Chocolate Cake Roll or Biscuit Roulade

  • Serves: Makes one cake roll
  • Baking Temp (degrees F): 450
  • Views: 15457
  • Comments: 32

Variation: Vanilla Scented Biscuit Roulade Cake

Cake and photo by Sarah Phillips © Sarah Phillips

A jelly roll cake (American), also known as a biscuit roulade, roulade (Paupiette) or biscuit recipe (French) or Swiss Roll (English), is used to refer to cakes that when flat, serve as a base, often brushed with flavored sugar syrups, filled with another ingredient, such as buttercream, citrus curds or chocolate ganache, and then are rolled into a tube-like or log shape. The cake is sliced to display the ingredients swirled into the rolled base of cake. We use this very technique to make our Triple Chocolate Raspberry Cake Roulade or Roll. A flat Biscuit Roulade can be cut with kitchen scissors or a knife into any shape, and then used as a base for cheesecakes or flavored and tinted and used strip on the side of a cake or used to line a mold to encase our Almond Joy Ice Cream Bombe or Bavarian cream to make a charlotte. 

SARAH SAYS: I use this recipe to make my traditional Buche de Noel or Christmas Yule Log Cake with - that's the French Yule Log Cake to you and me! It is a classic holiday rolled cake that is decorated to look like a log or branch. My version is brushed with a flavored syrup, filled with whipped cream, rolled, cut into a log shape, and then frosted with chocolate ganache and garnished with candy clay leaves and berries and meringue mushrooms. You can even make the mushrooms and leaves from marzipan, which are a lot easier to form.

Fearless Baker, Premium Member, Says: "I made this at Christmas time and it was great!"


Question: When rolling a cake roll, instructions often tell you to start at the long end. What is the long end? I am so confused?
SARAH SAYS: Here's how I think of it. When you look at a rectangular shaped rug on the floor, the short ends are usually the ones with the fringe on it. The long ends are the sides of the rug without the fringe.

1/3 cup sifted bleached (not self-rising) cake flour, plus extra for pan*; Sift cake flour into measuring cup and level to top
1/4 cup cocoa powder, Dutch-process (alkalized), sifted; Measure and then sift. SARAH SAYS: I have used Natural cocoa powder with this recipe with much success
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs*
2 large eggs, separated*
1 large egg yolk*
(*You will have a total of 2 large eggs, 3 large egg yolks and 2 large egg whites)

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar or superfine sugar, divided into 1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

*NOTE: How to measure 1/3 cup sifted bleached cake flour for this recipe (every recipe method can differ): sift cake flour into measuring cup and level to top 
1. Place a piece of waxed paper on the counter with the measuring cup on top.

2. Sift the flour into the 1/3 cup measuring cup.

3. Level off the flour evenly to the rim of the measuring cup with the back of a knife.

4. Place excess flour back into the cake flour container.

One 17 x 12-inch jelly-roll pan
One large, smooth kitchen towel. Do not use terry cloth.


1. Position the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Note the positioning of the oven shelf. It is not on the bottom rung; the shelf is one rung from the bottom.

2. Prepare, one 17 x 12-inch jelly-roll pan. Grease the pan, and then lined with parchment paper or a nonstick liner.
SARAH SAYS: Do NOT grease and flour the parchment paper or liner.

2. Sift the flour, cocoa and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.

3. Beat the eggs and yolks together with 1/2 cup sugar for a total of 5 minutes or until the mixture becomes thick, fluffy, and triples in volume:
SARAH SAYS: This is a VERY important step; If your egg mixture does NOT achieve this, make a sweet omelet with it, and start again with new eggs!

Here's how to:
Fit the stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Do NOT use a whisk attachment.

Place 2 large eggs and 3 large yolks in a mixing bowl of a stand mixer and add 1/2 cup of sugar.
SARAH SAYS: Do not let the sugar sit on top of unbeaten egg yolks for any length of time; the eggs and yolks will absorb the sugar and dry out.

Start the mixer on low for a few seconds. Stop the mixer. Scrape the side and bottom of the bowl without squashing the egg foam. Be gentle.

Then adjust the mixer from low to high speed. Beat for one minute. The mixture will start to look bubbly. 

Add the vanilla to the beaten egg mixture.

Resume beating on high for 3 or 4 additional minutes, or until the egg mixture is thick, fluffy, and triples in volume. 
SARAH SAYS: You will have beaten the egg mixture for a total of 5 minutes.

4. Immediately sift half of the flour / cocoa mixture over the fluffy egg mixture, at a time, and fold the two together:
SARAH SAYS: You don't want to smash any of the beaten air bubbles in the egg mixture, so be gentle, but make sure you fold all of the flour into it.
This is a tricky part; you do not want to see any streaks of flour showing, so you have to be gentle but bold at the same time!
And, don't let the egg mixture sit while you talk on the phone or run out in the yard to save your kid who just fell off the swing set; you need to work with it right away.
(Ok! You had better save your kid....Pop it in the fridge if you do....Refluff with a large balloon whisk; do not use the mixer.)

