Is Yule Log same as Swiss roll?

No, a Yule log and a Swiss roll are not the same thing. While they are both rolled cakes, they have some key differences in ingredients, texture, and presentation.

A Yule log, also known as a bûche de Noël, is a traditional French Christmas dessert. It resembles a miniature log and is usually made from a genoise sponge cake that is rolled with a rich buttercream frosting in between the layers. The outside is frosted to look like tree bark and often decorated with chocolate, meringue mushrooms, fresh berries, edible flowers, etc. to resemble a forest scene.

A Swiss roll, on the other hand, is made with a thin, light sponge cake that is spread with jam or cream before being tightly rolled up into a log shape. The exterior is then coated in a thin layer of frosting or dusted with powdered sugar or cocoa powder. Unlike a Yule log, it does not aim to mimic the look of an actual log.

Main Differences

– Yule logs are associated with Christmas and Swiss rolls are not holiday-specific

– Yule logs use genoise sponge cake; Swiss rolls use a jelly roll-style sponge

– Yule logs have rich buttercream frosting between layers; Swiss rolls have jam/cream

– Yule logs are decorated on the outside to look like logs; Swiss rolls have minimal exterior decoration

– Yule logs are made to serve multiple people; Swiss rolls can be individual portions


Yule Log Ingredients

Typical ingredients for a Yule log cake include:

– Genoise sponge cake – made with eggs, sugar, flour, butter

– Buttercream frosting – butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, sometimes liquor

– Chocolate ganache or melted chocolate – for “bark”

– Various decorations – meringue mushrooms, fresh berries, edible flowers, etc.

Swiss Roll Ingredients

Common ingredients used in Swiss roll cakes:

– Eggs, sugar, flour – for the jelly roll-style sponge cake

– Jam, buttercream, or lightly sweetened whipped cream – for the filling

– Confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract – for dusting the exterior

So while both cakes use typical cake and filling ingredients like eggs, sugar, flour and cream, a Yule log is distinguished by its genoise sponge and rich buttercream, while the Swiss roll uses a lighter sponge and jam or whipped cream filling.

Preparation and Assembly

Yule Log Preparation

Yule log preparation involves:

– Making a genoise sponge in a sheet pan and cooling

– Gently rolling the cooled cake into a tight log shape

– Making buttercream frosting

– Spreading frosting over the rolled cake log

– Frosting the exterior to resemble tree bark

– Decorating with chocolate shavings, mushrooms, roses, etc.

Swiss Roll Preparation

Swiss roll preparation is:

– Making the jelly roll-style sponge in a sheet pan and cooling

– Spreading jam, cream or buttercream over the surface

– Starting at one short end, carefully rolling up into a tight log

– Trimming the ends and frosting the exterior or dusting with sugar/cocoa

So the main difference is the Yule log uses a genoise-style sponge that’s rolled with rich buttercream inside, while the lighter Swiss roll sponge is rolled around jam or light cream filling.


Due to their differing ingredients and assembly, Yule logs and Swiss rolls have distinctly different textures:

Yule Log Texture

– Genoise sponge cake – Light yet dense and moist crumb

– Buttercream – Smooth, rich, creamy, moist texture

– Decorations like ganache and berries – Add pops of texture

Swiss Roll Texture

– Jelly roll sponge – Extremely soft, moist, tender, lightweight crumb

– Jam or whipped cream – Light, fluffy, smooth, ethereal

– Dusting powders – Fine, powdery texture

So Yule logs have a more dense, rich mouthfeel while Swiss rolls are lighter and airier in the mouth.


Visually, Yule logs and Swiss rolls look quite distinct:

Yule Log Appearance

– Elongated cylindrical log shape, ends trimmed flat

– Bark-like frosting with grooves and contours

– Decorated with mushrooms, flowers, chocolate shavings to mimic a fallen log in the woods

Swiss Roll Appearance

– Evenly shaped log, rolled tightly

– Minimal exterior frosting, just thin coating

– Often just dusted with powdered sugar or cocoa

– May have some simple whipped cream decoration

The Yule log is decorated intricately to resemble its rustic inspiration, while the Swiss roll has a much simpler, refined look.


