Roll Cake: the perfect easy dessert
When I was a little girl, my sister and I tried to bake on multiple occasions. But each time something would go wrong. Once we swapped sugar for salt and had inedible cookies. One time we mixed up baking soda and baking powder. Then another we burnt our cookies to a crisp. After a few failed attempts I was traumatized and wanted nothing to do with baking. My mother was an avid baker but it wasn't until I was in culinary school that I finally learned myself. What was in my memory a daunting and scary task turned out to be such a therapeutic and rewarding experience. Unlike cooking, most of the work is done in about 10 minutes and then you get to eagerly wait while the oven works its magic.
For my first dessert on the blog, I wanted to share something accessible but also gives a nod to my Asian heritage. In any Japanese, Chinese or Korean bakery, there is always the roll cake: delicious whipped cream wrapped in a light, moist and fluffy cake. It bakes quickly in the oven and so easy to make. It's a great excuse to invite a friend over and chat over a cup of tea.
Baking is a lot more precise and scientific than savory cooking so measurements really matter. I highly recommend using a scale (with both grams and oz) and working in grams for precision.
Preheat your oven to 360°F and start by lining your tray. I used aluminum foil since it's common in a home and because it holds its shape well. Most sheet trays are rectangular but you need a square pan. Using two aluminum foil sheets, line a sheet tray by molding the foil. This way we can change the sizing to a square by moving the second foil up and down the tray. Cut out 2 square parchment papers to fit the width of the sheet tray, adjust the foil to square and line the bottom with one of the paper. Spray with oil.
In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with half the sugar until the mixture thickens and the color lightens. Then add the flour all at once and mix just enough to fully incorporate.
Whisk the egg whites and the remaining sugar into stiff peaks. This will require significantly more whisking so I recommend using an electric hand or stand mixer. In order to get a very fine stiff peak that holds, first start whisking the egg whites with a pinch of sugar. Then once the whites are at the soft peak stage, adding the rest of the sugar in 3 rounds.
Add a little bit of the whites into the yolks to loosen up the yolk and flour mixture. At this point you can still use a whisk and mix.
Fold in the rest of the whites with a spatula and work in batches. I did 3 rounds. You want to fully incorporate the egg whites without crushing all the air out. Move the spatula in a J movement by cutting down with the edge of the spatula and then turn to fold.
Lay out the batter into your lined tray and spread out as evenly as possible. You can tap a couple times to let out any large air bubbles.
Bake for about 10 minutes. When you can stick a toothpick or a cake tester in, it should come out clean. Do not over bake as it will get dry quickly. Let it cool to room temperature covered with another aluminum foil or sheet tray. This part takes some time, maybe 30-45 minutes.
Carefully remove the cake out of the mold and peel off the parchment paper and replace with the other parchment paper (same side as the original). Flip over so that the parchment is on the bottom. Whip the heavy cream with sugar and vanilla extract or paste into soft peaks and spread it evenly on the sheet cake.
Carefully roll the cake into a log and wrap with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for a few hours. Remove from the plastic wrap and cut with a sharp knife and enjoy!
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