Decorated swiss roll

Daring Kitchen
October 2016

Decorated Swiss Rolls

Hi, I’m Korena from Korena in the Kitchen and I’m very excited to be hosting another challenge here on the Daring Kitchen! This month I’m challenging the group to make decorated Swiss rolls, aka “deco rolls”, in the style of Japanese food blogger and cookbook author Junko, who has taken the internet by storm with her adorable “kawaii” versions.

This concept is a standard French pastry technique with the use of décor paste to create a pattern on a joconde sponge (which was tackled by the Daring Bakers back in 2011), and making it into a Swiss roll is an obvious next step, so when I was preparing this challenge, I decided to try it the French way. Unfortunately the results were not stellar – the décor paste cracked and the filling escaped when I rolled the cake up, because the décor paste was harder and less flexible than the surrounding sponge cake.

So for my next try, I turned to Junko’s deco roll method, because she obviously has it figured out. Instead of décor paste, you use a small amount of sponge cake batter to pipe the decorative pattern, which ensures that the pattern and the cake are the same texture so that the cake rolls up with no problem. The sponge cake itself is very elastic thanks to all the whipped egg whites, and her method includes a simple syrup to brush on the cake to keep it moist and pliable. And it works like a charm! The chocolate version that I made did still crack a little bit (not enough for the filling to escape though), but that’s because I over-baked it slightly and then over-filled it. So don’t be greedy like me and you’ll be just fine!

Recipe Source:
Recipe adapted from Deco Cakes! by Junko, via Cake Geek, The Bakeanista, and Haikugirl’s Japan

You can find the challenge PDF here

Original measurements are metric. The teaspoons and tablespoons in the volume conversions are US spoons, i.e. 1 tsp = 5ml; 1 Tbsp = 15ml. The cups in the volume measurements are US cups, i.e. 1 cup = 240ml or 8 fl oz.

Cake flour (aka pastry flour) is a low protein flour used to make light, airy cakes and pastries. If you can’t find it in the store, make it yourself by sifting all purpose flour with cornstarch. To make the 80g / 4/5 cup cake flour required for the recipe in Part A, sift together 65g / 1/2 cup all purpose flour and 15g / 5 1/2 tsp cornstarch. You can just use plain all purpose flour for the pattern mixture in Part B.

Caster sugar (aka berry or quick dissolving sugar) is finely granulated white sugar that dissolves more quickly. To make it yourself, simply whizz regular granulated sugar in the food processor for several seconds until it is more finely ground.

This sponge cake doesn’t contain any chemical leaveners, so its volume is dependent on the air whipped into the egg whites, and you want to keep as much air in the batter as possible before it goes in the oven. Be thorough but gentle when you are folding the whipped egg whites into the cake batter.

You can leave the vanilla sponge cake plain or tint it with food colouring, or you can make it cocoa or matcha or coffee-flavoured – see the variations given at the end of the recipe. The cocoa and matcha versions will be a little bit drier and therefore you must reduce the baking time by a minute or two – I over-baked my chocolate version slightly and it cracked a bit when I rolled it up.

This recipe was developed for a 10”x10” / 25 x 25cm square pan, but I figured a 9”x13” / 23 x 33cm rectangular pan (aka quarter sheet pan) is a more common size in home kitchens, so I tested the recipe in both pan sizes. They both work, however the 10”x10” / 25 x 25cm square version is a little easier to roll.

Unless you are free-handing your decoration, I recommend making a stencil for piping your pattern – just remember that it will be a mirror image when baked into the cake. If you are writing something (like “Happy Birthday” or someone’s name), make sure the words on the stencil are backwards so that they will be the right way around on the cake.

Stencil position: if you have a pattern or decoration that you want centered on the top or evenly on each side of the roll (for example, a word written on the top of the roll), center the stencil in the middle of the 10”x10” / 25 x 25cm square pan. For the 9”x13” / 23 x 33cm pan, center the stencil in the middle of the upper two-thirds of the pan and make sure the pattern is at the top when you are rolling up the cake.

(That’s “love” backwards, not “oval” Wink )

When piping your decoration, keep in mind that thicker lines are best – the thinner the line, the more likely it will stick to the parchment paper when you peel it off.

When filling the roll, err on the side of less rather than more – the cake is much easier to roll with less filling, especially the 9”x13” / 23 x 33cm size.

