Cranberry Swiss Roll
The word that comes to mind when I see this cranberry swiss roll is SWOON. I just love it so much. The light sponge layers; the tart cranberry filling; the pillow of fresh whipped cream on top, it’s really a show-stopper of a dessert in my opinion and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.
That said, it did take me a few tries to nail including one time when I embarrassingly just rolled the roll in the wrong direction (Amateur hour, right?). But, for someone who doesn’t consider myself to be much of a baker, I think this turned out pretty great. If nothing else, that should give you confidence to give it a shot.
I will say that making a true sponge cake, which is necessary for this roll, is a tricky cake to master. But, if you can get the cake done, the rest is pretty straightforward and you will be rewarded with a stunner of a dessert.
The other good news? You can make this swiss roll a day or two in advance without issue. The filling actually keeps the cake really moist so there’s no worry there. Read on and learn how to master this beauty!
For the cranberry filling:
- Add filling ingredients to a medium pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer for 8-10 minutes until cranberries burst and soften completely. Then cool slightly and puree in a blender or with an immersion blender. You can optionally leave it chunky, but I think it’s best smooth.
- Chill filling before using it.
For the Sponge Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Separate your eggs into yolks and whites. Add the whites to a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment (or use a hand mixer) to beat the eggs. Add 1/4 cup sugar and beat until the eggs hold stiff peaks.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, and salt.
- In a third bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until they are combined completely and not grainy.
- When egg whites are stiff, add about two cups of egg whites to the yolk mixture and whisk together to lighten the yolks. Then gently fold the yolk mixture back into the egg whites, trying to keep it as light as possible.
- Finally, fold in the dry ingredients. Be gentle with the batter to preserve as much lightness as possible. Don’t overwork it, but make sure the flour is incorporated. Don’t stir. Fold.
- Pour batter into a 9×13 rimmed baking sheet (quarter sheet size) that has been lined with parchment paper and greased lightly.
- Bake the sponge cake for about 18-20 minutes until it’s browned lightly and springs back when poked.
How to Make the Roll:
- When the sponge cake comes out of the oven, dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar and cover it with a clean towel. Then flip it over and remove the baking sheet. Peel off the parchment and dust heavily with powdered sugar on that side. Roll the sponge cake, while still hot, starting from the short end. The towel should get rolled up with the cake to create some space between the cake and to prevent sticking.
- Place the rolled cake in the fridge to cool, at least 30 minutes.
- To prepare the filling, make whipped cream and then lighten the filling by stirring in 1 cup of whipped cream to the cranberry filling.
- Unroll the cake and spread a thin layer of filling on the cake, leaving a little room around the edges.
- Re-roll the swiss roll and dust with powdered sugar.
- Top Swiss roll with whipped cream, orange zest and any fruit you like.
Slice and serve!
Cranberry Swiss Roll
The sponge cake is the hard part here so let’s tackle it. It starts with separating the eggs in the recipe into whites and yolks. Whisk the yolks together with sugar and vanilla. Easy enough.
For the dry ingredients, I used a mix of all-purpose flour and super-fine almond meal. To be honest, I think you could use 100% almond meal or a mix of that and gluten free flour. The gluten isn’t really essential for this recipe. The flour is just a binder so you could sub easily.
While it is annoying, it is a good idea to sift the flour so you don’t get any lumps in the batter later. You want to whisk the baking powder, salt, and flours all together!
For the egg whites, you have to beat them until they form stiff peaks. Like, really firm. Add some sugar and keep beating them. Once they hold their shape solidly, add two cups of the egg whites to the yolk mixture to lighten it. Then fold the yolk mixture back into the egg whites. The key word is FOLD. Don’t stir. Be gentle.
Once the yolk mixture is incorporated, add the flour. Same idea. Fold gently.
When you can’t see any more flour, you are done. Don’t overmix it. Then spread it out onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake the sponge for 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees F. until it’s golden brown and springs back if you poke it. Hence, sponge cake right?
Now is the time to work quickly. Dust the cake well with powdered sugar and cover it with a towel. Then flip it over and remove the baking sheet. Remove the parchment paper and dust again with powdered sugar to prevent sticking.
Then roll it into a tight cylinder. The towel will create a little space between the cake rolls.
Stick the creation in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. This will set the form of the roll and will prevent it from cracking later.
The filling is pretty straightforward. Cranberries, sugar, and water. Heat them until the cranberries burst and are very tender. Then blend it up! I used an immersion blender but you could use a traditional one. Just make sure it’s not steaming hot if you blend it.
Chill the filling completely before using it and then mix it with a cup of whipped cream to lighten it up. Then spread it on your chilled sponge cake. A very thin layer is all you need.
Make sure you roll the darn thing the right way. One attempt I rolled it longwise and ended up with a very long thin situation that wasn’t very great.
But the final version made up for it. Top with a mountain of fresh whipped cream and some orange zest and you are done.
Okay. I know. This cranberry swiss roll is probably not a beginner baking dish. But, it’s a fun project and if I can do it, you can do it.
Plus, just look at this guy. How cool right?!
Have questions?! Leave a comment!