Pastry fiends know that with the arrival of Christmas so comes the arrival of Buche de Noel season, where all the French-inspired bakeries create luscious whipped cakes filled with flavored creams. While the first iterations of this holiday treat were assembled to mimic the Yule Log, a tree branch traditionally burned for good luck, today's interpretations often take a more whimsical design approach, artfully topping the cakes with macaron shells or elegant chocolate pieces. Our city boasts many wonderful bakeries offering festive Buche's this year; here's where to find them.
Francois Payard His name is synonymous with exquisite pastries and confections and sweets lovers flock to his bakeries each year to pick up one of his famous Buche de Noel before they sell out. Payard offers four different flavors this year, including a Chestnut Pear Log, Chocolate Mandarin, Louvre Log (chocolate and hazelnut) and a Caramel Chocolate Log. Depending on how large a cake you want, prices range from $26 (feeds four) to $60 (feeds 10); pre-ordering begins tomorrow by calling any of the locations or ordering online. The cakes will be available for pick up or delivery on December 23rd or 24th. Francois Payard has five locations; check payard.com for more information
Bien Cuit The West Village location of this bakery has been closed due to flooding, but their Cobble Hill location is open for business offering two flavors of fluffy Buche. The Chocolate Buche de Noel boasts dark chocolate mousse, pain au chocolate creameux and hazelnut praline while the Grapefruit Agave Buche de Noel comes with nougat mousse, grapefruit cremeux, prickly pear mezcal gelee with citrus sponge. Both pastries run $32 and can be procured at the bakery starting Saturday or you can reserve a cake in advance by calling now. Bien Cuit is located at 120 Smith Street, Cobble Hill. (718) 852-0200; biencuit.com
Balthazar Keith McNally's stalwart Spring Street restaurant and bakery gets into the buche game with a yule cake made with mocha genoise rolled in white chocolate mousse and enveloped in dark chocolate bark. It's a lovely traditional recipe and best of all does not require pre-ordering; stop by the bakery anytime and pick up a cake for $65. Balthazar is located at 80 Spring Street, (212) 965-1414; balthazarbakery.com
Maison Kayser Eric Kayser's rapidly expanding bakery empire offers delectable treats all year long, especially around special occasions, where they pull out all the stops to create beautiful and delicious cream-filled treats. The bakery's four locations are offering four different Buche's this year: Bouche Kayser (chocolate biscuit, vanilla creme brulee and dark chocolate mousse), Bouche Maron (almond biscuit with flavors of pear, chestnut and dark chocolate), Bouche Cafe (coffee and chocolate flavors) and Bouche Tropic (coconut base with mango mousse, cassis creme and mango-coconut glaze). The bakery recommends pre-ordering to guarantee the flavor you want, though some cakes will be available for walk ins. A cake for four goes for $25, a cake for six for $39 and a cake for eight for $52. Maison Kayser has four locations: Upper East Side (1294 Third Avenue); Flatiron (921 Broadway); Columbus Circle (1800 Broadway); and Bryant Park (8 West 40th Street); maison-kayser-usa.com
Bouchon Bakery The bakery spinoff to Thomas Keller's bistro of the same name, Bouchon Bakery comes under the watchful eye of Executive Pastry Chef Sebastien Rouxel, who also oversees the pastry departments of Keller's other ventures including a little place you may have heard of called Per Se. The bakery has created three Buche de Noel this season: Chocolate Caramel with salted caramel jam; Coffee Hazelnut with praline cream; and Lemon Raspberry Meringue topped with fluffy, toasted meringue. A six inch cake goes for $35 and an 8 inch for $45. All orders must be placed to the bakery by tomorrow, December 20th, by 5 p.m. for pickup on the 23rd or the 24th. Orders can be placed via phone (212-823-9357), email (email@example.com) or in person. Bouchon Bakery has two locations: Time Warner Center (10 Columbus Circle, third floor) and Rockefeller Center (One Rockefeller Plaza); bouchonbakery
Epicerie Boulud You'll find many, many confections at Daniel Boulud's temple to pastry, including more cakes, tarts and macarons than you can shake a fist at. The market offers four Buche de Noel including a traditional cake with chestnuts, pears and almonds; a version with chocolate and hazelnut; one with raspberry and pistachio; and finally a caramel and mocha version. Each cake ($42) serves six to eight people, depending on the size of your sweet tooth; cakes can be ordered online for delivery or you can walk in and take a gamble.