This Vegan and Gluten-free Yule Log recipe is a paleo version of the classic Bûche de Noël or Christmas Yule log cake. It’s made with a soft chocolate sponge cake rolled up with a decadent vegan chocolate filling and slathered with a rich, bittersweet chocolate topping.
As the creator of an online dairy-free and gluten-free baking school, I know how difficult it is to find gluten-free baked goods that taste just as delicious as conventionally made treats. And it’s particularly disheartening during the holidays when we want to partake in our favorite nostalgic treats with friends and family without compromising our dietary needs. My vegan and paleo Yule Log promises a light and spongy cake with chocolaty goodness in every layer that ALL eaters can enjoy!
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A traditional French Christmas cake, the Bûche de Noël or Yule log, comes from the ancient Celtic tradition of burning logs during the Yule season to celebrate the winter solstice, which was thought to bring good luck and ensure a prosperous new year. The cake symbolizes this tradition and resembles a Yule log or a cut-off tree branch.
Although traditionally made with a genoise, they’re more commonly made with a sponge cake filled with buttercream frosting or a cream filling, rolled into a log shape and covered with chocolate to look like a tree log, and decorated with festive toppings. My vegan gluten-free yule log is inspired by this classic holiday treat in an allergy-friendly version without grains, gluten, dairy, or eggs. With my recipe, you can enjoy everything you crave about this traditional Christmas dessert while honoring your dietary requirements.
Gluten-Free Yule Log Recipe
I made this Yule log cake extra decadent for the holidays — a triple chocolate roulade or jelly roll cake. The first layer is the chocolate sponge cake made with cassava and coconut flour. This nut, grain, and gluten-free flour blend makes a stretchy and absorbent dough, which makes the cake pliable and moist but not overly dense. Grain-free baking powder leavens the cake and helps create its light, fluffy texture. Raw cacao powder gives this layer its chocolate flavor, sweetened with coconut sugar, an unrefined natural sugar, and balanced with sea salt.
The dairy-free coconut yogurt provides the cake’s main moisture, with avocado oil and maple syrup, an unrefined liquid sweetener. Vanilla extract enhances the overall flavor and provides some warmth and depth. The resulting spongy cake is soft and tender with a moist crumb.
The creamy, rich chocolate frosting is the second chocolate layer, made with raw cacao, a slightly tangy dairy-free cream cheese, sweetened with maple syrup, and balanced with vanilla and sea salt. This silky chocolate filling is frosted over the entire baked cake, and then rolled into a log. The third and final chocolate layer consists of melted bittersweet vegan dark chocolate that coats the Yule log and sets to a glossy finish.
Decorate this impressive winter dessert however you’d like and serve it at your next holiday gathering — it’s a guaranteed crowdpleaser!
Chocolate Sponge Cake
- cassava flour
- coconut flour
- raw cacao powder
- grain-free baking powder – I used the Otto’s Naturals brand of grain-free baking powder.
- sea salt
- coconut sugar
- avocado oil
- maple syrup
- coconut yogurt – or any other dairy-free yogurt.
- vanilla extract
- dairy-free cream cheese – I like the Kite Hill brand which has a slight tang reminiscent of regular cream cheese.
- raw cacao powder
- maple syrup
- vanilla extract
- sea salt
- dairy-free mini chocolate chips – I used the Pascha brand bitter-sweet mini dark chocolate chips to achieve the rich, bittersweet chocolate flavor. Note that this product uses organic cane sugar if you are avoiding refined sugars. Most dairy-free chocolate chips I’ve seen available are vegan, but you should check the ingredients to be sure.
- Avocado oil: you can use olive oil instead.
- Coconut yogurt: you can use another type of dairy-free yogurt like a cashew or oat based yogurt. However, I think an almond milk yogurt might be a bit too thin or watery.
- Dairy-free cream cheese: you can use palm shortening for a sweeter filling or to make this recipe completely nut-free.
- Dairy-free chocolate chips: you can use any type of dairy-free or vegan chocolate chips that you’d like. I opted to use a bitter-sweet dark chocolate flavor.
- I don’t recommend any other substitutions.
How to Make a Gluten-Free Yule Log
Step 1: Prep the Oven
Preheat the oven to 350F and line a 10×15 baking sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper.
Step 2: Make the Yule Log Dough
First, combine the cassava flour, coconut flour, cacao powder, baking powder, sea salt, and coconut sugar in a large bowl. Then, make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
Next, in a separate bowl, whisk together the avocado oil, maple syrup, coconut yogurt, and vanilla extract.
