Me: Hi, my name is WannaBGourmande. I'm a Great British Bake-Off Addict.
GBBO Addicts Anonymous Group: Hi, WannaBGourmande.
I love how chill it is. I love how supportive the bakers are of one another. You might say "Hey, why don't we have an American version?" They tried and it was garbage. They called it "The American Baking Competition" and they couldn't do anything without cheesey stock electric guitar music and too-dramatic cutaways. All of the charm was lost and replaced with Jeff Foxworthy.
The point of all of this rambling is that it's a charming and chill way to get people baking. Being a classically-trained Chef, I learned how to bake in culinary school. I learned all of the special French terms and every bit of science there is on the topic, but I'm missing a lot of things that a home baker might have in their arsenal, so I might come off too calculating and technical to ever be in the same league as Granny baking cookies. It was honestly my grandfather that did most of the baking, and he never let me in the kitchen. He was a professional baker, so I imagine he didn't want someone getting in the way while he was creating; I understand him more and more as I get older. His thing was cinnamon rolls, and I've created my own version to safely work with at any restaurant I might be the Pastry chef at; I didn't want his recipe to be screwed with and it was so important to him that I never let the recipe become property of another that was outside the family, so I respectfully tweaked it just enough to not be his recipe and all be my own. The results are awesome, and I make it every so often, but we never had anything like the grannies made on the Great British Bake-Off. Swiss Roll, for example!
A Swiss roll is a sponge cake that's spread with jam, buttercream, mousse, or some other filling and then rolled up to create a log that - when cut - shows a signature spiral. I think it's a gloriously fun little cake, and I just love the way they look, and how easy they are to make. The best part about them is how unbelievably versatile they are; you can have just about any flavor profile you'd like! For this application, I chose to do a lemon cake with strawberry jam, simply because that's what I had available. Here we go!
Strawberry Lemonade Swiss Roll
yields 1 1/2 sheet pan, serves up to 16
- 6 eggs
- 175 g granulated sugar
- Zest of one lemon
- 1/2 tsp lemon extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 115 g AP flour
- Strawberry Jam(homemade or store-bought) A/N
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and prepare a half-sheet pan with parchment paper. Snip a slit in each corner of the paper so that your paper lays flat up and over the edges without bending or puckering in any funny shapes.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt over a sheet of parchment paper and set aside. Meanwhile, whip together your eggs and sugar until they've become rather thick, have tripled in volume, and are rather pale in color. You'll know when it's ready by the very soft peak it'll leave when you move the whisk attachment and run it through and up your mix.
Gently fold in your flour mixture, a spoonful at a time, and fold in your zest at the end. Pour your batter into the prepared pan. Spray an offset spatula with a little bit of pan-spray and gently encourage your batter to be in all of the corners of the pan. You'll want it as even as possible, but you'll want to not disturb the bubbles you've created. Give it a little shimmy, too, if you like, but not too much.
Place your cake pan in the oven and let bake for about 15 - 17 minutes, until the cake pulls away from the edges of the pan and bounces back when pressed lightly. It may take longer, depending on the elevation of where you live, but patience is a virtue. You may as well work on your filling while you're waiting - simply take your jam out and warm it just to body temperature on the stove, just enough to let the pectin relax without melting away entirely, and damaging the flavor of the jam.
When your cake is ready, let cool for about three minutes before turning out over a clean tea towel(or parchment sheet) that's been dusted lightly with powdered sugar. Peel away the parchment very carefully. If you like, you can squeeze that zested lemon into a bowl and then brush the juice onto the warm cake, but it's not necessary by any stretch of the imagination.
With the long side of the cake facing you, bend a little seam into the length of the sponge and tuck it in to begin the roll. You won't want to roll it up entirely, but getting it started and then rolling it about halfway while it's still warm is a good idea, to make sure it doesn't crack when you roll it all the way up. You only need to let the cake cool about 10 minutes before adding your jam, and that's just to make sure that the bubbles you've baked in are now set.
Take your jam and spread it evenly all along the sponge, leaving about a quarter inch free and away from long edge that's on the opposite side of you. Roll your sponge up in a nice roll and squeeze to shape. Do your best to create a round log and don't squish downward to create a mounded semicircle. Leave to cool and then decorate!
I chose a dairy-free whipped topping combined with mini meringues, to give it a bit of crunch while still lending to the monochromatic look. Mini meringues are a great thing to have in your cupboard; they use up extra egg whites and you can keep them forever so long as you have a silica gel packet or two hanging out in the bag with them.
This dessert is a simple showstopper that you can throw together in an hour before a party that you'd forgotten you were invited to, and can be a perfect accompaniment to a tea party you might feel inclined to host. I always like to have bits of cake lying around the house, just in case someone drops in or I feel like I need something to keep me company while binge on GBBO on Netflix. Plus, it's got strawberry jam, so that means there's fruit in it, so you can totally have a slice for breakfast with your morning coffee. And did I mention how instagram-worthy it is?
Enjoy! Happy baking and happy eating!