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The Jelly Roll Cake (American), also known as a French Biscuit Roulade or Swiss Roll (English), is typically made from a thin sponge or foam-type cake, that is baked and then rolled into a tube-like or log shape around a filling and sliced to display the ingredients swirled into the rolled base of food. The type of cake used is flexible enough to withstand being rolled without cracking. To make the cake base, the batter is spread into a thin layer in a jelly roll pan, baked until firm but still moist. Some cakes are cooled flat or rolled immediately and cooled so the cake forms a log shape. The cake is filled or carefully unrolled if first cooled into a shape and then filled, and rolled tightly. (The Swiss Roll is baked thicker than the other types of rolls and as a result isn't rolled as tightly.)
Fillings for the cake vary widely and can include pastry cream, buttercream, lemon curd, seedless jam or jelly or chocolate ganache. Many times the cake is refrigerated if it contains a perishable filling to help set it. Right before serving, the roll can be can be simply dusted with powdered sugar or covered with whipped ganache, whipped cream or buttercream. It is sliced into disks, where it shows its pinwheel design when served flat on a plate.
QUESTION: When a recipe says to roll the cake from the short side or narrow end, what does that mean?
SARAH SAYS: The narrow end or short side means the smallest side. For example, if your cake's finished size is about 17 x 12 -inches, roll it, start with the 12-inch end, rolling forward. It would be the same as if you were rolling a beach towel you used for sunbathing. Grasp your hands on the top of the towel, or the short or narrow end, rolling forward.