Back in Lithuania, when I was just a kid, a swiss roll wasn’t a big deal. We could buy them pre-packed in a very colourful box, but the taste was awful! They were full of artificial flavours and loads of sugar. If you wanted to get a fast hit of sugar, this was definitely your best choice.
I don’t remember eating this cake very often though. My Mum was a big believer in natural, homemade food (and I am so grateful for this approach) – everything that tasted unnatural, preservatives, junk-food and sugars were a big “no” for her. So, for a long time, I thought that swiss rolls were just a cheap way to get some sugar running through your blood.
Also, because I wasn’t very good at baking, I was never particularly interested in this, or other cakes. This all changed when I watched The Great British Bake Off however. One of the tasks was to bake a swiss roll. Wow! I saw the flavour combinations the contestants were using and felt like I had just opened a new cookery book – passion fruits, mangos, oranges, chocolate – everything was natural, made from scratch and looked bloody delicious! No “artificial flavours” to be found!
It took me quite some time to be brave enough to bake my very first swiss roll but let me tell you guys… it was scrumptious! To be completely honest, it didn’t go exactly as planned the first time, but this is the kind of cake that you need to practice, fail, practice, fail again then try again! Getting a perfect roll and those all-important neat swirls can be really tricky and challenging, but after one success you’ll be a master at this cake. As for the flavour combinations, the sky is the limit – you could go as simple as shop-bought jam or as sumptuous as homemade marmalade with vanilla, chocolate or a peanut butter sponge.
Before you start to bake your swiss roll, here are a few things to remember:
- You can whisk the egg yolks and egg whites separately to get a bigger rise. I tried both methods, but to be honest, often end up whisking everything together. So, if you’re short on time, don’t be afraid of using this option.
- You need to roll up the cake while it is warm. Don’t wait for too long, otherwise you won’t get those swirls.
- Adding sugar or cocoa powder on the baking sheet before you roll up the cake isn’t strictly necessary, but helps your cake not stick to the baking sheet.
- Let your cake cool completely. It might take up to 2 hours, but it is worth the wait.
I used cherries for my jam, but do not restrict yourself to this. You can use blueberries, strawberries, peaches – any berries or fruits you can find in your fridge.
50g brown sugar
80g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon instant coffee
2 tablespoons boiling water
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of cocoa powder or brown sugar
300ml double cream
60g icing sugar
The zest of one lemon
100g dark chocolate
100ml double cream
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
- Prepare your cherry jam: pit the cherries and halve them. Add to a saucepan with a little bit of water, sugar, lime juice and zest. Heat everything for 10-15 minutes or until everything turns to a thick consistency.
- Pour boiling water into cocoa powder and instant coffee. It should turn to paste. If these ingredients don’t dissolve, add a little bit more boiling water.
- Whisk the eggs with sugar until they have doubled in size (for around 5 minutes).
- Add the flour and baking powder, a pinch of salt and mix everything together.
- Using a spatula, fold the flour and coffee paste into the egg mixture. Gently mix everything together.
- Spread the batter into your baking tray lined with a baking sheet. Bake it for 10-12 minutes. Always keep an eye on it, because you don’t want to overbake it.
- After the cake is baked, take it from the baking pan onto a baking sheet bigger than the cake (sprinkle some brown sugar on cocoa powder on top of this sheet). Peel off the baking paper from your cake (the one that went in the oven) and add a fresh piece of baking paper on top of your cake. You want to have this combination: baking paper, sugar/cocoa powder layer, cake and baking paper.
- Start rolling your cake from the narrow end. The cake is supposed to be still warm, so gently press your cake and roll till the end. Let it cool completely.
- While the cake is cooling, make a whipping cream filling: whip the double cream with a hand mixer, add icing sugar and lemon zest. Mix the cream until stiff peaks form.
- Prepare your chocolate ganache: place the chopped chocolate in a bowl, add the double cream and place the bowl on top of another a bowl or saucepan containing boiling water. Mix the chocolate until it melts and combines together.
- Assemble the cake: unroll the cake (make sure it is completely cool), spread whipped cream evenly on top, leaving 1cm from the corners. Add cherry jam on top of the cream. Gently roll the cake back up.
- Pour ganache all over the cake. Before you cut it, let it sit in the fridge for an hour.
Et voila! One completely natural, completely homemade and completely delicious swiss roll. Do let me know how you get on with the recipe – I’d love to see your pictures. Good luck, and happy baking.