This is my tenth post! I can’t believe that I have done ten already. When planning for this post, I felt that I wanted to celebrate this milestone with something special. Roll cakes are always something I have always been a bit wary of. They are notoriously tricky, and though this cake lived up to that expectation, the end result was worth it!
The original recipe from my Great Grandma Mae said to fill this cake with frosting, whipped cream, or ice cream. I ended up using marmalade instead. It is just not the right season for ice cream, and I did not have any whipped cream on hand. Originally I was going to fill it with a lemon filling, but more on that later.
I started by preheating the oven to 350℉. Once the oven was preheating, I got out my pan. The recipe says to use a jelly roll pan and, while I have one, I decided to use a half sheet tray instead. I felt that it was a better size. So, I got out my chosen pan and lined it with parchment paper. The recipe calls for waxed paper, but I have found that what vintage recipes call “waxed paper,” I would call parchment paper. If you were to use modern waxed paper it would burn and melt.
Once the pan and oven were all ready to go, I separated 5 egg yolks from the whites. I then placed the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer with 5 tablespoons of cold water, and whipped them for about 2 minutes. The whipped egg yolks make a beautifully yellow and stiff foam. Once the mixture came to peaks, I added 1 cup of sugar, and whipped it again until combined.
While the eggs where whipping, I sifted 1 cup of flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. The recipe called for cake flour, but again, I did not have this on hand. I used all purpose flour instead, and it came out beautifully. However, if you want your cake to be extra fluffy, you could use cake flour.
Once the egg yolks were whipped, I took the bowl off of the mixer, and folded the flour mixture in by hand. I felt that mixing this in with a silicone spatula would be better for the texture than using the mixer.
I then whipped the 5 egg whites until they reached peaks. Once peaks formed, I folded the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. At this point, the batter was a lovely yellow color and extremely fluffy.
Finally, I turned the batter onto the prepared pan and spread it until it was even. I then popped it in the oven for 25 minutes, though I found that it took slightly less time. I pulled it out after about 23 minutes because it was cooked through and starting to get a little too brown.
While the cake was baking, I prepared the rolling surface. For this I used a tea towel dusted with powdered sugar.
Once the cake was done, I turned it directly from the hot pan onto the tea towel. I found that it took a little bit of encouragement. I ended up cutting around the edge, but that was not a bad thing as I had to cut to crusts off anyway. While it was on the tea towel, I removed the parchment paper, then cut the remaining crusts off. Once this was done, I placed a new piece of parchment on top of the cake, and rolled the cake into itself from end to end. Last, I placed the roll onto a rack to cool.
While it was cooling, I made the lemon cake filling from my 1980s edition of the Good Housekeeping cookbook. This is where things starting to go wrong. The filling was easy enough to make, however, it never quite set up. I stuck it in the fridge for a couple of hours, and it just never got any thicker. I don’t think I boiled it for long enough.
Nevertheless, I unrolled the cake and spread the lemon filling on. It was just too runny. The filling soaked into the cake and made it very mushy. So, that cake went into the compost, and I started all over again.
I repeated the steps above, and placed the new cake on a rack to cool. While it was cooling I decided to try a different angle for filling it. This summer I made and froze a large batch of marmalade. I don’t quite remember where I got the recipe, but it was quite similar to the one in my 1962 New York Times Cookbook. I decided that this would make a good filling, especially since it turned out a bit more stiff than I would have liked.
Once the new cake was cooled I unrolled it onto the counter and spread a thin layer of marmalade over the surface of the cake. In the future I may make the layer just a bit thinner. After spreading the marmalade, I re-rolled the cake very tightly and placed it on a platter.
Then it was time for the frosting. I really love this frosting recipe. It is important to note that this recipe includes raw eggs, which have been known to carry salmonella. I am comfortable eating raw eggs because I use farm-fresh eggs. However, you could use pasteurized eggs if you wanted to be on the safe side.
To make the frosting, I started by combing 2/3 of a cup of butter and 4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. I beat this until it resembled a sugary, buttery, dough. While it was mixing, I melted 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave. I would usually melt chocolate in a double boiler, but this was such a small amount that microwaving it in 10 second increments worked just as well. I then went back to the butter mixture and added 2 eggs and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. While the mixer was on low I poured in the melted chocolate. Once it was all added, I turned the mixer up to high and beat until it was fluffy.
When that was done I poured about half of the frosting into a piping bag. This is not necessary, but it allowed me to apply the frosting more evenly. I then piped rows of frosting on the cake, and used an offset spatula to spread it out. I’ll admit that this frosting is quite brown, and maybe not the most appetizing color. So, I sliced an orange into thin slices and used them to add a little color to the cake. You could also use candied orange slices or peels if you have those on hand.
Despite the misstep on the first cake, I think that this turned out well. I was pleasantly surprised that the cake did not crack when I rolled it. This led a beautifully continuous pinwheel shape when I cut slices. It really is quite pretty to look at. The cake is also a lovely light texture. It is fluffy without tasting like an egg white omelet. On the outside, the frosting is also the perfect texture and taste. I really think that the key to a good frosting is eggs, though this has fallen out of style due to the risk of salmonella. If I were to change anything about this cake, I would make the marmalade layer thinner. I put a bit too much in, and though the orange chocolate mixture was delicious, it was also very rich. In the future I may also try a different filling that is a bit less sweet, such as whipped cream. Aside from that, this cake turned out to be quite delicious with a cup of tea!
If you would like to try this recipe for your self, you can find the cake roll recipe here, and the icing recipe here. If you would like to make the marmalade for this application, or any other, the recipe is here.