This Gluten-Free Vegan Yule Log is moist and fluffy, rich and indulgent, and coated in a velvety chocolate buttercream made with sweet, creamy chestnuts! It looks impressive, is perfect for sharing and is refined sugar free too. The best festive dessert for Christmas!
A Yule Log is a traditional Christmas dessert eaten in several different countries including the UK, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada and Lebanon. It is also sometimes known by its French name, bûche de Noël.
A Yule Log is a sponge cake that's rolled and filled and covered with buttercream. It is decorated to resemble an actual Yule log by using a fork to create a jagged pattern on the surface of the buttercream. Chocolate is the most common flavour, but it can come in other flavours too.
Making a gluten-free, vegan and refined sugar free roll cake that would actually roll was impossible! After several failed attempts, I decided it would be easier to make one by stacking three rectangular sponges on top of one another to make a log shape instead of using a roll cake as the base.
This recipe uses chestnuts, which you can buy peeled and ready-cooked in packets in most supermarkets - you'll find them in the dry foods section.
You can also buy peeled frozen chestnuts in most supermarkets - you'll find them with the frozen vegetables. These frozen ones are usually uncooked so you'll have to boil them first (usually takes around 15 minutes) before using them in this recipe.
How to make the cake
Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full recipe.
- Mix together all the ingredients for the sponge in a glass mixing bowl.
Tip: Use a measuring jug to measure out the milk.
- Transfer into a square baking tin.
Tip: Line the tin with greased baking paper to make it easier to remove the sponge after.
- Bake in oven for around 20 minutes until slightly risen and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
- Leave to cool completely before cutting and applying the frosting.
How to make the frosting
- To make the buttercream frosting, place all the ingredients into a food processor.
- Whizz until completely smooth - you may have to mix it around a few times.
- Taste and adjust sweetness if necessary.
How to assemble
- Once the cake has cooled completely, cut it into thirds - you should end up with three evenly-sized rectangles.
- Place one of these pieces onto a plate or cake stand.
- Divide the buttercream into four.
- Use a palette knife for frosting (or a normal knife) to spread one quarter of the buttercream on top of the piece of cake.
- Place another piece of cake on top and spread another quarter of the buttercream on top.
- Place the final piece of cake on top and spread the rest of the buttercream over the top and sides of the cake.
How to decorate
- Run a fork over the surface of the buttercream to create a jagged pattern.
- Use a chopstick or skewer to carve a ring pattern on both ends of the cake to create a tree trunk-like pattern.
- Decorate as desired - I used cranberries and rosemary sprigs and inserted flaked almonds at angles.
How long does this Yule Log keep for?
This Yule Log does taste best when fresh, but keeps covered in the fridge for up to a few days.
Substitutions you can make
- You can use any type of oil: coconut oil, olive oil or vegetable oil.
- You can use any type of plant-based milk: almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, cashew milk, oat milk etc.
- You can use any type of liquid sweetener: maple syrup, agave syrup, brown rice syrup etc.
- You can replace the vinegar with lemon juice.
- You can replace the ground almonds (almond meal/almond flour) with ground walnuts.
- You can replace the chestnuts with more cashew nuts.
- For a nut-free version: replace the ground almonds (almond meal/almond flour) with ground sunflower seeds.
- You can use plain flour, wholemeal (whole wheat) flour or spelt flour instead of the gluten-free flour if you're not gluten-free.
- To make this extra indulgent, you can add a splash of brandy (or any other alcohol of choice) to the buttercream! You can use the site barnivore.com to check whether your alcohol is vegan-friendly.
- If you can't get hold of chestnuts, they can be replaced with more cashew nuts.
More vegan Christmas recipes
- Strawberry Trifle
- Gingerbread Cake
- Christmas Pudding
- Sugar Cookies
- Gingerbread Cookies
- Christmas Burger
- Gingerbread Loaf Cake
- Peppermint Brownies
- Gingerbread Cookie Bars
If you try out this recipe or anything else from my blog, I’d really love to hear any feedback! Please give it a rating, leave a comment, or tag a photo @rhiansrecipes #rhiansrecipes on Instagram! Thank you.
Watch how to make this recipe
Gluten-Free Vegan Yule Log
For the cake:
- 60 g (¼ cup) coconut oil (or sub olive or vegetable oil)
- 250 ml (1 cup) unsweetened almond milk (or any plant-based milk)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (ensure gluten-free if necessary)
- 12 tablespoons maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
- 150 g (1 ¼ cup) ground almonds (almond meal) *
- 150 g (1 ¼ cup) gluten-free flour blend (or sub plain flour if not gluten-free)
- 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder (ensure gluten-free if necessary)
- ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 50 g (½ cup) cocoa powder
For the buttercream frosting:
- 100 g (⅔ cup) raw cashew nuts soaked in cold water overnight or in hot water for 15 minutes
- 150 g (1 cup) cooked peeled chestnuts
- 6 tablespoons maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) unsweetened almond milk (or sub any other plant-based milk or water)
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To decorate (optional):
- Rosemary sprigs
- Flaked almonds
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Place the coconut oil in a large bowl and melt over a saucepan of boiling water or in the microwave (skip this step if using any other oil)
- Once melted, add the milk to the same bowl along with the vinegar, maple syrup, vanilla, salt and ground almonds
- Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder
- Mix well, adding a tiny splash more milk if it’s looking too dry
- Transfer mixture into a square baking tin lined with baking paper (I used a 23cm/9inch square baking tin)
- Bake in oven for around 20 minutes until risen slightly and an inserted skewer comes out clean
- Once out the oven, leave them to cool completely before cutting and applying the frosting
For the buttercream:
- Drain the cashew nuts and add to a food processor or blender with all the other ingredients
- Whizz until completely smooth - you might need to mix it around a few times
- Taste and adjust ingredients as necessary – add more maple syrup for sweetness, more cocoa powder for chocolate flavour etc
To assemble and decorate:
- Once the cake has cooled completely, cut it into thirds - you should end up with three evenly-sized rectangles
- Place one of these pieces onto a plate or cake stand
- Divide the buttercream into four
- Use a palette knife (or a normal knife) to spread one quarter of the buttercream on top of the piece of cake
- Place another piece of cake on top and spread another quarter of the buttercream on top
- Place the final piece of cake on top and spread the rest of the buttercream over the top and sides of the cake
- Run a fork over the surface of the buttercream to create a jagged pattern
- Use a chopstick or skewer to carve a ring pattern on both ends of the cake to create a tree trunk-like pattern
- Decorate as desired - I used cranberries and rosemary sprigs and inserted flaked almonds at angles
- Tastes best when fresh but keeps covered in the fridge for up to a few days
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