Vegan Yule Log
This chocolate vegan yule log is a real show-stopping Christmas dessert! It consists of a rolled chocolate sponge cake filled with vanilla buttercream and coated with creamy chocolate ganache.
I honestly didn’t think this day would ever come. But I am SO happy to present this chocolate yule log recipe to you!!
Believe me when I say that WEEKS of hard work went into this recipe! There were actual real tears of frustration and many, MANY failed attempts.
Out of all the recipes I’ve made for this blog, this one was by far the hardest to get right. (That includes the aqua faba pavlova I made 7 times!)
And when I say get right, I mean get “perfect”. Even though the log is coated in chocolate ganache which covers up any imperfections, I wanted to make sure it had no cracks.
I figured if I could get a perfect crack-free log, then even beginner bakers should be able to put this together without it completely falling apart, which is a common problem with yule logs in general (vegan or not).
I’d rather someone used the chocolate ganache to cover up a few small cracks or tears rather than try to glue the entire thing together with it.
So here we are, 3 weeks later, with this pretty perfect yule log!
What is a yule log?
Just for anybody who might not know, a yule log is a rolled cake that’s filled with cream or buttercream and coated in icing or ganache.
It’s typically flavoured and decorated with chocolate so that it looks like a real wooden log, and it’s very popular around Christmas time. It originates from France but is enjoyed all across Europe (and many other places, I’m sure).
It’s also known as bûche de Noël, which translates from French to “Christmas log”.
I chose to fill mine with vanilla buttercream rather than whipped cream. This is simply because vegan cream isn’t usually firm enough to hold its shape and it would probably spill out the edges of the log.
If you don’t mind the taste of coconut, you could make my coconut whipped cream which would be firm enough to fill this cake with.
Want more vegan Christmas desserts?
- Strawberry trifle
- Sugar cookies
- Gingerbread men
- Candy cane macarons
- Chocolate orange brownies
- Sticky toffee pudding
How to make a vegan yule log
Preheat your oven to 180°C (or 160°C if you’re using a fan oven).
Line a swiss roll tin (or 10 x 14 inch baking tray that’s at least 1-inch deep) with baking paper.
In a large bowl, mix together 200g of self-raising flour*, 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/8 teaspoon of xanthan gum.
Xanthan gum will help the sponge become more flexible, which will prevent it from cracking, but be aware that it is very potent stuff. I strongly recommend using a 1/8 teaspoon measuring spoon instead of eyeballing it with a regular teaspoon because if you add too much, the batter will be too thick to spread and the cake will be very dense.
*If you can’t find self-raising flour, just use plain all-purpose flour and add 2 teaspoons of baking powder to the recipe.
Stir in 115g of caster/superfine sugar.
Next, measure out 75g of vegan butter and gently melt it over the stove or in the microwave.
Add the melted butter into the bowl with the dry mixture, along with 250ml of soy milk and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
Mix it all together until you have a smooth cake batter.
Transfer the batter into your lined tray and use a spoon or spatula to spread it out to the edges.
The batter will be thicker than a usual cake mix but try to make sure it’s spread out very evenly. I go along the tin vertically then horizontally to make sure there are no spots that are too thick or thin.
Tap the tray on the counter a few times to get rid of any large air bubbles.
Bake for 12 minutes then remove from the oven. Leave the cake in the tin to cool for 5 minutes.
Dust a clean dishcloth / tea towel with unsweetened cocoa powder. Be generous with it but don’t go crazy or the cake will become bitter.
Tip the warm cake onto the dishcloth and gently remove the baking paper.
Cut off any rough or uneven edges using a knife.
Sprinkle a small amount of cocoa powder over the cake and gently roll it up with the dishcloth, while the cake is still warm.
I make a small fold at the beginning and use both hands to tightly roll the cake.
Once rolled, leave the cake at room temperature to cool for 90 minutes.
Just before the 90 minutes are up, prepare the buttercream filling.
Gently mix 80g of vegan butter in a large bowl until soft. Add 200g of icing/powdered sugar, a little bit at a time until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of soy milk to help loosen it up.
Finally, add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and mix it in.
I like to whisk it all together for a couple of minutes using an electric whisk, which helps to make it paler and fluffy.
When the 90 minutes are up, gently unroll the cake. If you’re careful, there shouldn’t be any cracks but don’t worry if you get some small ones as they can be covered later.
Spread an even layer of the vanilla buttercream over the cake. Gently roll it back up, this time without the dishcloth.
Cover the cake in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for 1 hour. This will help it to hold its shape.
For the chocolate ganache
Very finely chop 300g of vegan dark chocolate. Add it to a glass bowl with 120ml of soy milk.
It’s important that you chop the chocolate finely otherwise it will burn.
Place the bowl over a small saucepan of boiling water, so that the bottom of the bowl sits nicely over it without touching the water.
Turn the heat to low and gently mix until the chocolate has completely melted.
Use gloves or a dishcloth to remove the bowl from the pan and leave it to sit at room temperature for exactly 1 hour.
After 1 hour, use an electric whisk to whisk the chocolate for around 10 seconds. This will add some air into it and make it fluffy.
Be careful not to overdo it or it will become too firm to pipe.
Transfer the ganache to a piping bag with a large star nozzle. I used a Wilton 1M tip which I purchased from Hobbycraft.
Pipe the ganache in lines over the yule log until it’s completely covered.
Top with a light dusting of icing sugar. I also used some artificial berries and greenery for decoration.
Top tips for a crack-free yule log
- Measure in grams for best accuracy.
- Use a measuring spoon rather than a regular teaspoon to measure the xanthan gum. It’s potent stuff and using too much will make the batter too thick to spread evenly in the tin. I picked up some measuring spoons from my local Poundland but there are lots available online too.
