Kind of a mouthful of a cake name, I know. I’m trying to come up with something that rolls off the tongue a little better, but then again, the real focus here is how it tastes going down, not sounds being described.
The holiday: Easter. For the past several years, I’ve done some variation on the lemon-coconut cake. I love it, but I didn’t have the patience to make the curd, toast the coconut, bake the buttermilk cake, etc.
The fact is that I love a rich, chocolate dessert, or a rich, cheesy dessert. Tiramisu often fills this bill, but I’m not a huge coffee fan. Solution? Sub amaretto for coffee! I’ve Frankensteined 3 recipes:
- Joy of Cooking Chocolate Genoise
- Good Housekeeping Illustrated Book of Desserts tiramisu filling
- Your basic chocolate ganache
I find people are intimidated by the concept of a rolled cake. I, too, once was. Then, I learned two things. I learned how to embrace imperfection, and the value of the right recipe. I’m going to show you plenty of pictures of the process of rolling the cake to increase your comfort level.
The Joy of Cooking cake works wonders. The actual recipe calls for making the cake in a tube pan or round cake pans, but you can also make it on an 11 x 17 sheet pan, which is what you need to do for the roulade. Here’s mine, in the pan, after cooking:
I think it cooks for about 20 minutes, until you see it pull away from the sides of the pan. Watch it to be sure you don’t overcook.
To get the cake out, first loosen the cake edges with a knife while it is still hot. Sift cocoa onto a tea or dish towel, then shake off the extra over the sink. Cover the cake with the cocoa’d towel, cocoa side meeting the cake. Then, cover the towel with a cooling rack, or even another sheet pan. Flip the whole sandwich—pan, cake, towel, rack/pan—so you get the cake onto the towel. Peel off the parchment, and you’ll have this:
Then, without fear or hesitation, wrap it before it cools. The first strip that folds over onto itself may break off, but just keep rolling. No fear! Progress looks like:
If you, like me, love wrapping presents, you’ll enjoy rolling cakes. I bet I’d be a pretty good cigar roller.
Let the cake cook. It won’t take too long. You can mix your filling while waiting.
My tiramisu filling is:
- 2 x 8 oz. tubs of mascarpone cheese
- not quite a pint of heavy cream, whipped
- 8 oz. of grated milk and semi-sweet chocolate (you can use dark chocolate, too, but since kids were involved, I kept it basic)
- 1/3 c. powdered sugar
- 3 TBS amaretto
- 1 TBS vanilla
I whipped it all together so it was a spreadable consistency, fairly near room temperature. Cold filling would be harder to spread and would tear the cake. That wouldn’t be a huge crisis, but it might stress you out, so why risk it?
Don’t let what the cooled cake looks like, unrolled, stress you out, either. This is chocolate. It’s practically the antithesis of stress:
Mix together in a small bowl or cut-glass old fashioned glass:
- 3 TBS amaretto
- 1 TBS vanilla
- 2 TBS warm water
You could go rum, or bourbon, or coffee if you wished. But I was after amaretto. Use a pastry brush to liberally soak the cake. I humbly submit this maxim for your consideration when brushing a liquid glaze over a genoise cake being used in a roulade:
If you’re shy/it will be dry.
Almost as catchy as if it doesn’t fit/you must acquit, amirite?
Seriously, though, while you don’t want to soak it, because soggy cake will fall apart, you also don’t want the cake to be dry. Take your time. Pretend you are an archaeologist, or a CSI, and work in quadrants to be sure you’re getting complete coverage. Then, spread the filling. If the first strip you roll breaks off, just lay it on top and keep rolling. It’ll come together, I promise. The filling will help:
Some recipes suggest that you can stop at this point, maybe with one more dusting of cocoa and powdered sugar sifted over the top, and frankly, you probably could:
But, you know me, people. Am I likely to stop when there’s the chance to add more chocolate? Not bloody likely. First, however, I let this chill for a bit in the fridge. That allowed the filling and glaze to soak into the cake. While that was happening, I made a basic chocolate ganache, equal parts chocolate and cream.
Before I glazed with the ganache, I sliced off the ends so the filling would come right up to the edge of the cake. If I had been making a bûche de noël, I’d have used those ends to make a little branch stub, but I just set them aside to eat later.
[Speaking of bûche de noël, if I'd had edible flowers, I might have sprinkled those over the top of this cake and called it a bûche d'été. Or whatever the French word for spring is, since technically, Easter is a spring holiday. But I'm going with roulade for now, and I didn't have edible flowers available, so use your imagination.]
[Also, note the waxed paper. That is actually four strips of waxed paper, just barely tucked under the cake. That helps with clean-up after the ganache. If you use a single sheet and have to pull it all out, you can rip the cake.]
I forgot to put the seam side down on the platter, so I had a weird overhanging cliff thing going on. No worries. I just filled it in at the end with extra whipped cream. But, if you remember, put the seam end down so you have a smooth roll all around. The photo above is the cake after the first layer of ganache. I let it sit in the fridge for about 10 minutes, took it out again, ran my small offset spatula under hot water and then dried it thoroughly, and smoothed out the first layer. Then, poured a second layer. I think I could have skipped the whole process, because it didn’t get noticeably smoother:
You can see the overhang here, before I filled in with more whipped cream. Those flowers could have come in handy for covering this up, too, but honestly, no one noticed. All they saw was chocolate cake!
That’s it. That’s how easy it is to roll a cake. You could do chocolate with softened mint chip ice cream, maybe moistening the cake with a simple syrup for kids, or chocolate or creme de menthe liqueur for adults. You could just do stabilized whipped cream, or cream whipped with strawberry puree. You could use goat cheese instead of mascarpone. YUM. You could fill and cover with buttercream frosting. Why not? Have fun! Be brave! Don’t fear cracks and breaks!