Jelly rolls, also known as Swiss cake rolls or yule log cakes, arrived on the culinary scene in the 1850s and have only grown in popularity since then. Most of us born at the end of the 20th century or later have snacked on processed versions of this dessert such as Little Debbie or Twinkies, but have never eaten a homemade jelly roll. This dessert from yesteryear looks elaborate, but it’s easy to make and simply decadent!
I’ve modified Mrs. Williams’ recipe slightly to add missing information and to make the process of rolling up the cake easier. She directs the baker to remove the cake from the baking sheet and roll it up on a clean cloth. When I did this, the cake stuck to the cloth. I prefer baking the cake on buttered parchment paper because it rolls up easily. The original recipe uses currant jelly as filling for the cake, but any flavor of jelly or even frosting will work. You’ll notice the original recipe calls for sweet milk, which is an old-school baking term for whole milk. Sour milk, on the other hand, is what bakers used to call buttermilk. My version of the recipe uses the term whole milk since we don’t say sweet and sour milk anymore.
To make this recipe, you’ll need:
- 1 even cup of powdered sugar
- 1 even cup of flour
- 1 heaping teaspoon of baking powder
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon of whole milk
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper liberally.
2. Sift the flour and baking powder together thoroughly, at least three or four times.
3. Beat the eggs and add them to the powdered sugar. Then, add the whole milk and stir it all together.
4. Add the flour and baking powder to the mixture.
5. Pour the batter onto the buttered parchment paper on the baking sheet. Use a spatula to smooth the batter so it’s thin and flat. Your cake will roll more easily if it has a smooth surface and consistent thickness.
6. Bake the batter for about 7 minutes.
7. Remove the cake from of the oven and use the parchment paper to lift it off the baking sheet.
8. While the cake is still warm, spread it with jelly and roll it up in a log. If the cake cracks as you go, add more jelly and keep it rolling! Set the cake roll on a plate or platter.
9. Cut the ends of the cake roll off so they’re uniform. Sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar or cover it with a whipped cream topping or frosting for extra deliciousness!
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