Pantry Basics: Roll Cake (ロールケーキ)

Japanese roll cake

Japanese roll cake

When my toddler, T, had his first taste of this roll cake his wee face broke into a wide smile that lit up his eyes and entire face. Like him, I can’t seem to get enough of this light-as-a-feather roll cake. Asian incarnations of the Swiss roll are decidedly lighter than their European forebear. The Japanese, in particular, have catapulted the roll cake (ロールケーキ or ro-ru keiki) into another stratosphere. Their roll cakes tend to be lightly, rather than assertively sweetened. And they have a soft, delicate texture and moist, fine crumb I absolutely love. I was heartbroken when the Arinco stall in the basement of Ion where I had indulged in many a salted caramel roll cake air-flown from Japan closed down.

Souffle roll cakeIn my teens and early twenties, I could easily and very happily put away an entire boxful of Polar mini sugar rolls in one sitting. Those are like the basic white T-shirts of the roll cake universe—soft yellow sponge cake held together by the slightest hint of buttercream and dusted with sugar (or not, you can choose). My tastes were simple, but I must confess that my appetite was not quite, ahem, ladylike. My brother-in-law once most embarrassingly described me as having “the appetite of a Mongol warlord”. But with age and a plummeting metabolism, I have since been able to tame my inner warlord. There are few temptations that induce me to ingest food in vast quantities, boa constrictor style. A good roll cake is one of them. Especially one made using the recipe below. I kid you not. I rarely eat more than a single serving of the desserts and baked goods I make, but there is something about the airy texture of this roll cake and the very simplicity of its construction (I consider it a ‘what you see is what you get’ sort of confection) that makes me go weak at the knees. For a red velvet inspired version, check out my recipe here.

About Su-Lyn Tan

Su-Lyn is Aun's better half and for many years, the secret Editor behind this blog known to readers simply as S. Su-Lyn is an obsessive cook and critical eater whose two favourite pastimes are spending time with her three kids and spending time in the kitchen. She looks forward to combining the two in the years to come.