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Retrolicious Rolls

September 10, 2006

Chocolate Roulade

To the Brits they're Swiss rolls, to the Americans, jelly rolls, and the French have an elegant name that rolls, appropriately, off the tongue: roulade. Whatever your naming pleasure, it's a sponge cake filled with whipped cream and rolled then chilled until the layers soak together for a soft, luscious dessert. They make me think of the 50s, with gracious hostesses leaning from nipped-in waists to offer a coiled slice of sponge cake at their dinner party.

I had never made one before and ended up making three for a party. One was a plain sponge, filled with strawberry whipped cream flavored with the strawberry jam I made last week. Another was the same sponge recipe, but with the addition of a little orange zest and nutmeg, and filled with rum whipped cream and homemade spicy peach butter. The third was chocolate and filled with chocolate whipped cream. They were all delicious, and surprisingly easy.

This was the first time I had ever made a true sponge cake. Sponge cakes are leavened only by eggs and often contain very little flour. You whip the egg yolks and sugar first until they are golden and fluffy. Then the whites are whipped until stiff. (Actually, I whipped the whites first to save washing the beaters in between, since you can't beat egg whites with yolky beaters. I whipped the whites until stiff and then put the beaters right back in the second bowl, and the whites didn't deflate at all in the five minutes it took to beat the yolks. I noticed no ill effects in my sponge and was very glad to put my hands in hot water one less time on this hot summer afternoon.)

This may sound tricky or fussy - separating the eggs, beating things separately, extra bowls, oh my! - and good sponge cake is indeed all about good technique. Good technique in this case, however, mostly consists of owning a stand mixer.

After the eggs are beaten separately all the ingredients are gently folded together and poured into a parchment-lined pan to quickly bake. As soon as they come out of the oven you roll the cake up in a clean towel dusted with powdered sugar and leave it to cool. See below. Yes, my cakes are cooling on my coffee table; my kitchen is real small. Not enough counter space.

Rolled up sponge cakes

When cool you unroll the cakes, slather on as much whipped cream as they can handle, roll back up and stick in the fridge. It was unexpectedly easy and quick to whip these up and since they only bake for 7 minutes my oven was on for a blessedly brief amount of time. Also, once filled the cakes get much better after a night in the fridge, so they are the perfect do-ahead dessert.

I didn't get a chance to take a picture of the final product, but the peach was my favorite. I put dark rum in the whipped cream, and I roasted some figs with honey and sugar and vanilla and heaped them around the cake with slices of fresh nectarine and white peach. A great fall dessert - retro with a twist.

Now all I need is a beehive hairdo and a frilly apron, maybe a cocktail onion on a toothpick with my third martini, and I'll be retrolicious too.

Strawberry and Chocolate Roulade

I used the sponge recipes from Joy of Baking without any adaptation, so I won't reprint them here. But here's links, with some commentary.

Roulade Combinations

Strawberry Sponge
Plain sponge cake
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup strawberry jam, mashed to make an even consistency
Strawberries and melted chocolate, to garnish

- Powder the towel well, before you roll the cake. My cake stuck a little which gave it a piebald appearance.

Peach Spice Sponge
Plain sponge, flavored with 1 tbsp orange zest and 1 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 tbsp dark rum
1 cup spicy peach butter
Sliced peaches and nectarines, to garnish
Roasted figs, to garnish
Caramel, to garnish

Chocolate Roulade
Chocolate sponge cake
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tbsp cocoa powder
Almond extract, to flavor the cream
Strawberry syrup, from the jam, to brush over inside of the cake
Strawberries and melted chocolate, to garnish

- As she says at Joy of Baking, this chocolate cake is almost more of a mousse. Very delicate, yet not difficult to work with, it doesn't use any flour at all. It was light yet rich and delicious. Definitely on my list to make again.
- This cake was even better on the third day. I am glad I didn't bring a lot of leftovers home, soft, spongy cake with creamy filling being not high on my list of resistable foods.

Posted by Faith at 10 September 2006

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My mother used to make one of these, which I think we called sponge roll. We all loved it, but I can't now bring to memory what it tasted like--I'll have to ask my sister and maybe we can piece it together--a little family archaeology.

Posted by: lucette at September 11, 2006 09:57 AM

I have a frilly apron you can borrow, Faith. You're on your own for the beehive 'do. :)

Posted by: Ann Rannebarger at September 11, 2006 10:43 AM

Thanks, Ann! :-) What I really want is one of these: BellaPamella aprons. So cute, and practical too.

Posted by: faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 12, 2006 01:41 PM

haha, retroliscious!
I'm loving these swiss rolls/jelly rolls...
they look absolutely deliscious!
and fun to make with all that rolling!=)

Posted by: Julia at September 13, 2006 04:06 AM

i done this and this site is really helpful thank you!!! lucy

Posted by: lucy at December 11, 2006 04:33 AM

Posted by: sayed20 [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 26, 2020 05:10 AM

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