I know the title of this post is really lame, but I promise this is actually the best cake ever. Here’s why: light, fluffy, fresh, bouncy, moist, airy. I could probably think of a hundred more adjectives, too. You won’t take a bite without saying, “mmmmm.” My friend Tiffany and I made a New Year’s Resolution to challenge ourselves with a new recipe bake each month. This recipe was our February bake!
Here is the link to the original recipe we used: Fresh Strawberry and Cream Japanese Cake Roll. Credit where credit is due, of course. I didn’t make any major modifications to the recipe besides amping up the vanilla. I would also like to say the original recipe suggests using an 8×12 size pan, which is really difficult to find. However, when you look at her photos in the post, you can see the pan she is using is 9×13 for the bake. So that is the size to go with – 9×13.
Overall, I would say this recipe isn’t particularly challenging. I would recommend taking the time to read through it fully since some steps are time-sensitive. I am going to list the ingredients at the top of the recipe and also list them within the instructions so it’s easy to follow. A few things you’ll need – a 9×13 baking pan (I like this one from Walmart), parchment paper, cooling rack, a mesh strainer for sifting (I like these), kitchen scale, and a heat-resistant cup. If you own two bowls for your stand mixer, go ahead and place one in the fridge when you start the recipe. If you just have one bowl, wash it and toss it in the fridge right after you finish incorporating the whipped egg whites.
Ingredients for the Cake:
- 25g granulated sugar
- 45g cake flour
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 50ml whole milk
- 3 egg yolks
- 40ml oil (vegetable or canola)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 egg whites
- 50g granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Ingredients for the Cream:
- 1 tsp + 1/4 tsp gelatin powder
- 5 tsp water
- 1 cup + 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tbs + 1/4 tsp granulated sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line the baking pan with parchment paper.
45g cake flour, 25g sugar, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp cream of tartar, 1/4 tsp salt – Sift these ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Stir with a whisk to combine well. Then create a well in the center.
50ml whole milk, 3 egg yolks, 40ml oil, 1 tsp vanilla – Add these ingredients into the center well you created in the mixing bowl. Use a spatula to slowly combine the wet ingredients with the dry along the outside of the bowl. Don’t overmix but make sure there are no remaining clumps of dry ingredients. Set this aside for just a moment.
4 egg whites, 50g sugar, 1/4 tsp cream of tartar – Start by adding the egg whites only to a bowl of a stand mixer. Use the whisk attachment to start whisking the egg whites on medium speed. Once the egg whites develop some froth, add the cream of tartar. Allow that to continue mixing until the mixture looks like white foam. Keep the mixer on, and add the sugar in small increments. Continue mixing until you raise the whisk and see a little white mountain peak (“stiff peaks”) in the mixture.
Take about 1/3 of the egg whites and fold into the flour and egg batter in the large mixing bowl. Folding it in means not mixing with beaters or whisking vigorously. I like to use a rubber spatula and just make continuous turns and loops through the mixture and around the edge of the bowl. Continue adding egg whites until they are fully incorporated. Be gentle but forceful enough to not leave any streaks of egg whites remaining in the batter. If you only have one mixing bowl for your stand mixer, take a minute here to wash it and put it in the fridge to be ready to make the cream.
Pour all of the batter into the center of the baking pan. Lightly spread to all the edges and corners. Give the pan a few good taps and drops onto the counter to encourage larger air bubbles to the surface.
Bake 14-16 minutes. This cake is really light and will be burnt if you wait for a dark golden color. I generally bake recipes for a shorter time than suggested, and the max I would recommend on this sponge is 18 minutes. You can check if it’s done by inserting a toothpick into the center.
Let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Then place a cooling rack over the pan, and quickly flip so the parchment paper will be facing you on the cooling rack. Gently remove the parchment paper. Let it cool another 5 minutes.
Now place a clean sheet of parchment paper over the sponge, and flip it one more time so the sponge is now facing you with the parchment paper underneath. It’s time to roll. The direction you will roll is hamburger style – start on one of the smaller edges and roll toward the other small edge. Allow the parchment paper to fold with and inside the sponge. Once it’s completely rolled, set aside to finish cooling. I like to set it between two sturdy objects to provide support and maintain the roll shape.
Instructions for the Cream:
I wait to start the cream until I have the sponge completely rolled and set aside to finish cooling. This allows enough time for the mixing bowl in the fridge to get pretty cold and doesn’t overlap concentration between rolling and making the cream.
5 tsp water, 1 tsp and 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin – Place 5 tsp of water in a heat resistant cup, and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Let it set for 5 minutes for the gelatin to settle. During this 5 minutes, if you want, you can start cutting some strawberries. No specific size, but don’t leave the pieces too large since they will be placed inside the roll. Also bring a small pan of water to a simmer on the stove.
After 5 minutes, place the heat-resistant cup of water and gelatin into the simmering water in the pan on the stove. Once the gelatin becomes liquid, take it out of the simmering water and set it on the counter. Give yourself just a few seconds to get the mixing bowl out of the fridge and get ready for the next step before you take the gelatin cup out of the simmering water.
1 cup and 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, 1 tbs and 1/4 tsp sugar, 2 tsp vanilla extract – Immediately start whisking the heavy whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed in the cold mixing bowl on the stand mixer once you take the gelatin out of the simmering water. Once you see the whisk start leaving tracks in the cream (thick enough), start to slowly and steadily pour the gelatin from the cup into the mixer. The best placement is between the side of the bowl and the whisk. Allow the cream to mix until stiff. It is possible to overwhip, but once you see a nice creamy consistency you’ll know it’s ready.
Gently unwrap the rolled cake. Once it’s flattened out, start spreading an even layer of cream over it. I like to use a frosting knife for this. I don’t let any cream go to waste, but it does get more challenging to make a pretty roll the more cream you add. I sacrifice shape for creamy goodness. Place the small strawberry pieces over the cream. I add a few to the inside of the roll, and then add more to my plate rather than inside. The more inside the roll, the harder to roll.
Then you will roll it once again the same direction you did before – hamburger style from the short side across to the other short side.
After you have rolled it with the strawberries and cream inside, wrap it in plastic pretty tightly to help it maintain its shape. Place in the fridge for 20ish minutes to cool and for the cream to set before enjoying.
And that’s it!!!!!!! This cake is so delicious, you might want to make it again the next day because it won’t last long!!