Tuesdays with Dorie: Gingerbread Bûche de Noël

gingerbread buche de noel dorie greenspan

Buzzing Holidays!

Oh boy, am I frazzled!  Our holiday schedule kicked off last Saturday with a bang and at this point brunch with friends on Sunday is looking like the end of the rainbow.  We are lucky and blessed to have this whirlwind of activity, family and friends to spend this time of year.  I’m also thankful for this recipe – labor intensive for sure – but oh so delicious.  Baking Chez Moi’s Gingerbread Bûche de Noël, our pick this week for Tuesdays with Dorie, was the perfect way to cap our holiday dinner with our in-laws last Sunday.  A soft, spongy gingerbread cake is rolled with a cream cheese and candied pecan filling and frosted with soft vanilla flavored meringue. 

One of the advantages of this recipe is that at least two of the components can be made in advance.  I prepared the candied pecans that went on top of the cake and in the filling earlier that day.  The cream cheese and butter filling was also quickly put together in the morning.  Later in the afternoon, I baked and rolled the gingerbread sponge cake and ten minutes into its refrigerator rest, it was time to make the meringue frosting.  By the time my in-laws arrived, all I had to do was frost the cake, dot it with the pralines, and leave it in the fridge until it was time for dessert.

These great articles in the New York Times and NPR demystify the preparation of this fancy cake, for anyone still on the fence about baking their own gingerbread Bûche de Noël (or are still pondering whether to purchase Baking Chez Moi).

gingerbread buche de noel dorie greenspan

Common Threads in Different Traditions

Most holiday desserts here in Puerto Rico are coconut based.  Our traditional holiday sweets are tembleque (a coconut milk and cornstarch based pudding), arroz con dulce (rice pudding cooked in coconut milk), and coconut flan.  Although Yule logs are seldom seen here, we have our own take on the jelly or Swiss roll: brazo gitano (gypsy’s arm).  Although the most popular filling for the brazo gitano is guava, cream cheese and pastry cream are also well-loved choices.  Instead of frosting, gypsy arms are finished with a generous dusting of confectioner’s sugar.

I had some flashbacks to my sixth grade home ec class while making the gingerbread Buche de Noel.  We had to make our own guava-filled brazo gitano in teams of three.  Since there was a shortage of mixers in the kitchen classroom, the teacher asked for volunteers to bring over a mixer from home to mix the egg whites for the sponge cake.  I showed up with Mama’s avocado green mixer – and I am racking my brain to remember whether it was an actual stand mixer or just a hand mixer.  (I also remember getting a good scolding for getting it back to the house in less than pristine condition).  When the time came to transfer the gingerbread cake on to the clean dish towel, I looked at E – almost too seriously – and told him I knew how to do this, I had done it before.  Sure, I took off the parchment paper before Dorie instructed in the recipe and spent a whole minute figuring out my next steps, but in the end everything came out great.

gingerbread buche de noel dorie greenspan

I was stingy with the pecans on top of the cake – but that’s because they were so tasty on their own!

Have you read my account of one of the Baking Chez Moi events in Washington DC?
There are some great Dorie quotes and baking wisdom to share.  And yes, pictures!

Tuesdays with Dorie is an online baking group where home bakers from all over the world take a stab at recipes from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi.  Check out everyone’s delicious Gingerbread Bûche de Noël links here. Merry Christmas if you are celebrating! 

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Adriana is a financial analyst by day, avid home cook in the evenings, and food blogger and runner in the strange hours between those two. When not in the kitchen concocting meals and stories to pass around, she is out looking for the next great bite (or the ingredients to make it at home), checking what's new at the market, or planning a trip around great food and wine.

25 Responses to “Tuesdays with Dorie: Gingerbread Bûche de Noël”

  1. December 23, 2014 at 7:44 am #

    Perfect for the holidays!!! Merry Christmas, Adriana! I hope to get back to baking from BCM in January! xoxo

    • December 23, 2014 at 10:32 am #

      Merry Christmas, Lizzy! I hope you enjoy the holidays and a well deserved break.

