Learn top secrets on how to make a cake roll without it breaking. Whenever you prepare a gorgeous Buche de Noel, known as Yule log cake, or other types of roulades such as Swiss roll, roll cake, or Jelly roll cake, there are a few tips to make it like a pro.
While buying a roll cake in your bakery is a straightforward task and seems the best solution during the busy holiday season, nothing beats a homemade cake roll.
To make roll cake at home may sound complicated, but in reality, it isn't that difficult. Just give yourself a chance to try preparing the rolled cake. You can do it.
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How to roll a cake without it breaking
Isn't that question that makes you nervous thinking of making a homemade roll cake? But please, don't worry: rolling a sponge cake isn't that stressful.
While it is the most complex step, there are a few tips and a special technique for not breaking the roll cake. All you need is a bit of patience, some practice, a few tips, and the chef's advice:
...it's not so complicated if you have the right recipe, that you cook it very slowly, not too long and put it in a damp cloth.Cyril Lignac
Choose the right recipe
You must first choose a good recipe to succeed in such an intimidating task as rolling the sponge cake.
With an enormous number of recipes on the internet, it may not be easy to find the one with the right proportion of ingredients.
The biscuit should be soft and flexible, not too dry and crumbly, for easy handling.
Be organized to start
Take advantage of the mise en place technique to make your baking a breeze. Measuring ingredients and preparing the necessary baking equipment guarantee your sweet success.
Reading the recipe and understanding the process steps helps you make the roll cake in minutes.
With the well-organized working place and oven preheating, you can spend 15 minutes at maximum from making the cake batter to bringing it to the oven.
Choose the right ingredients
To make a perfect roll cake, it is essential to use the right baking ingredients and measure them precisely.
The simplest roll cake recipe (Biscuit Viennois in French) is made with only three ingredients: eggs, sugar, and all purpose flour. The eggs will bind, the flour will give a structure, and the sugar a texture.
Some roll cake recipes also call for melted butter or vegetable oil, which is essential for taste, softness, and flexibility.
Interestingly, since the butter solidifies when cold and the oil stays liquid, the roll cake made with butter is more sensitive to breaking as it cools. So, choose oil over butter to avoid cracking your roll.
If you are a beginner baker, try to follow the recipe to a T. If you are experienced in roll cakes, you can try experimenting with ingredients and flavor combinations.
Use a kitchen scale or measuring cups and spoons to measure your ingredients.
Keep the order of ingredients
Despite the minimum baking ingredients used to make the cake roll, the order of ingredients is the key.
First, you must whip egg yolks (or whole eggs if this is the case) with sugar. Then you add the sifted flour.
Sifting flour and other dry ingredients, such as cocoa powder, helps avoid the formation of lumps.
In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks, and add the sugar in two-three batches. Beat until stiff peaks.
Finally, delicately incorporate the beaten egg whites into the first egg mixture, trying to retain the mixed air.
Room temperature ingredients
Ensuring your baking ingredients are at room temperature is another key to making a cake roll.
Bring eggs to the kitchen counter 30-60 minutes before you start. Or immerse them in a bowl with warm water for a few minutes.
Make sure to cool down the melted butter before incorporating it into the batter.
Choose the right baking equipment
You don't need a professional kitchen or being equipped like a pro to succeed in making a roll cake.
All you need is a large mixing bowl or a bowl of a stand mixer, a hand mixer or stand mixer with the whisk attachment, a rubber spatula, and a metal offset spatula to mix and smooth the batter on a baking sheet.
With so many choices in the market, you can opt for the best silicone non-spill baking sheet or Silikomart baking mat. Baking with silicone molds has never been easier.
Or you can choose a jelly roll pan or a regular baking tray (with edges) lined with parchment paper. If you ever need to adjust your baking pan size, use this simple cake pan calculator.
To cool the cake, you can use a wire rack or leave your cake on a working surface.
Spread cake batter evenly
Use a long bent spatula to spread the cake batter evenly and not too thick. This little trick can go a long way when it comes to rolling the cake easily. The thick and uneven sponge will be complicated to roll.
Butter and flour parchment paper
If you use a high-quality silicone baking sheet, you don't need to grease it. However, in the case of a baking tray, you should give it some preparation.
First, line it with parchment paper. Have you ever known that parchment paper has two sides: one side is more adherent than the other?
When laying down the parchment, pay attention to which side is more "slippery" than the other. You should put the paper on the tray with the most adhesive side up: it will come in contact with the cake batter.
