04 April 2007
Roll, Angel, Roll
Isn’t it great when something exceeds your expectations? I’ll admit that I made this recipe purely because it was “light.” I was going to say healthy, but I mean, who am I kidding, it’s a cake after all. I had been remembering how my mom loves a jelly roll, and I’d also gotten the idea of angel food cake sort of stuck in my head, and there it was, an angel roll cake. Something light but satisfying to throw together on a weekend afternoon.
But the shocker was how good this was, not that I expected it to be bad or anything, I knew it would be enough to curb the after-dinner sweet craving. But, fight-over-the-last-crumb good? No way. And yet it was, the soft, pillowy texture of the sweet cake with the lightly tart homemade fruit filling, just right. After finishing our first slices, we looked at each other, and went and cut two more big pieces.
There is something very homely about making a roll cake, the way you get to wrap it in a towel, all warm and sugary, the tender act of spreading it with jam. Even it’s presentation is somehow simple, the basic geometry of its inner spiral. I served it with whipped cream but I think you could dress it up a little by spreading a light whipped cream or meringue frosting over the surface of the roll. It’s also wide open to possibilities, using whatever fruit is in season, and I am already dreaming up the next incarnation, maybe a cocoa roll, or a rose-flavored one.
Angel Jelly Roll
I like to make my own fruit filling for this, which gives control over the texture and amount of sugar, I find a less-sweet filling compliments the sweet cake. However, you could also use store-bought jam if you prefer. Rolling the cake in the towel prevents cracking.
for the cake:
1 3/4 cups superfine sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup cake flour, sifted
12 egg whites, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
for the filling:
3 cups strawberries (or other berries)
2/3 to 1 cup sugar, to taste depending on the berries
1 tsp lemon juice
optional: meringue frosting
1. For the filling: Place the berries in a saucepan and add the lemon juice and sugar to taste. Simmer the mixture oer medium heat, mashing the berries with the back of a spoon, until jammy and thick. Let cool.
2. For the cake: Preheat the oven to 375, line a jelly roll or baking pan with wax paper, do not grease it. Sift together 3/4 cup of the sugar, the salt, and flour into a bowl. In a clean bowl combine the egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until they begin to hold soft peaks. Gradually add the remaining 1 cup of sugar, a few taablespoons at a time, while beating, until the whites hold stiff peaks. Gently fold the flour mixture into the egg whites in two additions. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden, risen, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry.
3. Get a clean kitchen towel and sift some powdered sugar lightly over it’s surface. Invert the warm cake onto the towel and peel off the wax paper. Sift some more powdered sugar over the cake. Roll up the cake in the towel into a roll. Leave to cool for 10-15 minutes.
4. Assemble the cake: Unroll the cake. Spread the inside thickly with the jam, leaving a half-inch border around the edges. Using the towel as a guide, roll up the cake. Place seam side down on a serving platter, frost with meringue frosting or sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.