Preparation time:
About 1 hour for the prep
About 14 minutes to bake, plus cooling time
10 minutes for filling
At least 1 hour to chill

Equipment required:
10”x10” / 25 x 25cm square baking pan, or 9”x13” / 23 x 33cm rectangle baking pan
Parchment paper
Paper towel and vegetable oil, for the pan
Paper and pen/pencil for stencil
Electric whisk/beater or stand mixer with whisk attachment
2 large bowls, 1 medium bowl, several small bowls
Piping bags, parchment paper piping cones, or small zipper-lock bags
Small knife
Serrated knife
Pastry brush

Decorated Swiss Roll Recipe

Servings: 6-8

Preheat the oven to 340 ˚F / 170˚C / Gas Mark 4. Line 10”x10” / 25 x 25cm square baking pan, or 9”x13” / 23 x 33cm rectangle baking pan with parchment paper, and use a paper towel to lightly but thoroughly grease the parchment paper with vegetable oil. Place your stencil (if using) underneath the parchment paper. For a 10”x10” / 25 x 25cm square pan, make sure the pattern is in the middle of the pan. For a 9”x13” / 23 x 33cm rectangular pan, make sure the pattern is in the upper third of the rectangle.

Part A: Egg Yolk Mixture

3 large egg yolks (save the whites for Part C)
35g / 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp caster sugar
60ml / 1/4 cup water
40ml / 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp vegetable oil
5ml / 1 tsp vanilla extract
80g / 4/5 cup cake flour (or 65g / 1/2 cup all purpose flour + 15g / 5 1/2 tsp cornstarch)
pinch salt


On a large bowl with an electric mixer and whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks with the caster sugar on medium-high speed until very pale and thick. Add the water, oil, and vanilla and mix to combine. Sift over the flour and salt and mix to make a smooth batter. Set aside.

Part B: Pattern Mixture

15ml / 1 Tbsp prepared egg yolk mixture from Part A
approx.. 3g / 1 tsp cake flour
food colouring, if desired
1 large egg white
pinch cream of tartar

Place 15ml / 1 Tbsp of the prepared egg yolk mixture from Part A in a small bowl and mix in the cake flour. Divide this mixture into as many small bowls as you need colours – ie, if you need 3 colours for your pattern, divide it between 3 bowls. Tint the mixture in each bowl with the desired food colouring.

In a clean medium bowl, beat the single egg white with an electric mixer and whisk attachment until foamy, then add a pinch of cream of tartar and beat until stiff peaks form. Measure out 45ml / 3 Tbsp of the egg white meringue (keep the rest for Part C) and divide it evenly between the bowls of coloured mixture. Mix to combine.

(If you want more pattern mixture/more colours, double the ingredients in Part B, using another 15ml / 1 Tbsp of the egg yolk mixture. You will likely have enough meringue out of the 1 egg white to accommodate this.)

Scrape each coloured mixture into a piping bag (or parchment paper piping cone, or small zipper-lock bag with the corner snipped off) and pipe your pattern on to the parchment paper in your prepared baking pan. Remember to pipe the pattern in layers with the details in the foreground first. To avoid smudging the pattern, freeze each layer of the pattern until firm before adding the next layer. For example, I piped the seeds and crown of leaves for each strawberry first, froze until firm, then piped the red strawberries, froze again, and finished with the green vines and leaves.

Bake the pattern in the preheated 340˚F / 170˚C / Gas mark 4 oven for 60-90 seconds, just until set (you don’t want it to colour/brown at all). Set aside on a cooling rack while you finish making the cake batter.

Part C: Meringue

3 large egg whites
½ tsp cream of tartar
30g / 2 Tbsp caster sugar
food colouring, if desired

In a clean large bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer and whisk attachment on medium-high speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add in the caster sugar, a spoonful at a time, until stiff and glossy peaks form. Mix in any remaining egg white from Part B.

If you want to tint the cake batter with food colouring, mix your desired colour into the egg yolk mixture from Part A. OR, if you want to flavour the cake (see suggested Variations at the end of the recipe), mix the flavouring into the egg yolk mixture now.

One third at a time, mix the meringue into the egg yolk mixture from Part A, folding gently with a spatula so as not to deflate the meringue, until the batter is smooth and no streaks of meringue remain.

Pour the batter over the baked pattern in the prepared cake pan and spread evenly. Lift up the baking pan a few inches and drop it onto the counter 2-3 times to dislodge any large air bubbles. Bake in the preheated 340˚F / 170˚C / Gas mark 4 oven for 12-14 minutes, depending on the size of your cake pan, until just set and slightly springy. Try not to let the cake colour/brown much, if at all.

