In France, on any Christmas table, you will be offered a Bûche de Noël as dessert. This cake which is prepared and garnoshed to look like a log is meant to evoke the Yule log that once burned in European hearths during the ancient fire-festival of the winter solstice.
Made of layered or rolled genoise sponge cake filled with mousse or buttercream, the Bûche de Noël is often decorated with marzipan or meringue mushrooms, forest creatures, or holly leaves.
In his new book A Year in Chocolate, Jacques Torres claims that the "bûche de Noël, a classic dessert of the French Christmas season, is quickly becoming an American tradition."
Torres describes the log as "something festive, something you do only for the holiday." In France, the lines stretch long from the bakery doors on Christmas Eve, as families queue up to retrieve the bûche they ordered for the occasion.
If you live in the New York area, and are looking to buy a bûche de Noël, Torres says he trusts Payard, Almondine, Financier, and Baked as respectable purveyors. Payard is offering for non-chocolate palate a Cassis Chesnut or a Cheesecake Berry Buche.
Recipe on Epicurious