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.



Deborah said...

My mom would make rolls all of the time growing up. The main one she would make was a chocolate cake with a cream filling, but my favorite has always been the pumpkin cake with cream cheese filling. I've never had a roll with angel food cake, so I definitely want to try this out!

Brilynn said...

I bought a jelly roll pan just so I could make something wonderful like this and I have yet to use it, shame on me! I've copied down your recipe, so hopefully that will give me some encouragement.

Freya said...

Wow, well done! Mine always stick and /or crack! Yours looks lovely!

Lis said...

That looks so good! I want some! It looks good enough to kill the sweet craving, but light enough that I wouldn't feel tooooo too guilty for, yanno, eating 1/2 of it. =)


Helene said...

That is too funny, I made one this afternoon because my dad loves them and wanted to tell him I was thinking about him via the blog! Yours look beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Hi Mercedes! Beautiful roll - I'd love to try making one of these sometime!

Patricia Scarpin said...

I love jelly rolls! And if the filling is homemade... omg, impossible to resist!

Mercedes said...

Thanks everyone.
Deborah- I'm definitely looking forward to trying other fillings and combinations, though I love the angel food one.

Brilynn- I envy you your new pan, mine is all old and busted, still works though.

freya- rolling in the towel prevents cracking, yay

lis- seriously, i could've eaten half the thing, but then there wouldn't have been enough left for the next day :-)

helene- so cool, we were on the same page, and so sweet of you to do that for your dad

gilly- give it a try, it's not too difficult

thanks patricia!

Anonymous said...

I've never made a jelly roll like that, but have always wanted to. Yours looks delicious! I can believe you fought over the last piece... ;)

becca said...

Mercedes, I made this cake on Saturday and it turned out pretty well. I realize now that making the filling before I started on the cake (to give it time to cool) would have been good. I only let the roll cool about 20 mins, but it cracked. Should I have done it for just 10-15? Thanks for the awesome recipe!

Mercedes said...

Hi Rebecca, first, I'm so glad you made the cake. I wrote the recipe in that order because that's the way I did it, but I can see how your suggestion would be better. As for the cooling, I don't think twenty minutes is too long, I probably did the same amount, but I'm sorry it cracked! There are so many variations in ovens and pans and such, it's hard to say exactly what happened. Maybe try shortening the cooling period next time. I'm always really carefuly handling the cake, and don't try and flatten it or press down too much when I'm spreading the jam, if that helps. Many thanks for the feedback!