Sift 1/2 the measured flour over the egg/cocoa mixture.

Fold it in gently but rapidly with a large rubber spatula until the flour has disappeared.
Make sure you scrape the side and bottom of the bowl as you do.

Sift the remaining half of the flour over the egg mixture and fold it in until the flour has disappeared. 
Set aside just long enough to beat the egg whites.

5. Immediately beat the 2 large egg whites with cream or tartar and 1 tablespoon sugar until stiff peaks form:
SARAH SAYS: I recommend using a hand-held electric mixer or a wire whisk for this step since you will be beating 2 egg whites and you want the beaters to fully reach the whites.

Here how to:
In a medium size deep bowl, beat the 2 large egg whites on low until foamy, then add the cream of tartar.

Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Continue to beat on high until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised.

6. Right after beating, fold the egg whites in the egg / flour mixture, until all the whites have been incorporated:

Here's how to:
Using a large rubber spatula, add 1/3 of whites to the egg / flour mixture and fold it in.

...until all the whites have been incorporated.

7. Pour the batter into the prepared sheet pan. Use an angled metal spatula to spread the batter in the pan and level it.

8. Bake the cake.
Place the cake pan in the well-preheated oven to bake.
Bake the cake for 7 minutes or until golden brown, a cake tester comes out clean, and the cake is springy to the touch.

Unmold the cake immediately after baking while it is still hot from the oven, following Step #8, above. Roll the cake without filling it. Then, cool the cake so it can take on a semi-rolled shape.
Here's how to:
1. Unmold the cake:
When the cake is done baking, immediately loosen its edges with a small metal spatula or sharp knife. Make sure you go all around the cake. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!

Place a smooth kitchen towel on top of the hot, loosened cake, still in its baking pan. Place an empty sheet pan on top of the towel.

Using the overhanging ends of the towel, grip the sheet pan that the cake is in with your fingers and place your thumbs on the ends of the top sheet pan.
Turn them over simultaneously onto your work surface. The cake will fall out of the pan it has been baked in, and will face parchment paper side up. Remove the pan that the cake has been baked in.

The empty cake pan that was once on top, is now on the bottom.

Remove the empty cake pan that is now on the bottom. While holding one end of the towel, slide the bottom sheet pan out from under the towel and set aside.
The cake should now be on the towel placed on the countertop.

Carefully remove the parchment paper from the cake.

2. Roll the still hot cake:
Here's how to:
Roll the cake up gently and tightly, towel and all, starting on the long end.

Continue rolling... the far edge of the towel.

3. Cool the rolled cake on a wire cake rack.

Can be baked 1 or 2 days ahead of time, stored rolled and well-wrapped at room temperature, or frozen for a month or more . Thaw at room temperature, rolled, in its wrappers.

Chocolate Cake Roll, above

1 recipe Basic Simple Sugar Syrup with Flavor Variations - for this recipe, flavor with 1 tablespoon Kahlúa or any coffee flavored liqueur

1 recipe Chocolate Whipped Cream, Optionally Stablized, for this recipe
NOTE: If you want to make a cake roll for a recipe other than the Buche de Noel or Christmas Yule Log Cake, make 1 1/2 times the Chocolate Whipped Cream Recipe or 3 cups filling. The cake roll will be filled much thicker.

1. When the cake has cooled, unroll the cake. Brush with the Sugar Syrup before spreading it with 2 cups Chocolate Whipped Cream.
Here's how to:
When ready to fill, unroll the cake from the towel.

Brush evenly and lightly with the cooled sugar syrup all over. Do NOT make the cake wet. You may not use all of the syrup.

Spread the cake with the Chocolate Whipped Cream using an offset metal spatula.

Use all 2 cups and spread filling to the edges. Make sure the filling is spread evenly.

2. Reroll the cake.
Here's how to:
Starting at the longest end of the rectangle, reroll the cake, the same way the cake was rolled originally when it was unfilled.

Notice the cake is being rolled tightly. But, not so much that the cake cracks and the filling squishes out the sides.

Roll the cake all the way to the end and place it seam side down.

Wrap the rolled cake in parchment paper. Tuck or tape ends in so the paper won't unravel. Refrigerate, making sure it is placed on the cake's seam side down to chill.

Wrap cake roll in extra layer of plastic wrap. If the filling is perishable, such as the whipped cream filling used in this recipe, place in refrigerator, where it can be stored for 2 days. Otherwise, cake can be stored at room temperature.

Vanilla Scented Biscuit Roulade Cake

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