Log On for Bûche

Appears in the December 2022 issue.

By Peter Gianopulos

Bûche de Noël

A batch of holiday sugar cookies? You can handle those. Ditto for a pan full of gingerbread people or Christmas-tree shaped brownies. But making an authentic bûche de Noël, France’s iconic yule log-shaped Christmas treat, is far from child’s play, even for pros like Meghan Fiene, who runs Fiene’s Bakery in Naperville. Fiene’s grandmother used to make a downright legendary bûche de Noël, so luscious and light that no one in her entire extended family could replicate it. Now, after graduating from pastry school at the College of DuPage and practicing every December, Meghan has cracked the code. The secret, she says, is to use real vanilla to offset all those rich chocolate notes and to carefully roll the cake while it’s still slightly warm.

“You want to fold it the way you would a Swiss cake roll,” she says. From there, it’s all about artistry. A little sugar to mimic falling snow or piping on ivy for extra color. Fiene says most of her holiday offerings—like cranberry orange crumb bars and Italian-style butter cookies—were inspired by family recipes, but her bûche de Noël is special, as it proves that what all of us know already: When it comes to Christmas baking, grandmother knows best.


Photo courtesy of Fiene’s Bakery