Yule-Log Layer Cake

Photo: Marcus Nilsson
Prep Time:
1 hr 20 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 30 mins

Not unlike the rings of a tree, this delicious holiday yule log has layers! Puréed roasted chestnuts and a touch of buttery rum go into flavoring the delicate sponge cake layers and some of the rich chocolate frosting. The finished cake is then given the feel of a magical forest thanks to fun and whimsical mushrooms and acorns made from marzipan.



  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons coarse salt

  • 2 cups peeled roasted chestnuts (from two 5.3-ounce packages)

  • 2 tablespoons golden rum

  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

  • 5 large eggs, separated, room temperature


  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 5 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • Pinch of coarse salt

  • 2 cups peeled roasted chestnuts (from two 5.3-ounce packages)

  • 3 tablespoons golden rum

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

  • Marzipan acorns and mushrooms, for decorating

  • Raspberries, for placing on a few of the marzipan mushrooms


  1. Cake: Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment; butter parchment. Flour pans and tap out excess. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

  2. In a food processor, puree chestnuts with rum and 2 tablespoons water. Add sugars; process to combine. Add butter and vanilla; process to combine. Add egg yolks; process to combine. Transfer chestnut mixture to a large bowl; whisk in flour mixture. Whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold into batter.

  3. Divide batter among pans; smooth tops. Bake until a tester inserted in centers comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in pans on a wire rack, 10 minutes, then remove from pans and let cool completely.

  4. Frosting: With a mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla and salt. Divide mixture into 2 bowls.

  5. Puree chestnuts and rum in food processor until almost smooth, then stir into half of frosting. (If frosting looks slightly broken, chill, then whisk to combine.) Stir melted chocolate and cocoa into other half of frosting.

  6. Place one cake layer on a cake turntable or stand. Frost cake as shown, right. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before garnishing as desired and serving.

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