  2. December 23, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    Oh man, those pralines were SO good. Thankfully, I was the only one at home otherwise they’d have been in short supply for my topping too. Those PR gypsy’s arms sound so good! Your cake looks wonderful and Merry Christmas!

    • December 23, 2014 at 10:33 am #

      They are really good! I should do a traditional guava one for one of my PR food Sunday posts. 🙂
      Merry Christmas, Katie!

  3. December 23, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    Your buche looks so pretty! I didn’t explain in my post why I had so few pralines on my cake – surely the baker deserves a few for herself!

  4. December 23, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    Happy Holidays! Your cake looks great. I always appreciate your information on Puerto Rican traditions.

    • December 23, 2014 at 10:41 pm #

      Happy holidays to you too, Diane!

  5. December 23, 2014 at 10:33 pm #

    Feliz navidad! I really enjoyed reading your story, I could almost feel like I was in that home ec class and saw myself possibly scolding my daughter if she brought home a messy mixer! Too good. Thanks for sharing and bring a smile to my cheeks :0) Beautiful buche de noel too!

    • December 23, 2014 at 10:43 pm #

      Thanks Rachelle! You can imagine my Mom didn’t let me take the mixer back to school again after that one. I hope you have a wonderful holiday too.

  6. Chris
    December 23, 2014 at 10:40 pm #

    Your comment about being stingy with the pecans on the exterior of the cake made me laugh out loud, as I considered doubling the amount of candied pecans because, well, snacking happens as a result of candied pecans just smelling so amazing! (I was able to exercise restraint for this one.) Beautiful cake, and thanks for the info on traditional desserts. They sound amazing, especially arroz con dulce. Happy holidays!

    • December 23, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

      Chris, if any future recipes call for candied nuts, I’m definitely doubling them up.

  7. December 24, 2014 at 2:59 am #

    Your Buche turned out beautifully Adriana! I would not say no to some coconut or dulce de leche deserts though …

    • December 24, 2014 at 6:53 am #

      You’d love it here then! I’m guessing there are plenty of coconuts (and coconut sweets) in Australia?

  8. December 26, 2014 at 12:25 am #

    Your cake looks great! It would definitely be delicious with some guava or coconut cream filling! Maybe a dusting of shredded coconut on the icing. Yummy!

  9. December 26, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

    For some reason, before I decided to make this, I was thinking it had coconut. I’m not a big coconut fan, so kind of procrastinated. When I needed a Christmas dessert and read through the recipe, I was relieved. I loved the frosting the best! Happy Holidays.

  10. December 27, 2014 at 4:01 am #

    Yes that praline was pretty tasty on its own – dangerously so! Your bûche looks wonderful Adriana – look at you rocking the baking!

  11. December 27, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

    LOL on the pecans. We almost ate all of them before I needed them. How awful if I had had to make more 🙂
    Your cake is lovely. It was fun, wasn’t it.

  12. December 28, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

    looks like a beautifully fluffy cake– you clearly know how to do this! 🙂

  13. December 29, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

    Beautiful cake! I agree, it was hard not to eat all the praline pecans before the cake was finished!

  14. December 29, 2014 at 9:24 pm #

    Beautifully done, Adriana! I had to laugh at your story of your mom’s mixer.
    I think I would love any of those coconut desserts you wrote about…I have a weakness for coconut! Looking forward to making your recipe for tembleque! It sounds divine! Happy New Year my sweet friend! Hugs!

  15. December 31, 2014 at 7:16 am #

    I think your version with the guava sounds better 🙂
    I had to double the pralines – I knew that one cup would never make it to the cake.
    Happy New Year!

  16. January 4, 2015 at 10:55 pm #

    Yours turned out perfectly! I’m looking forward to trying your tembleque some time. It looks really good.

    We had some leftover praline, which I put into a little bowl and set out with the holiday chocolates and candies. My mother liked it so much on its own, she didn’t want me to put many on the cake.

    • January 5, 2015 at 6:42 am #

      I had a hunch the tembleque would be a great fit for you guys, being vegan and gluten free 😉

  17. January 5, 2015 at 9:07 pm #

    Ooh, an avocado green mixer! So deliciously retro now! And your buche looks fab!

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