Learn How To Make A Swiss Roll Cake in my detailed guide. This childhood classic is straightforward to make with all my shared tips. With a light, fluffy, vanilla sponge and jam filling, this jam roll cake makes a timeless afternoon treat that can be fully customised with your favourite filling.
This simple but delicious cake roll was a favourite from my school days. Served as an afternoon snack or for dessert, school children across Britain love the simplicity of this treat.
With only two components, a light, soft sponge rolled around the strawberry jam, it's hard to stop at just one slice! It makes the perfect dessert for Mother's Day, brunch, Easter, a special occasion, or simply an after-school treat.
- What is a Swiss Roll?
- Why you will love this swiss cake roll recipe!
- Ingredients needed
- How To Make a Swiss Roll
- Recipe pro tips
- Different Swiss Roll Cake variations
- How to make mini swiss rolls with this recipe
- Frequently asked questions
- How to store and freeze
- Equipment you’ll need
- More Cake recipes you'll love
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
What is a Swiss Roll?
As the name suggests, a swiss roll cake is a large flat layer of sponge rolled up and filled with whipped cream, jam, ganache or curd.
Contrary to what you may think, this Swiss Roll Cake recipe didn't originate from Switzerland. Its origins are a little murky, but it's believed that this style of roll cake came from Central Europe, possible Austria.
Known by many names such as roulade, sponge cake roll, swiss cake roll or jam roll, the Americans have adopted it as a jelly roll cake. Jelly refers to their specific name for jam or conserve.
There are many variations of this type of cake. In Asia, they predominantly use a chiffon cake base, whereas, in Europe, it's a genoise sponge. Both achieve a light, airy sponge that is malleable enough to roll without cracking.
Homemade swiss roll has proved undeniably versatile as it can take on many flavours in the sponge or the filling. Think coffee, chocolate, or matcha sponge. Then pick your favourite filling, and you have an incredible-tasting dessert roll.
Why you will love this swiss cake roll recipe!
- Simple to follow recipe. Even if you've never made a cake roll before, I've got you covered. My guide has all the process shots, helpful instructions and tips to help you out. Trust me when I say, don't be intimidated. It looks far more complicated than it is to make and roll. I'm sharing a ton of tips to help you out.
- Uses minimal ingredients. The list of ingredients needed is short and sweet. All of which are basic pantry or fridge staples.
- Soft, delicate taste with the perfect sweetness from the tender sponge and strawberry jam. The combination is delightful and not too sweet. The sugar on the outside gives the roll a wonderful crunch.
- Family favourite. Everyone is going to love this swiss cake roll recipe. It suits young and old alike and will be on repeat all year long!
Even though the list of ingredients is short and sweet, let's take a look and what needs to be noted regarding them.
- Eggs - provide structure and, more importantly, moisture to the sponge. Ensure the eggs are at room temperature when it comes to whipping them.
- Sugar - Caster sugar is best to use as it dissolves that bit quicker when whipping with the egg whites. You can use granulated sugar, but you may need to whip for a little longer to ensure there is no graininess, especially when whipping the egg whites and sugar. I recommend extra for sprinkling over the tea towel and over the finished cake roll.
- Vanilla extract - The predominant flavour of this roll cake is vanilla. It adds sweetness and depth of flavour. Use proper vanilla extract rather than vanilla essence that is artificially made. Alternatively, use vanilla bean paste, or the seeds scraped from a vanilla pod.
- Oil - I find that a small amount of oil in the sponge helps create a supple, moist sponge that rolls without cracking.
- Plain flour - The flour helps to provide the perfect structure. Weigh the flour with digital scales, so you don’t add too much. Too much flour will create a dry sponge that will crack when rolled.
- Baking powder - This leavening agent adds a little additional lift to the sponge to help keep it super, light, airy and supple for it to be rolled.
- Salt - I always add salt to my desserts, and it helps balance out the sweetness.
Swiss roll filling
- Strawberry Jam - By all means, you can make your own jam, but with such fantastic quality jams on the market, it's easy enough to use your favourite jam. I adore the Bonne Maman range of jams and conserves. Today's swiss roll recipe calls for Strawberry Jam, but blackberry, apricot or blueberry jams are equally delicious!
How To Make a Swiss Roll
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
Whilst the act of making this swiss cake roll recipe isn't difficult, there are a few touch points that I'll cover to help you nail a beautifully light sponge rolled to perfection with no cracks.