Place a fresh piece of parchment paper on top of the cake and invert it onto a cooling rack. Lift off the pan and stencil and gently peel back the parchment to reveal the baked-in decoration. Place the parchment back on top and allow the cake to cool between the pieces of parchment paper. Make sure the cake is completely cool before filling.

Part D: Simple Syrup

10g / 2 tsp caster sugar
20ml / 4 tsp boiling water
1 ½ tsp liqueur of your choice, optional

In a small bowl, combine the caster sugar and boiling water and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the liqueur, if desired.

When the cake is completely cool, peel off the parchment paper and turn it over so that the pattern is facing down and horizontal (for a 9”x13” / 23 X 33cm cake, make sure the short edges are at the top and bottom and the pattern is at the top). With a serrated knife, trim the top and bottom edges at an angle and make some very shallow cuts horizontally across the cake, about 1” / 2.5cm apart. This will help with rolling.

With a pastry brush, brush the simple syrup over the cake and let it soak in while you prepare the filling.

Part E: Filling

150ml / 2/3 cup heavy cream
15g / 1 Tbsp caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
~ 125ml / ~ 1/2 cup fresh fruit, a few spoonfuls of jam, etc of your choice

Whip the cream until soft peaks form, then add the sugar and vanilla and continue beating until firm peaks form.

If you’re using jam or another spread (I used Nutella), spread it evenly over the surface of the cake, leaving the angled parts that you trimmed on the top and bottom edges bare. Spread the whipped cream evenly on top, again leaving the angled parts bare. For a 10”x10” / 25 x 25cm cake, arrange the fruit in lines in the middle of the cake. For a 9”x13” / 23 x 33cm cake, go easy on the filling and arrange the fruit in lines over the bottom half.

Tightly roll up the cake from the bottom edge, using the parchment paper to help. The 10”x10” / 25 x 25cm square cake will form a complete cylinder around the filling, with the top and bottom edges meeting. For the 9”x13” / 23 x 33cm cake, lift the bottom edge and tuck it over the filling, then continue to roll – there will be a bit of an overlap between top and bottom edges. Once rolled, twist the parchment paper ends like a candy wrapper to secure the cake in a log. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour until the filling is firm.

To serve, unwrap the parchment paper and trim the ends of the cake with a serrated knife. Roll it up in parchment again and re-shape if necessary, then transfer to a plate. Cut slices with a serrated knife, wiping it clean between each cut.


For Cocoa or Matcha-flavoured Cake:
20g / 3 1/2 Tbsp cocoa powder or matcha powder
30ml / 2 Tbsp boiling water

For Coffee-flavoured Cake:
1 tsp instant coffee granules
½ tsp boiling water

Follow the recipe as above but omit the food colouring in Part C. Instead, in Part C, before you add the meringue into the egg yolk mixture, combine the powder of your choice with the hot water and mix it into the egg yolk mixture. Continue with the recipe as above.

For the cocoa and matcha versions, reduce the baking time by 1-2 minutes – these versions will be slightly drier than the plain sponge and you do not want to over-bake them, or they will crack when rolled.

Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:

This cake can be stored in the fridge, covered in plastic wrap for up to 2 days. You could probably freeze it, wrapped in plastic and an outer layer of foil, for up to 6 weeks – I didn’t try this so can’t guarantee anything, but if you’ve had luck freezing other assembled cakes, I don’t see why this one would be any different (as long as whatever you use for the filling can be frozen).

Additional Information:

For inspiration, a Google Image search of “decorated Swiss roll”:

A video tutorial of making a deco roll, start to finish:


The Daring Kitchen and its members in no way suggest we are medical professionals and therefore are NOT responsible for any error in reporting of “alternate baking/cooking”. If you have issues with digesting gluten, then it is YOUR responsibility to research the ingredient before using it. If you have allergies, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. If you are lactose intolerant, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. If you are vegetarian or vegan, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. The responsibility is YOURS regardless of what health issue you’re dealing with. Please consult your physician with any questions before using an ingredient you are not familiar with. Thank you! Smile

anasmeeth's picture
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Joined: 05/31/2016

Swiss Roll yummmm one of my favorite dish. I love the design idea it looks very delicious. I missed my Swiss roll and pastries in Jungle when I was on my wildlife safari tour.

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