Hello there! I hope you're enjoying the summer so far and staying cool. We're in the midst of a heat wave and I feel like I'm in the middle of a summer haze myself, trying to get used to the summer schedule and all the activities that come with it.
Shall we sit a spell and virtually share a slice of this mini roll cake I attempted? It was not a very successful endeavor, to be honest, but at the rate I've been going...I was happy to have something to show for at the end! It's a mini roll cake from the Dessert for Two cookbook - essentially a sponge cake that I decided to fill with Nutella instead of jam. All's well taste-wise but rolling the cake was a harrowing experience as it cracked pretty significantly.
Maybe I should have known that simply rolling the cake in foil (as per instructions; and instead of the usual powdered sugar with towel method) was too good to be true. I really wanted to believe and gave it a try...so I watched the cake stick and stick to that foil. Lesson learned! With shaky hands, I persevered best I could and in the end, though cracked, we had a roll cake!
The petite cake is baked in an 8" square brownie pan, a good small size for our little family for a mid-afternoon treat. To be honest, it can be hard to find time to sit down to a mid-afternoon treat in the summer but we managed to gobble this down.
So...I hinted at not being exactly "on a roll" (haha) lately in the kitchen. Aside from forgetting the baking powder in a batch of pancakes the other day, I also had a total dud trying to make Dominique Ansel's flourless chocolate cookies. We went out to brunch in Manhattan last weekend and happened to stop by Dominique Ansel Kitchen (Cronut creator, Dominique Ansel's bakery/restaurant). We were full but took home a flourless chocolate cookie, which turned out to be amazing! Aside from being perfectly chocolaty, I couldn't believe how it could be flourless because the cookie was so thick and dense - yet moist. I found the recipe online and was so excited. But suffice it to say, the making of that cookie is still a mystery to be because mine were a delicious gooey puddle. I ended up using some of the warm cookies as a chocolate "sauce" with vanilla ice cream and I froze the rest so we could handle/eat them - they were very tasty but nothing like the ones at the shop. So maybe you can see why I'm grateful I had some cake to show for this latest kitchen endeavor, cracks or not!
This small roll cake/jelly roll starts with a fairly basic sponge cake...for this small batch recipe, you only need 2 eggs, beaten until they're nice and thick. A few tablespoons of flour, some baking powder and corn starch get folded in, followed by a bit of melted butter and milk. The only addition I made was to add a little vanilla extract.
The cake bakes up nice and golden, moist and fluffy.
It was looking quite promising...until I went on to the rolling step. The instructions called for letting the cake cool fully before rolling it on top of a piece of aluminum foil, using the foil to help you roll (keeping the foil outside of the cake). Yes, it did sound too simple to be true given the usual tea towel and powdered sugar technique. Moreover, most recipe call for rolling the cake while warm. But I followed the recipe to give it a try...and well, I wouldn't do exactly the same again, as you can see below...
Yikes, so much sticking! I plowed on ahead though. After rolling it best I could manage, I transferred the rolled cake to another piece of foil (it no longer sticks) and sealed the ends. I then let the cake sit overnight in the fridge. The next day, I carefully unrolled it and spread it with Nutella (you could use jam, as intended in the original recipe).
I rolled the cake back up, deployed the powdered sugar liberally, and there we have it...my crackly but tasty roll cake with Nutella filling!
If I work up the courage to make this recipe again, I'd ditch the foil method. I assume I'd still have cracks in the cake (maybe rolling it cooled is another culprit) if I'd gone with the tea towel method for rolling but I could have at least eliminated all the sticking, which didn't help the endeavor.
And when in doubt, add some seasonal berries to the plate. It's not only tasty but hopefully helps to draw one's eye away from cracks and imperfections in your cake!
Mini Roll Cake with Nutella Filling
Adapted from Dessert for Two
- Makes one 8-inch long roll cake -
5 tablespoons (37.5g) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons (45 ml) milk (I used whole but you can also go with 2%)
1 tablespoon (15g) unsalted butter
5 tablespoons (62.5g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 to 1/2 cup Nutella chocolate-hazelnut spread
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Line just the bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan that has sharp corners (a pan with rounded edges is not recommended because the cake might not roll evenly) with a square of parchment paper. Do not grease the pan.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and cornstarch together twice into a small bowl, being careful not to lose any flour in the transfer.
Melt butter with the milk in a small microwave safe bowl in the microwave, about 20 seconds on high. Set nearby.
Place eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric mixer if you have one) and beat on high speed until mixture is thick and fluffy, which can take more than 5 minutes.
Add one-third of the flour mixture to the egg mixture and gently fold together. Add another third and repeat. Finally, add the last of the flour mixture and continue to gently fold together.
Reheat the butter mixture for 15 seconds in the microwave until steamy hot. Pour all of it at once into the batter and fold it together.
Scrape batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17-20 minutes.
Remove pan from the oven, let cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before running an offset spatula or butter knife around the edges of the cake to release it from the pan. Gently tip the cake out, bottom side up, onto the cooling rack. Let cool completely before gently removing the parchment paper.
Once the cake has completely cooled, transfer it onto a clean tea towel that's been dusted with powdered sugar (Note: the original recipe calls for placing the cooled cake onto a piece of aluminum foil and rolling the cake using the foil; I had a bit of a sticky mess on my hands doing that). Beginning with the edge closest to you, roll the first inch of the cake tightly and firmly. Squeeze/gently press the roll together all along the edges and continue rolling, using the towel to guide you (but keeping the towel outside the cake roll). When you are done, squeeze the cake roll together with your hands to ensure a tight roll. Transfer the rolled cake to a piece of parchment paper, wrapping it snuggly with the paper. Next, wrap the roll with a piece of aluminum foil, twisting the ends close. Refrigerate the rolled cake for at least 4 hours or overnight.
To finish, remove the cake from the foil/parchment. Unroll the cake gently and spread it evenly with Nutella. Roll the cake back up, place on a serving plate and dust with powdered sugar. Slice with a serrated knife and serve.