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How To Roll A Jelly-Roll Cake

How To Roll A Jelly-Roll Cake

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Rolling a jelly-roll cake is easier than it looks with our step-by-step guide.

How to Roll a Jelly Cake

To make a jelly roll, you spread jams, jellies, frosting, or whipped cream onto a thin, flat cake, and roll it into a log. While they may look complicated, they're not, says Cooking Light Test Kitchens staffer Kathryn Conrad. Just use a small, rectangular terry cloth or tea towel when rolling to remove moisture and prevent the cake from sticking.

Step One:

You'll need: A jelly-roll pan, which is a shallow rectangular pan with one-inch-deep sides, and a kitchen towel.

Step One: First, spray the pan with cooking spray, line with a sheet of wax paper, then coat the wax paper with cooking spray. "Spraying both the pan and wax paper will prevent the cake from sticking," Conrad says. Next, pour the batter, and bake.

Step Two:

While the cake is baking, lay a dry kitchen towel slightly larger than the pan on a flat surface, and dust the towel with a thin layer of powdered sugar. The sugar prevents the cake from sticking.

Step Three

Remove the cake from the oven, and turn the pan over onto the towel, releasing the cake and wax paper. Slowly peel the wax paper from the cake. It’s OK if a thin layer of cake remains on the paper.

Step Four

Roll the towel and the cake together, pressing gently. Be sure to move slowly and carefully throughout the entire rolling process. The towel will end up coiled inside the cake.

Step Five

Cool the cake on a wire rack, seam side down. After an hour, unroll and remove the towel. The cake will be slightly wavy. Carefully spread your filling as directed, and reroll the cake.

How to Make a Cake Roll

Gorgeously spiraled cake rolls (also called jelly rolls and roll cakes) look tricky to make, but they whip up in just a few steps. Follow our cake roll recipe and step-by-step instructions (yes, there really is a step requiring you to roll up a towel inside the cake!) to learn how to make this stunning dessert. Once you've mastered the roll cake technique, you can switch up the recipe to make a chocolate cake roll, cinnamon cake roll, pumpkin cake roll, or any flavor you're craving.

Cake rolls put a fun new twist on layer cakes. You can dress up this easy cake roll recipe for any holiday or birthday by changing up the filling, using a different sponge cake recipe for the cake, or adding mix-ins like sprinkles, nuts, or fruits to the frosting layer. Try some of our favorite cake roll recipes, or਌reate your own!

Why do some call this a jelly roll and others call it a cake roll?

  • Originally, most probably called this cake type a jelly roll because it bakes in a "jelly roll pan." Never heard of a jelly roll pan? That&aposs because we think of them now as 15x10x1-inch baking sheets or a baking sheet with sides. As the term jelly roll pan lessens in popularity, so too does the name jelly roll cake. Call it what you like, we&aposre just here to help you make it.

Ingredients (22)

6 eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 container colorful sprinkles

White Cream

1 egg white or 3 tablespoons Haddar Egg Whites

6 ounces shortening

1/2 pound confectioner's sugar

Light Chocolate Cream

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar

3 (1-ounce) squares baking chocolate, melted

10 ounces Kineret Whipped Topping or other dessert topping

Dark Chocolate Cream

4 ounces baking chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup butter or margarine

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup Kineret Whipped Topping or other dessert topping, lightly whipped

Calm, Cool, Collected: The Only Way to Jelly Roll

Jelly rolls are a year-round classic, in part because of their lightness and versatility, but their beautiful spirals lend an especially festive touch to the holiday table. However, they're also notorious for cracking, tearing, and splitting—problems that can happily be avoided altogether with the right recipe and technique.

Traditionally, roulades or jelly rolls start with a sponge cake, a broad category of recipes based on foamed eggs and a relatively low proportion of added fat (think angel food and chiffon.

Because there isn't a lot of fat for tenderization, sponge cakes achieve a little more gluten development than richer cakes based on creaming together butter and sugar. While this is why a badly made sponge cake can seem rubbery or tough, it's also the quality that allows them to rise so high and roll up without cracking gluten allows for structure, loft, and pliability, allowing the cakes to flex and roll.

Many bakers go astray by fearing gluten development in jelly rolls, and avoiding it by reaching for cake or pastry flour, claiming it makes a more tender cake. And that's certainly true! But it's that very tenderness that causes cakes to crack when they roll, as there isn't enough structure to hold them together through such a rigorous maneuver.