- Trim any uneven edges off before rolling. The edges tend to be a bit drier and may crack easier.
- Use a tea towel/dishcloth to roll the cake. Do not use baking or wax paper. I tried many times but found that the cake steams in the paper, making it really sticky and causing it to break. A clean dishcloth will absorb any excess moisture and prevent stickiness.
- Dust the dishcloth and the top side of the cake with cocoa powder, which makes it easier to unroll. You will need a good amount but don’t go crazy with it or the cake will taste bitter.
- Roll the cake while it’s hot. You can leave it to cool for 5 minutes or so once it’s out of the oven so you don’t burn yourself, but don’t let it cool too much. The cake is much more flexible and less prone to cracking when it’s warm.
- Let it cool in the dishcloth completely before unrolling. If it’s still warm when you fill it, the buttercream will melt.
A swiss roll tin is a large, flat tray with small edges. It’s designed to make a thin cake, which is perfect for rolling. It’s also known as a jelly roll tin.
The one I used is from Dunelm and it measures roughly 35 x 25cm x 2cm-deep. Unfortunately, I can’t find the online link for it but MasterClass sells an identical one online if you can’t get to a Dunelm store.
Any tin that’s roughly 10 x 14″ should work fine.
It might take a bit of practice but I find the easiest way is to place the bottom of the tray onto the dish cloth, holding onto the baking paper at the top to stop the cake from falling. Then quickly tip it out and remove the tray.
It’s kind of hard to explain so if you’re not sure, watch the video on this page which will show you better.
If you don’t fancy ganache, you can use chocolate buttercream instead. There’s a recipe on my chocolate cupcakes post. Around 1/2 of a batch of that buttercream would be good for this recipe.
Not at all. I love the way that the nozzle creates pretty ridges but if you want to make it a bit easier for yourself, just spread the ganache on using a spatula.
You can then use a fork to create ridges in it so that it looks more like a wooden log.
This should be covered either in an airtight container or on a cake stand with a cover. Keep it in the fridge to ensure the buttercream doesn’t become too soft.
I find that it tastes best within 48 hours but it can be enjoyed for up to 3-4 days.
Pin for later:
Vegan Yule Log
A chocolate roll cake filled with vanilla buttercream and coated with ganache.
For the cake:
- 200 g Self-raising flour
- 1 Tablespoon Unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ Teaspoon Baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
- ⅛ Teaspoon Xanthan gum (it's very important to measure this accurately so I recommend using a measuring spoon if you can)
- 115 g Caster/superfine sugar
- 75 g Vegan butter, melted after measuring
- 250 ml Unsweetened soy milk
- 2 Teaspoons Vanilla extract
For the vanilla buttercream filling:
- 80 g Vegan butter
- 200 g Icing/powdered sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Soy milk
- 2 Teaspoons Vanilla extract
For the chocolate ganache*:
- 300 g Semi-sweet vegan dark chocolate
- 120 ml Unsweetened soy milk
Preheat your oven to 180°C (or 160°C if using a fan or convection oven). Line a 10 x 14-inch tin with baking paper, leaving a small amount hanging over the edges to make for easy removal.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and xanthan gum.
Stir in the caster sugar.
Add the melted butter, soy milk and vanilla, then mix well until you have a smooth batter.
Transfer the batter to your lined tin and spread it out to the edges. It will be thicker than a regular cake mix so try to make sure it's spread very evenly.
Tap the tin on the counter a few times to get rid of any large air bubbles, then bake for 12 minutes.
Dust a clean dishcloth/tea towel with unsweetened cocoa powder. You'll need a decent amount but don't go too crazy or the cake will taste bitter. Do not use baking paper in place of a dishcloth as it will not work.
Let the cake sit at room temperature for 5 minutes so that it's cool enough to handle. Then carefully tip it onto the dishcloth.
Sprinkle a light dusting of cocoa powder onto the cake. Cut off any rough or uneven edges using a knife.
Carefully use the dishcloth to roll it up, with the dishcloth in between the rolled cake. See pictures in the attached post if you're unsure.
Let the rolled-up cake sit at room temperature for 90 minutes to cool.
For the vanilla buttercream:
Gently mix the butter in a bowl to soften it. Add in the icing sugar a little bit at a time until smooth, using the soy milk to loosen it if needed.
Add the vanilla extract and mix it in well.
Whisk for a minute or so with an electric mixer until the buttercream becomes pale and fluffy.
Filling the cake:
Once the 90 minutes are up, very carefully unroll the cake. There shouldn't be any cracks but don't worry if there are a few small ones as they can be covered.
Spread an even layer of buttercream over the unrolled cake. Gently roll it back up, this time without the dishcloth.
Use a pastry brush to dust any excess cocoa off of the cake then cut a slice off of each edge to make it look neat.
Cover it in plastic wrap and transfer it to the fridge for 1 hour, which will help it to hold its shape.
For the ganache:
Chop the chocolate VERY finely and add it to a glass bowl with the soy milk.
Place the bowl over a small saucepan of water, so that it sits on top of it without touching the water.
Put the saucepan and bowl over a low heat and gently stir until the chocolate has completely melted and there are no lumps left.
Use a dishcloth or oven gloves to remove the bowl from the saucepan and let it sit at room temperature for exactly 1 hour.
After the hour is up, use an electric whisk to whisk it for around 10 seconds. This will make it light and fluffy. Be careful not to mix for too long or the ganache will be too firm to pipe.
Transfer the ganache into a piping bag with a large star nozzle. Pipe it onto the yule log in vertical lines until it's completely covered.
Add a light dusting of icing sugar to finish if desired. I also added some artificial berries and greenery for presentation.
- Store covered in the fridge for up to 4 days. It tastes best the first 48 hours!
- *You can use a simple chocolate buttercream instead of ganache if desired.