Next, don't forget to butter and flour the parchment. Otherwise, when your sponge cake is baked, it will stick to the paper and tear.
Don't let the sponge cake brown
Baking a roll cake isn't like baking a classic sponge cake. Ideally, your roll cake sponge should be cooked without intense browning.
Letting it brown will dry out and become brittle, increasing the chance of breaking it when rolling.
Bake your cake in the middle rack of the oven for the best results. And please, avoid overbaking.
The best advice is to stay nearby and monitor the baking, following the time indicated in the recipe. Once again, the biscuit shouldn't be too brown. The overcooked biscuit will break when rolling.
There is a little trick on how to check the baking of the biscuit. Try to press lightly on it. If the sponge cake crushes under your finger, it is not adequately cooked. If it is relatively firm and springs back, the cooking is finished.
Don't open the oven door
Another great tip: never open the oven door during baking. Otherwise, the sponge cake will rick to flatten.
Let the biscuit cool down
When the sponge comes out of the oven, a serious adventure begins.
If you choose to trim the edges of the sponge cake while it is hot, you can do this. Otherwise, you can trim your rolled cake after it is rolled.
Some recipes require cutting the biscuit of a particular size. Use the knife to make a pretty rectangle before rolling it.
Sprinkle the surface of the hot biscuit with a bit of sugar. Then place parchment paper with a slightly damp towel (use a spray bottle to dampen the cloth with water) on top.
Alternatively, you can use only wet and crumpled baking paper (no towel required). This tried-and-true method prevents your cake from drying and keeps it moist, giving your sponge maximum flexibility.
Unmold the cake
Cover the sponge (topped with parchment paper and a towel) with a second baking sheet, then turn everything over. The sponge cake will be on paper with a wet cloth covered by the baking tray.
Let the sponge cake rest for 3-5 minutes. This operation keeps the steam well and facilitates demolding.
Remove the baking sheet. Slightly moisten the parchment paper with the spray bottle and wait about 1 minute before gently peeling off the parchment paper.
For the silicone baking sheet, carefully remove it from the sponge. Now, you should give your sponge 3-5 minutes to cool down.
Roll up the cake with a towel inside
So, how to make a cake roll without cracking? The little trick to ensure that your baked sponge cake will not break and roll well is double rolling.
Once the sponge is out of the oven with parchment paper or baking sheet off, you will roll it for the first time. The second time will be with the filling.
But it is essential to choose the right time to roll the cake while it is warm. It must be warm, not hot, and not cold. It is time to start when you can touch the sponge with your finger without burning yourself.
Roll it gently with the damp towel and parchment paper, starting from one edge and moving towards the opposite.
Tighten the roll loosely enough to keep its shape. Be careful with applying so much strength that you can break the biscuit.
If it breaks in some places, please don't panic. Moving forward, with the increased thickness, the roll will be easier to handle.
You can choose to roll your cake from a short side or long side: it all depends on your preference. The cake rolled from the short end will be shorter and thicker; rolled length-wise, the cake will be longer and thinner.
When the cake is rolled up, the damp towel helps the biscuit take the right shape. Keep the cake in the kitchen towel with parchment at room temperature until ready to garnish, at least 5-10 minutes.
Soak the biscuit carefully
Some recipes call for the syrup to soak the sponge cake before filling it and final rolling. The advantage is that you can flavor it with alcohol, maple syrup, coconut, vanilla, coffee, etc.
But be careful: excessive soaking of the cake can ruin its texture, making it sensitive to breaking. In all cases, the syrup must be cooled before using it.
Choose the right frosting
For roll cakes, whipped cream, jam or preserves, buttercream, and chocolate ganache are classic frosting ideas. But nowadays, you can fill your baking creation with almost anything you want.
Let's make a list of possible roll cake filling ideas:
- whipped cream filling,
- cream based on mascarpone or sour cream,
- strawberry cream,
- cream cheese filling,
- chocolate ganache,
- chocolate mousse,
- chestnut cream,
- redcurrant jelly,
- chocolate spread,
- lemon curd, etc.
But be careful, however, in choosing the filling. The best choices are those that are spreadable but don't run and don't melt while applying to the sponge cake.
Also, avoid mixing many flavors together and try not to overwhelm and harmonize the flavor combinations.
Spread filling on the cake in time
For the filling, gently unroll the cake, releasing it from the towel and parchment paper. Next, transfer the sponge to a new piece of parchment paper larger than the unrolled cake. Let it cool for a few minutes.
