A traditional French Yule Log, or Bûche de Noël, is rich with dairy and eggs. But this vegan yule log is dairy-free and egg-free, and it can even be made nut-free and soy-free! It’s a delicious sample recipe from the cookbook Vegan Holiday Cooking by Kirsten Kaminski.
This Vegan Yule Log Cake will Make Christmas Complete
This decadent chocolate roll cake is the ultimate festive dessert. You can actually serve it for just about any occasion. But spreading the chocolate ganache in rustic lines, like tree bark, is what makes this a classic
Bûche de Noël, or Christmas Log.
Vegan Holiday Cooking is all about Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter. It’s filled with mains, sides, and sweets to make the perfect feast. The recipes have an air of tradition, but boast some of Kirsten’s special twists.
The vegan Yule Log recipe below is just one of the enticing dishes that you will find in Vegan Holiday Cooking, but I think it’s an excellent example. Kirsten doesn’t shy away from indulgence, especially around the holidays. Nevertheless, she interjects healthier ingredients when they work. You might have noticed that the cake and cream filling use unrefined sweeteners, but she recognizes that powdered sugar is best for the chocolate ganache.
For those of you with additional diet concerns, I have a few suggestions for Kirsten’s vegan yule log recipe.
- Starch Options: If you aren’t a fan of cornstarch or need corn-free, then you can substitute another starch, like arrowroot or tapioca starch.
- Milk Beverage Options: Kirsten uses almond or soymilk, but you can substitute your favorite dairy-free milk beverage. Most will work without notable changes to the finished cake.
- Vinegar Option: Kirsten uses just a little bit of vinegar to help in the cake texture and rise. If you don’t keep apple cider vinegar on hand, you don’t need to run out and buy it for such a small amount. You can substitute plain white vinegar.
- Sweetener Options: If you don’t have coconut sugar on hand, you can substitute another granulated sweetener. If you need lower sugar, there are sugar-free powdered sugar substitutes like Swerve Confectioners’.
Editor’s Notes (Modifications and Tips)
Some of you had difficulty with the cake (or found it lacking in flavor) and filling, so we tested this recipe in our Go Dairy Free kitchen. Rather than directly modifying Kirsten’s original recipe, which some of you like, we’re adding our preferred modifications here for adding more flavor to the cake and ensuring your cream filling works.
Chocolate Cake – For a more flavorful chocolate cake, we used 1/2 cup white sugar in place of the coconut sugar, increased the cocoa powder to 3 tablespoons, increased the salt to 1/4 teaspoon, and added 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract with the wet ingredients. This made a lightly sweet cake with a slightly deeper chocolaty flavor. We did find the baking time to be accurate. The cake does have a slight gummy texture, to keep it more pliable and cohesive for making the roll cake. When fully assembled, it works well. Make sure to follow the directions on removing it from the pan after just 2 minutes, but unroll it while still a little warm. If it is completely cold, it will be more brittle.
Cream Filling – See our Dairy-Free Whipped Cream Recipe for foolproof tips, which will help to make the cream filling in this recipe correctly.
Special Diet Notes: Vegan Yule Log / Bûche de Noël
By ingredients this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally nut-free, peanut-free, optionally soy-free, vegan, and vegetarian.
- 1 1⁄2 cups (180 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon (8 g) cornstarch
- 1⁄4 cup (48 g) coconut sugar
- 2 tablespoon (14 g) cocoa powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch salt
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (270 ml) almond or soy milk beverage
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) melted coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) unsweetened applesauce
- 1 (14-oz [420-ml]) can full-fat coconut cream, refrigerated overnight
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup (75 g) dairy-free buttery spread or sticks
- 1⁄2 cup (56 g) cocoa powder
- 1 cup (130 g) powdered sugar, plus more as needed
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) almond or soy milk beverage
- To make the chocolate sponge cake, preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a rimmed 9 1⁄2 x 12 1⁄2–inch (24 x 31.75–cm) baking sheet with parchment paper, making sure the edges are completely covered. (Note that it’s important to use a baking sheet that’s close to these dimensions, or the cake will be too thick or thin to roll.)
- In large bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, coconut sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, combine the milk beverage, vinegar, oil and applesauce. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. The batter should be thick and pourable.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared baking sheet and spread it into an even layer about a 1⁄2 inch (13 mm) thick. Bake the cake for 10 to 14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 2 minutes.
- Gently roll the cake from short end to short end, rolling the parchment paper up inside the cake and using it as a guide. Be very careful during this step so as not to break the cake—try to handle it as little as possible. Let the rolled cake cool to room temperature (otherwise the filling will melt).
- While the cake is cooling, make the cream filling. Scoop only the solid portion of the chilled coconut cream into a medium bowl, then add the maple syrup and vanilla. Whip the cream filling using a hand mixer until it is light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes (editor note: coconut cream does not get voluminous like heavy cream. What you see to start is what you will get, so make sure the coconut cream you have is very thick, dense, and spoonable). Place the cream filling in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- To make the chocolate ganache, combine the butter, cocoa powder, powdered sugar and milk beverage in a medium bowl. Whip the ganache using a hand mixer until it is smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Place the ganache in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Once the cake has cooled to room temperature, carefully unroll it and top it with all of the cream filling. Spread the filling evenly over the cake, leaving a 1⁄2-inch (13-mm) border along the edges. Begin rolling the cake back up the same way it was unrolled, from short end to short end, removing the parchment paper as you go. Continue rolling, using the parchment paper as a guide, until the cake is seam-side down. Wipe away any excess filling that may have spilled over.