The flavors of these two cakes also differ:

Yule Log Taste

– Genoise cake – Rich eggy flavor

– Buttercream – Sweet, rich, buttery, vanilla

– Accompaniments like chocolate, fruit – Provide complexity

Swiss Roll Taste

– Sponge cake – Light egg and vanilla flavor

– Jam – Tart fruitiness

– Whipped cream – Fresh, sweet creaminess

– Dusting powders – Subtle cocoa or sugar taste

With its butter-laden frosting and mix of flavors, the Yule log has a more decadent, intense taste. The Swiss roll is lighter, letting the jam or cream shine through.


Yule logs and Swiss rolls are associated with different occasions:

Yule Log Occasions

– Christmas – Traditional dessert for this holiday

– Winter occasions – Appropriate for any cold weather gathering

Swiss Roll Occasions

– Birthdays – Popular celebratory cake

– Tea parties – Frequently served at fancy afternoon teas

– Picnics – Portable for outdoor events

– Weddings – Can serve as unique wedding cake

While the Yule log is reserved for chilly months, Swiss rolls can be enjoyed year-round for any festive celebration.

Portion Size

Yule logs tend to serve more people than Swiss rolls:

Yule Log Portions

– Large cake, up to 12 inches long

– Typically cut into thick slices to serve 8-12 people

Swiss Roll Portions

– Individual small cakes, around 3-5 inches long

– Usually one Swiss roll serves 1-2 people

– Can make mini versions to serve as part of a dessert spread

So Yule logs are ideal for large holiday gatherings, while Swiss rolls work well as single-serving desserts.


Due to their moisture levels, Yule logs and Swiss rolls have slightly different storage requirements:

Storing Yule Logs

– Store well-wrapped in plastic at room temperature up to 3 days

– Can freeze for up to 2-3 months; defrost overnight in fridge

Storing Swiss Rolls

– Tightly cover in plastic and store at room temperature up to 5 days

– Freeze for 1-2 months; defrost for 2-3 hours at room temperature

The buttercream in Yule logs necessitates refrigeration for longer storage. Swiss rolls can be kept at room temp a bit longer.


Yule logs and Swiss rolls have different origins:

Yule Log History

– Originated as actual Yule log burned for winter solstice festivals

– Adapted into dessert form in 19th century France

– Popularity grew as classic French Christmas tradition

Swiss Roll History

– Believed to have originated in Central Europe in the 19th century

– British bakers later created their own version called “rolled sponge cake”

– Became popular worldwide in the early 20th century

While the Yule log has significance as a Christmas tradition, the Swiss roll does not have religious or cultural roots.


There are many ways to vary both of these cake styles:

Yule Log Variations

– Different flavors of cake like chocolate, mocha, or lemon

– Fillings besides buttercream such as ganache or mousse

– Decorating with different edible forest items

– Shaping into fun forms like mushrooms, trees, or animals

Swiss Roll Variations

– Flavor cake with cocoa, citrus zest, or spices

– Fill with cream cheese, lemon curd, chocolate ganache

– Glaze exterior or cover in nuts, coconut, chocolate shavings

– Drizzle with caramel, raspberry, or chocolate sauce

Both cakes are highly adaptable to creativity in flavors, fillings, and decorations.


While Yule logs and Swiss rolls may seem similar as rolled sponge cakes, they have distinct differences when it comes to ingredients, assembly, texture, taste, appearance, and traditions. A Yule log is a decadent French Christmas creation, featuring genoise cake and buttercream. A Swiss roll is a delicate sponge layered with jam or cream. But both can inspire delightful variations for any occasion. The next time you see a rolled cake, look for telltale signs to decipher whether it’s a Yule log or a Swiss roll delight.

Nutrition Facts Comparison

Cake Serving Size Calories Fat (g) Carbs (g) Protein (g)
Yule log (with buttercream) 1 slice (80g) 260 16 28 3
Swiss roll (with jam) 1 roll (55g) 150 2 30 4

Leave a Comment