Let's deep dive into it. I can't wait for you to share in the joy of slicing into the sweet vanilla sponge and biting down on its deliciousness.
How to make the vanilla swiss roll cake
First things first, we need to make the sponge.
1. Prepare your pan and preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Grease the base and sides of your baking pan with oil or butter and line with parchment paper. The paper should overhang the side so that it’s easier to remove the sponge from the tray later. Grease the parchment paper as I find this will help with peeling off the paper before rolling the sponge. (Image 1)
2. Whip egg whites. In a separate clean and dry bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form and add half the sugar (Image 2). Continue to whip the egg whites until firm peaks form, and they're firm and glossy. It's kinda like we're making a meringue! (Image 3)
TIP: Many recipes state to whip the yolks and then the whites, but this requires a clean whisk to do so. To save on washing up, whip the whites first and then whip the yolks as you can use the same whisk to whip the yolks without needing to wash it up. A bit of residual egg white won't affect whipping the yolks.
3. Whip the egg yolks & sugar. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add egg yolks and the remaining sugar and whip for a good 4 minutes until pale and thick (Images 4 & 5). Set a timer! it always feels like quite a long time, but you need to whisk for long enough.
TIP: When you lift the whisk up, you should be able to see a trail of the mixture on the surface for a couple of seconds. This is called 'ribboning'.
4. Add oil and vanilla extract. Pour the oil and vanilla extract into the eggs and mix through (Image 6).
5. Sift in dry ingredients. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt directly onto the egg yolk mixture in the bowl and mix through with a rubber spatular until just a few flour streaks remain (Images 7 & 8). This will ensure that you don't overmix. NOTE: the batter is quite thick at this point, and you must mix well to incorporate the flour.
5. Fold egg whites into the egg yolk batter. This part is done in two stages as the egg yolk batter is quite thick with the flour. Firstly, add a quarter of the whipped egg whites into the egg yolk mixture and fold it in with a rubber spatula (Images 9 & 10). This helps loosen up the mixture enough to add the remaining whisked egg whites. Fold them in with a light touch to maintain all the trapped air. This is one of the reasons why the sponge is so light and airy (Image 11).
6. Bake and cool. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and move the batter to the edges with an offset spatula (Image 12). Smooth until level (Image 13). Tap the pan firmly on the benchtop to release any air bubbles (Image 14).
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the centre springs back and the sponge is golden and dry to touch (Image 15)
Cool fully. Once the cake is baked, remove the pan from the oven and set the tray on a wire rack for ten minutes. This is an important step - don't skip it or go over the ten minutes.
TIP: The reason is to allow all the steam to dissipate before rolling. The steam trapped within the tea towel creates too much moisture, and the cake sponge tends to stick to the tea towel.
Ten minutes is perfect for releasing the steam, yet keep the sponge warm so it can roll successfully.
However, if you leave the sponge to cool completely, it will crack when rolled.
Set a timer so that you don't forget!
How to make swiss roll cake filling
Whilst the sponge is cooling, it's the perfect opportunity to make your desired filling. That could be whipping cream, making a ganache, buttercream or making a quick batch of jam.
There's absolutely no prep required for our filling today as we're using a good quality store-bought jam, so all the work is done already!
How to roll up the swiss roll cake
1. Prepare your tea towel. Whilst the sponge is sitting on the wire rack, sprinkle the sugar onto a tea towel or sheet of parchment paper laid flat on the work surface. (Image 16) The sugar must cover a slightly larger surface area than the pan the sponge is baking in.
TIP: The sugar creates a barrier between the towel and sponge and prevents it from sticking together. It also adds a delicious crunch. Powdered icing sugar or cocoa powder can also be used.
Just make sure that there is a thick enough coating that will cover all of the sponge. Any sponge in direct contact with the teatowel will stick.
2. Invert the sponge onto the tea towel. After ten minutes, the sponge will still be warm, but the tray should be cool enough to touch (be careful!), making it a bit easier to turn out the light sponge from the tray onto the prepared tea towel (Image 17).
Peel off the parchment paper. Use your fingertips to peel the parchment paper away from the sponge gently (Image 18).
3. Roll the sponge up. Using your hands and starting from the short end of the sponge rectangle, gently but firmly roll the warm sponge into the tea towel. (Images 20 & 21). Set the cake roll aside with its seam side down to cool completely.
4. Unroll the sponge. Gently unroll the sponge from the tea towel and place it on a piece of baking paper.
Spread jam. Dollop jam onto the sponge and, using an offset spatula, smooth out evenly over the sponge, leaving a 2 cm (1-inch) gap all around the edge of the sponge(Image 22).
