How to Make and Decorate a Whimsical Yule-Log Layer Cake

This tall rum-spiked layer cake is filled with chestnut frosting and decorated with chocolate frosting to look like a magical log.


  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 cups peeled roasted chestnuts (from two 5.3-ounce packages)
  • 2 tablespoons golden rum
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 2 cups peeled roasted chestnuts (from two 5.3-ounce packages)
  • 3 tablespoons golden rum
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • Marzipan for decorations
  • Raspberries, for placing on a few of the marzipan mushrooms


    1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment; butter parchment. Flour pans and tap out excess. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
    2. In a food processor, puree chestnuts with rum and 2 tablespoons water. Add sugars; process to combine. Add butter and vanilla; process to combine. Add egg yolks; process to combine.
    3. Transfer chestnut mixture to a large bowl; whisk in flour mixture.
    4. Whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold into batter.
    5. Divide batter among pans; smooth tops. Bake until a tester inserted in centers comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in pans on a wire rack, 10 minutes, then remove from pans and let cool completely.
    6. With a mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla and salt. Divide mixture into 2 bowls.
    7. Puree chestnuts and rum in food processor until almost smooth, then stir into half of frosting.