Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cotton candy sweet to go let me see your jelly roll

There is something so magical about a cake that rolls up over itself.  After years of imagining the execution of this cake, I finally bought a jelly roll pan at the store this month.  The above video is a quick 30 second demonstration of this fascinating process that leaves the mind reeling.

The jelly roll cake is simple and easy to make, and the fun and flavor combinations are endless.  Since purchasing the pan I have tried, in order, a raspberry and whipped cream roll; a homemade version of a hoho, and a grasshopper roll.  The next roll planned is a tiramisu roll.  I also dream of a triple chocolate raspberry roll and, of course next Christmas season, a Buche de Noel.

The first component of the cake is the cake itself.  I have been working from these two simple recipes from The Joy of Cooking:

Hot Milk Sponge Cake

Sift together 3 times:
3/4 cup sifted cake flour
1 tsp baking powder

Heat in a small saucepan until butter is melted:
1/4 cup milk
2 tbls unsalted butter

Whip for 10 minutes in stand mixer until light colored and tripled in volume:
3/4 cup sugar
5 large eggs

In three additions sift the flour mixture over the top of the egg mixture and fold in.  Add the hot milk mixture all at once and fold in until well combined.  Pour into prepared jelly roll pan (17.5" x 11.5" pan, oiled, floured and lined with parchment paper) and bake at 400 F until top is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed, 8 to 10 minutes.

Chocolate Sponge Cake

Sift together 3 times:
2/3 cup sifted cake flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp salt

Whip for 10 minutes in stand mixer until light colored and tripled in volume:
6 large eggs
2 tsps vanilla
2 tsps instant coffee powder

Gradually beat into eggs, 1 tablespoon at a time:
1 cup sugar

Sift the cocoa mixture over the egg mixture and fold in in 5 equal additions.  Pour into prepared jelly roll pan (17.5" x 11.5" pan, oiled, floured and lined with parchment paper) and bake at 350 F until top of cake springs back when lightly pressed, 15 to 20 minutes.

Note: this cake has a very mild chocolate flavor, so if you like a really chocolaty cake, you will need to accent the chocolate flavor through the other added elements to your cake.  The chocolate ganche is deliciously chocolaty and does this very well.

 With both of the above recipes the cakes need to be immediately removed from the pans while still hot, and the cake placed top side down on a sheet of aluminum foil to cool.  Once the cake is cool, this layer of foil is gently peeled away from the cake to remove the top crust that formed.

Then comes the fun part, the assembly of the cake.  This part is limited only by your imagination of flavor combinations.  The cake sheet can be spread with jellies, and whipped creams, brushed with liqueurs, and sprinkled with nuts or chocolate, as just a few examples.  Once the cake is rolled up there is still reason to frost the outside with a dusting of powdered sugar or cocoa, or a drizzle of ganache.

In a moment of genius, Mike came up with the concept for the "grasshopper roll," our chocolate mint roll.  This cake is featured in the above video.  We made ours with the chocolate sponge sheet spread with mint jelly and cocoa whipped cream, rolled up and topped with chocolate ganache.  It is quite tasty but certainly not the only way to get these flavors into the cake.  For example, we also considered omitting the mint jelly and substituting a mint whipped cream, made by adding a dash of creme de menthe. 

Next I will try a tiramisu roll, which I imagine as a sheet of the hot milk sponge cake brushed with espresso or possibly a liqueur like Kahlua, then spread with a whipped mascarpone cream, topped with grated chocolate, then rolled up and dusted with cocoa powder.  I will keep you updated on the outcome, but I can't imagine any way that cake would not be delicious.

And before I forget, this is how I make the ganache.  It makes just what you need to cover one jelly roll.

Chocolate Ganache

Heat until steaming and butter is melted:

3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tbls unsalted butter
2 tbls sugar

Pour cream over:

8 ounces chopped semi sweet chocolate (I use chocolate chips and save myself a step)

Cover and let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk until blended.  Let it cool uncovered at room temperature until you are ready to use.  When you spoon this over your cake it will take a few applications, and the cake can be chilled in between each pass to help the ganache set up and adhere to the cake.  But keep the ganche at room temperature the entire time you are frosting the cake!


And finally, dear readers, I would be delighted to hear your insight on this topic.  What flavor combinations would you like to try yourself?  How would you compose your cake?  What new and amazing ideas can you share?  And I promise, if you give me ideas I will try them, and share the effort with you!

Here are a few pictures of the attempts so far.  Keep in mind these are the first cakes, so they are not perfect ; )

Hot milk sponge cake, raspberry jam, whipped cream
"The Ho Ho" chocolate sponge cake, whipped cream, chocolate ganache


  1. 1. Mike is a genius and on the right path: I'd like a peppermint and dark chocolate ganache roll -- basically a peppermint patty in cakey roll form. Is creme de menthe a peppermint derived liqueur or is there a peppermint liqueur with which to flavor the whip? Also I don't like when creme de menthe dyes it green.
    2. Those cakes look pretty close to perfect for the first attempt

  2. I love this idea! Here are my thoughts on how to execute: Since this roll is trying to mimic a chocolate bar we could start with a flourless chocolate sheet cake for the right texture. Next we could get the intense peppermint flavor by using a peppermint extract in the whipped cream which would not have the green dye effect on the cream. We could also make a dark chocolate ganache. My question to you is whether you think whipped cream will work well here or would you imagine this filling with more of a texture like the filling in the peppermint patty itself?

  3. ooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

    I need that cake

  4. Hey, I would like to eat this the next time I come home.