Vanilla swiss roll is an updated version of the classic recipe. This swiss roll is made with a light and moist vanilla sponge cake, filled with fresh whipped cream and rolled up. Add different fillings and toppings for individual takes on this dessert. My personal favorite is strawberry compote for a strawberry shortcake swiss roll!
This post includes step-by-step directions on achieving the perfect roll - it is easier than think!
If you follow my blog, then you know I am a chocolate girl. However, I wanted to switch it up this week and make something with a lighter flavor.
It took multiple attempts to develop the perfect vanilla swiss roll recipe. This cake is light and fluffy with a rich vanilla flavor. I have to admit, the final vanilla swiss roll recipe was so good I ate the entire roll in one day. I seriously could not stop eating it!
In this post, I walk you through all the steps to achieving the perfect roll. I know it can seem scary at first, especially if you have watched the Great British Baking Show. However, it is a straightforward and painless process.
Vanilla Swiss Roll Ingredients
Specific Ingredient Notes
These are the ingredients I used to develop this recipe and why I used them. Please note, further down in this post, I have a section titled "Subsitious and Alternatives". If you do not have the specific ingredient that is listed here, I recommend reading that section for possible alternatives.
- Grapeseed Oil - This is a light and flavor-neutral oil. This oil allows the vanilla to be the star of the show.
- Whole Milk - Adds full richness to this swiss roll.
- Clear Vanilla Extract - Vanilla is the star of this show. I added extra vanilla for a more robust flavor.
- Cake Flour - Cake flour is a finely milled flour that is lower on the gluten spectrum. What that means is cake flour helps your cakes to be lighter and fluffier in texture. I have luck finding cake flour at Target.
- Milk Powder - Is milk in its most concentrated form. Bakers like to use to milk powder to add a the richness of milk, without adding liquid to the recipe.
- Egg Whites - Egg whites are the leavening, or rising, agent of this cake. Egg whites keep the texture light and fluffy. Before mixing, always clean your mixing bowl with vineger and beaters to remove any unseen fat from previous uses.
- Cream of Tartar - Speeds up the creation of foam and stabilizes the bubbles in egg whites. The result is a lighter cake sponge texture.
How to Roll A Swiss Roll
Achieving the perfect roll is all about timing and technique. Don't let the rumors scare you; it is easier than you might have heard. Follow these steps to create a perfect roll.
- Baking Sheet: Line the baking sheet with parchment paper and liberally grease both sides. The goal of this step is to ensure the cake is released easily.
- Preparing the Roll: Select either a lint-free tea towel or parchment paper as an insert. This insert is rolled inside the cake. Lay the insert flat and generously dust the top with powdered sugar. The dusted insert will ensure the cake does not stick when rolling it up.
- Invert Cake: Remove cake from the oven. Then invert the cake onto the dusted insert. After inverting, peal the baked parchment paper off the bottom of the cake.
- First Roll: Slowly and gently roll the cake with the insert inside the rolls. Allow the cake to cool while rolled up fully; this can take between 1 -2 hours.
- Second Roll: Once the cake has cooled, gently unroll it. Spread your filling across the cake, leaving a 1-inch parameter all the way around. Roll the cake back up without the insert on the inside. Place in the refrigerator for four hours before serving.
Substitutions and Alternatives
Grapeseed Oil - This recipe uses a small amount of grapeseed oil. It is also a costly oil to purchase. Therefore if you do not already have it, I do not recommend buying it for this recipe. As an alternative, I recommend using: Avocado oil, almond oil, canola oil, or olive oil.
Whole Milk - Simply replace any milk or milk substitute for whole milk at a 1:1 ratio.
Clear Vanilla Extract - Any vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste can be a substitution.
Cake Flour - I love cake flour because of the lighter texture. However, I often use all-purpose flour in place of just about any flour. All-purpose is the perfect name for this universal flour.
Milk Powder - If you do not have milk powder, simply use flour in its place to keep the dry ratios consistent.
Cream of Tartar - Substitute 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice for every ½ teaspoon of cream of tartar
Fillings and Toppings
Much like cakes, swiss rolls can have a large variety of different fillings. I prefer a simple whipped cream served with a fruit topping on the side. I think it is fun to have a topping bar so that everyone can make their perfect variation of swiss rolls. Here are a few suggestions:
Holiday Decoration Variations
Swiss rolls are perfect for just about any holiday. Here are a few variation ideas.
- Christmas - Mix 2 - 3 drops of red gel food coloring in with the cake batter. Crush red and green M&Ms and mix in with whipped cream. Add whipped cream on top, sprinkle additional red and green M&M's for color pops.
- Saint Patrick's Day - Add 2 - 3 drops of green gel food coloring and mixin with the cake batter.
- Easter - Mix 2 - 3 drops of pastel gel food coloring in with the cake batter. Place whipped cream on top, decorate with chocolate Easter bunnies, and eggs placed in the whipped cream.
- Fourth of July - Mix mini red, white, and blue M&Ms with whipped cream. Place additional whipped cream on top and sprinkle M&M's for color pops.
- Halloween - Add 2 - 3 drops of black or orange gel food coloring with the cake batter. Top the roll with black or orange whipped cream and place spooky chocolate candies (eggs, spiders, etc.)
Frequently Asked Questions
Most likely, you overmixed or stirred the batter, causing the air bubbles to deflate.
To avoid this, fold the ingredients together instead of stirring. To fold, thoroughly mix the egg yolk mixture until smooth. Then, place about ⅓ of the stiff egg whites on top of the mixed egg yolk batter. Sightly tilt your bowl and, using your spatula, cut through the center of the egg whites. Scrape your spatula along the curve of the bowl, gently scooping up the batter and egg whites. Fold the batter over on top of the egg whites. Turn the bowl a ¼ and continue to fold. Add the rest of the egg whites and continue folding.