Excess tenderness can also come from proportions of sugar or fat that are too high, or from other ingredients that limit gluten development, such as nut flours, cocoa powder and chocolate, or rich dairy products like sour cream.

It's admittedly a fine line. With too many tenderizing agents, sponge cake may be fluffy and light but too fragile and weak to roll. Meanwhile, with too few tenderizing agents, a sponge cake can be dense and rubbery easy to roll but tough to swallow. But with the right proportion of ingredients, a sponge cake can be tender, fluffy, and flexible.

My recipe is simple: whole eggs, plain or toasted sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, vanilla, some sort of fat, and all-purpose flour. The fat can be almost anything, from melted butter or ghee to roasted hazelnut oil, depending on the desired flavor profile. Here, I'll be using roasted pistachio oil since I had a bottle leftover from making pistachio paste.

The technique is a comically straightforward, one-bowl approach, as I whip whole eggs with sugar rather than separating out the whites and yolks.

I start with sugar and cold eggs, straight from the fridge. This detail confuses many bakers because cold eggs don't whip as well as those that have been warmed or at least brought to room temperature, but that's the point. By using cold eggs, I'm proactively inhibiting the degree to which they can whip, thus making it virtually impossible to over-whip them, even on a stand mixer.

Over-whipped eggs reach their maximum potential in the bowl, which means they have no room left to grow, forcing cakes to shrink and collapse in the oven. When eggs aren't over-whipped, they haven't tapped their full potential, which means they have the strength and capacity to puff and rise in the oven, creating a cake that's fluffy and light. In the bowl, those properly whipped eggs will look foamy and pale, with just enough body to briefly mound up when allowed to run off the whisk.

The timing required to whip eggs to this stage can vary dramatically depending on the power and capacity of a given stand mixer so while the recipe may list some approximate timelines for each stage of whipping, these are merely contextual cues and not God's own law. In any recipe, the physical cues are vastly more important.

When the egg and sugar mixture is foamy, light, and thick, I add the vanilla and liquid fat, be it an oil or melted ghee, followed by the flour.

Once the flour is nearly incorporated, I shut off the mixer and grab the attachment to manually whisk the batter by hand. This ensures a degree of gentleness in the process to minimize the risks of deflation, but I can still make sure the flour is fully homogenized into the batter.

To make the jelly roll, the batter is spread into an even layer on a half-sheet pan that's previously been lined with parchment and greased along the bottom and sides this can be done with pan spray or oil, but it has to be done. As the cake itself is rather lean, the parchment will stick fiercely if preventative measures aren't taken.

The final step is the easiest: bake the cake until lightly browned from edge to center, well risen, and firm to the touch, but puffy enough that your fingerprint will leave a slight indentation in the soft crust.

On removing the cake from the oven, immediately cover it with foil, and cool to about 70°F (21°C). If room temperature edges down to 65°F (18°C) or lower, do be aware that the cake may harden in the cold and thus crack when rolled, regardless of how well it's been handled up to that point

Cooling the cake with a foil lid traps moisture, effectively causing the cake to steam itself, rendering it pliable and soft (much like my technique for storing freshly baked Fig Newtons in a closed container).

In that state, it's super easy to roll up with a filling (in this case, homemade cranberry jam) without any risk of cracking. And because the underlying parchment is still in place, I can use it to lift and maneuver the cake as I go.

My technique is a huge departure from traditional methods, which involve flipping the hot pan of cake onto a powdered sugar–dusted towel, then peeling the parchment from the bottom of a fragile and steaming hot cake. Next, the hot cake is dusted in more powdered sugar, then rolled up with the towel, cooled to room temperature, un-rolled, then re-rolled with a filling.

I have deep technical and philosophical objections to every aspect of the traditional method, to a point that renders me nearly blind with rage. It's messy and awkward, not to mention risky, as it involves manipulating a cake in its most fragile state, while hot and soft. Not only that, it subjects the cake to rigorous physical manipulation three separate times: rolling, unrolling, and re-rolling, with each occasion representing a new opportunity to crack or damage the cake.

No wonder so many bakers struggle with cracks!

That's not to say my jelly roll is foolproof—it can't help but require some degree of skill in the making. A poorly whipped egg foam will make the cake heavy and dense, and an over-baked cake will always be too brittle to roll.

