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When you have beautiful ripe fruit to use, this cake is the perfect way to highlight it. You’ll impress your friends; your family will adore you (even more); and you’ll want to make it over and over again because it’s quick and kind of fun. Here I’ve used strawberries, but the sky is the limit: fresh raspberries or sliced peaches would be heavenly. I’ve been asked to make it again on Tuesday for my husband’s birthday and add bananas to the strawberries. I would love to experiment with mango.

As you probably figured, the cake is a riff on a jelly roll, replacing jelly with fresh fruit and whipped cream. It is a dream to make, baking up in 10 mins. and requiring less time than that to put together; I used the cake from A Southerly Course by Martha Hall Foose because it is so light and perfect. We’ve already talked about some of the fruit possibilities, and you can use any whipped cream or equivalent you’d like. I suggest using the same recipe as the cream for my strawberry shortcake; you can experiment a little with changing vanilla to almond extract, maybe adding some lemon zest, if you want a walk on the wild side. This is a very lightly-sweetened dessert, so the fruit you use must be good and flavorful– taste a few slices or berries before you use them to ensure they’re worthy. If you’ve been looking for a treat to make for a Fourth of July barbecue or gathering, consider the lovely, tasty, crowd-pleasing fresh strawberry roll.

Fresh Strawberry Roll (serves 10)

For the cake:

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. sifted flour, plus more for the pan
  • confectioner’s sugar

To assemble:

  • 2 pints of fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
  • whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 15″ x 10″ x 1″ jelly roll pan (a cookie sheet with sides will do in a pinch but won’t be quite the same); line it with parchment paper, then grease and flour the parchment paper. Skipping these extra steps could be messy.

With an electric mixer, beat the eggs, baking powder and salt until the eggs are light yellow, foamy and have some volume, at least 5 mins. Slowly stream in the sugar while continuing to beat; the mixture should become shiny, like meringue does, and look thick and lemon-yellow. Fold the flour in by hand; spread the batter evenly in your greased pan and bake for 10-12 mins., until golden brown.

While the cake cooks, spread a clean dish towel on a clean counter space and liberally dust it with confectioners’ sugar. As soon as the cake is done, turn it out onto the powdered sugar-covered towel and remove the parchment paper; immediately roll the cake up, with the towel included as part of the roll, and leave to cool for 30 mins. or more.

When you are ready to assemble the strawberry roll, unroll the cake and spread whipped cream to cover the surface, leaving one inch clear at the short end of the cake that was *not* in the middle of your towel roll. You have “trained” the cake which way to roll, and you want the cream-less end to be the outside, not the middle of the cake. Lay your sliced strawberries in rows covering the entire surface of cake that has cream on it; don’t forget to go out to the sides. Roll your cake back up and use a little extra cream, if necessary, to help seal that last clear inch of cake. Cut into slices and serve immediately; though it can be refrigerated for a day or two, a roll with fresh fruit is infinitely prettier and tastier on the day it is made.

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