Friday, August 26, 2011

Giant Swiss Cake Roll: A Recipe for the Kid in You

I have a friend at work who loved my sugar cookies that I took in the other day, and he asked me if I would make him his very own batch, so I set aside a morning to do so.  But I find it hard to set aside a day to bake and only make one thing.  Especially when it is something that I'm giving away.  So, on a recent morning, as my buddy's sugar cookies were baking in the oven, I opened up the fridge and looked to see what needed to get used up.  The only thing I could see was whipping cream.


How about...a giant Swiss cake roll?

I'd always wanted to try a cake roll.  Here was my chance to experiment.  I decided to use Hershey's trusty chocolate cake recipe, and, using a mathematical equation or two, I figured that if I halved the recipe, I would be able to make a nice thin sheet cake using a half sheet pan.

I wasn't quite sure how or when to do the rolling, so while the cake baked (only for 20 minutes) I consulted Peterson's book, Cooking, which said to cool the cake, but not too much; cracking could occur if the cake got too cool.  Using a number of flipping maneuvers, I got the cake cooling on a sheet of parchment paper sprinkled with confectioner's sugar and lightly covered with the sheet of parchment that I had lined the pan with (and then peeled off the warm cake).

While the cake had its time-out, I decided to make the filling.  After freezing the bowl and the whip, I whipped about a cup of cream until soft peaks formed, sprinkled in about 1/4 cup of sugar and vanilla to taste, whipped it again until the peaks were almost stiff, and then whipped in about 1/2 cup of sour cream until the mixture was blended and stiff.  Yes, I just said sour cream.  I knew that it would have the same consistency as the whipped cream, so it wouldn't kill it, and it would cut down on the sweet factor of the cake.  Besides, I just needed the volume—so I thought I'd try it.

As soon as the filling was done, I decided to go ahead and spread it on the cake.  I had to chill the whole roll when I was done, anyway, so I didn't see the hurt in the cake being too, too warm before I rolled it.  I flipped the cake again (so the sugar side was on the inside) and spread the filling using an offset spatula (best spreading tool EVER) to within an inch of the borders.  With baited breath I grabbed the short end of the parchment paper and gently lifted... It was rolling!!!  Quite easily, actually! I just kept lifting the paper with one hand to roll the cake and tucking the cake with the other as it rolled to keep the roll tight.

It cracked, anyway.  Not horribly.  But apparently I either could have rolled it even sooner, or I needed more filling to make the roll fuller.  Oh, well.  It didn't affect the taste!  I froze the whole thing on a baking sheet for a few hours to keep it from settling and cracking more.

When it was time to get ready to head into work, I trimmed the ends off to make them nice and neat (rinsing the knife in hot water after each slice to keep the slices clean and perfect).  I really wanted to coat the whole thing with a ganache shell to make it like one giant Swiss cake roll, but I didn't have any more cream.  Rats.  So I just dusted the whole thing with cocoa powder.

Here's a picture before it was sliced:

Ooooh, it was yummy!  It was an experiment that I really wouldn't change at all, ingredient-wise.  BUT, I will make it with the ganache shell next time!

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