Buche de Noel (Yule log) with Pandan and Coconut

by Hanelore Dumitrache

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Buche de Noel yule log cake

A reinvented buche de Noel

Christmas is right around the corner and I wanted to create a new festive dessert. The buche de Noel is a staple Christmas dessert in France, but loved all around the world.

This yule log cake is inspired from a German dessert called Baumkuchen. This translates to ‘tree cake’ and is made from layers upon layers of cake. My version of the tree cake is made from numerous layers of crepes. Alternating between two different colours of crepes, the aim is to create the look of a real tree rings. 

Close up of buche de noel

Tropical flavours with pandan and coconut

The buche de Noel is based on Malaysian dessert called ‘kuih tayap’. This delicious treat is traditionally made with a pandan crepe, then filled with caramelised coconut.

The green crepes in this recipe have pandan flavour, making a Christmas treat tropical. The filling is a creamy creme patissiere with caramelised coconut. 

Looking for more coconut desserts? Why not try this super easy white chocolate and coconut snowman truffles!

Buche de Noel with icing sugar powdered over it

Making the crepe buche de Noel

Making crepes is one of those essential skills every baker needs to have. It’s not very tricky, but it does require patience. For this buche de Noel you will need around 30+ crepes, which will require nerves of steel. However, I promise you it will be worth it! 

The pandan crepe batter is very light, and we want the crepes to be extremely thin. Therefore, the crepes might break if flipped with a spatula. Instead, I recommend practicing the air flip, which will reduce the chances of the crepes tearing. 

Crepe batter
Make the crepe batter
Frying crepe in pan
Lightly fry on each side
Spread coconut creme pat on crepe
Spread coconut creme pat on crepes
Wrap crepes on rolling pin
Wrap crepes on rolling pin
Crepes layered on rolling pin
Layer all crepes
Buche de Noel wrapped in cling film
Wrap in cling film

Preparing the coconut filling

The filling is extremely delicious and is a mixture of creme patissiere and caramelised coconut. Coconut and pandan flavours are a perfect match, so this filling is great for a number of uses. The filling makes the yule log cake extra creamy and perfectly complements the pandan crepes. 

Shredded coconut and palm sugar
Caramelise coconut and palm sugar
Caramelised coconut with coconut milk
Add coconut milk
Dry out the coconut
Cook to dry out the coconut
Mix coconut into creme patissiere
Mix coconut into creme patissiere
Remove the pin from the middle
Remove the pin from the middle
Fill cake with coconut filling
Fill cake with coconut filling

Realistic chocolate tree bark

Melted chocolate on silicone mat
Put melted chocolate on silicone mat
Spread chocolate with spatula
Spread chocolate with spatula
Brush on chocolate for texture
Create texture by brushing
Chocolate drying
Let chocolate dry

Putting it all together

I love creating desserts, but I also like making them look beautiful. For the tree cake I wanted to make it look like a real yule log. From realistic looking tree bark to moss and snow, this yule log cake will be a great addition to any Christmas table! 

Cut off the ends of yule log
Cut off the ends
Yule log covered in chocolate ganache
Cover in chocolate ganache
Chocolate tree bark on yule log cake buche de Noel
Place chocolate shards on ganache
Cake moss on top of yule log
Place the moss cake on top
Add more biscuit moss
Add moss soil from biscuits
Decorated buche de Noel yule log cake
Decorate with berries

It’s all in the details

There’s no right or wrong when it comes to decorating your buche de Noel. Nature is random, and so is this yule log cake. Add forest berries, cake moss, edible pine cones, rosemary or anything else you like!

Close up of blackberry

Enjoy your magical buche de Noel!

Although this dessert takes a little while to make, it’s a labour of love. This buche de Noel will be appreciated and loved by the entire family at the Christmas table. Serve it with some vanilla or coconut ice cream for extra deliciousness! 

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! 

Buche de Noel cake with edible pine cone
Buche de noel with coconut snowflakes
Buche de Noel yule log cake

Pandan Crepe Cake with Coconut

Hanelore Dumitrache
The traditional buche de Noel reinvented with tropical coconut and pandan flavours. Decorated to look like a real yule log.
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Dessert
Cuisine Malaysian
Servings 14 slices
Calories 640 kcal

Equipment

  • Crepe pan
  • Silicone mat
  • 1 microwaveable plastic cup

Ingredients
  

Crêpe Batter

  • 8 eggs, large
  • 640 grams milk (2 ¾ cups)
  • 120 grams sunflower oil (½ cup)
  • 2-3 teaspoons pandan extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 400 grams all purpose flour (2 ½ cups)
  • 30 grams corn starch (¼ cup)
  • 10 grams salt (1 ½ teaspoon)

Coconut Filling

  • 150 grams shredded coconut (1 ½ cups)
  • 100 grams soft palm sugar, known as gula melaka (½ cup)
  • 100 grams coconut milk (½ cup)
  • 1 batch vanilla pastry cream

Vanilla Pastry Cream

  • 500 grams milk (2 cups)
  • 3 egg yolks, large
  • 60 grams sugar (⅓ cup)
  • 30 grams corn starch (4 tablespoons)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • 50 grams unsalted butter (3 ½ tablespoons)

