In this Chocolate Swiss Roll Cake recipe, a soft chocolate sponge cake and rolled up around a fluffy chocolate cream filling. So delicious and pretty.
I adore an airy, cream-stuffed sponge cake like this Chocolate Swiss Roll. While the separating and whipping of the egg whites and yolks is a bit more finicky than some cakes, it is totally worth the payoff. The cloud-like chocolate sponge cake stands up to slicing through a pillowy chocolate cream filling and the contrast between rich cream and feather-light cake is just so good.
Ingredient Details to Note:
- There’s no oil or butter in the cake.
- Eggs: be sure to warm them from the fridge for best whipping. Here’s my pro method for bringing ingredients to room temperature super quickly.
- Granulated sugar: note we are dividing the measurements between the whites and the yolks. Sugar dissolves and stabilizes egg foams.
- Cocoa powder: for rich, dark chocolatey flavour. (Either Dutch-processed or not is fine for this recipe)
The filling is a simple, 4-ingredient whipped cream:
- Whipping cream: it should be cold from the fridge for optimal whipping (opposite to eggs).
- Confectioners’ sugar: which dissolves more readily in the cream, and also has a bit of cornstarch which helps to stabilize the whipped cream.
How to Make A Chocolate Swiss Roll Cake
Whip the egg whites and yolks separately:
Listen, I get it. That sounds like a lot of effort, and egg white whipping is somewhat intimidating to a person who doesn’t make meringue on the reg. But in this cake recipe, I tested with over-beaten whites, under-beaten whites, and perfectly-beaten whites and guess what? No difference in the final cake. So don’t sweat it. Aim for whipping them to medium-firm peaks (when you lift the whisk, the meringue will hold a peak but the very tip will droop a bit), scrape the beaten whites into a separate bowl and move on to beating the yolks without even wiping out the mixer bowl.
I’m not in the business of complicating things.
We’re gonna beat the yolks with some sugar (in lieu of creaming butter with sugar! See? It’s not more work, just different work) and then add the dry ingredients and a splash of milk.
The Simple, Foolproof Way to Roll Up a Swiss Roll Cake
- Let the cake cool a few minutes in the pan until you can handle it without burning your fingers.
- Leave the cake in the pan, and start rolling it up with the parchment paper, starting with the short edge.
- Transfer the wrapped roll to a cooling rack to cool completely.
The most intimidating part of the Swiss roll cake is rolling it up. You first roll it up while still hot, in order to allow the cake to set and cool in the correct shape for rolling again later without breaking.
Traditionally, this required flipping the hot cake to a sugar-dusted tea towel (not a super-easy task). I asked myself, why the messy tea towel when parchment is non stick? And sure enough, placing parchment on top of the cake, topped with a cooling rack, and flipping everything over together effectively transferred the cake, and the parchment was perfect for the rolling part.
Then I asked myself — wait. If it’s already baked on parchment (oiled parchment, in fact, which removes very easily), WHY transfer it at all? And so I rolled my next cake up right on the hot pan in the parchment it was baked on.
In doing so, I eliminated the most finicky, challenging-for-even-experienced-bakers job of flipping a floppy, thin cake onto a towel, a task that has remained unquestioned since likely the 1800s when this cake was probably invented and baked sans parchment paper. I find it intriguing how we tend to just keep doing things the way they’ve always been done.
Truly, though, the cake contains so much egg that despite being airy, it’s actually quite strong and pliable. Follow these steps with confidence, and if the cake tears a bit, it’s seriously no big deal. Chances are the tear will be concealed in the middle of the cake, and if not, a dusting of confectioner’s sugar will hide all mistakes.
Deliciousness will make any imperfections irrelevant.
Chocolate Swiss Roll Cake
- 4 large eggs separated
- 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup granulated sugar (divided use)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (64 g)
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder (35 g)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/3 cup milk
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
FOR CHOCOLATE CREAM FILLING
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 2 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line an 11×17" sheet pan with parchment paper leaving an overhang on the short edges and grease the paper.
- Beat egg whites in a stand mixer with whisk attachment on medium speed until foamy. With the mixer running, gradually add 1/2 cup of the sugar, about a tablespoonful at a time, beating to incorporate before adding more. Increase speed to medium high and beat until medium-stiff peaks form. Scrape into a separate bowl and return bowl to the stand mixer (don't bother washing it)
- Add egg yolks to stand mixer bowl with the sugar and beat with whisk attachment until creamy and lightened. Beat in vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
- Add 1/3 of the flour mixer to stand mixer with yolks and beat on low speed to incorporate. Add 1/2 of the milk and beat on low again. Repeat with remaining flour mixture and milk (for a total of 3 additions of flour mixture and 2 additions of milk). Only beat until just combined.
- Remove mixer bowl from stand mixer. Add egg whites and use a large silicone spatula to fold them in (watch a quick YouTube video if you need a refresher on folding technique).
- Scrape batter onto prepared pan and spread evenly into the corners. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until it loses its shine and the centre feels slightly springy.
- Let cool a few minutes in the pan until you can handle the cake without burning your fingers. Roll the cake up in the parchment paper, starting with the short edge, and transfer the roll to a cooling rack to cool completely.
For chocolate cream filling:
- Whip cream on high speed of electric mixer with whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Sift in cocoa powder and confectioners' sugar and continue whipping until medium-stiff peaks form.
- When cake is completely cold, gently unroll it on a work surface. Leave it on top of the parchment.
- Spread the chocolate cream filling evenly over the cake. Roll it back up (gently peeling it off the parchment this time) and place it seam-side down on a serving dish. (You can use a rimless baking sheet or pizza peel to transfer it if you're worried about it breaking.)
- Trim away the less-than-pretty end slices and discard if desired. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate if not serving right away. (It's easier to slice if you chill it for 2 hours.) Sprinkle the cake with confectioners' sugar just before serving. Can be made 24 hours in advance.