How to make the perfect Swiss roll

Tips and tricks you've probably never thought of!

by: Julie Donald
 
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Nothing is as quick and easy to make as a Swiss roll. From start to finish it probably takes under 30 minutes to make and bake! Perfect for surprise guests.

Apart from creamy or buttery fillings, the Swiss roll batter contains almost no fat, and can easily be modified to be gluten-free or even low-carb (see variations below for substitutions).

Two basic methods

There are two basic methods for making your Swiss roll batter. The first method requires you to separate your eggs and in one bowl beat the yolks with the castor sugar until pale and creamy and in another bowl beat the egg whites to stiff peak. Then fold the dry ingredients and the egg whites into the yolk mix. The second method is simpler, all you have to do is beat whole eggs with castor sugar until pale and creamy and then fold in the dry ingredients. Both methods give a light and airy cake, and even though the first method uses more bowls, it seems to have fewer cracks in the resulting roll, so I prefer it.

Beating eggs

Whichever method you use, both require the eggs (whole or yolks only) to be beaten to “ribbon stage”. The easiest way to do this, is to beat them with an electric mixer for 5-10 minutes. If you do not have an electric mixer, then beat them with a whisk, place your bowl over a pot of simmering water to gently warm the mixture, this will help it to reach ribbon stage quicker. The mixture should leave a ribbon-like train on the surface when the whisk is lifted.
 
Sifting flour

Whether using flour, baking powder and salt or self-raising flour, sift the flour a couple of times onto a piece of baking paper, to mix the elements and help aerate the flour before sifting it into egg mixture.  

Folding in

When folding in flour or egg white, use a metal spoon or a rubber spatula if possible, not a wooden spoon. The leading edge should be as narrow as possible, to “cut into” the aerated egg rather than knocking out all the air with a broad tool like a wooden spoon. Fold in gently using a figure of eight shape, and avoid banging your spoon on the side of the bowl after mixing, as this can also knock air out.

Preparing your tin

Prepare your baking tin by lining it with baking paper and lightly greasing it. Make sure that the paper comes all the way up the sides of the tin, to prevent the sides from sticking.  

Baking
Bake the batter for 10 – 15 minutes at 180°C.  After 10 minutes check to see if it is cooked, but gently pressing down in the middle of the cake. If it springs back then take it out immediately. If it leaves a slight dent, bake it for a further 2 minutes and check again, repeating this until it is done. This should prevent over baking. An over baked Swiss roll is more likely to crack when rolled up.

Turning out and rolling

While the cake is baking, place a clean, dry tea towel on the counter and sprinkle castor sugar all over the towel. As soon as you remove the cake from the oven, turn it out onto the tea towel, tipping the tin upside down so that the top surface is now facing down onto the sugary tea towel. Remove the tin, and immediately remove the lining paper. Use the tea towel to help you roll the cake up, while it is still hot, like a sushi roll. If the cake cools down, it will crack when you roll it up. Once rolled, leave the cake to cool in its tea towel, until cold. Unroll and spread the filling then re-roll the cake to serve.

Fillings

Traditionally the Swiss roll just has a thin layer of jam as a filling. But this can be varied according to your taste. A firm favourite is sliced strawberries and whipped cream. Other great fillings are butter icing, cream cheese icing, caramel, fresh berries, sliced fruits or ganache. The final roll can also be iced on the outside.

Variations and healthier versions

- Make a chocolate log by substituting 25g of the flour with 25g of cocoa.  
- Flavour the batter or filling with lemon zest, essences, nuts or coffee according to your taste.  
- To make a gluten-free version substitute the cake flour with gluten-free flour.  
- Make a LCHF version by using almond meal or coconut flour instead of cake flour and drop the sugar in favour of Stevia or Xylotol.  Fill your LCHF cake with cream cheese or crème fraiche and fresh fruit or crushed nuts.

For an easy Swiss roll recipe, click here.
 

Follow Julie Donald on Twitter @AskJulieDonald

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