Microwave Moss Cake

  • 30 grams flour (¼ cup)
  • 4 grams baking powder (1 teaspoon)
  • 16 g sugar (4 teaspoons)
  • 25 g honey (3 ½ teaspoons)
  • 1-2 drops green food colouring

Chocolate Ganache

  • 200 g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids (1 ¼ cups)
  • 100 g heavy (double) cream (½ cup)

Chocolate Tree Bark

  • 200 g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids (1 ¼ cups)

Extra

  • berries
  • icing sugar
  • cocoa powder

Instructions
 

Making the crêpes

  • Whip up the eggs with a little salt until lightly frothy. Next, add the milk, coconut milk and oil, mixing to combine.
  • Add the flour and cornstarch and mix well to combine. Sieve the mixture to remove any flour lumps. 
  • Divide the batter into two parts, then in one of them add the pandan paste. If needed, add some green food colour to achieve the desired shade of green. In the other batter add the vanilla extract. 
  • Pre-heat a crepe pan and add a drop of vegetable oil. Add a little bit of batter with a ladle, rotating the pan to spread the batter evenly (and thinly). Cook over low-medium heat, then flip over on the other side.
  • Repeat the same process with all the batter, until you have roughly 30-40 thin crepes. Make sure the crepes are covered with a lid after they are cooked, so they stay soft. 

Coconut Filling

  • In a medium saucepan, add the palm sugar and shredded coconut. Cook over low-medium heat until caramelised, dark brown in colour. Set aside for later use. 
  • Follow my detailed guide to prepare the Vanilla Pastry Cream. Let it cool completely before using.
  • Combine the caramelised coconut and vanilla pastry cream, mixing well to combine.

Microwave Moss Cake

  • In a bowl whip up the egg with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the honey and food colouring and mix to combine. Sieve in the flour and baking powder, folding it into the egg without deflating the air. 
  • Divide the batter into 3 separate plastic cups, filling each 1/3 of the way. Microwave for 2 minutes or until cooked. Let the cake cool for 10-15 minutes, then cut the plastic cup to remove the cake in one piece. 

Chocolate ganache

  • Chop up the chocolate finely, then place it in a bowl.
  • Pour hot heavy cream over the chocolate, then let it sit for 5 minutes. Combine the ganache with a spatula, until the chocolate is fully dissolved.
  • Let the mixture cool down to room temperature before using.

Chocolate Tree Bark

  • Finely chop the chocolate, the place it in a bowl in the microwave. Melt over 30 seconds initially, afterwards mixing with a spatula. Microwave in increments of 15 seconds, mixing after each turn to help the chocolate melt. Stop microwaving once there are small lumps of unmelted chocolate. Mix with the spatula for a few minutes until the chocolate is fully melted. 
  • Spread the melted chocolate on a silicone mat or a piece of baking sheet, spreading it thinly with a spatula. Let the chocolate set for 1-2 minutes.
  • Use a rough brush to create a bark texture, whilst the chocolate is still pliable.
  • Set aside to firm up for 20-30 minutes or place in the fridge for 10 minutes. 
  • Break the chocolate into smaller pieces, 2-3 inches long.

Assembling the Crepe Cake

  • Wrap a thin rolling pin or wooden dowel in some parchment paper, securing it with tape. Wrap one crepe around it, rolling it tightly.
  • Spread a thin layer of the coconut filling over another crepe, then wrap it over the previous crepe on the rolling pin. Keep going, alternating the green and white crepes to create distinct layers. 
  • Once all the crepes have been rolled on, cover in cling film and wrap tightly to compress the crepes. Make sure the crepes are fully covered and tucked in under the cling film. Freeze the yule log overnight, then remove from the freezer 2-3 hours before filling it. 
  • When the yule log cake has unfrozen slightly, remove it from the dowel. The hole in the middle should hold its shape well once removed.
  • Whip up the coconut creme pat with a mixer, to soften it up, then place in a piping bag.  Fill the hole with the coconut creme pat filling. Press down with a spatula to ensure the cream goes in all the way to the middle. Wrap in cling film once more, then let chill for 2-3 hours, to allow the cream to set. 
  • Once chilled, cut off the ends of the buche de Noel with a sharp knife, so you have a clean cut. Cover the yule log with chocolate ganache, creating a texture with the spatula. 
  • Break the chocolate into smaller shards, then attach onto the chocolate ganache. Cover the log all the way around, then sprinkle some cocoa powder on top. 
  • Place small pieces of the microwave moss cake on the buche, using a little chocolate ganache if needed. Sprinkle the biscuit moss soil over it and at the base. Decorate with forest berries, then sprinkle some icing sugar on top for a winter feel. 
  • Serve chilled with a side of vanilla ice cream. Merry Christmas! 

Notes

  • I recommend using a kitchen scale in grams for more accuracy. The cups used for the conversion are standard US customary cups (1 cup flour = 136g). There are many different types of cups across the globe, which is why I strongly recommend using grams instead.
  • Pandan extract can be replaced with vanilla or lemon extracts. In between the crepe layers you can also use marmalade or apricot jam. The coconut filling can be replaced with plain creme patissiere.
 
Keyword Christmas, Coconut

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