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Grand Old-Fashioned Blueberry Jelly Roll

This image courtesy of Marcus Nilsson

Like apple pie and chocolate cake, this is one of those homey desserts with no pretensions. If you want to make this for a small gathering you can easily halve the recipe, making a thinner roll. The baking time will be 10 to 12 minutes. The secret to making an easily rollable cake is adding extra eggs and egg yolks to the batter. The eggs keep the cake light, moist, and supple, which is what you need to be able to roll a sponge cake that doesn’t crack. You can fill this basic sponge with anything from a fruit filling, as I use here, to jam to mousse to whipped cream, or even Nutella. If you use jam, choose a dark-colored one (or mixture of a couple of jams) to contrast with the light-colored cake, so when you cut into the roll you get a most attractive spiral. It’s a good way to finish those half-empty jars of jam hanging out in the back of your fridge.

Makes1 (4-by-11-inch) cake to serve 8 to 10

Cooking MethodBaking

CostInexpensive

Total Timeunder 4 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe CourseDessert

Dietary ConsiderationHalal, Kosher, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegetarian

MealDinner, Snack, Tea

Taste and TextureFruity, Sweet

Type of DishCake, Dessert, Sponge Cake

Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter for the pan
  • 12 large eggs (21 ounces, 600 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (90 grams, 3 ounces)
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour (85 grams, 3 ounces)
  • 2 pints fresh or frozen blueberries (about 4 cups, 21 ounces, 600 grams)
  • Finely grated zest and freshly squeezed and strained juice of 1 orange
  • 5 tablespoons confectioners sugar (1.25 ounces, 36 grams)
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted with the sugar (1.25 ounces, 36 grams)
  • Zester
  • 11-by-17-inch jelly roll pan or rimmed 11-by-17-inch baking sheet
  • Sifter
  • Electric mixer
  • Offset spatula

Instructions

  1. For the Roulade Sponge Cake:

  2. Separate the eggs, reserving all of the yolks and 6 of the whites. The remaining 6 whites can be stored in the fridge for another purpose. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the egg yolks with the vanilla and half the sugar until it quadruples in volume and turns pale yellow, about 10 minutes on high speed.

  3. In a separate mixing bowl using a clean whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until they start to foam. Add the cream of tartar and remaining sugar little by little and continue to beat until stiff peaks form, about 10 minutes, to make a meringue.

  4. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line an 11-by-17 -inch rimmed baking sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper and use some of the butter to grease the top and sides of the sheet pan thoroughly.

  5. Fold one-third of the meringue into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the rest, until the mixture is no longer streaked with meringue. Sift the flour over the meringue in two stages, folding gently after each addition.

  6. Pour the batter onto the prepared baking sheet and smooth with an offset spatula. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake is a pale golden color. Let the cake cool in the pan, then immediately cover the pan in plastic wrap, so the cake doesn’t dry out. Refrigerate until needed or overnight.

  7. For the Filling:

  8. In a saucepan, combine the blueberries, orange zest and juice, confectioners’ sugar, and cornstarch. Bring to a boil and reduce the liquid until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

  9. To Assemble and Serve:

  10. Remove the plastic wrap from the pan and slide the cake onto a clean kitchen towel sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar. Spread the cooled blueberry filling over the cake so that the filling is thinner at the edges (the filling will spread a little as the cake is rolled). Starting at a long end of the cake, use the towel to lift the cake from underneath. Tucking the edge in and peeling away the towel as you go, roll tightly away from you. Transfer the jelly roll to a flat serving plate, seam side down. Cut crosswise into 112-inch-thick slices and serve.

Notes

This simple cake travels perfectly. Just wrap it in plastic and then in foil. A sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar is nice but not strictly necessary here. A jelly roll is charmingly plain and lasts 5 days in the fridge well covered.

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