Still, a good recipe can help bakers navigate unfamiliar techniques by creating more forgiving formulas and eliminating needlessly fussy steps, which is what I've tried to do here.

The finished, crack-free cake can be given a dusting of powdered sugar or a light frosting of whipped cream. Here, I've used the same apple cinnamon sugar that coats my cider donuts to flavor a batch of whipped cream, giving it a sweet, rich, and seasonal profile to complement the tart cranberry filling.

While jelly rolls offer a huge degree of customization in terms of the filling and finish, it's important to note that not all jams and jellies are equally eye catching. My homemade cranberry jam works so well here because its color is naturally intense, with a thick body, thanks to the pectin in the cranberries, which keeps their moisture content bound to the jam.

The sponge cake comes by its name honestly, and will readily absorb any jam or jelly that's soft and runny, making the filling layer look scant and staining the cake with its juices. If you're not sure whether a jam or jelly will do well with the cake, save experiments for a low pressure occasion when the stakes are high, try filling the roulade with a thick, high contrast filling, such as our fruity whipped cream.

Mastering the jelly roll is part of any baker's journey, and will naturally involve a learning curve, but a finely tuned formula, unfussy technique, and bold flavors will at least make the process enjoyable.

Jelly Roll Recipe

A jelly roll recipe isn't what you would expect to find in an Italian cakes section. And I know that. But this is one recipe I saw my mom make a few times and thought I'd share because it's really fun to make. And kids love it. Why? Because it tastes like jam sandwich. It's jam and bread in flavor

but the roll makes it look like it's a fancy schmancy bakery goody.

This is pretty similar to my lady fingers recipe which is used in my tiramisu - which I have to brag is the best tiramisu recipe ever!

When I was a kid I used to oooh and aaaah over my mom's jelly roll cake. I always expected something mysterious to overtake my taste buds. It just looked like it should taste so extraordinarily out this world. But as I got older I realized this is nothing more than a golden cake with jelly. Not that I'm trying to talk you out of it. Be the boss of your own jelly roll recipe. Take liberties with the filling.

You don't have to use a red jelly that you always see. You can choose any jam or jelly you want. The less chunky the better. Smooth is just kinda traditional. As for toppings you can use whipped cream and roll it in coconut, sprinkles, slivered almonds. and on and on.

If this wasn't the type jelly roll recipe you were looking for. Check out my fresh strawberry cake recipe . It's a jelly roll type cake and has ricotta and strawberries stuffed in side.

Scroll below and you will see my photo gallery of the Italian cakes I have on my site.

How to Assemble Swiss Roll Cake

The cake cools in the rolled up shape. It can cool at room temperature or in the refrigerator. I usually cool cake rolls in the refrigerator for about 2-3 hours. Once completely cool, unroll the chocolate cake and fill with homemade whipped cream. You only need 3 ingredients: heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. Since the chocolate ganache is pretty dark, I use a bit more sugar and vanilla extract compared to my usual whipped cream recipe. You can use confectioners’ sugar or granulated sugar in the whipped cream– see my recipe note. You can even add some store-bought marshmallow creme (“fluff”) for marshmallow flavor.

The whipped cream is billowy and soft with deliciously sweet vanilla flavor– a lovely and light contrast to the deep chocolate cake.

Roll the cake back up (without parchment this time), then set it aside as you prepare the chocolate ganache.

And for the mini size: If you’re making the mini size, cut the cake into 4 equal pieces. Roll each up, then slice in half to yield 8 mini cake rolls.

10 Delicious Cake Roll Recipes You Have to Try

These cake recipes offer the perfect amount of frosting in every bite.

Luscious and light as air, this elegant gluten-free flourless cake will wow guests at Passover&mdashand the rest of the year, too. When preparing, it's important to let the cake cool completely before rolling to prevent cracking.

This light, tangy cake is the perfect fall dessert, with a scrumptious mix of pure pumpkin, cinnamon, walnuts, vanilla and cream cheese.

Rich, creamy and surprisingly simple&mdashit only takes a half-hour to prep&mdashthis recipe layers store-bought pound cake with a generous slathering of chocolate- and coffee-flavored custard.

Quick and easy to make, yet very impressive-looking, slices of the this jelly-filled roll are good served warm or at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream.

Get the recipe at Delish.