Roll time again! Gently roll the sponge up again, using the baking paper as a guide to re-roll the sponge. Try not to squeeze out the jam filling too much (Images 23 & 24).
Wrap and refrigerate. Wrap the roll in a piece of parchment paper and then tightly in plastic wrap for it to hold its shape (Image 25) Refrigerate for 1-2 hours for the roll to set.
Dust roll and serve. Once refrigerated, you're ready to serve. Slice the two ends off as they can look a little messy (Images 26 & 27). Chefs bonus to try some before serving!
Then liberally dust the top of the sponge with more caster sugar for added crunch.
Slice and serve!
Recipe pro tips
- Don't let the cake cool completely before rolling. Even though I specify for the cake to rest in the pan for ten minutes, it still needs to be warm for the sponge to be pliable enough to roll. Cold, and the sponge will crack.
- Separate the whites from the yolks when cold. It's far easier to separate the two when the egg is cold. However, the whites, in particular, need to be at room temperature to whip fully.
- Fold and don't stir the whites into the batter. To achieve a light, airy structure to the sponge, we want to keep as much air as we've whipped into the eggs.
- Make sure to tap the tray before baking to release any air bubbles. Once baked into the sponge, trapped air bubbles affect the sponge's structure and can cause it to crack once rolled.
- Ensure the sponge is baked for long enough. An undercooked sponge will stick to the tea towel.
Different Swiss Roll Cake variations
I adore this recipe as you truly can create your own adventure with it.
I've already shared three different swiss roll recipes that you'll love.
- Chocolate Swiss Roll: Chocolate genoise sponge rolled with a cream cheese filling. It's coated in a rich chocolate ganache. Add peppermint extract to the sponge or cream cheese filling for a festive variation.
- Raspberry Swiss Roll Cake: The sponge is flavoured lightly with lemon zest and filled with a fresh creme fraiche whipped cream and raspberry jam. Summery and light- perfect for warm evening entertaining.
- Gingerbread Swiss Roll Cake: The ultimate seasonal dessert. A spiced sponge is rolled with a cream cheese filling and an option of pear compote. It's both festive and delicious!
Other filling ideas might be:
- Chantilly Cream
- Salted Caramel Sauce
- Lemon Curd
- Plum Jam
- Buttercream such as this roasted strawberry buttercream.
Different toppings. The outside of the swiss roll is like a blank canvas for you to keep it simple or create your own magic. Here are a couple of my ideas.
- Pipe whipped cream over the top and decorate with fruit.
- Drizzle in Chocolate Fudge Sauce.
- Dust simply with powdered icing sugar or cocoa powder.
- Drizzle with white, milk or dark chocolate.
How to make mini swiss rolls with this recipe
Why not relive those childhood days and make mini swiss rolls? Uk supermarkets sell the chocolate version coated in chocolate. Very similar to Little Debbie snack in the States.
It's simple to make the mini version but note if using the exact pan size that I do, the sponge is too thick to roll into the mini rolls. Separate the batter between two pans, and bake for 6 to 8 minutes. The thinner sponge is easier to roll.
- Bake the sponge as per the instructions.
- Cool the sponge for ten minutes, remove the paper then roll in a tea towel until the sponge is completely cooled.
- Unroll the sponge and cut it into four.
- Spread each quarter with filling.
- Roll each quarter from the short side into a tight log. Then slice the four logs in half. You'll total 8 mini rolls.
Frequently asked questions
A Swiss Roll is typically made up of a thin sponge filled with jam, whipped cream or buttercream and rolled into a spherical shape.
On the other hand, a roulade is sweet or savoury and often involves rolling meat or pastry. Both are traditionally served as slices.
You can use the shell by cracking the egg in half over a small bowl. Gently transfer the yolk back and forth between the eggshells and let the whites fall into the bowl. Then, once the whites are separated, place the yolks into another bowl.
Alternatively, crack the egg into your fingertips hovering over a bowl. The egg white will slide through your fingers into the bowl leaving you with the egg yolk in your fingers. Gently slide the yolk into a bowl.
My preference is to roll the sponge from the short end (lengthwise). More sponge is available, resulting in a more defined swirl when the swiss roll is sliced.
Alternatively, you can roll from the long end (width wise), and the overall roll will be smaller in diameter but longer. It boils down to your preference!
Tap the pan before baking to release air bubbles, which can cause cracks.