- Gently wrap the cake in parchment paper and carefully transfer it to a cutting board. Place the cutting board in the refrigerator until the cake is completely chilled and firm enough to handle easily, 30 to 60 minutes. Carefully unroll it from the parchment wrap and place it on a serving platter.
- Spread the chocolate ganache on top of the cake and use a frosting knife to shape the cake like a wooden log. Leave the vegan Yule log as is or dust it with a bit of powdered sugar. Use a clean knife to carefully slice the log into pieces. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
I appreciate your recipe, and it looks great. But in the interest of accurate cooking terms, the icing for the outside of the log is NOT a ganache. Not everything chocolate-flavored is a ganache. What you’ve described is a dairy-free chocolate buttercream.
A ganache is actually made by pouring hot cream over pure chocolate sweetened to your preference (i.e. 70% cacao or 55% cacao), then mixing the melted chocolate and cream together. This can be poured over a cake, or cooled slightly and then whipped, in which case it’s a lighter, airier “whipped ganache.” For vegan ganache, full fat coconut milk or coconut cream can be substituted for dairy cream. A ganache is never made with cocoa powder in place of chocolate.
Hi Julie, I appreciate your attention to detail. I agree that it is more of a chocolate buttercream. But this recipe is reprinted with permissions from the cookbook and author noted. She calls it a ganache, which is why it is labeled as such.
Sorry the cake wasn’t to your liking! Coconut cream doesn’t get voluminous like heavy whipping cream. I think the author’s use of “light and fluffy” might be confusing, so I’ll add a note. What you start with is what you get with coconut cream. So you want to ensure you are only using very solid, spoonable coconut cream – not any watery or soft cream.
As for the cake, we have just tested it in our own kitchen, and have added modification tips for a more flavorful cake that still compliments the ganache and whip.
It was not a good time 🙁 the cake was flavorless. Also the coconut filling was bad and the directions need to be more thorough. It didn’t whip up at all even after having it in the fridge. I read on another recipe having a cold mixing bowl would have helped. Also powder sugar. The only thing we salvaged from this cake was the ganache.
I was nervous to try this because it didn’t have any reviews but it is PERFECT! I made it with my family and each part came out amazing. I topped my yule log with rosemary, cranberry and powdered sugar and it looks so incredible I wish I could add a picture. I used white sugar instead of coconut sugar and worked perfectly. We even added some amaretto to our chocolate Gamache, so so yummy!!! Thank you for this amazing recipe!
That’s wonderful! Glad you enjoyed Kirsten’s recipe Alyssa!
The cake part came out gummy and strange not at like a sponge cake even though we followed the recipe to the t… We tried eating it but couldn’t do it, unfortunately we had to scrap it 🙁
I’m so sorry Kirsten’s recipe wasn’t a hit for you Hollis! I’ll add notes to help others. The two main causes of a gummy cake are overmixing and a formula that is too low in fat and/or sugar. This cake is much lower in fat than most cake recipes. If it were me, I would increase the oil to 1/4 cup and reduce the milk beverage to 1 cup. I might even add a higher ratio of oil, or increase the sugar. Fat and sugar are what make a cake tender, and this recipe is quite low in both. This makes for a more delicate and finicky balance than your average cake recipe.
Alisa! I hope you are well. I made the log and I followed the recipe exactly. I had to bake the sponge for almost an hour as it was just so runny! and the filling was also too thin 🙁 I don’t see what I did wrong! Help!
Hi Anna, this isn’t one of my recipes – it’s a sample from Kirsten Kaminski’s holiday book – but I’ll do my best to help! As for the sponge, that does seem like a very high liquid to flour ratio. Not one that would be spreadable. Did it bake up well for you, despite the added time? I’ll have to check to see if there are any errors with that.
I can help more with the filling. Did you use thick, spoonable coconut cream? What you see is what you get with coconut cream. It doesn’t whip up like dairy cream. So it needs to be very, very thick right from the start. Refrigerate it, and if it doesn’t set up, it’s not a good can of coconut milk / coconut cream. If it does, only use that thick, scoopable portion.
That said, I never use liquid sweetener with coconut cream – it makes it too soft in my opinion. I use powdered sugar, or another granulated sugar might work. That’s a lot of vanilla and maple to add, particularly if you didn’t get a lot of coconut cream from your can. Here’s my guide to coconut whipped cream, which should help -> https://www.godairyfree.org/recipes/easy-dairy-free-whipped-cream
Hi Anna, the recipe creator, Kirsten, said everything looked right, but she tested it again just to be sure. She followed everything as she had written and, aside from the cake needing to bake for 14 minutes rather than the 10-12 as noted in the book (she was using a different oven), everything else went as written in the recipe. She isn’t sure what could have gone wrong for you – perhaps a different size tin than suggested, a weaker oven, or an ingredient oversight were the only things should could think of. But see my notes below on the filling.