This homemade strawberry Swiss roll cake recipe is perfect for any spring or summer occasion. Using the basic techniques for making a spongecake combined with a simple Chantilly cream filling and strawberry jelly, you’ve got a delightfully light cake you won’t be able to say no to!
Classic Swiss Roll Recipe
When you’re making any kind of Swiss roll cake (aka a French roulade), whether it’s a chocolate roulade or this strawberry Swiss roll recipe, classic technique calls for you to whip up your egg yolks and egg whites separately.
The yolks are usually combined with sugar, vanilla, milk, oil, and cake flour, while the egg whites are whipped with sugar and a tiny bit of cream of tartar until they’ve achieved soft peaks. The beaten egg whites are then gently folded into the rest of the cake batter to produce a light and fluffy Swiss roll recipe.
You may see some recipes that don’t call for separating the egg yolks and whites. Instead, they’ll call for you to whip the whole eggs with the sugar for several minutes and call for the use baking powder in the recipe.
This is just an alternative way of trying to achieve the same goal: a light and fluffy cake that puffs up as it bakes. At the end of the day, it’s a personal preference. I like to stick with the tried and true classic technique in this case and separate my eggs.
I do think that it’s important you use cake flour. While you can technically use all-purpose flour, the cake flour just makes this spongecake a truly light-as-air cake, which is what spongecakes are all about.
How do you roll a Swiss roll cake?
So, when you’re making a Swiss roll cake, you obviously need to first flip the cake out of the cake pan. This makes people really nervous if they’ve never made a cake like this before because the cake tends to be very thin and delicate.
The best method for doing this is to prep your baking sheet with a greased sheet of parchment paper and then flip the pan upside down over a light kitchen towel that’s been generously dusted with powdered sugar.
You need to make sure you do this while the cake is still warm. I wait exactly 2 minutes after I’ve taken a spongecake out of the oven before I flip it out. This is always the perfect amount of time for the cake to just ever so slightly cool while still being warm enough and flexible enough to roll.
Once you flip the cake out onto the kitchen towel, you can just slowly peel the parchment paper away from the cake. Then, it’s just a matter of grabbing one short end of the cake and rolling it (with the towel; I know, it seems crazy), to the other short end.
The Swiss roll cake stays rolled up like this until it’s completely cool, at which point it can be filled.
How do you fill a Swiss roll?
To fill this strawberry Swiss roll cake recipe, you’ll first unroll the cake after it’s cooled. It won’t look completely flat like it once did, but that’s okay.
You’ll spread a thin layer of strawberry jelly all over the cake and then whip up some fresh Chantilly cream (which is essentially heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla) to spread on top of the jelly.
You can fill your cake with fresh fruits, but I typically advise against this as fruit tends to make spongecakes soggy. The only fruit I’d probably add into this cake are fresh blueberries because they’re usually not very moist like strawberries, raspberries, bananas, etc.
In fact, fresh blueberries added into this would make for a beautiful Bastille Day dessert!
In this case, the strawberry jelly adds all the strawberry flavor you need without making the cake soggy like fresh fruit tends to do.
After the jelly and whipped cream have been added to the cake, you’ll re-roll the cake back into a spiral. There will definitely be some cream and jelly seeping out, but you can just enjoy the extra filling as a pre-cake treat!
Can You Refrigerate Swiss Rolls?
Once your cake has been rolled up, you’ll cover the strawberry Swiss roll cake with the remaining Chantilly cream. I garnished the cake with some fresh strawberries on top, a drizzle of white chocolate, and slivered almonds.
The cake then needs to be refrigerated. I place the cake in a covered cake stand and make sure there’s nothing with strong odors in the fridge that could affect the cake. Allowing the cake to sit in the fridge for a few hours is best to get the cake nicely chilled.
A chilled Swiss roll cake will make for easier and neater slices once you do cut up and serve the cake.
After you’ve enjoyed the cake, you can refrigerate the cake for a couple of days and it will still be a great cake. That said, I always get people who ask me whether a Swiss roll cake can be made ahead.
I especially get this question with my Buche de Noel recipe as the holidays tend to be crazy and the need for make-ahead desserts is common.
My answer is always that I recommend making this cake only 1 day in advance and no sooner. The reality is that while your cake will be fine after a couple of days in the fridge, it won’t be at it’s optimal texture the way it would if you made this early in the morning or the evening prior.
What I like to do when I’m making this cake ahead is make the spongecake layer a day in advance. I keep the cake rolled up in the towel and wrap the whole thing (cake, towel, and all) in plastic wrap and leave it out on the counter.
The next day, I whip up the Chantilly cream and unravel the cake to fill and re-roll into a spiral. I frost the exterior then place it in the covered cake stand until later in the day when I serve it.
Tips for Making Swiss Roll Cakes
Spongecakes aren’t as tricky as they might seem, and once you get the hang of them, you can make all sorts of flavors and fillings.
