What's the deal with yule logs? Vietnamese people love to bake and eat delicate, aromatic sponge cakes. My family is no different and I grew up with them all year round. Most of the time, it’s a basic sponge cake baked up as rounds. For Christmas, cooks who are really into the cakes prepare a French-style Bûche de Noël yule log. It’s nothing but a rolled up version of a sponge cake that been baked in sheet pan instead of round pan. The cake roll is then frosted and fancifully decorated to resemble a log, a tradition that may have originated under Napoleon’s reign. Vietnam, a former French colony, picked up on the tradition. The cakes are charming and a bit corny, perfect for Vietnamese people who can be sentimental and melodramatic.
When I was growing up, my crafty, food-obsessed mother (see where I get it from?) baked roughly two dozen yule logs each year to gift neighbors, friends, and valued clients of her sewing business. She was a whiz with her French sewing techniques so why not showcase her French baking skills? Mom is an over achiever. Call her the "Vietnamese yule log lady".