Bûche de Noël {gluten-free, low-carb, all natural}

Bûche de Noël {gluten-free, low-carb, all natural}

Bûche de Noël – A French Christmas Tradition

At sparklesandsprinkles.blog, we love French, and we don’t want to let being gluten-free and avoiding refined sugar stop us from enjoying French treats, especially at Christmas! This decadent cake is all natural and fruit-sweetened. 

We love making this cake each year at Christmas time, and we often put a candle in the cake and sing Happy Birthday to baby Jesus on Christmas day.

If you have made other recipes from sparklesandsprinkles.blog, you’ll notice that this one is not in our typically kid-friendly step-by-step photo format.  This is really a cake that is best suited for adults or teens to make (but we have some tips on how children can help). 

If you have young children who need a lot of attention, it’s probably best to have someone to watch them while you make this cake… and set aside a good few hours to make it. (We’ve learned this from experience!)

The good news is, this cake can be made ahead and frozen, so if your Advent and Christmas season is busy, making it early is a great idea. We also love it that the Christmas season lasts for so many days… if we are busy before Christmas, we make this cake after the 25th of December, and enjoy it on one of the 12 days of Christmas.

There are a few steps that little ones might like to join in on… mixing the dry ingredients of the cake, mashing the banana, and the final step – using a fork to make the frosting on the cake look like rough tree bark.

Please note that there are 3 different sections of ingredients and instructions for this recipe (the cake, the filling, and the frosting), please look at all of them in advance as you gather ingredients and plan for time to make the cake. Enjoy!



  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 Tbsp psyllium husk powder
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 6 eggs – separated
  • 3  whole eggs
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup mashed banana (if you mash 2 large bananas, some can be used for the cake and some for the filling)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a rimmed baking pan (about 12″x17″ – we like this half sheet Nordic Ware pan) with parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together coconut flour, psyllium husk powder, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Use a spoon to break apart any chunks of coconut flour, so the mixture is smooth. (Alternatively, put the mixture through a sieve – we have not done this, but it could be helpful.) Set aside.
  4. Take out the bowl for your electric mixer, plus another bowl. Separate 6 eggs, pouring the whites of the eggs into the electric mixer bowl and the yolks of the eggs into the other bowl. Crack 3 more eggs, pouring both the yolk and the white of these 3 eggs into the bowl that contains the 6 yolks. (See photo below for help.) 
  5. Using an electric mixer, beat the 6 egg whites until still peaks form. Transfer the stiff egg whites to another large bowl (as you will need your electric mixer bowl for the next step).
  6. Pour the bowl of 6 egg yolks and 3 whole eggs, the cream, and the mashed banana into your electric mixer bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat together the egg yolks and whole eggs, cream, and banana.
  7. Add the coconut flour mixture and beat well.
  8. Add in 1/3 of the stiff egg whites to lighten the batter.  Beat again with your electric mixer.
  9. Fold in the remaining egg whites gently by hand, using a silicone spatula.
  10. Spread the batter on the parchment-lined pan, forming a very thin rectangle-shaped cake.
  11. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes. Be sure not to overbake the cake, or it will crack when rolled.
  12. While the cake is baking, it’s a great time to wash your electric mixer bowl and beater, as you will need this to be clean to make the filling.
  13. Once the cake is baked, remove it from the oven.
  14. (Note: For steps 14 to 17, watch our video on how to roll the cake.) While the cake is still warm, cover the cake with another sheet of parchment paper, and place a damp tea towel (run the towel under water, then wring out the towel so that it is damp, but not dripping wet) on top.
  15. Place another baking sheet over the damp tea towel.  Hold the two baking sheets together on the sides, using pot-holders, and flip the cake upside down.
  16. Remove the baking sheet that is now on top, and slowly peel away the parchment paper.  Place that same parchment paper back on the cake. Cover with another damp tea towel.
  17. Roll up the cake (along with the tea towels and parchment paper) to form a log. Roll the cake starting from a short side, which will make a thick/wide log, rather than a skinny/narrow log.  Allow the rolled- up cake to cool. (You will be unrolling the cake, filling it, and rolling it up again in a later step.)



  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 to 2 tsp. instant coffee
  • 4 to 8 oz. mascarpone
  • 2 T maple syrup (or mashed banana to taste)


  1.  Combine instant coffee granules (more for a stronger flavor, less for a subtle flavor) and heavy cream.  Whip the cream with an electric mixer until it is the consistency of whipped cream (but not so long that it turns to butter). Transfer to another bowl if you only have one bowl for your mixer.
  2. Place 4 to 8 oz. mascarpone in your electric mixer bowl. Beat until fluffy. Note: We have found that sometimes mascarpone becomes fluffy when whipped, and sometimes it becomes runny. If it becomes nice and fluffy, you could use a full 8 oz. container of mascarpone in this filling.
  3. Add the fluffy mascarpone into your whipped cream little by little, stirring to combine (if your mascarpone became runny when whipped, be sure not to add too much, as the filling should not be runny).
  4. Add maple syrup (or some mashed banana) into the mixture. Stir gently. Taste the mixture and add more sweetness if desired.
  5. Gently unroll the cooled cake. Remove the top parchment paper and towel.  Spread the cake with filling.
  6. Carefully roll the cake again (without the parchment paper and towels).  Place on a large oblong serving tray.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or more. (In a pinch, you can skip the refrigeration time, and go directly to frosting the cake. Alternatively, you could stop at this step one day, and finish making the cake another day. Whatever works best for you… Christmas is meant to be a time of joy and rest!)


