I made this cake before I went to New Jersey. Completely by hand. No machines involved. If you know something about jelly rolls, is that the first step is beating the living day lights out of the eggs. It’s a sponge. Which always translates into beating the living day lights out of somebody – er…something. Be it aggressively whisking that flour to aerate it, or whipping the egg whites till some kind of peak forms, to aerate it, or beating the eggs till ribbons form, once again, to aerate it. The whole point of the batter is to aerate. You want to beat a lot of air into that batter. So that it can become nice and light and fluffy.
Now please, close your eyes and imagine with me for a second. Yes, I know you can’t read the words if your eyes are closed. Just do your best. 😀 Five eggs, one whisk, one pair of arms, one me. One sore-armed me. But see the ribbons? Look at them!
After beating your eggs with your sugar until the mixture falls from the beaters (or whisk) into the bowl nice and slowly. You gently fold in the flour mixture until no streaks of flour remains. The keyword here is gently, no need to undo what you spend the last 25 minutes painfully doing.
Take my advice: make your cake and eat it too, but do use some sort of machinery to assist you.
Jelly Roll Cake
adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 c. jam of your choice, I used strawberry, be sure to stir it ahead of time
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Measure your dry ingredients, except for the sugar, into a bowl, and whisk whisk whisk. I didn’t bother to sift it so I made sure to whisk it well. It’s fine. Now plug in that piece of machinery and start beating your eggs. Beat until just starting to get foamy, then gradually add your sugar, a few tablespoons at a time, and beat. Do this until the eggs are pale and the mixture is thick. And forms ribbons when it falls. It will be lemony in color, and beginning to look like mayonnaise, although not that thick.
Add about a third of the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Gently FOLD, bring the spatula up towards you in a rotational motion in the bowl. Fold until the mixture is even. Do not stir!!! Repeat twice more with the folding, once again, gently, and do not stir.
Now, take a jelly roll pan, 15 x 10, and line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease the sides. Pour the batter into the pan. Smooth the top and pop it in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly browned and the top looks just about dry. It’s difficult to judge when the cake is done, and you do not want to risk over baking, which results in dry and crackly cakes. Makes your life harder when you’re rolling. So my suggestion is to never leave its side while baking it. Take it out and touch the middle with your finger tip when you think it’s done. If it springs back, it is.
While it is warm, DO NOT WAIT UNTIL IT HAS COOLED, flip the cake onto a piece of parchment paper. Peel off the parchment on the cake. Roll the cake along the short side, WITH the parchment beneath it. It’s important to do this while the cake is warm because you don’t want it to crack on you later. It’s sort of like giving it a dress rehearsal, with paper, not jam.
Let cool 15 minutes. Unroll. It will probably resist as you do it. That’s okay. You’ll still be able to spread the jam over it. Re-roll the cake in the same way, leaving out the parchment. It’s time for the big show. 😀 You will want to roll it up tightly and place on serving plate seam-side down. Trim the ends if you’re serving to company. Dust with confectioner’s sugar if you’d like.