Also, roll the sponge when warm to be pliable and rollable.
1. Bake the sponge for long enough. The sponge should bounce back when pressed.
2. Allow the sponge to rest in the pan set on a wire rack for ten minutes after baking. Most recipes call for it to be rolled instantly after baking. But this traps steam in the tea towel and causes the sponge to stick to the material.
3. Dust the tea towel liberally with sugar, powdered icing sugar or cocoa powder to create a barrier, before turning out the sponge from the pan.
How to store and freeze
- How to store: The Swiss Roll can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- How to freeze: An unfilled, rolled sponge can be wrapped in plastic wrap and then foil and frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and allow to come to room temperature before filling and continuing with the recipe instructions.
Equipment you’ll need
- Baking Pan / Swiss Roll Pan / Jelly Roll Pan: Needs to be approximately 25x38cm (10x15-inch) to bake a sponge that is 1cm (½ inch) flat. A larger tray will create a thinner sponge which in turn will roll up into more swirls. A smaller tray will create a thicker sponge that is tricky to roll up tightly.
- Stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment: The eggs and sugar need a good amount of whipping to increase their volume, and a stand mixer does this effortlessly. A handheld mixer can be used if necessary.
- Offset spatula: The spatula helps smooth out the batter evenly in the pan but also when spreading the jam on the sponge.
More Cake recipes you'll love
If you tried this Swiss Cake Roll Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how you go in the comments below. I love hearing from you. Also, please leave a star rating whilst you're there!
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Swiss Roll Cake Recipe
- 4 large eggs, Yolks and whites separated and at room temperature.
- 100 g caster sugar (superfine), Plus an extra 2 tablespoon for dusting the teatowel.
- 20 ml vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 100 g plain flour (all-purpose)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- 90 g strawberry jam, or your favourite jam, conserve or marmalade.
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar (superfine), to dust
- Chantilly cream and fresh strawberries, optional
- Heat the oven and prepare the pan: Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F).Grease with butter or oil the base and sides of a 25x38cm (10×15-inch) baking pan /swiss roll pan/jelly roll pan. Line the pan with parchment paper, ensuring the paper overhangs the pan's sides. This will help you later when trying to remove the sponge from the tin. Grease the parchment paper, as this will help peel the paper off once the sponge has baked.
- Whisk egg whites. Using handheld electric beaters or in the bowl of a standmixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on medium to high speed until soft peaks form. Then add half the sugar and whisk until thickened and glossy.
- Whip the egg yolks and sugar: In a separate bowl, whip the egg yolks and remaining sugar on medium-high for 5 minutes, until the mixture is light and creamy. When lifting out the whisk, you want to see trails of the mixture on the surface of the batter for a few seconds. Add the oil and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.
- Sift dry ingredients: Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt into the whisked egg yolks and, using a metal spoon or rubber spatula, fold through until just combined. Ensure that you scrape right to the bottom of the bowl where flour air-pockets can remain. The mixture will feel quite thick.
- Fold egg whites into the egg yolk batter. Add a quarter of the whisked egg whites into the batter and mix well to loosen the egg yolk batter. Add the remaining egg whites, and fold through gently until well combined.
- Pour into the prepared pan: Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use an offset spatula to help guide the batter into the corners and smooth it to an even layer. Tap the pan a couple of times to release any trapped air bubbles.
- Bake: Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, the sponge springs back when pressed lightly and is dry to touch.Cool: Remove the baking pan from the oven and set it onto a wire rack to cool for ten minutes only. It's important not to miss out this step.
- Prepare your tea towel: Whilst the sponge is cooling, lay a tea towel or piece of parchment paper on your work surface and sprinkle liberally with caster sugar. (Alternatively, dust with powdered icing sugar.)
- Invert sponge onto the teatowel: After ten minutes of cooling, carefully invert the sponge onto the tea towel. The sponge will still be warm.
- Peel off paper and roll: Gently peel off the parchment paper on the bottom of the sponge. Starting from the sponge’s short end, using your hands, roll the sponge up gently but firmly until it is totally rolled into the tea towel (or parchment paper). Set the roll aside with its seam side down to cool completely.
- Re-roll sponge: Re-roll the sponge up again and wrap it in parchment paper and then in plastic wrap for the roll to hold its shape. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours for the filling to firm up.
- To serve: Slice unsightly ends off the roll with a serrated knife then sprinkle with extra caster sugar. Serve with chantilly cream and fresh strawberries (optional).
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.