I like to think of myself as a fairly seasoned baker but, in reality (and now thanks to social media land, too) I realize there’s so many things I haven’t tried to bake. Most of the time I’m really content just sticking to my usual repertoire of cookies, birthday cakes, pies, and more birthday cakes but every once in a while I find the courage to peek my head out of my comfort zone and try something new.
At the risk of coming off like a cheesy motivational speaker, I’ve realized that the biggest reason I’m scared of trying new things is for fear of failure. When it comes to baking, that rings doubly true since failure not only means frustration and self-loathing but as a bonus you also lose time and money if you mess up! I really know how to pick the hobbies.
What I know, now more than ever, is that the risk of failure pales in comparison to the feeling I get when I try something new and succeed. Such was the case with this Swiss Roll (which I’ve also seen referred to as Jelly Roll and Roulade, so whatever suits your fancy). One of my all-time favorite summer desserts is pound cake, berries, and cream and this ticks all those boxes but comes in a prettier package.
I was mostly concerned about the roll cracking (the dreaded complication of the Swiss Roll). You can avoid it by “training” the roll, which means you pre-roll it while it’s warm and leave it to cool so it learns the shape. I’m sure this helped but, if I’m completely honest, mine had a few small cracks in it. Nothing a little whipped cream and powdered sugar couldn’t cover.
Overall I was really pleased with my first attempt at this somewhat intimidating dessert. It actually came together a lot quicker than I imagined (it only took about an hour) because the sheet of sponge bakes so quickly and, because it’s so thin, it cools rapidly. Because of it’s ease and deliciousness, I know I will definitely be revisiting this roll and trying new variations. I’ve always wanted to make a Bûche de Noël which is a really gorgeous french christmas cake that uses this same technique so maybe I’ll have the confidence to tackle that at some point.
For now I think I’ll go back to my comfort zone for a minute (I really like it there) but trying this recipe really inspired me to start tackling my mental “bucket list” of baking firsts. It wasn’t so scary, after all.
Berry Swiss Roll
- 3/4 cup cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 5 eggs
Preheat oven to 400°. Grease a half sheet pan (18 x 13) and line with a piece of parchment paper. Sift cake flour and baking powder three times. In a small saucepan, heat butter and milk over low heat. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat together eggs and sugar on high until the mixture is lightened in color and tripled in volume (3-4 minutes). Turn off mixer and fold in sifted dry ingredients. Pour all the hot milk in at once and continue to fold until combined. Pour batter into pan and spread evenly. Bake for 8-10 minutes. As soon as the cake comes out, run a knife around the edges to loosen the sides.
Lay out another sheet of parchment (the same size as a half sheet pan) and sprinkle with a couple tablespoons of sugar. Spread sugar out in an even layer. Invert sheet pan with cake onto the sugared piece of parchment and slowly peel the parchment off the bottom of the cake. On one end of the roll, make a one inch score (cut about half way through). Slide the cake down so that it is even with the edge of the parchment. starting with the scored edge, start to roll the cake (and the parchment!) together. Make sure you tuck the start of the roll in where you scored it which gives you a good spiral. Be gentle but firm. Once it is completely rolled, leave it to cool.
Once the roll is cool, gently unroll it. Spread the roll with:
- a thin layer of berry jam (about 1/2-3/4 cup)
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1-2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whip together on high until firm peaks are formed.
Spread a thin layer of cream (about half of the batch) over the jam. Re-roll the cake. Slice off the ends with a sharp serrated knife. Top with the remaining whipped cream, fresh berries and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.
Hot-Milk Sponge Cake recipe from Joy of Cooking.