For Chloe’s first birthday I started researching Japanese style cakes to make for her. I was mainly looking for a lighter style frosting. I had made a rich homemade cake with a heavy cream cheese frosting for Ellie’s first birthday and after one bite she threw up. So for Chloe, I thought she’d appreciate the lighter style Japanese cakes and frosting. During my search I came across these awesome looking roll cakes. Roll cakes that had designs on them. But not only did they have designs on them, they were baked into them. My mind was officially blown. I didn’t know when or how, but right then and there I vowed to one day make that cake. That day had come.
Last year I got a book called Deco Cakes by Junko that explains how to make them. But I still had never made a roll cake before and even with the book it looked intimidating. Also last year, I met a friend who works at a Japanese bakery. She said making roll cakes was easy and that she would teach me. The stars were starting to align.
After taking a crash course class from my friend, it was time to strike out on my own and a friend’s holiday party was the perfect opportunity to make some roll cakes.
I decided on a Christmas argyle and a silhouetted Santa and reindeer. The argyle turned out great, but the Santa and reindeer needs some work (too much whipped egg whites in my reindeer batter). Not bad for my first try though!
The book gives very detailed instructions about separating and mixing small quantities of batter for the different colors. I found this all very complicated and decided to simplify. The book is a great reference though.
First off, I used a shallow square jelly roll/roll cake pan that was 25cmx25cm. I was not able to find this online or at the stores, so I borrowed my friend’s (I plan on buying one the next time I’m in Japan).
Next, I finalized my design and cut it to size. I also lined my baking pan with parchment paper and slide the design under the parchment paper. You need to see the design so you can pipe it on.
After I got everything set, I made my batter. (See below for recipe)
Once I had the batter completed, I took a small portion (keep the rest of the batter in fridge while It’s not being used) and added green food coloring for the lines. I really just guessed on how much I would need for the lines. I used about 1/3 cup. I put this in a small piping bag with a small tip and piped on my green lines. Once you have that batter on, put the pan in the oven for 60-90 seconds. It’s just enough to get it set.
Then I took another small portion of batter and added red food coloring. Using another bag and a small tip, I piped on the red diamond pattern and then baked again for 60-90 seconds.
After that, pour the rest of the batter in the pan. Drop the pan on the counter a few times to slam the air bubbles out, and then bake for ten minutes. Baking times will vary depending on your oven. My oven took about 14 minutes at 350 degrees. You don’t want the cake under baked, but you definitely don’t want it over baked. Over baking will dry it out and then it will split when you roll it.
After the cake comes out of the oven, wait a minute then flip it and take the parchment paper off. You should see your (hopefully) beautiful pattern and you’ll be so impressed with yourself you’ll want to immediately post on Instagram to show your friends. But don’t celebrate too much yet, you’re still not finished.
After the cake cools a bit, wrap it up in plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out. Now it’s time to make the whipped cream. (Scroll down for recipe)
You can do plain whipped cream or add fresh fruit for your filling (I went plain since it was my first time). Mound up the whipped cream towards the bottom and spread it out towards the other side. Now you roll. I went for a full circle roll because that’s how I was taught. But seeing other pictures online it looks like you can roll a bunch of different ways.
Once you’ve rolled it, keep it wrapped in the plastic wrap and put it in the fridge until it time to serve.
Have some coffee, a slice of roll cake topped with some fresh fruit, and it’s the perfect after dinner treat. And it looks super cool!
Make whatever design you want for any occasion. The possibilities are endless! Ellie has already designed and requested a special roll cake for her birthday. I definitely have more practice to do, so I won’t mind doing that at all!