Chocolate Swiss Roll

by cakeduchess on March 18, 2012 · 32 comments

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

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy March 18, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Beautiful cake! That would be one giant hoho. I am sure yours is much better than those storebought mini snack cakes though ;)! It sounds delicious, and I appriciate that it has a glaze on it to finish it off rather than simply powdered sugar.


Cake Duchess March 20, 2012 at 1:13 am

I agree, Amy:)I like it even without a glaze…but this glaze is wonderful;)


Lizzy March 18, 2012 at 11:07 pm

I hope you and your mom feel better soon…rotten timing!!! I am definitely making this gorgeous Hoho cake!!!! Nick gave up sweets for Lent, so I won’t torture him till after Easter :) It looks phenomenal!


Jennie @themessybakerblog March 18, 2012 at 11:16 pm

This looks so good, especially the lovely white filling oozing out of the center.


Jean (Lemons and Anchovies) March 18, 2012 at 11:36 pm

Just beautiful! One of my favorite treats when I was a child was a chocolate roll cake. I have put it on my One-Day-I-Will-Try list but have been so intimidated by it. Yours came out great! Your pictures are so tempting. :)


A Thought For Food March 18, 2012 at 11:49 pm

This looks like a fabulous and fun dessert (or breakfast??? ;-)) . Makes me feel like a kid again.


Cake Duchess March 20, 2012 at 1:52 pm

I think it’s fine for breakfast;)


Kristen March 19, 2012 at 12:14 am

Oh my goodness me… this looks AMAZING!


Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. March 19, 2012 at 3:02 am

Oh my goodness! This looks ah-mazing!!


Cake Duchess March 20, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Thanks Kristen and Stephanie:)


Baker Street March 19, 2012 at 5:56 am

What a fabulous cake Lora! Looks absolutely stunning.


Cake Duchess March 20, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Thank you, An:)


Carolyn March 19, 2012 at 11:44 am

I meant what I said on Facebook…that looks gorgeous!


Cake Duchess March 20, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Thank you, Carolyn:)


Annie Oakley's Kitchen March 19, 2012 at 12:38 pm

That sucks about getting sick but I’m so happy you got around to making this roll cake! I bet (know) that it’s so much better than the store bought ones!


Paula @ Vintage Kitchen Notes March 19, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Not only does your roll look fabulous, but you gave us a little history food lesson. Love it


Abby March 19, 2012 at 1:35 pm

so delish! Who knew it was such a universal dessert?!


Cake Duchess March 20, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I really didn’t know it was as universal as it is either. I want to sample one from every country;)


Jen @ The Scrumptious Pumpkin March 19, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Your photos are making me so hungry. I will definitely post this one on StumbleUpon – who could resist??


Cake Duchess March 20, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Thanks so much, Jen! I appreciate it:)


Maureen March 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm

My bûche is always done at Christmas and is a plain genoise with a bit of citron in it. I love your chocolate one. I’m going to make one this weekend. If it isn’t a #fail, I’ll show you. lol


Lael Hazan @educatedpalate March 21, 2012 at 10:40 am

I know what I would like the kids to make me the next time they feel like cooking! Hmn… I’m drooling just looking at your pictures. I love how you give a list of what it is called around the world.


Karriann March 21, 2012 at 12:32 pm

I need this for dinner tonight. Can I have a slice please? :)

“Happy Cooking”


Maria March 22, 2012 at 2:58 am

I want a big fat slice!


Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious March 22, 2012 at 10:04 am

I love roll cakes – they’re so much more fun to eat than layered cake! And I have such a blast making them, although I do panic a bit when I’m rolling the cake. I have this huge fear that it’ll just fall apart right before my eyes. But it looks like you rolled your cake flawlessly. It looks so beautiful and absolutely perfect. Job well done! :)


Jasline March 25, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Gorgeous! Your swiss roll looks really pretty and delicious, especially the chocolate ganache (so shiny!). You’re tempting me to make them soon! ;) Take care!


mellissina2 March 28, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Micsoda finomság,jöhet belőle,több szelet is!!!!


kita April 1, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Oh my goodness, I think I was salivating before I even saw your pictures. I am so happy that you made this even though it wasn’t in time for the holidays.


Anonymous April 10, 2012 at 2:03 am

Thanks for the recipe.

Just wanted to give some feed back on the recipe, which I tried the other day.

The instructions on how to put the cake together are pretty good. I was able to nicely roll my cake without it breaking or cracking.

I made the cake twice and both times it came out a little dry. Could be that I have to tweak my baking time. Also it was a little dense both times I made it.

As for the flavour: I was looking for a cake with a deep rich chocolate flavour. Both times I made the cake I did not get that.
How can I get a more chocolate tasting cake?

-Not on a Roll-


victorinox knives September 4, 2012 at 7:00 am

OMG… this looks yummy!


ileencuccaro December 9, 2012 at 10:22 pm

you think this can be frozen without the filling of course


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