Chocolate Swiss Roll

It had been months that I was planning to make a tronchetto di Natale. A gorgeous yule log cake (in France it is called Bûche de Noël)  made during the holidays and usually directed with pretty meringue mushrooms.  I planned. I dreamed. I set the date.

                      “The best  laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.”
                                  To A Mouse, (The best Laid Schemes O’ Mice An’ Men) by Robert Burns

It never happened. I couldn’t get a chocolate roll cake out of my mind. The chocolate bûche  taunted and tormented me. I had my recipe I was going to use. It was a Martha Stewart Chocolate Rum Swiss Roll recipe. There were other recipes I was checking out with the traditional yule log decorations. There was a simple Bûche de Noël I came across on a lovely blog called Poire au Chocolat. The sponge she uses is adapted from David Lebovitz’s book Ready for Dessert. Things got hectic getting closer to the holidays. Time slipped and I never baked my dream cake.

There was a special birthday coming up at my neighbor’s house a few weeks ago. I volunteered to bring a cake (or they volunteered me)…I knew it had to be a chocolate Swiss roll cake (or as it’s also called: a jelly roll cake). It was a huge hit. I had this post ready to go up on my blog this weekend. 

My great-aunt Mariskaneni from Hungary used to always make a jelly roll cake. It was one of her signature desserts. Simple and light as air. The jelly filling was just the perfect sweetness. It wasn’t frosted or fancy. And that was the beauty of it. This had to be frosted. A shimmering chocolate ganache was the ideal way to top of this gorgeous cake. My neighbors agreed. The cake disappeared in seconds. 
This is the cake that is already being requested for special and not so special occasions. Just because. Just because it is amazing!

As I’m putting together this post, my kids and one of the kids from next door are surrounding me, “I remember that cake! You brought it to our house. That was a really good cake!”


There are roll cakes all over the world. Here is what I found out about them doing a quick research:

  • Catalan: Braç de gitano
  • Danish: Roulade
  • Estonian: Rullbiskviit
  • French: Gâteau roulé or Roulade or Rouleau Suisse
  • Finnish: Kääretorttu
  • German: Biskuitrolle, or Biskuitroulade (Austria)
  • Italian: Tronchetto (literally “little trunk” (of the tree))
  • Hebrew: גלילה (gəlēlah)
  • Hungarian: Lekváros tekercs, or Piskóta tekercs
  • Norwegian: Rullekake
  • Portuguese: Torta (Portugal), Rocambole (Brazil)
  • Spanish: In Colombia, a Swiss Roll is called either pionono or brazo de reina, where it’s filled with dulce de guayaba (guava jam) or arequipe. In Argentina and Peru, it is called pionono, where it’s filled with dulce de leche manjarblanco. In Chile, it is called brazo de Reina. In the Philippines, it is called brazo de Mercedes. In Spain, it is called brazo de gitano (literally translated as gypsy’s arm) and is commonly filled with cream or chocolate truffle, and although in Venezuela  it is known under the same name as in Spain, there is a vast array of fillings that go from cream, chocolate truffle, dulce de guayaba (guava jam),dulce de leche manjarblanco, combined with fruits.
  • Ukrainian: Рулет
  • Japanese:ロールケーキ (Roll cake)
  • Swedish: Rulltårta
  • Turkish: Rulo pasta (Roll cake)

But this is not to be confused with a prepackaged Swiss roll cake. 😉 I don’t think they could even remotely be compared. I think I tried one at a friends’ house when I was a teenager. I remember opening the plastic wrap and seeing the dry chocolate wrapped around what my friend said was a fantastic treat. I took a bite and when she wasn’t looking, put the rest back back in the wrapper. Yep, there is no comparison.

I came across several versions of this cake when deciding which recipe to make. I did make this recipe also and loved the directions. You could check out her website (Food is My Life) for more tips and lovely photos.

Chocolate Swiss Roll

adapted from Martha Stewart

For cake
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
1/4 cup sifted unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, plus more for pan
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for pan
Pinch of salt
3 large whole eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled completely

For filling

1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar, sifted

(I liked this ganache method the best from the few I checked out) 
Joy of Baking  via Joy the Baker

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces
2/3 cups heavy cream

To make the Ganache:

Place chocolate pieces in a medium bowl.  Heat cream in a small sauce pan to almost boiling.  The milk will be steaming hot.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate pieces.  Allow to stand for one minute before whisking into a smooth and glossy chocolate sauce.  Allow to rest in the fridge until thickened slightly, about 30 minutes.


Prepare oven and baking sheet: Heat oven to 450 degrees, with rack in bottom half. Coat a 12 1/2-by-17 1/2-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper; coat with cooking spray. Dust with cocoa powder and tap out excess.

Combine dry ingredients: Whisk together cocoa powder, flour, and salt in a bowl.

Combine eggs and sugar: Bring about 2 inches of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over (not in) simmering water, whisk eggs, yolks, and granulated sugar until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch. Attach bowl to mixer fitted with whisk attachment; beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. Raise speed to high; beat until mixture is pale and thick, about 4 minutes more.

Add dry ingredients: Sift cocoa mixture over egg mixture; using a large rubber spatula, carefully fold. When almost incorporated, pour melted butter down side of bowl; gently fold to combine.
Bake: Dust a clean kitchen towel with cocoa powder and set aside.  Using an offset spatula, spread batter evenly into prepared sheet.Tilt the sheet pan so the batter spreads out evenly and drop it several times on the counter top to burst the uneven air bubbles. Bake cake until golden brown and springy to the touch, 6 to 7 minutes. While the cake is baking, make the filling. Beat cream with confectioners sugar cleaned beaters until it just holds stiff peaks; spread over cake leaving a 1/2-inch border all around.   Run a knife around sides of cake. Invert onto prepared towel, and remove parchment.
While the sheet cake is still warm, gently roll, starting from one short side, into a log, incorporating the kitchen towel. Let the cake cool completely, rolled. (This will give the cake a “shape memory,” so it will be easier to roll again with filling.)

 Unroll cake.
Spread filling over cake leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Carefully roll cake to enclose filling (without towel), starting at a short end. Refrigerate 30 minutes (or up to 3 hours). Pour the ganache on the chilled cake while still fluid.

Thanks for checking in to see what’s been baking over here! :) Hope you’re having a fabulous weekend. Pin It

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