Baking a Swiss roll
In the early days of the salon de thé Jacqueline wanted as much variety as possible for the “gâteau de jour”.
When she asked me to suggest a new English cake my first idea was a Swiss Roll.
The sliced Swiss Roll was the democratic, sharing cake of my childhood.
It’s as English as a stick seaside rock, with the same trick of a pattern that runs all the way through.
It also looks deceptively simple. As we’ve seen on both the BBC Great British Bake Off and the French version Le meilleur pâtissier, it’s a real challenge for the average home baker.
As outlined in the previous post, the original plan for the next gâteau de jour was a date and walnut cake, but a tiny, unwelcome passenger in a bag of nuts made the whole day spiral out of control.
Eventually Jacqueline had a date and walnut cake under way and with the oven at cooking temperature, she grabbed a chance to do a test run of something else. Which is where my idea of a Swiss Roll came in.
The magic of the home made Swiss Roll is the inauspicious beginning as a plain sheet of cake. The outer layer of sugar frosting is achieved by working on a sheet of baking paper liberally coated with sugar.
The real challenge of the Swiss Roll is that you have to act quickly to fill the cake and create the distinctive roll. Everything is a race against the clock while the freshly cooked cake is still malleable.
The transformation to Swiss Roll starts with a clean, straight edge.
The next step is a layer of home made blackberry jam.
The drum roll moment arrives. Lift the leading edge of the paper and roll it to create the tight, innermost curl of the Swiss Roll.
Imagine a surfer who can create the prefect tubular wave around themselves. The baker becomes a force of nature, curling the cake into the distinctive spiral.