Cake rolls are a great dessert to make for company! They look impressive. They come together quickly, with a bake time of just 7 to 10 minutes. They can be made ahead of time and there are so many flavor combinations to choose from.
But what I love most about them is their simplicity. The ingredient list is very short and you don’t need to be a pastry chef to be able to whip one up – bake a simple sponge, slather on the filling, roll it up and you’re done.
Having said that, cake roll recipes up until this one, have always reduced me to a nervous wreck during the rolling process. They would invariably crack in all the wrong places and the filling would squirt out. But not with this recipe! This one is a keeper. No cracking, no squirting and no more tears!
I’ve made two of these this past week – the recipe really is that good – one with a whipped cream filling and one with buttercream. I found that the buttercream filled cake held up a lot better. The whipped cream tends to seep into the sponge and the cake collapses under it’s own weight overnight. So if you’re planning to make this cake ahead of time I would recommend a sturdy buttercream filling.
I made the cake a bit more special by baking a pattern onto the sponge. This step is entirely optional. But if you are somewhat handy with a piping tip and want to raise a few eyebrows then you should go for it.
Trace the pattern of your choice onto a sheet of parchment paper the same size as your swiss roll tin. and line your tin with this sheet. Pipe your pattern onto the parchment and chill while preparing the batter for the cake roll
Sponge for the decorative piping
- Unsalted butter – 35 grams or 2 and 1/2 tbsp
- Icing Sugar – 35 grams or 1/4 cup
- Egg white – from 1 large egg
- All purpose flour – 80 grams or 2/3 cup
- Vanilla extract – 1/2 tsp
- Gel food colors of your choice
*This recipe is enough to pipe a delicate pattern on the roll cake. If you’d like to make a more elaborate pattern then make double the recipe
Sponge for the roll cake
- Fine granulated sugar – 75 grams or 1/3 cup
- Eggs – 3 large
- All purpose flour – 75 grams minus 1 tbsp** or 2/3 cup minus 1 tbsp
- Baking powder – 1 tsp
- Salt – 1/4 tsp
- Cocoa powder – 1 tbsp
- Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
- Simple syrup – 3 tbsp of granulated sugar mixed with 3 tbsp of water
**This recipe is for a chocolate roll cake. If you want to make a plain vanilla cake then omit the cocoa powder and add the whole 75 grams of all purpose flour
- Unsalted butter – 115 grams or 1/2 cup
- Icing sugar – 150 grams or 1 and 1/3 cup
- Strong brewed coffee – 2 tsp
- Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
- Salt – 1/2 tsp
If you just want a plain swiss roll without any pattern piped on it then skip the recipe below and go directly onto the recipe for the roll cake sponge and buttercream
Sponge for decorative piping
- Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature. Grease and line a 9×13 inch swiss roll tin with parchment paper. If you’re tracing a pattern onto the paper then flip the parchment over when you’re done so that the pencil side is facing down
- Using a mixer whip the butter and icing sugar together until light and fluffy
- While beating continuously gradually add the egg white and the vanilla extract. Whip until thoroughly combined
- Using a spatula gently fold in the flour. Add your food coloring at this stage if using
- Fill this mixture into a piping bag and pipe it onto the parchment paper. Chill this tray with the parchment paper in the freezer while you make the sponge for the roll cake
Sponge for the roll cake
- Preheat the oven to 400 F or 200 degree Celsius. Sieve the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and set aside
- Using a mixer whip the eggs and the granulated sugar on medium speed till the mixture turns pale and fluffy and the beater leaves a trail when lifted up from the bowl. This takes at least 5 minutes
- Add the vanilla extract and beat briefly until it is mixed in
- Fold the flour mixture into the egg-sugar mixture gently using a spatula
- Remove the swiss roll tin that’s been chilling in the freezer and gently pour the sponge cake mixture over the parchment paper. Tilt the tin gently so that the batter spreads out evenly
- Bake in a preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes till the sponge turns a light golden brown and starts separating from the sides Make sure you do not over bake.
- Take two sheets of parchment paper larger than the size of the cake tin. Dust one with granulated sugar and lay it on your work surface. As soon as the cake is ready tip it on to this sheet. Carefully peel off the parchment paper that is on the cake to reveal your pattern. Now place the second sheet of parchment paper on the exposed surface and turn the cake back up again so that the patterned side is now underneath.
- Set it on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes
- Using a mixer whip butter until is light and creamy and has nearly doubled in volume
- Add 1 cup of icing sugar and salt and continue to whip on medium-high speed scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary
- Add the coffee and vanilla extract and continue to whip for 2 minutes more
- Do a taste test and add more sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time till you achieve your desired level of sweetness. I find that an additional 1/3 cup does the trick for me
- Spread the buttercream on the cooled cake in a thin even layer. Leave a gap of about a centimeter around the edges
- Using a palette or butter knife score the cake in a line about 2 cm in from one of the shorter sides. This will make the first roll easier
- Using the help of the parchment paper underneath gently roll the cake starting at the short edge that you scored. Keep the roll as tight and firm as possible till you reach the other end. Gently trim the uneven ends of the cake roll using a serrated knife.
- Make a simple syrup with 3 tbsp of granulated sugar and 3 tbsp of water. Warm gently on low heat till the sugar dissolves. Gently brush the roll cake with this syrup to keep the cake moist
This cake roll will keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of days or in the fridge for about 3 days
Recipe adapted from Paul Hollywood’s Blackcurrant and Liquorice Swiss Roll