Have your cake, and eat it too&mdashwithout the guilt. This lighter recipe is the delicious combo of lemon and angel cake made with zero butter or oil. Over 30,000 pinners agree, this recipe is a keeper.

Get the recipe at Yummy Healthy Easy.

The famous dessert takes on a new form that everyone is sure to drool over.

Get the recipe at Diethood.

Do you like cinnamon rolls? That was a trick question&mdashof course you do. Make the sweet treat even better by turning it into a cake roll.

Get the recipe at Will Cook for Smiles.

Carrot cake rolled in cream cheese frosting sounds almost too scrumptious to be a real thing. Thankfully, it exists, and it's as incredible as you would expect it to be.

How To Roll A Jelly-Roll Cake - Recipes

3 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon butter extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup of water (see note)

1 cup of CAKE FLOUR (see note)
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup jelly or jam
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375°. Line a 10” x 15” jelly roll pan with parchment paper and spray the parchment paper with cooking spray, set aside.

Beat the eggs, on high speed, until very thick and lemon colored (FULL 5 minutes). AFTER 5 minutes, gradually
add sugar while the mixer is running. Put butter extract into a 1/3 measuring cup and then fill the rest of the measuring cup with water (water + butter extract should = 1/3 cup). Add vanilla and water/butter extracts to batter and mix well. Add flour, baking powder and salt to the egg mixture and beat just until batter is smooth. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

Slide a knife around the cake edges to loosen it from the pan. While cake is still hot, turn it out onto a large sheet of parchment paper (a couple inches larger on edge side) that has been spritzed with cooking spray and gently peel off the old parchment that you baked on.

Gently roll up the HOT cake along with the (new) prepared parchment. Set it, seam side down on a baking rack to cool for 45 minutes .

When it has cooled for 45 minutes, unroll the cake (gently peeling away the parchment).

Stir the preserves well, to get them all loosened up (if jam is very thick, add a tablespoon water and stir), then spread it on the cake (to within an inch or so of edges).

Gently roll the cake back up (with NO parchment this time). Wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap and let it cool completely. When cooled, take plastic off and top with glaze or whipped cream.


1/3 cup of butter melted
2 cups powdered sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons of milk

Whisk everything together. If it seems too thick, add another tablespoon of milk. If it seems to thin, add a few more tablespoons of powdered sugar. Spoon glaze onto jelly roll and let it drip down sides.

NOTE: The cake will continue to get more and more moist (the moisture from the jam works its way through the cake). So the jelly roll will be at its prime after it has been covered a few hours.

How to make a Cream Roll:

rAfter you make you cake and bake it, immediately turn it over onto a powder sugar dusted clean dishtowel.

Dust spowdered ugar on top of the cake. Do this quickly, because you want to roll the cake up while it is still hot.

The sugar will help keep the cake from sticking to the towel as you roll it. 

Roll it up with the towel, from the short side.

Once rolled, set it on a wire rack to cool down.

Meanwhile, gather the filling supplies that are shown here. Prep your fruit. Here I'm using strawberries. I've sliced some and the nice ones are being kept for the decoration on the top and sides.

Make sure that your whipped cream is COLD. It whips up best that way. I like to use Whip It as a whipping cream stablizer. Especially if I plan to keep the cake for a day or so in the fridge, the whipped cream won't get runny.

I'll spreading some strawberry jam over the cake. If the jam is very firm (perhaps it was in the fridge), then warm it slightly in the microwave. It will be easier to spread that way.

Once the cake is cold, carefully unroll it. Keep it on the towel, since you'll be using it again to aid in rolling the final cream roll.

Spread the jam, if you're using it, over the cake in a thin layer. Top that with the whipped cream. Don't make the layer too thick or it will ooze out as you roll it up.

Cover with your fruit. Here, I'm using sliced strawberries. If the fruit is small (blueberries) or squish-able (raspberries), you can keep them whole. 

Using your towel to help you keep the roll even, roll it up carefully. Once it's rolled, place it on a serving platter, cover and place in the fridge. 

The biscuit dough will absorb some of the liquid from the jam, cream, and fruit, making it softer and even more flavorful.

After several hours or the next day, sprinkle powdered sugar on top, cut off the end slices to reveal a beautiful swirl design, and top off with some fresh berries.

You can whip up an extra half cup of whipping cream, add some Whip It and a bit of sugar, until stiff peaks develop. Use a pastry bag to decorate your cream roll as shown below.