Stop when there is more batter to fold. The mixture might not look fully incorporated, and that is ok.
Swiss roll is a sponge cake with a filling rolled inside it. Roulades are made of pastry or cake; they can be sweet or savory. In a nutshell, a swiss roll can be a roulade, but the category of roulades expands beyond the swiss roll.
A jelly roll is the US name for a Swiss roll. The US versions often include jelly or jam fillings.
This cake originated in Central Europe, most likely Austria, but not Switzerland. That is about all anyone knows.
A swiss roll tin is known as a quarter baking sheet (9x13) in the US. This baking sheet is small and shallow, only an inch deep.
Refrigerator: If using whipped cream as the filling, store the vanilla swiss roll cake in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Countertop: If you're using a different filling than whipped cream, the roll can be stored at room temperature for 1-2 days in an airtight container. Note the filling can bleed into the sponge.
Freezer: Cut slices of the cake, wrap them individually in cling wrap, and freeze for up to three months.
Did you make this recipe? Let me know below with a rating or take a picture and tag me on Instagram!
Great British Baking Show Bake
Season 2, Episode 6, Technical - Roulade.
This bake is part of my challenge to bake my way through the Great British Baking Show.
Count: 29 down, 251 to go!
More Cake Recipes:
Vanilla Swiss Roll
- 9x13 baking sheet
- Hand or stand mixer
- Parchment paper or tea towel
- Small, medium and large mixing bowls
- 3 egg yolks
- 30 grams sugar
- 30 grams grapeseed or other light oil
- 30 grams whole milk
- 15 grams clear vanilla extract
- 60 grams cake flour all-purpose as a substitute
- 15 grams milk powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 5 grams vinegar optional
- 3 egg whites, room temperature separate cold
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 30 grams sugar
- 201 grams whipped cream
- 45 grams sugar
- 15 grams vanilla
- Prep: Preheat oven to 325F/165C. Grease the bottom of a 9x13 baking sheet. Then line the baking sheet with parchment paper and grease the top.
- Wet Ingredients: In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks, oil, milk, sugar, and clear vanilla extract.3 egg yolks, 30 grams sugar, 30 grams grapeseed or other light oil, 30 grams whole milk, 15 grams clear vanilla extract
- Dry Ingredients: In a small bowl whisk together flour, milk powder, and salt.60 grams cake flour, 15 grams milk powder, ¼ teaspoon salt
- Combine Wet and Dry Ingredients: In a large bowl, combine wet and dry ingredients together. Whisk until smooth.
- Egg Whites: Before adding the egg whites to the medium mixing bowl, clean the bowl with ½ teaspoon of vinegar to remove any unseen remaining fat. Place the egg whites in the mixing bowl. Mix at a low speed, working up to a medium speed, until the egg whites are foamy. Add cream of tartar. Mix until the egg whites form bubbles. Then SLOWLY add sugar in small increments. Continue mixing until stiff white peaks have formed.5 grams vinegar, 3 egg whites, room temperature, ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar, 30 grams sugar
- Folding Together: Add ⅓ of the egg whites to the batter and fold them together. Add the rest of the egg whites and continue to fold until the mixture is combined. *See notes on how to fold together ingredients without deflating the egg whites.
- Bake: Transfer the batter to the prepared baking sheet. Gently smooth out the top. Lift the baking sheet about an inch and drop 3 - 5 times to release any air bubbles. Bake at 350 for 15 - 17 minutes or until golden brown.*Use caution not to over-bake, the cake needs to have spring in order to roll without cracks.
- Pre-roll: While the cake is in the oven, prepare to roll the cake as soon as it is done baking. Select a tea towel or parchment paper and dust it with powdered sugar.
Whipped cream filling
- In the bowl using a handheld mixer, add the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Start mixing at a low speed. Once the mixture starts to increase in volume, increase the speed to medium-high until you can see thick traces in the cream.
- First Roll: Remove the cake from the oven and go around the edge with a knife to loosen the cake. Then flip the cake onto the tea towel or parchment paper. Peel the baked parchment paper off. Slowly and gently tightly roll the cake up in the towel/parchment paper. Let cool for one hour.
- Spread the Filling: After the cake has cooled, gently unroll it. Spread a thin layer of your filling evenly across the cake leaving a one-inch parameter around the outside.
- Second Roll: Gently roll the cake back up. Wrap the cake in a tea towel or parchment paper. Place in the refrigerator for 4 hours to set.
- When ready, remove the cake from the refrigerator and cut off the ends. Decorate as desired.201 grams whipped cream, 45 grams sugar, 15 grams vanilla
- 15 grams = 1 tablespoon
- 5 grasms = 1 teaspoon
- Any fat remaining in a mixing bowl can diminish the volume of egg whites. To avoid this, always clean your mixing bowl with a squeeze of lemon or teaspoon of vinegar. Then whip clean with a paper towel, prior to mixing egg whites.
- Place about ⅓ of the egg whites on top of the mixed batter. Then slightly tilt your bowl. Take your spatula and cut through the center of the egg whites. Scrape your spatula along the curve of the bowl, gently scooping up the batter and egg whites. Fold the batter over on top of the egg whites. Turn the bowl a ¼ turn and repeat the folding process. Add the rest of the egg whites and continue folding the eggs.
- Repeat until you no longer see any liquid batter when you scoop-and-lift. It is critical to stop here. If you continue or stir, you will deflate the egg whites, and your sponge will become rubbery.
- Note: The mixture might not look fully incorporated, and that is ok.
- You can insert a toothpick or knife into the center. If it comes out clean the cake is done baking.
- Lightly press your finger into the cake. If it springs back, the cake is done baking.