Pour the wet ingredient mixture into the center of the dry ingredients. Stir to combine into a soft dough.
Step 3: Shape the Dough
You’ll see that the chocolate sponge cake is a soft and moist dough rather than a pourable, liquid cake batter. Use a spoon or a large scoop to scoop the dough out onto the center of the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Smooth and spread out the dough with your fingers into an even layer. Then cover with a sheet of parchment paper and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a rectangle between 1/4 and 1/2 inch in thickness and approximately 9 x 12 inches. You may need to remove it from the baking tray to roll it out properly between the two sheets of parchment paper. Then return the bottom sheet with the shaped dough to the baking sheet.
Step 4: Bake the Cake
Bake the chocolate sponge cake in the middle rack of the oven for 14 minutes.
Step 5: Cool
Once baked, remove the cake from the oven and let it cool uncovered for 2-3 minutes. Then, cover the cake with parchment paper and allow it to cool fully for at least 30 minutes.
Step 6: Make the Chocolate Filling
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or in a food processor, combine dairy-free cream cheese with cacao powder, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and sea salt. Whisk or pulse until fully combined. You can also make this chocolate frosting in a bowl with a handheld electric mixer or by hand by whisking the ingredients together if they are soft enough. The dairy-free chocolate cream cheese frosting should be thick and silky smooth.
Step 7: Make the Chocolate Topping
In a large bowl, melt the dairy-free chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 second increments for 2 minutes. Stir between each interval until the chips are fully melted and smooth. Place in the fridge for 2-3 minutes to thicken slightly.
Step 8: Spread the Filling
Once the cake is cooled, remove the top sheet of parchment paper and place the cake and the bottom sheet of parchment paper on a counter or table. Use a large spoon or ice cream scoop to scoop dollops of the filling onto the cake. Then, use an offset spatula to spread the filling evenly and smoothly over the cake, almost to the edges.
Step 9: Roll the Cake
Next, roll the yule log. Turn the cake so one of the short ends is nearest to you. Using the parchment paper and both hands, gently and carefully lift that short edge and tuck the cake over to start the roll. Gently peel the parchment paper off the cake and continue rolling the cake gently but firmly over itself to create a log shape.
Step 10: Drizzle with Melted Chocolate
Pour the melted chocolate over the rolled cake, spreading it to coat the entire log.
Step 11: Make the Chopped Log
Cut the log on a slight diagonal so that one piece is about 1/4 of the cake’s length, and the other piece is about 3/4. Place the main Yule log seam-side down on a serving platter. Then, place the diagonal side of the cut piece onto the side of the main Yule log, to look like a chopped off branch.
Optional, create a bark-like texture by running a fork along the top of the log. Allow the chocolate to cool and set slightly before decorating with your chosen toppings.
Step 12: Decorate the Yule Log
You can get as creative as you’d like here. I added sugared raspberries and sprigs of fresh rosemary. Some sifted powdered sugar or arrowroot starch (for refined sugar-free) over the log creates a beautiful snowy effect.
Step 13: Serve and Enjoy
Slice into rounds and serve!
Yule Log Tips
- Use room temperature wet ingredients for optimal results. Let the dairy-free yogurt, dairy-free cream cheese or palm shortening and maple syrup come to room temperature rather than using them cold from the fridge. Room temperature ingredients ensure smoother mixing and an evenly incorporated dough and a smooth filling, rather than curdled. If needed, slightly warm cold liquid ingredients first to remove the chill.
- Mix the batter ingredients until just combined to ensure a light and fluffy cake texture. Overworking the batter can result in a denser, tough or rubbery texture.
- Avoid overbaking to prevent the sponge cake from drying out.
- If taking this Yule log to a holiday gathering, transport it in a deep, sturdy tray covered with plastic wrap or in a cake carrier. Refrigerating the cake beforehand will help it keep its shape.
How To Prevent Cracks in the Yule Log
I used the same technique to roll the yule log cake that I use in my gluten-free dairy-free pumpkin roll recipe. Since the sponge cake is so soft and moist it shouldn’t crack. Follow these tips to roll the cake without it cracking:
- The cake should be soft and pliable to the touch when you remove it from the oven. Let the cake cool uncovered for a few minutes first, then cover it with a sheet of parchment paper while it cools fully. It won’t make your cake soggy! Covering the cake will trap moisture and prevent it from drying out while it cools. This trapped moisture retains the cake’s softness and elasticity, so it’s less likely to crack when rolled. Although many other recipes recommend you roll the cake warm, unroll it to frost, and then re-roll the yule log, that method will not work here.