You should garnish the roll cake quickly enough since the biscuit base dries quickly.
Spread the filling on the surface of the cake in the even layer. Leave 1 inch (2.5 cm) on each side as well as a strip of 2.5 inches (6-7 cm) at the top of the biscuit.
Fill your cake in the morning for the evening or the day before. The sponge requires time for the filling to be set.
Reroll the cake
This time you will reroll the cake filled with cream, jam, or another filling you choose.
How to roll a cake? Roll the cake into three easy steps:
- Start rolling at the table's edge towards the top of the biscuit using the paper to lift and guide.
- Keep going if the sponge cake breaks a little in the first round.
- Roll the cake into a tight log. Watch this short video on how to tighten the roll cake properly.
Chill cake roll
You should decorate the rolled cake after letting it rest in the refrigerator. The roll cake tightened and covered with parchment should be chilled for about 2 hours.
This step helps to set the filling, preventing it from soaking the sponge and helping harden the roll cake.
Decorate the roll cake after chilling
To decorate the cake, remove it from the fridge and remove the parchment. If desired, transfer it to a serving plate to decorate. Or decorate the cake first on parchment paper, then bring it to a serving plate.
And if you leave your roll cake ungarnished, avoid decorating the top of the cake with fresh fruit that may release water and soak the sponge.
But please, note that the chilling and serving time depends on the recipe. For example, some roll cakes can be decorated right away.
Others, filled with whipped or mascarpone cream, should be garnished and served within a few hours. Those with buttercream can be stored longer.
Carefully transfer the roll cake
Now, here is one of the most responsible parts. How to transfer the roll cake without breaking it.
It is a skillful technique you can master. You will need two offset spatulas: a long and a shorter one.
Prepare a serving platter: a serving tray or slate plate. Choose one of the cake ends to start. Run a small offset spatula under the bottom edge of the roll cake to help release it from the working surface.
Slightly lifting your cake with a small spatula, slide a long bent spatula underneath the long side of the cake. Then, with the help of two spatulas, carefully lift the cake and transfer it to the serving platter.
Gently lower the cake keeping one edge lifted with the small spatula and removing the long spatula simultaneously. Then, carefully remove the small spatula. Fix the decoration of the cake if necessary.
Alternatively, you can use a cake lifter with a small offset spatula to transfer your cake.
Store roll cake right
Ideally, the roll cake should be prepared the day before to be served the next day. But you must store it in the refrigerator by covering it with a bell.
Most creams or mousses tend to absorb the food odors in the fridge. So, in the end, you don't want your cake roll to have the turkey aftertaste.
Thaw roll cake in time
A roll cake covered with plastic wrap and aluminum foil can be frozen for up to three months. But take it out of the freezer to the fridge about 15 hours before serving it. This time is essential for the proper thawing of the cake.
Whether you make a perfect Swiss roll cake, a jelly roll, or Buche de Noel or Yule Log for your dinner or a festive meal, these tips and tricks will help you roll a cake like a pro.
Please choose one of the cake roll recipes, garnish it with your favorite filling, and enjoy:
- Sponge Cake Roll
- Chocolate Cake Roll
- Joconde Biscuit
- Japanese Cake Roll
- Choux Pastry Biscuit Roll
Need to adjust your baking pan size?
No worries! This simple cake pan converter is here to help. Now you can easily adjust any size of pan to fit your needs.
And if you don't like roll cakes, enjoy a simple three-ingredient Sponge Cake or chocolate sponge cake.
Among a few causes that make a cake roll crack, three major ones are improper parchment paper preparation, overbaking, and wrong timing in rolling a cake in a towel or omitting this step.
You should roll the cake while warm to use the biscuit texture's flexibility and moisture to give the roll cake shape and avoid breaking it with filling.
Instead of a towel, you can use wet and wrung-out parchment paper to roll a cake.
You can roll a cake without a towel using the parchment paper on which the cake was baked (without flipping the biscuit). Or you can invert the cake onto wet and crumpled parchment paper, remove the baking paper and roll the cake using the damp paper.
Use a spray bottle with water to dampen a tea towel. Then use it to roll a cake.
Once the cake is cooled down in the towel, unroll it. Use an angled spatula to spread the filling evenly, leaving about 1 inch (2.5 cm) on each side and a strip of 2.5 inches (6-7 cm) at the top of the biscuit.
Really useful, informative and helpful, thank you. I have made a chocolate Swiss Roll, as we call it butcwill try other flavours now.