Recipe: Coffee Yule Log

French pastry chef Eric Kayser has sold Yule logs since he opened his first store in the United States in 2012. For the holidays, he shared with us a recipe for a traditional French Christmas dessert, the coffee Yule log.
© Maison Kayser

Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servings


For the coffee syrup:
1⁄2 cup (3 1⁄2 oz/100 g) granulated sugar
1⁄2 tsp (3 ml) coffee extract
1 tsp (1/10 oz/2 g) instant coffee

For the sponge cake:
1 1/3 cups (4 1⁄2 oz/130 g) all-purpose flour
3 large (3 1/8 oz/90 g) egg whites
1⁄2 cup plus 1 tbsp plus 1⁄2 tsp (4 oz/115 g) granulated sugar
7 large (4 2/3 oz/133 g) egg yolks

For the Italian meringue:
1⁄4 cup plus 2 1⁄2 tsp (2 1/8 oz/60 g) granulated sugar
1 large (1 oz/30 g) egg white

For the coffee buttercream:
3 tbsp plus 1 tsp (50 ml) whole milk
1 tsp (1/10 oz/2 g) coarsely crushed coffee beans
1 large (2/3 oz/19 g) egg yolk
1 tbsp plus 1 3⁄4 tsp (3⁄4 oz/20 g) granulated sugar
1 tsp (1/10 oz/2 g) instant coffee
1 stick plus 3 tbsp plus 1 tsp (5 1⁄2 oz160 g) unsalted butter, room temperature

For the decoration:
Chocolate-covered coffee beans

Make the coffee syrup
– In a saucepan, combine the sugar with a 1⁄4 cup plus 2 1⁄2 tbsp (100 ml) water and bring to a boil. Add the coffee extract and instant coffee and stir to combine. Set aside, covered.
– Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.
– Have ready a 9 1⁄2 in (24-cm) by 3-in (8-cm) cardboard base to facilitate slicing the sponge cake.

Make the sponge cake
– Sift the flour. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites into stiff peaks, adding the sugar a little at a time halfway through the beating time.
– Reduce the speed to low, add the egg yolks, and beat until incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and carefully fold in the flour, just until incorporated. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes.

Make the Italian meringue
– In a small heavy saucepan, heat the sugar and 1 tbsp (15 ml) water over high heat to 250°F/121°C (if you do not have a candy thermometer, drop a small quantity of the hot syrup into a bowl of cold water. It should form a ball and feel soft when pinched between your fingers).
– Meanwhile, using a handheld mixer, begin beating the egg white until soft peaks form. When the syrup reaches 250°F/121°C, pour it in a steady stream down the inside edge of the bowl with the mixer on medium speed, and continue beating until all of the syrup is incorporated and the egg white is stiff and glossy.

Make the coffee buttercream
– In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil, then add the crushed coffee beans to infuse. Let cool, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and the sugar. Reheat the infused milk then whisk it into the egg mixture. Pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan. Add the instant coffee and cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of the spoon, about 5 minutes. Let cool.
– In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Beat in the cooked cream a little at a time until incorporated. Fold this mixture into the Italian meringue.

Assemble the coffee yule log
– Cut out a 9 1⁄2-in (24-cm) by 15 3⁄4 -in (40-cm) rectangle from the sponge cake using the cardboard base as a template.
– Place it on top of a large piece of parchment paper or a clean kitchen towel.
– Brush the cake with the coffee syrup using a pastry brush.
– Spread half of the buttercream evenly on top.
– Tightly roll the cake, using the parchment paper (or the towel) to assist you.
– Use the piece of cardboard to press the parchment paper securely against the cake to keep it tightly rolled.
– Place the log on a rectangular cake board 9” and pipe two large dabs of cream (in the photo vanilla buttercream is used, but you can also use the coffee buttercream from this recipe) to resemble detachment points of branches.
– Place the remaining buttercream in a pastry bag, preferably fitted with a flat yule log pastry tube, and pipe flat ribbons of buttercream to cover the cake.
– To achieve a more rustic “bark” appearance, use a fork to score the buttercream.
– Place chocolate-covered coffee beans on top for decoration.

Excerpted from Maison Kayser’s French Pastry Workshop by Eric Kayser, Black Dog & Leventhal/Hachette Book Group, 2017.