- Use the parchment paper as a guide to help you with that first tuck/roll. Lift the parchment paper using both hands and gently yet firmly tuck the cake over. You want to make that first roll tight without pressing too hard but not too loose so there’s a gaping hole.
- Keep using both hands to gently and carefully roll the cake away from you, bit by bit.
And remember, if your roll cracks, don’t worry about it, I promise the cake will taste just as delicious. You can cover cracks with the chocolate frosting as you roll it and any external cracks will be covered by the melted chocolate topping.
How To Decorate a Yule Log
Customize your Yule log with various toppings for a festive touch. I opted for a classic winter wonderland with traditional Christmas colors by creating ‘snow’ from dusted powdered sugar (or arrowroot starch) with vibrant pops of red and green from fresh raspberries and rosemary garnishes.
You can leave the log undecorated, keep it simple, or be as creative as you’d like with the aesthetics. Here are some ideas for decorating your Yule log:
- Dust powdered coconut or maple sugar over the log to create a glittery, golden snow effect.
- Dust ground freeze-dried raspberries or other berries over the log for a colored, sparkly look.
- Garnish with fruit, fresh or sweetened with powdered sugar or maple syrup.
- Cranberries and other berries, pomegranates, fresh or candied citrus slices are all great options.
- Create designs with piped AIP frosting.
- See my AIP Christmas cookies post for tips on making natural food dyes .
- Sprinkle the cake with dairy-free chocolate shavings, cacao nibs, or chopped nuts if you can tolerate them.
- Garnish with seasonal, edible flowers or fresh herbs – like I did with the sprigs of rosemary or try with some fresh mint.
- Use the leaves/needles from evergreen trees and other seasonal greenery, pinecones and even cremini mushrooms to decorate the serving platter around the log cake.
Your options are endless for creating a showstopping centerpiece for your holiday dessert table that not only looks beautiful but tastes delicious.
Frequently Asked Questions
Refer to the Ingredient Substitutions section.
In this gluten-free yule log recipe, the grain-, nut-, and gluten-free flours used are cassava flour and coconut flour. The cassava flour provides the dough with elasticity while the coconut flour creates some structure and absorbs excess moisture so the cake is not overly chewy or dense. I don’t recommend making any substitutions to this customized flour mix.
This flour blend is crafted to create the desired tastes and textures and is not interchangeable with all-purpose gluten-free flour blends. Moreover, this recipe is free of yeast, xantham gum, and other additives often included in those blends that may affect the end product.
Want to learn more about baking with grain-free flours and making your own blends? I teach you how in The Basics.
This recipe uses cacao products (the raw powder and dairy-free chocolate) which are initially avoided during the elimination phase of the autoimmune protocol (AIP diet). I don’t recommend substituting them with carob products at such a high amount.
If you’re looking for AIP holiday desserts, try my apple spice cake, gingerbread squares, paleo fruitcake, pumpkin roll or these peppermint patty cupcakes.
No. I don’t recommend making the dough and refrigerating or freezing it to bake later. It should be made just before baking to ensure optimal rise and texture.
Prepare in Advance: You can make the Yule log ahead of time with several storage options.
Cover the fully decorated or undecorated Yule log loosely with plastic wrap or store in a cake carrier and refrigerate. Add decorations if using them before serving.
Alternatively, you can store each component separately in the fridge. Allow the sponge cake and frosting to come to room temperature before rolling, then assemble completely before serving.
Or, refrigerate the filled and rolled yule log, wrapped in plastic wrap. Add melted chocolate and decorations before serving.
Fridge: Store leftovers of this vegan and gluten-free yule log in an airtight container or plastic wrap in the fridge for up to 1 week. Allow to come to room temperature before serving. Alternatively, microwave sliced pieces of the log for 15-20 seconds before serving.
Freezer: Wrap the undecorated yule log in plastic wrap then place in a freezer-safe resealable bag and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw in the fridge overnight before decorating and allow to come to room temperature before serving.
I hope you love this Vegan Gluten-Free Yule Log. If you do, I would appreciate it if you would give the recipe a rating and review. Be sure to snap a picture of the finished product and share it with me on Instagram by tagging @healmedelicious and using the hashtag #healmedelicious.Print