For the fruit, you can use almost any variety. Sliced strawberries, fresh or frozen raspberries, currants, diced or sliced peaches, blueberries, etc., all work nicely.

Even a combination of fruit would be nice. Above is with raspberries, below that, the one made with blueberries. And below, filled with buttercream filling. 

The one below was made by my dear friend, Melania. She then invited me over to enjoy it. Yummy, yummy scrumptious!

She filled this with her secret buttercream filling. She hinted it's pudding, butter and icing sugar. That's simple. Love how she took my cream roll recipeਊnd turned it into hers!

Tag Archives: how to make a cake roll from a box mix

This strawberry cake rolled with vanilla buttercream and dark chocolate ganache is not only a pretty Valentines Day treat, but such a yummy one! Plus, it looks A LOT harder to make than it really is!

February 1st. How can the first month of this year be gone already? I had already written a post for for this week when I looked at the calendar and thought, oh my- it’s time for a Valentine’s dessert! I had an unexpected day off of work this week and decided to experiment with turning an ordinary cake mix into a cake roll. I absolutely loved the results! Cake rolls will always be a little fussier than plain old cakes, but look at how cute it is…! If you’ve never made a cake roll, I will try to explain it as we go. I have a few pictures, but if you want a few more click here for my pumpkin roll recipe.


  • One boxed strawberry cake mix (I used Pillsbury this time)
  • Water, oil and eggs (we will adjust the amounts from the box just a bit!)
  • 1/2c. heavy whipping cream
  • 1 c. dark chocolate chips
  • 2 sticks (8 oz) butter
  • 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 T. clear vanilla flavoring.
  • Preheat oven to 350F degrees
  • Make boxed cake mix, but add just a little less oil and water. The Pillsbury mix called for 1 cup of water and 1/3 cup of oil. I used 3/4 c. water and 1/4 c. oil instead. I used the same # of eggs (3)
  • Cover the bottom of a standard jellyroll pan (mine is about 12″ by 17″, and about 1″ deep) with waxed paper- allowing the paper to extend just a bit over each end.
  • Lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Pour cake batter into pan and gently spread it out to cover the entire bottom in a thin, but even layer of cake.
  • Bake at 350F degrees for 15-20 minutes- checking often to make sure it isn’t browning too much.
  • Remove pan from oven, sprinkle a clean kitchen towel with powdered sugar, lay it powder side down on the top of the cake and holding the towel in place, flip the pan over onto a flat surface. You will have your powdered towel, the cake on top and wax paper on top of the cake.
  • Peel the wax paper off and gently roll the cake up in the towel, rolling from one short end to the other- keep the towel on the bottom and wrap it up with the cake.
  • Refrigerate for one hour.
  • While this is in the fridge, make your ganache and butter cream.
  • For the ganache: heat 1/2 c. of whipping cream in a medium saucepan until it starts to bubble around the edges. Turn off the heat. Add the dark chocolate chips and cover for 5-10 minutes. Stir until smooth and creamy.
  • For the buttercream: Place (softened) butter, powdered sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat on high until very fluffy and creamy.
  • After chilling for one hour, remove cake roll from fridge and gently unroll on a flat surface.
  • Gently and evenly spread ganache over entire surface of the cake roll.
  • Gently and evenly spread the buttercream over the ganache. This part was a little tricky- I wanted to make sure I didn’t mix the two layers, so I scooped the buttercream in little bits all over the top and then spread it a little at a time.

  • Gently roll the cake back up, leaving the towel behind. Carefully lift it on to a large plate and refrigerate it until the buttercream and ganache harden up.

The 1st time I made this it rolled beautifully and I just sprinkled it with powdered sugar….then when I made it for taking photos it cracked as I rolled. This sometimes happens with cake rolls and there’s an easy fix: make another batch of ganache and pour it right over the top! I think I actually liked it better this way! You can’t even tell it cracked, see:

When it is chilled, slice it and serve it with whipped cream and maybe even some chocolate covered strawberries? So yummy.

My thoughts: I really had fun making this dessert. There’s just something about the pink cake and all that gooey chocolate that makes me smile! I hope this cake brings a smile to the faces of all the ones you love this Valentine’s Day! Enjoy.

Want some other fun Valentines Day ideas? Click on the picture to be taken to the recipe.

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