Birch Bark Yule Log Recipe

This variation on the classic French Bûche de Noël combines a mouthwatering pumpkin roll with cream cheese frosting and birch-like chocolate bark. Decorated with edible mini mushrooms and resting on a bed of mossy-looking ground pistachios, it's a breathtaking (and supremely yummy!) edible centerpiece for your Christmas table.

Birch Bark Yule Log Cake

Birch Bark Yule Log Cake

This variation on the classic French Buche de Noel combines a mouthwatering pumpkin roll with cream cheese frosting and chocolate bark. It’s decorated with edible mini mushrooms and rests on a bed of mossy-looking ground pistachios.

Photo by: Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

Cake Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Birch Bark Ingredients

  • 12 ounces white candy melting wafers
  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 packages (12 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mushrooms and Decor Ingredients

  • 1 can (8 ounces) almond paste or white modeling chocolate
  • 6-8 prepackaged soft baked mini cookies (such as EnjoyLife Mini Snickerdoodles)
  • 6 ounces red candy melting wafers
  • 1 tablespoon white nonpareils
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1 teaspoon unsweet cocoa powder

Instructions

Make the Sponge Cake

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat a 15" x 10" jelly roll pan with baking spray and line with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper to prevent sticking. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt; whisk thoroughly to combine.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs and granulated sugar until thick and pale. Add pumpkin and mix briefly. Add flour and mix until combined. Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly using a large offset spatula. Bake for 13 minutes, or until the cake springs back when touched in the center.

Photo by: Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

Spread a large tea towel out on a work surface and sprinkle the towel with the powdered sugar. Use your hands to spread the sugar evenly over the towel (Image 1). Immediately turn the baked cake out onto the tea towel and roll the cake and towel together starting at a short end (Image 2). Let cool completely. Refrigerate the cake until ready to frost and decorate.

Make the Birch Bark

Transfer the candy wafers and chips to two separate microwave-safe bowls. Heat each bowl at 100% power in 30 second increments, stirring between heating, until the candy can be stirred smooth.

Photo by: Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Dip the flat edge of a cake smoother (or a piece of card stock or a butter knife) in the melted semisweet chocolate. Place the dipped edge upright on the parchment paper and lift away so that it makes a line on the paper (Image 1). Repeat this step with all lines running the same direction, so that the paper appears to have a birch bark pattern. Dip a small kitchen-dedicated artist's brush in the chocolate and paint a few irregular circular ‘knots’ between the striations (Image 2). Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, about 5 minutes.

Pour the melted white candy over the hardened semisweet chocolate on the parchment paper; spread evenly using an offset spatula. Let stand until hardened, about 20 minutes, or refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes.

Photo by: Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

Make the Frosting and Frost the Cake:

Beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in a bowl using an electric mixer. Carefully unroll the cake. Spread 2/3 of the cream cheese mixture over the inside of the cake. Reroll the cake, frosting-side-in and place it on a serving platter. Refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes.

Photo by: Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

With a sharp serrated knife, cut a diagonal slice off of one end of the cake. Place it cut side-out to one side of the cake roll so it resembles the area where two branches meet. Use the remaining frosting to cover the top of the cake and diagonal cake slice; avoid frosting the cut ends of the cake.

Photo by: Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

Turn the slab of candy bark out onto a work surface and peel away the parchment paper so that the striated side is facing up (Image 1). Break the candy into irregular pieces using your hands (Image 2).

Layer the pieces on the cake and press them into the icing to adhere. Cover the cake completely using all of the candy bark.

Photo by: Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

Make the Mushrooms

Knead the almond paste (or modeling chocolate) until smooth and pliable. Pull off approximately 2 tablespoons of paste and fashion into an oblong tapered mushroom stem using your fingers. Thread the piece onto a toothpick tapered-end-first, leaving about 1/4" of the pointed toothpick end exposed. Attach a single mini cookie to the pointed end.

Photo by: Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

Place the red candy wafers in a microwave-safe bowl and heat at 100% in 30 second intervals, until the candy can be stirred smooth (about 1 minute total). Dip the cookie portion in the red candy and turn upright. Immediately sprinkle on a pinch of white nonpareils. Stand the dipped mushrooms upright in a small block of foam to dry.

Photo by: Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

Pour the pistachios into the bowl of a food processor and process to fine crumbs. Spoon the crumbs around the edge of the cake to create the appearance of a mossy forest floor.

Photo by: Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

When dry, brush the bottom of the mushroom stems with the cocoa powder. Stand some of the mushrooms upright between pieces of bark on the cake by pressing them into the cake by their toothpick ends. Unthread some of the mushrooms and stand upright around the cake on top of the pistachio crumbs.

Photo by: Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

Remove the cake from the refrigerator about an hour before serving to allow it to come to room temperature. A sharp chef’s knife will cut through the candy bark on the cake’s exterior, or you can remove pieces of bark, slice the cake and serve the candy pieces alongside it.

Birch Bark Yule Log Cake

Birch Bark Yule Log Cake

This variation on the classic French Buche de Noel combines a mouthwatering pumpkin roll with cream cheese frosting and chocolate bark. It’s decorated with edible mini mushrooms and rests on a bed of mossy-looking ground pistachios.

Photo by: Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

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