This super easy to make, light and tender-crumbed Red Velvet roll cake weds CH’s obsession with Red Velvet and my love of Japanese-style roll cakes (ロールケーキ or ro-ru keiki). I winged it and made one for CH’s birthday earlier this year, but only managed to re-test the recipe this past weekend before sharing it. It’s not a traditional Red Velvet by any stretch, but I adore the fact that it delivers the flavours we associate with Red Velvet in a delicate cake that is the perfect sweet ending to an indulgent multi-course meal.
Red Velvet Roll Cake
This is based off my adaptation of Keiko Ishida’s recipe for plain soufflé roll cake in Okashi. The cream cheese filling is based on Tish Boyle’s in The Cake Book (if I could only have one cake book in my library, Tish’s would be it).
Makes a 28cm roll
3 egg yolks
60g top flour (or pastry flour*, as the original recipe recommends)
10-15g cocoa powder
½ tsp espresso roast instant coffee
a pinch of salt
35g unsalted butter
60g whole milk
¼ tsp red gel food colouring (adjust to your preference)
3 egg whites
85g castor sugar
Whipped cream cheese filling
120ml whipping cream
85g cream cheese, softened
35g castor sugar
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
Line a 28x28cm square sheet pan with aluminum foil (I find that aluminum foil is easiest to peel off this type of cake). Use two sheets overlapping to form a cross and leave enough extra overhang on each side so that you can fold the foil over the edges of the sheet. This way, foil won’t fold over forwards into the batter which gives you uneven edges. Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius (360° Fahrenheit) using the conventional setting (no fan). Place your oven rack at the lowest possible level.
Combine the egg and egg yolks in a small bowl. Beat lightly.
Sift the flour and cocoa powder. Add instant coffee and salt. Whisk to combine. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over gentle heat then add the flour mixture and stir with a spatula until combined and cooked through. The mixture will be a little dry and you will need to carefully press down on it with your spatula to ensure that it is evenly mixed. Remove from heat and stir in the egg mixture a little at a time. Continue mixing until you get a smooth batter. Add red food colouring and milk. Stir to incorporate. Strain the batter into a large bowl. The batter will be quite thick and some of it will stick to the outer base of the sieve. I scrape it off into the batter and try my best to mix it evenly. Sometimes, I end up with tiny flakes of chocolate in the roll cake, but once you slice it, it isn’t at all apparent. And it doesn’t interfere with the soft, fluffy texture.
To make the meringue, place the egg whites in a clean mixing bowl and whisk until foamy. Add half the sugar and continue whisking for a few minutes. Add remaining sugar and whisk until egg whites are glossy and stiff peaks form.
Add one-third of the meringue to the egg mixture. Fold in lightly, then add remaining meringue and fold through until just incorporated. Honestly, I can never seem to get it right when I use the folding method with a spatula. What I usually do is just quickly whisk, by hand, the first third of the meringue into the batter using the whisk attachment of my KitchenAid in a circular motion. I then add the remaining two-thirds of the meringue and use the whisk attachment, again by hand, to whisk it in. I then finish off the process with a spatula, being careful about folding in the egg mixture that is at the bottom of the bowl.
Gently pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly with an offset spatula or dough scraper. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the top of the cake is pale gold and springs back to the touch.
Remove from the oven and set on a rack to cool. Place a damp tea towel (use a smooth cotton one, not an actual towel or the cake will stick to it) over the cake as it cools. When you are able to comfortably handle the cake pan, place the cooling rack over the damp tea towel and invert the cake onto the rack. Remove the pan. Gently peel off the aluminum foil, and place another tea towel onto the crustless bottom side of the cake now facing upwards. Carefully remove the rack below and place it on top of the new tea towel, or use a second rack. Turn the cake over, remove the damp tea towel and carefully roll the cake up with the new tea towel on the outside. Set it on the rack and let it cool completely.
In the meantime, make the whipped cream cheese filling. Whip the cream until firm peaks form (I use the whisk attachment on my stick blender). Cover and refrigerate until needed. In a 500ml/2 cup capacity measuring jug, beat the cream cheese and sugar until creamy and smooth. I use a Bamix for this. But I imagine a handheld cake mixer would also work well. Or you might be able to do it in a blender. Beat in the vanilla extract. Gently whisk in ⅓ of the whipped cream, then fold in the remaining whipped cream with a spatula. Transfer to a piping bag and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Gently unroll the cake, remove the tea towel, and fill it with the whipped cream cheese filling and roll the cake up. You may find this video demonstration of how a Swiss roll is rolled useful.
Tightly wrap with cling film and refrigerate to set. This cake is best served the day it is made.
* I actually use top flour which is an extra-fine, soft wheat flour marketed as ideal for Swiss rolls. Pastry flour has slightly higher gluten content than cake flour, but lower gluten content than all-purpose, and consists of only soft wheat. To make 2 cups of pastry flour, combine 1⅓ cups (185 grams) all-purpose flour with ⅔ cup (90 grams) cake flour.