SORRY.  I am.  But I can not get that hateful Tootsee Roll song out of my head: ever since I decided on Friday to make a jelly roll, my innocent baking plan has blended with the lyrics and I have been humming the five words I know, with a twist… Lemme see that jelly roll!  I won’t even tell you about the version using my dog’s name.

Okay, enough.  I don’t want to scare anyone away, because this is a nice little recipe to add to your collection.  Super easy, super versatile (sometimes I wonder if I should be cook.can.be.versatile?) and quite lovely to eat.  It’s a jelly roll!  Everyone’s favorite log-shaped cake.  I grew up eating cake rolls with cream filling (homemade, not Little Debbie, though I used to beg for those as a birthday treat for my lunchbox), which are fantastic, but I can’t remember the last time I had a jelly roll.  Based on my cupboard full of homemade jams, butters, jellies and preserves, I thought it was certainly time to add a good recipe to my arsenal, so I started with the Big Blackberry Jelly Roll recipe from A Southerly Course by Martha Hall Foose.  I just discovered this follow up to Screen Doors and Sweet Tea, one of my favorite cookbooks, and have already written down some recipes to make soon: edamame salad, salsify bisque, chicken liver spread (a 2012 goal is to try chicken livers), rice pudding with lemon sauce and others.  Before I get to those, I decided to give her jelly roll recipe a test-run.

I love the springy egginess of this cake; the taste to me is somewhere between a pancake and a raised donut, but with a distinct and pleasant chewiness.  I feel like a kid when I eat a piece, peeling the layers off one by one until I get to the center.  It’s also a very eye-catching cake, with its neat swirl of purple and light dusting of confectioner’s sugar.  For the filling, rather than buying blackberry jelly, or using my last precious jar from this summer’s haul, I used the Super Purple! I made last week.  Really, any jelly will do, and there are so many possibilities for fillings that go beyond the scope of preserves and the like.  This is a great recipe to play with!  After the recipe, I will list a bunch of different variations I’ve thought of or tried; if you’re like me, you might want to make every few weeks or so, sort of a Rolled Cake of the Month club, until you’ve found your favorite.  Sound like a plan?  Great.  We will start this club and compare results.  It’s not too late to add another New Year’s Resolution, is it?

Big Blackberry Jelly Roll from A Southerly Course

  • 3/4 all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 c. seedless blackberry jam or jelly

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a 15″ x 10″ x 1″ jelly roll pan with nonstick spray; line it with parchment paper and spray and flour the parchment paper.  Set aside.

Beat the eggs, baking powder and salt with an electric mixer on high speed until foamy, at least 6 mins.  Gradually add the granulated sugar, while the mixer is on, and beat until the mixture is thick and lemon yellow.  Fold in the flour by hand with a rubber spatula; spread the batter into the prepared pan.  Pick up and drop the pan several times to release air bubbles and help distribute the batter evenly.  Bake for 10-12 mins. until golden brown.

While the cake bakes, sift a fine but covering layer of confectioner’s sugar onto a clean dish towel larger than the 15″ x 10″ jelly roll pan.  When the cake comes out of the oven, immediately invert onto the confectioner’s sugar- dusted towel; remove parchment paper.  Starting at the narrow end, roll the cake and towel up together.  (picture below, on the left) Transfer to a wire rack with the seam side down and cool for about 10 mins.

Carefully unroll the cake.  Spread the jam evenly across the cake, leaving 1/2 – 1″ at the outside edge clear.  Reroll the cake, without the towel this time!  (picture above, on the right) Transfer to a serving plate, seam side down, and dust with confectioner’s sugar.  Slice and serve.  In my opinion, the cake is better after sitting for at least 3 hours.

Possible Variations:

  • Add 1/2 tsp. almond extract to the cake batter when you fold in the flour.  Fill with apricot or raspberry jam.
  • Spread cake with raspberry jam.  Before rolling, warm 1/2 c. Nutella and drizzle over the jam.
  • Use lemon curd instead of jam. (I will be doing this next time.)
  • Rather than jam, use whipped cream and a thin layer of sliced strawberries as filling.  This is the version I grew up with and it is heavenly when strawberries are at their peak.  You really need perfectly ripe, flavorful fruit; it’s such a simple dessert, it needs great ingredients.  You could do the same thing with thinly sliced peaches, just make sure you don’t put too much filling in to roll up.
  • Spread cake with strawberry jelly.  Before rolling, warm 1/2 c. peanut butter or almond butter and drizzle over the jelly.

The sky’s the limit– I would love to hear other suggestions for variations on this!