Here are some tips I like to call out whenever you’re making one:
- When you’re whipping the egg whites, be sure to whip them until they form soft peaks. This means that the egg whites are still wet, rather than dry and glossy like they are for meringue. This also means that when you lift the whisk up, the egg whites will have a soft curl at the tip.
- When you’re folding the whites into the batter, use a very gentle hand. The point of folding vs. just whisking or stirring the whites in is to maintain as much of the air that’s been whipped into the whites as you can. This is what is going to make your spongecake light and fluffy.
- Use cake flour vs. all-purpose flour; this will really make a difference in the lightness of your cake as cake flour has less gluten content than all-purpose flour. I use the Swans Down brand as it tends to be found most easily at the grocery store, but you can use any brand that is specifically labeled as cake flour.
- Use office binder clips to keep the parchment paper taut against the cake pan. Parchment paper doesn’t sit very stiffly against the edges of a cake pan. Normally, this is not an issue when you’re baking something like chocolate chip cookies, but with a cake like this where you want a neat and even rectangle, it’s best to keep the paper perfectly taut and in place with the help of binder clips.
- Don’t fill your spongecakes with fruit, as fruit tends to make the cake soggy.
- Don’t make your cake more than a day in advance, as the cake will eventually lose its optimal texture and become soggy the longer it sits in the fridge.
for the spongecake
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp (30 g) granulated cane sugar
- 2 tbsp (30 g) vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) whole milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 6 tbsp (60 g) cake flour
- 3 egg whites
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 2 tbsp (30 g) granulated cane sugar
- parchment paper and baking spray for the pan
- powdered sugar plus a light kitchen towel for the cake
for the filling
- 1/2 of an 18 oz. jar of strawberry jelly
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- fresh strawberries, white chocolate chips, and slivered almonds to garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a 9"x13" jelly roll pan with a sheet of parchment paper. Clip the parchment paper to each side of the the pan using binder clips; this will help keep the paper taut against the bottom and edges of the pan. Spray the parchment paper with baking spray.
- To a large bowl, add the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla extract, whole milk, and oil. Whisk to combine. Stir in the cake flour to combine.
- To the bowl of a mixer, add the egg whites and whip on high speed until foamy. Once foamy, add the cream of tartar along with a little bit of the sugar. Continue whisking on high speed, slowly adding the sugar in bit by bit. Once the egg whites have achieved soft peaks and the tip softly curls when you hold the whisk up, stop mixing.
- Add 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the cake batter. Use your whisk to just combine this batch of whites into the batter, effectively lightening up the batter a bit.
- Now add another 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter, but this time use a rubber spatula to very gently fold the whites into the batter. Add the remaining egg whites, and gently fold them in. Once you can't see any streaks of white, stop folding.
- Gently spread the cake batter out in your prepared pan. Once you have a nice even layer, pop the cake into the oven. Bake the cake for at least 10 minutes but up to 15 minutes depending on how hot your oven gets. The cake will be ready when its golden on top and springs back to the touch when you gently press on it with your finger.
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, generously dust a light kitchen towel all over with powdered sugar. Flip the cake out onto the prepared towel. Gently peel the parchment paper away from the cake.
- Grab the short end of the cake, grabbing the towel edge with it, and roll the cake (with the towel) to the other short end. Keep the cake rolled up like this until it's completely cool.
- While the cake cools, whip up the Chantilly cream filling. Add the heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract and powdered sugar to a clean mixing bowl. Whisk on high speed until it is thick and has the consistency of whipped cream frosting.
- When the cake has cooled, unroll the cake. It won't look completely flat but that's okay. Spread the strawberry jelly all over the cake, edge-to-edge. Then spread a thick layer of Chantilly cream (about half of the prepared cream) on top of the jelly.
- Roll the cake back up, grabbing one short end and rolling to the other. Transfer the cake to a (covered) cake stand. If you don't have one, please see notes below. Frost the exterior of the rolled cake with the remaining Chantilly cream.
- Add fresh strawberries (make sure they're dried with a paper towel first) to the top of the cake. Then melt a handful of white chocolate chips in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir the chips to smooth them out and then scoop the melted chocolate into a small sandwich size ziplock bag. Snip a very tiny bit off the corner of the bag and use it to drizzle the chocolate over the top of the cake and strawberries. Garnish the top of the cake with some slivered almonds. Add the cake stand cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
If you don't have a cake stand, you'll want to find a deep dish in which you can place the rolled cake in and cover it. You'll also want to place the cake on a cake board so that you can lift it up and eventually transfer it to your serving plate.
If you can't do that option, then you'll want to place the frosted cake onto your serving plate and cover it with a sheet of plastic wrap. You'll then want to save some of the Chantilly cream and all your garnishes for later, so that you can fix the smudged frosting (from the plastic wrap) and decorate the cake before serving.