As I mentioned yesterday, this is one of my very favorite cakes. I have been baking it since I was in high school. Back then, my main sources of recipe inspiration (in addition to a wonderful mother from whom I am still inspired) were two Southern Living Annual Cookbooks. From the 80s. I have adapted this recipe somewhat from the original recipe (and often make it sugar-free and whole grain), and I still love it just as much now as I did then.
This cake is light, full of fruit, and not overly sweet. I love whipped cream as a frosting because you can easily control how sweet it is without compromising texture. This is also a cake that is easy to make healthier with some simple substitutions (see recipe at end of post). By substituting a gluten free flour (oats, brown rice, etc) this is easily made gluten free as well.
A sponge cake is made mostly of eggs with just enough flour to stabilize it, and just enough sugar that it doesn’t taste like an omelet.
Roll cakes look much more complicated than they really are, so for those who may not be familiar with baking and putting together this kind of cake, I have included a few more process pictures. This technique can also be used to make jelly-rolls, pumpkin roll cakes (another of my favorites!), Christmas Yule logs, ice-cream filled roll cakes.
The one thing that my kids don’t like about this cake is that the beaters are no fun to lick! Large amounts of raw eggs, no matter how much they’ve been whipped and what other ingredients have been thrown in, still taste pretty bad. Luckily, something magical happens in the oven, leaving you with a moist, airy cake just begging for a creamy, fruity filling.
Start by beating 5 egg whites until stiff peaks form (with a little salt and cream of tartar-for stabilization). You should be able to turn your bowl upside down and have the egg whites not run onto the counter (just be careful testing this as you go along!)
Beat your egg yolks separately, then gently fold them into the egg whites with a little flour and powdered sugar. This is one cake that I do sift my powdered sugar and flour for. It makes a huge difference in being able to incorporate them quickly into the batter without lumps. I measure first, then sift them directly into the egg white bowl.
The batter should still be pretty thick when you are done, but will lose a little of the volume.
Use wax paper to line a jelly-roll pan (baking pan that is about 10×15”, but you can use a size that is a little larger as well; 9×13” is too small). Leave some hanging over the edges. Spray the wax paper with baking spray (I use the kind for baking that has flour in it).
Spread your batter into the pan, making sure to spread it all the way to the edges. This batter will not melt or spread as it cooks, so try to get it even on the top.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until set. It should not brown. The cake below is actually just a little overdone (it still tasted great though!)
While the cake is baking lay a linen (or fuzz-free) dishtowel on the counter. Dust a small amount of powdered sugar onto the towel in a rectangle just larger than your baking pan (I use a sifter again-actually just a mesh strainer). Turn the hot cake upside down onto the towel (wax paper side up). Gently peel off the waxed paper.
Roll the cake up in the towel, beginning at the narrow end.
Cool completely on a rack.
Unroll cooled cake (leave on towel) and spread with sliced fruit. This is one quart of sliced strawberries mixed with 2 Tbs sugar. I like to let the fruit/sugar mixture sit for a few minutes before spreading it onto the cake so that the sugar dissolves.
Beat 2 cups of whipped cream until stiff. Sweeten to taste. Spread half of the whipped cream over the berries, until the berries are just barely covered. Leave a small section on one of the narrow ends uncovered. As you roll the cake, some of the filling will push to the end. This keeps too much from leaking out.
Beginning at the narrow end, roll cake again. Place on a serving platter, seam side down.
Frost with remaining whipped cream. Garnish with whole strawberries, if desired.
Slice and serve. Store in the refrigerator.
You could make this with different kinds of fruit; fresh berries work especially well.
Another use for the cake: Bake as directed and let cool without rolling. Cut cake into small squares and use as a base for an English Trifle.
5 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
5 egg whites
½ tsp cream of tartar
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup sifted powdered sugar
½ cup flour
1 quart strawberries, sliced
2 Tbs sugar
2 cups whipping/heavy cream
½ tsp vanilla
2-3 Tbs powdered sugar
Whole strawberries for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 15×10” jellyroll pan (or cookie sheet with sides) with wax paper and spray with cooking spray (Cooking spray w/flour in it for baking works great).
Beat egg yolks until light and lemon colored. Stir in vanilla. Beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and salt, beating until stiff. Fold in ¾ cup powdered sugar. Fold in egg yolk mixture. Fold in flour. Spread batter in pan. Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes (do not let cake brown).
Using a fine mesh strainer, sift a small amount of powdered sugar on a linen towel. Turn hot cake out onto towel. Carefully peel off waxed paper. Roll up cake in the towel. Cool on a wire rack.
Combine strawberries and 2 Tbs sugar; let sit for 5 minutes. Beat whipping cream until foamy. Add 2-3 Tbs powdered sugar and ½ tsp vanilla, beating until soft peaks form. Unroll cake. Spread cake with berries, then half of the whipped cream. Reroll cake. Place on a serving plate. Frost with remaining whipped cream. Garnish with whole strawberries. Chill until serving time.
Sugar Free/Whole Grain/Gluten Free Alternative: Substitute Stevia or Splenda for the sugar (use Splenda in the cake; stevia does not provide the bulk the cake needs, but is fine for sweetening the filling), and oat flour, rice flour or finely ground whole wheat flour (white wheat, preferably) for the white flour. The whole wheat flour obviously isn’t gluten free, but you can substitute most other gluten free flours, or a blend of flours for the white flour.