Jelly Roll

Does the thought of flipping a delicate, just-baked cake onto a tea towel and rolling the cake in the tea towel terrify you? I’ve been there, man. How can it possibly work, right? Somehow, through baking magic (or chemistry, if you want to get technical) the cake remains intact, and you end up with a lovely spiral of cake to fill with your heart’s desire.

I used to think I couldn’t bake any type of roll cake, but one autumn I conquered this fear and made a pumpkin roll. I didn’t realize back then that you really should roll up your cake in as tight a spiral as you can possibly manage, because although they’re delicate, roll-type cakes are also quite flexible when prepared and baked correctly. This jelly roll is a classic confection based on a recipe I found at King Arthur Flour, featuring a vanilla foam cake (read: more eggs, less fat) and strawberry preserves, dusted with some powdered sugar. I do wish I’d rolled my spiral just a bit tighter once I filled it, and I already have a handful of ideas for future treats Stay tuned!

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces strawberry preserves*
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

*You need a thicker fruit filling than jelly for a jelly roll, as it turns out. Jam and preserves are both good ideas, as are fillings like lemon curd, pastry cream, etc. 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 10 x 15 x 1 pan with parchment. Place a lint-free tea towel on a heatproof surface (I use a cutting board) near your oven and lightly dust it with powdered sugar.

In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat eggs until foamy, then slowly add the sugar, beating on medium speed until the mixture is thick and a light lemon color, about 5-7 minutes; add vanilla just before you stop beating. When the batter is done, it will fall from the whisk in a ribbon, then mound on top of the batter before blending back in. Gently fold the flour mixture in (I used my whisk attachment for easy clean-up).

Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading with a spatula to create an even layer. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the top is golden brown and springs back when you touch it. Remove from oven, then quickly and carefully flip your cake onto the powdered sugar-sprinkled tea towel. Gently peel the parchment away – I needed to use an offset spatula to prevent some of the cake from sticking to the parchment. Starting at one of the short ends, roll the cake up in a tight spiral and allow to cool on a wire rack completely before filling.

To fill, unroll the cake and spread with preserves; roll back up and place seam-side down on your cake plate, then dust with powdered sugar. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Makes about 9 servings.

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