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.
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.
Roll Cake Step by Step
- Greaseproof paper
- Oven tray (or 30 X 40 cm (± 12 X 16 inches) silicon mold)
- 9 eggs 9 egg yolks and only 5 egg whites
- 130 gr sugar 2 preparations : one of 80 g, one of 50 g
- 85 gr flour ideally siftedy
- Start by preparing all ingredients. Separately measure 80 g. and 50 g. of sugar. Sift flour. Preheat your oven to 230 °C.
- Beat 9 egg yolks with 80 g sugar until it whitens a bit. You can mix in a food processor or by hand with a spatula or a whisk.
- Whisk 5 egg whites with 50 g sugar. It must be quite firm but not too much otherwise it will be too difficult to mix with the other ingredients.
- Add egg yolks mix in egg white mix and gently mix upwards, each time giving a quarter turn to the bowl in the opposite direction.
- Now, proceed the same way to incorporate flour. The most important is not to break the whisked egg whites. We want to keep the air that is inside.
- Place a sheet of greaseproof paper on the oven tray or use a special silicone mold. Spread a layer of uniform thickness.
- The proportions given in the recipe are for a rectangle of 30 X 40 cm (± 12 X 16 inches), 1 cm thick (± ½ inch thick).
- Bake 5-6 minutes at 230 °C. Once out of the oven, let cool for a few minutes. Place a sheet of greaseproof paper on then a plate and flip.
- Remove the upper tray. Then the upper greaseproof paper (or mold). A little trick is to press a tray and remove paper gradually as you move the tray.
- Roll up the cake leaving the greaseproof paper between each layer of cake. The cake then takes the shape and remain nicely rolled up as in the photo.
Bon appétit !