Swiss rolls (also called jelly rolls or roll cakes) might seem a bit old school, but I like to think of them as one of the classic cakes. They can range from simple jam or cream-filled rolls to fancier creations, such as the Christmas Yule log (bûche de Noël). You’d be hard-pressed to find Swiss rolls in most western-style bakeries here these days, but go to a bakery in Chinatown, and you’ll see plenty of Swiss rolls in an assortment of colours and flavours, such as coffee, chocolate and mango. They’re really light and airy, with a thin layer of cream filling. I’ve also bought delicious roll slices from Persian bakeries, where the popular cake is known as rollet (roulette). My favourite one though, has got to be the purple ube Swiss roll, which I get from the Filipino bakery (I only allow myself this treat on the rare occasion, because they don’t sell individual slices, and I can’t be trusted with a whole Swiss roll!). What I really love about this roll cake is that it’s filled, and decorated on the outside, with a silky smooth, not-too-sweet Swiss meringue buttercream that’s to die for!
It’s not difficult to bake the cake for a Swiss roll. It’s essentially just a sponge cake, which is traditionally made with only eggs, flour and sugar. You will also find (especially in Asian bakeries, which are known for their ultra moist and fluffy baked goods) many chiffon cake Swiss rolls, which are even lighter and more airy. The most nerve-wracking thing about making a Swiss roll is probably trying to roll the cake and hoping that it doesn’t crack. But as long as you don’t overbake it, and you form it into a roll to set the shape while it’s still warm, you should get a nice, soft perfectly rolled cake!
For the filling, I made a simple Chantilly cream by adding some sugar and vanilla to whipping cream. You can also add in one or two teaspoons of matcha for an even more intense green tea flavour.
If you want to know how good this was, let’s just say there were two of us and we managed to finish the entire roll by the next day!
MATCHA SWISS ROLL (Makes 1 – 10.5″ roll)
For the cake:
4 large eggs, room temperature
100g cake flour
20g (about 2 Tbsp) matcha (green tea powder)
For the filling:
200 ml heavy whipping cream (with at least 30% fat)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
To make the cake:
1) Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Line a 10.5″ x 15.5″ baking sheet (or jelly roll pan, if you have one) with parchment paper.
2) Combine the cake flour and matcha in a bowl. Sift 3 times. Set aside.
3) Separate egg yolks and egg whites into two large bowls. Beat egg yolks and 55g sugar on high speed until it reaches the ribbon stage (Test by lifting up the whisk or beater attachment – the mixture will fall back into the bowl in ribbons, before slowly blending back into the rest of the mixture). It should be thick, pale yellow and double in volume.
4) Whisk egg whites first for half a minute to get some volume, then gradually add in the 70g of sugar. Beat until glossy and stiff peaks form.
5) Using a spatula, take about 1/3 of the egg white and fold it into the egg yolk mixture until incorporated. Then add the entire egg yolk mixture into the bowl of remaining egg whites and fold gently. Lastly, fold in the cake flour and matcha until just combined. Do not overmix.
6) Pour batter into baking sheet. Use a spatula to spread out the batter evenly. Tap the baking sheet a couple of times on a flat surface to remove any air bubbles.
7) Bake for 10-12 minutes until just done. The cake should spring back when lightly touched in the centre. Do not overbake.
8) Immediately place a piece of parchment paper (long enough to cover the cake plus an additional 3 inches on either side) over the top of the baking sheet. Wearing oven mitts, hold both ends of the baking sheet, with the ends of the parchment paper tucked underneath and held taut. Quickly flip the whole baking sheet over onto the work surface. Remove the baking sheet. Carefully remove the parchment paper from the cake (this “bottom” of the cake will become the outside surface of the Swiss roll).
9) Place another piece of parchment (long enough to cover the cake plus an additional inch or two on either side) over the cake. Place the baking sheet upside down over the parchment paper and cake again. Lift the ends of the bottom parchment paper up and taut over the sides of the baking sheet. Flip over again. Remove the top parchment paper. Gently slide the bottom parchment paper with the cake out onto your work surface.
10) Roll up the warm cake on the parchment paper. Place on a wire rack until it cools to room temperature.
To make the filling:
Before starting, make sure the whipping cream and all utensils are cold. Place the bowl and whisk or whisk attachment in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before using.
1) Beat the cream and vanilla until soft peaks form.
2) Gradually add in the sugar, while beating on high speed until stiff peaks form. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To assemble the cake:
1) Carefully unroll the cooled cake on your work surface (it’s ok if the ends curl up a bit).
2) Use an offset spatula to spread the cream evenly over the cake, leaving about a 3/4″ border on all sides.
3) Carefully roll up the cake again. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
4) To make the roll look prettier, slice off about 1/2″ from both ends (and eat them!). Then transfer to a serving dish, dust with icing sugar (optional), slice and enjoy!