Chocolate Roulade (Swiss-Roll Cake)

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This chocolate roulade is an absolute dream. Made of chocolate spongecake filled with sweetened whipped cream, you won’t find a more airy cake than this!

Chocolate Roulade (Swiss-Roll Cake)

Interesting fact: The famous French culinary school, Le Cordon Bleu, has many of its students whipping up meringues and other equally exhaustive dessert batters by hand, rather than use any electric mixers and machines to do it. Torture? Maybe. A lesson in true culinary technique? Probably so. Not enough room for extra equipment? Most likely.

Seriously, I’ve toured the classrooms and they’re very small compared to some of the culinary school kitchens you’ll find here in the States. I’ve heard that they just don’t have the room to add all the extra mixers and such to their classrooms so they simply teach students to do it the old-fashioned way.

Some prospective students may be deterred by this, I merely view it as an exciting challenge that makes Cordon Bleu even more of a dream school.

chocolate roulade cake chocolate roulade cake

All this is to say that I started seriously pondering what life would be like the “old-fashioned way” when I came to make this chocolate roulade and discovered I was out of parchment paper.

Normally, I wouldn’t think twice as I’d simply butter and flour my pan like people used to do before parchment paper became a thing. But this is one of those cakes that is just waiting to mock you and laugh evilly at you when you try to get it out of the pan.

I know, because I’ve done the whole good-ole-flour-and-butter greasing technique with this recipe and I ended up with a cake that, after careful nudging and scraping, flipped out of the pan with a big scrap missing. T’was very sad, I assure you.

 

It’s because this cake is just so light and spongy, and not to mention thin, that it becomes really easy to stick to a pan. The whipped egg whites in them don’t help either.

But, you know, being the rebellious (read: foolish) girl that I am, I decided to just go for it and make the cake anyway by merely buttering my pan and dusting it with cocoa powder.

God must love me, because by some miracle, I was able to flip out the cake in one piece without too much of a struggle. But please, don’t be like me and pray for miracles. Just run to the grocery store and buy the parchment paper if you’re out of it. 

chocolate roulade cake chocolate roulade cake

This chocolate roulade, the word roulade stemming from the French word “rouler” (to roll), is made up of a spongy, chocolate cake layer that’s been covered in thick whipped cream, then rolled into a tight spiral.

The cake layer is perfectly light and airy, which compliments the equally light, but decadent, cream filling. I swear, you’ll cut a slice for yourself and wonder where the heck it went a minute later, it’s that easy to eat up. 

Aside from the suggestion to use parchment paper, another point I want to make is that you’ll want to roll the sheet of cake while it’s still warm. The first time I made this cake, I used a recipe that instructed me to wait for the cake to cool and then roll it into a jelly roll. Well, I ended up with a roll that had a bunch of cracks all over it.

The author of the recipe had said in the instructions that this was normal and part of its charm. I wasn’t buying it. So, from then on, each time I made this cake, I let the cake rest in the pan for only a couple of minutes before rolling it up in a kitchen towel that had been sprinkled with powdered sugar.

I leave the cake in a roll until it completely cooled. Once it’s cooled, I unroll the sheet of cake, spread thick whipped cream all over the top, and then roll it back up. The result has always been a scrumptious cake that is free of any cracks! 

chocolate roulade cake

Chocolate Roulade Cake

Yield: 6

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 tbsp cake flour
  • 1/4 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 c heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 425°F and line a quarter sheet pan (9"x13") with parchment paper. Cut a slit in the parchment paper in each of the four corners of the pan so that the parchment paper lies completely flat against the edges of the pan. Set aside.
  2. Drop the 2 egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk on high speed for about 2 to 3 minutes, until wet soft peaks form. You want the whites to stay hanging on your whisk when they're held upside down, but you don't want them so stiff and dry like you would for a merengue (aim for softly curled tips). Temporarily set the whites aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until they're pale yellow. In a separate, smaller bowl, sift the cocoa powder, cake flour, coffee granules, baking powder, and salt together. Add these dry ingredients to the bowl containing the egg yolks and sugar. Whisk to combine - batter will be VERY thick and hard to mix, but this is normal, so just try your best to mix everything together.
  4. Add in half of the egg whites and use a rubber spatula to gently fold the whites into the batter. You don't have to be extra gentle at this point since you are merely trying to loosen up the batter with the egg whites. Now, add the remaining half of egg whites and, this time, be VERY gentle when folding the whites into the batter with your spatula; make light, long folds.
  5. Pour the batter into you're prepared pan and use your spatula to gently smooth out the batter. Don't tap the pan or move the pan side to side - you don't want to ruin the air bubbles you created with the whipped egg whites. Bake the cake for 6 to 7 minutes, or until the cake springs back when gently pressed by the tip of your finger (for me, it's always about 6 1/2 minutes in the oven).
  6. Let the cake slightly cool in the pan for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare a light kitchen/tea towel by sprinkling powdered sugar all over it. Flip the cake out onto the towel and peel the parchment paper off. Grab one of the short sides of the cake and roll it towards the other short side, rolling the towel with it as you go. Let the cake remain in this rolled shape until it's completely cool.
  7. Whip up your heavy cream in your stand mixer on high speed for one minute, or until the folds of the whisk start appearing in the cream. Add in the vanilla extract and the powdered sugar and continue to whisk on high until the cream is thick like frosting.
  8. Unroll your cake and use an offset spatula to spread the whipped cream all over the surface, leaving a very small border around the edges of the cake unfrosted. Gently roll the cake back up just like you did before (minus the towel) and dust with powdered sugar.

Notes

This recipe yields a smaller roulade. To make a standard size roulade, simply double all the ingredients and use a half sheet pan.

18 thoughts on “Chocolate Roulade (Swiss-Roll Cake)”

  1. Hi Beeta,
    I made this lovely roulade and it tasted so great, but I had a slight problem. I baked it for 6 1/2 minutes, and it was springy to the touch, but it was difficult to peel the parchment away and some of the cake came off with it. What did I do wrong? Should I let it bake the full 7 minutes so it is slightly more dry? Is there a trick?

    Reply
  2. Used this as the base of a Buche de Noel for our Christmas for two – it’s hard to find a recipe for a smaller one! Combined this sponge with a gelatin-stabilized whipped cream and a dark chocolate ganache and it worked beautifully – the cake rolls nicely and isn’t too sweet so it can handle whatever toppings/fillings you want.

    Reply

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