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#ThatTranslatorCanCook week 19: Yule log

It seemed only fitting that this week’s blog post involved a festive treat: a traditional bûche de noël, or yule log.


My source recipe featured the following brief introduction from the author:

Découvrez cette recette de Bûche de Noël au chocolat noir et extrait de café. La traditionnelle bûche pâtissière familiale que faisait ma maman, et que j’ai plaisir à faire déguster chaque année…

Word-for-word translation: Discover this recipe for yule log with dark chocolate and coffee extract. The traditional family sweet yule log that my mum used to make, and that I have the pleasure of making to taste each year.

My suggestion:

Discover this delicious yule log flavoured with dark chocolate and coffee. My mum used to bake this traditional style dessert, and now I love making it for others to enjoy each year.

Here, I’ve taken a few liberties, making several adjustments to the word-for-word translation. I’ve done this in the name of creating a text which better fits the target culture and achieves the text’s purpose, that is, to encourage people to use and share the recipe. Of course, any translation can be rendered in a multitude of ways (feel free to share your own suggestions!). Below I pick up a few of these decisions explain my thought process.

Omitting pâtissière – redundancy?

I could have misinterpreted this, but I believe pâtissière was used here to indicate that this is a sweet version, rather than a savoury. (There seem to be quite a few recipes for savoury bûches in French, but comparatively fewer savoury yule logs in English.) Given that we know it’s flavoured with chocolate and coffee, ‘sweet’ seems redundant. Plus, there are already a few adjectives to contend with here.

Faire déguster – for others to taste, savour, or enjoy?

This verbal phrase is a little problematic. Déguster is can mean ‘taste’, for instance a ‘tasting menu’, or a ‘wine tasting’, and can also mean ‘savour’ or ‘enjoy’. To me, ‘taste’ implies that it is a new experience, for instance, something you haven’t tried before, while ‘enjoy’ and ‘savour’ could be either new or familiar to you. ‘Savour’ implies something that is perhaps a little more rare, elaborate, or special than a humble yule log, so I opted for ‘enjoy’ here.

Meanwhile, faire (to do / make / create) can be added in front of several* verbs to show that the subject of the second verb is making the action happen, although they are not the ones doing it themselves.** For instance, in je me suis fait couper les cheveux (I had my hair cut), faire is placed before couper to show that I didn’t do the cutting myself, but instructed someone – hopefully a hairdresser – to do it on my behalf. Here then, faire déguster indicates that the recipe author is not the one who is doing the tasting, savouring, or enjoying – or, perhaps more accurately – is not the only one partaking in this.

*Can it be placed in front of any verb? Does anyone have any insight to this?

**Find a better explanation of the French causative on Lawless French, and

The irregularity of régulièrement

Often, régulièrement can be translated with ‘regularly’. But not this time. The recipe instructed me to étaler la pâte régulièrement. Here, I wasn’t being asked to ‘spread the mixture regularly’, but rather to ‘spread the mixture evenly


Overall, the bake was a success. The sponge was light and airy, and I managed to roll it up without it cracking. That said, there wasn’t much of a swirl in my version – perhaps due to the dimensions of my pan. Admittedly, my decoration was pretty minimalist – I should have dusted with icing sugar, and used the end to create a ‘knot’ in the tree as instructed. But at the end of the day, it tasted delicious, and in my book, that’s the most important!

Picture of the cooked chocolate yule log

Next time

After Christmas' indulgences, I’m on the hunt for a healthier recipe for next week.

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