Jelly cake and yule log are made of a thin layer of genoese sponge cake of a rectangle shape (the easiest being baking it in the oven tray). A layer of filling is spread on the cake before rolling it up. In order to be able to serve a delicious jelly roll or yule log, the cake have to be very light and not too sweet (as the filling is often sweet enough), lifted enough but not too much and, most important uniformly, and at last easy to unmold and roll up.
My little secret here is not to try to reinvent pastry. I have no pretension to compete with the best chefs. Even though I like to bring my personal touch or twist to many dishes, I tend to refer to widely approved recipes or standards for cooking basics. So here is a recipe from the great French pastry chef Pierre Hermé. I’ve detailed the recipe step by step in photos, tried to explain it as much as possible.
First, here are some information, tricks and tips:
- The preparation consists in mixing no more than three ingredients: eggs, sugar and flour. That’s all. Each one has a very specific mission. The eggs link the preparation, sugar brings texture and flour gives structure to the dough.
- The most important is to beat the eggs properly (here separately but in some recipes, white and yolks are mixed together). The incorporated air gives lightness and flexibility to the cake, making it easy to roll up.
- Flour can be replaced by other ingredients (starch, almonds powder …). However, you have to keep half the amount of flour to be able to get an easy to roll up cake.
- It is not necessary to sift flour but it’s better if you do. It helps to incorporate flour without stirring too much and thus risking to break down the beaten egg whites.
- You can add butter (30 g melted butter once all ingredients are mixed together). I don’t find it necessary.
- You may wish to flavor the dough, according to the cake you are going to prepare, with: citrus zests (orange, lemon or lime, very finely grated), chocolate (1or 2 tablespoons cocoa powder), coffee, spices (cinnamon, vanilla …)…
- The tricky part of this recipe is the rolling up part. The quantities given here are for a size of 30 by 40 cm (± 12 X 16 inches). Depending on the thickness you want to get, you can decide not to use all the dough (and separately bake some biscuits).
- In France, some place a moist cloth under the cake when unmold (instead of the second sheet of greaseproof paper in the recipe) and then roll up the cake and the cloth together (the humidity will keep the cake soft, and as a consequence perfectly rolled up, without crinkling). This step is not necessary with this easy to roll up recipe.
- Finally, the baking temperature may seems quite high to you. This cake is great baked this way (high temperature for a short time). Depending on your oven, you may prefer to lower the heat and bake for a longer time.
This light and easy to roll up sponge cake is ideal for jelly roll or yule log Christmas cake, as we usually serve in France for Christmas.