  • 3.5 oz 85% dark chocolate bar
  • 2 tsp. freshly zested orange rind.
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 oz full-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 3 to 6 drops orange essential oil


  1.  Melt the chocolate in the microwave (check after 1 minute, and add more time as needed).
  2. Use a zester to zest about 2 tsp. orange rind.  Add to melted chocolate.  Stir and allow to chocolate to cool.
  3. Whip the cream until whipped cream consistency.  Add the softened cream cheese and essential oil (more for a stronger flavor, less for a subtle flavor).  Whip again.
  4. Add the melted chocolate mixture to the cream mixture.  Whip again until well combined. 
  5. Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Frost with frosting.
  6. First spread the frosting on smoothly, then use a fork to add lines, making it look like rough tree bark.  This is a great step to have children help with… and of course someone needs to finish off any frosting left in the bowl or on the beaters!
  7. Many embellishments can be added to a

    Bûche de Noël – so use your own creativity to make it your own… or a google image search for inspiration. It can be fun to cut of a portion of the log and place it on the side of the main log to look like a branch.

  8. Enjoy your cake!  The cake can be served immediately, refrigerated and served up to a few days later, or frozen and served weeks later. We find the flavor becomes richer waiting a day or so to eat the cake… but it’s delicious right away as well.

We want to thank lowcarbyum.com for helping us to have a good starting point for our gluten-free and low carb recipe. We have made tweaks to the recipe from lowcarbyum to make it work better for our family (including making it fruit-sweetened), but we would not have known where to start without the lowcarbyum recipe. Merci!

Note:  Some links on this page are Amazon Affiliate links.  Sparkles and Sprinkles is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Other links may or may not be affiliate links.  We provide links because we have found these products or services beneficial, and we think you might too.

Make your own Santons de Provence

Make your own Santons de Provence

Come learn about Santons de Provence, a beautiful French Christmas tradition. Then make your own French-inspired nativity scene with a little clay, paint, and creativity!

The idea of a nativity scene began with Saint Francis in Italy in the 1200s.  He brought together real people and animals to create a living nativity. Churches over the years have displayed large nativity scenes.

When there was a revolution in France in the 1700s, it was sometimes not possible for people to go to church. The French people started making small nativity scenes for their homes.

In the 1800s, Santons de Provence began to become famous in the south of France.  Santons (meaning “little saints”) are commonly made of clay and painted by hand.

Santons de provence villagers

Santons de Provence nativity scenes include not only the Holy Family, but also many other people (such as a baker, a teacher, a doctor, a mom and her child, and countless other people).

Santons de Provence remind us that we are all called to come adore the Christ Child in the manger.

Santons de Provence

Santons de Provence remind us that we are all called to come adore the Christ Child in the manger.

Our family’s Santons de Provence collection began with baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and a donkey, and over the years it has grown. Each year we add a new figure or two. Sometimes the added figure relates to our life that year, for example a mother and a child when a new baby was born in our family, and an apothecary during the COVID pandemic. Our scene also includes Saint Francis, as he is a dear saint to our family and to remember that he began the idea of nativity scenes.

Having a Santons de Provence collection is a beautiful Christmas tradition. Our family looks forward to setting out the scene each Advent, and the first thing we do on Christmas morning is to come to see that baby Jesus has been placed in the stable. 

If you are interested in starting your own collection, and planning a trip to France is not a possibility, there are a number of online stores that sell Santons de Provence. We have ordered Santons from Santons de France USA for many years.

If you would like to create your own Santons de Provence-inspired nativity scene, keep reading to learn about a few ways to create your own nativity scene.

Ready to create your own Santons?

Santons de Provence are typically made from clay, so for authentic but simple material for making your own santons, we recommend terra cotta color air dry clay. Once it dries, the clay can be painted with acrylic paint. You may want to use clay tools for more detailed work.

diy santons de provence

Despite air dry clay being a more authentic material, we have found that using Model Magic makes for a project that avoids mess and also creates sturdy figures (ready for little hands to play with!). Here is a link for a class pack of Model Magic (in our family, we love having this on hand for many fun projects), but small packages are also available.

Toothpicks may be helpful to support the clay as it dries and to add details or texture.

Model Magic can be painted after it dries with watercolor paint. Any watercolor paint will work, but higher quality water color may work best. If the figures are small, fine-tipped paint brushes will be helpful for details.

diy santons de provence

Part of the fun of making your own Santons de Provence inspired nativity is that figures can be created that are special to you and your life. For example, our 11-year old loves bunnies, baking, and playing the guitar, so she created some new santons to add to her collection this year inspired by these loves. Making a patron saint figure would also be lovely. Of course making your own santons does not mean they need to look exactly like Santons de Provence, you can create your own style, as our daughter did.

diy santons de provence
diy santons de provence
diy santons de provence

Before making your own Santons de Provence inspired nativity, you might enjoy watching some authentic Santons de Provence creators at work in France. We’ve gathered up a collection of videos below that show the creators at work. The videos are in French, so if you are new to French, just watch (and perhaps you’ll recognize a French words too!). You’ll be able to see the great variety of santons that are made. You’ll also see that santons are made using a molds in order to mass produce many of the same type of santon. However, the molds are produced from originally sculpting a santon out of clay, so for making your own santons, you will not need a mold… just create your own originals by sculpting your clay. 

We hope you enjoy making your own Santons de Provence-inspired nativity scenes, or perhaps start an authentic Santons de Provence nativity collection to add even more joy to the Christmas season! 

Joyeux Noël !

Que Dieu vous


santons de provence

Note:  Some links on this page are Amazon Affiliate links.  Sparkles and Sprinkles is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Other links may or may not be affiliate links.  We provide links because we have found these products or services beneficial, and we think you might too.