Christmas Around The World: France

We’re over half-way through our Christmas Around the World series and the next country to come under the festive spotlight is France.

If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, you’ll love this edition because in France they enjoy le Réveillon, which is a very long dinner held on Christmas Eve – instead of a big lunch on Christmas Day – crowned by a whopping 13 desserts (this is particularly prevalent in Provence, where we’ll be taking our food tour next year)! There is a religious significance to indulging in such a large number of desserts as they represent the 12 disciples and Jesus himself. The Christmas Eve version of this feast is called as le Réveillon de Noël, which is typically a time to celebrate with immediate family, and the New Year’s Eve variation, le Réveillon de la Saint Sylvestre, is more a time to invite the extended family and even friends. Foods served during le Réveillon are often luxurious and the best available, which can mean anything from lobster and foie gras, to oysters and meats not commonly eaten at other times throughout the year due to their extravagance.

One dessert you’re likely to find on most tables over the Christmas holidays in France is the traditional Bûche de Noël, which is what we would call a yule log – or chocolate log. Macarons, cannelés and nougat.

Image from WikiCommons

Recipe for Bûche de Noël, from Mary Berry on BBC Good Food

Ingredients for the chocolate sponge cake

  • 4 large eggs
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 65g self-raising flour
  • 40g quality cocoa powder

Ingredients for the chocolate ganache topping

  • 300ml double cream
  • 300g dark chocolate (no more than 40% cocoa solids)

Ingredients for the cream filling

  • 300ml double cream, whipped until it’s thick and spreadable (you can flavour it with vanilla and icing sugar or liqueur if you wish)


  1. Preheat your oven to gas 6/200 C and lightly grease a 13”x9” swiss roll tin, lining it with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Make the sponge: In a bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until the mixture is light and frothy. Sieve the flour and cocoa powder into the bowl, folding together carefully so as not to knock air out of the mixture.
  3. Pour into the swiss roll time and spread it out evenly, baking in the centre of your oven for no more than 10 minutes. The sides should pull away from the tin’s edge when it’s cooked enough.
  4. Put a piece of baking paper, bigger than your cake, on a work surface (dust it with icing sugar first) and turn the cake out onto it, removing its original baking paper. Score the cake 1” in on its longer edge, and then starting with this edge, begin to roll the sponge using the paper. It’s fine to roll with the paper inside at this point, as you’ll sit the sponge on its seam to cool completely and can remove it later.
  5. Make the ganache: Heat the cream in a pan until it’s warm enough to melt chocolate into. Stir until it has melted and then cool to room temperature, before transferring to the fridge for it to firm enough to pipe.
  6. Uncurl your swiss roll, remove the paper and spread your whipped cream filling on top, re-rolling it tightly. Cut a quarter of the cake off from the end on the diagonal and transfer the large piece of cake to a serving plate, and then angle the cut end into the middle of the large cake to make a branch.
  7. Put the chocolate icing into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle, and pipe long thick lines along the cake so that it looks like the bark of a tree. Cover each cut end with icing and decorate with whatever you’d like!


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Christmas Around The World: France was published on 16 December 2019