On a “Roll” – a Jelly Roll!

jelly-rollGood thing I’m short and have a good amount of “padding”. I had just gathered eggs and a wheelbarrow full of wood for the stove. This was when the temperature was in single digits. Well, I hit a patch of ice on the way back to the house. Down I went. The basket of eggs fell out of the wheelbarrow, along with some of the wood. No worries, I was fine but was startled to see how quickly broken eggs could freeze. I eventually got everything back in order and was glad that enough eggs were saved to make a jelly roll for Valentine’s Day.

UPDATE: After posting this recipe, a couple of readers said they always rolled up their jelly roll on the short side. Was this OK? After checking with Cook’s Illustrated and seeing their jelly roll recipe which I’m now sharing as well, I’m thinking it’s OK –  you’ll get a shorter, somewhat thicker, roll. Their recipe is similar to mine with proportions being a bit different and uses more eggs and no water. And they always roll theirs up on the short side.


Thought making a jelly roll was too tricky? Not so if you follow my step-by-step instructions. This is sometimes called a sponge roll.


  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 generous cup or so favorite jam, jelly or preserves


  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Preparing pan:
  3. Spray a jelly roll pan, approx. 15”x10 “x1”, and place a piece of parchment paper on top. Spray parchment paper.
  4. Blend flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  5. Beat eggs until thick and lemon colored. This is important and will take a few minutes. Beat in granulated sugar gradually. Blend in water and vanilla. Slowly mix in dry ingredients just until batter is smooth. Pour into pan.DSCN0111
  6. Bake 10-12 minutes – (Cook’s Illustrated suggests rotating halfway through) – cake is done when it will spring back lightly when pressed in center. Don’t over bake or cake will be hard to roll.DSCN0113
  7. Rolling up:
  8. While cake is baking, sprinkle a towel with confectioners’ sugar.
  9. When cake is done, loosen edges and immediately turn upside down on towel.
  10. Remove paper.DSCN0114
  11. While cake is still hot, roll up on the long side into towel (or the short side if you want), using towel to nudge the cake along. (This initial rolling helps “shape” the roll). Don’t roll up too tightly as this could cause it to crack.  Let cool 8-10 minutes, then unroll from towel.DSCN0116DSCN0122
  12. Finishing up:
  13. Spread with thin layer of jam.  Roll again. DSCN0119DSCN0120
  14. Trim edges. (Those are for you!). Place seam side down on platter. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.
  15. It’s even better the next day, after the jam has soaked into the cake a bit.


“Oh no, my cake cracked!” It happens once in a while and means cake was over baked or was rolled too tightly. Not to worry, as long as you can roll it up. Confectioners’ sugar is a great culinary band aid – just add more to cover the cracks.

Brushing with liqueurs: Feel free to brush your cake with your favorite liqueur before spreading on the jam. Coordinate flavors and you’re good to go.



¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon table salt
5 large eggs, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups fruit jam
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting


Making a Jellyroll Cake

1. Using an offset spatula, gently spread the cake batter out to an even thickness.

2. When the cake is removed from the oven, flip it out onto a sheet of parchment paper and peel off the parchment attached to the cake.

3. Starting from the short side, roll the cake and parchment into a log. Let the cake cool seam-side down (to prevent unrolling) for 15 minutes.

4. Unroll the cake. Spread 1 1/4 cups jam over the surface of the cake, leaving a 1-inch border at the edges.

5. Re-roll the cake gently but snugly around the jam, leaving the parchment behind as you go.

6. Trim thin slices of the ragged edges from both ends. Transfer the cake to a platter, dust with confectioners’ sugar, and cut into slices.

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