seal is firm. 
  • OPTION B: Coat the undersides of the caps with a bit of chocolate. With snips or a sharp knife, cut off any of the pointy "tips" of the stems you might have made. Use additional chocolate to attach the stems to the caps. Cool completely until the seal is firm.
  • [Optional] Place the cinnamon or cocoa in a tea ball or fine mesh strainer and censor it over the mushrooms
  • Store in a dry, air-tight container until ready to use.

Notes

Please note: I have revised and re-tested this recipe since first publishing it on my previous website, The Lunchbox Season.