"Peasants used to burn a yule log on the Winter Solstice in December. The Winter Solstice is the day of the year with the shortest amount of daylight. The peasants hoped to keep evil spirits away by burning the Yule log, which they presumed might come because of the prolonged darkness of the Winter Solstice." - from christmaslore.com
The Yule Log Dessert came later and substituted for the much older tradition of burning an actual log. I chose to make a pumpkin roll with cream cheese icing rather than a chocolate one. I used baking marzipan to create the leaves and mushrooms and lightly coated them in some leftover icing.