Friday, March 22, 2019


When I was very young, I asked for a cookbook for my birthday, and on the cover of that old, well-loved pocket cookbook was a cake roll. Ever since then I’ve been awestruck by roulades. They’re elegant and oh-so classy, so very effortless, and so perfectly balanced regarding the amounts of cake and filling. Every bite is a perfect harmony of flavours. And so is the case with this strawberry roulade.
Although, I have to admit that this is not a typical cake roll; this is a whole seven-layer strawberries and cream cake swirled into a lovely roulade. Moist and flavourful strawberry cake and rich vanilla custard buttercream, all perfectly wrapped up and rolled. And as I’ve written before, this is a good alternative to a regular cake, especially if you are transporting it, or don't have the time to frost and decorate the cake. So whether you need to send this cake to a faraway place, or you just want to present it for afternoon tea in a different way, this lovely, pastel spring dessert may be just the right thing for you.

For the strawberry cake
300 grams strawberries
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoons strawberry extract
120 grams unsalted butter, softened
200 grams granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
50 ml vegetable oil
300 grams plain flour
40 grams cornflour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
For the cream filling
1 litre whole milk
4 medium egg yolks
60 grams cornflour
100 grams granulated sugar
100 grams real white chocolate
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
250 grams unsalted butter, softened
100 grams powdered milk
50 ml white chocolate liqueur

To make the filling, start by whisking together about 200 ml of whole milk, sifted cornflour, and the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Set it aside for the time being, and pour the rest of the milk into a heavy-bottomed pot. Let the milk come to a boil, and add in the mixture of cornflour and egg yolks in a steady stream. Cook, while stirring constantly, until it thickens up, and becomes a rich custard, about 2-3 minutes. Remove it from the heat and strain it through a mesh strainer into a large bowl, then immediately add in the vanilla and white chocolate, and mix until it melts. Once melted, cover the top of the cooked custard with cling film, and let it cool down to room temperature.
Sift together the flour, cornflour, baking powder, and salt twice, then set aside. Mash the strawberries with a fork until very mushy, but not entirely pureed. There will be pieces of strawberries still left in the batter, but that is just how it’s supposed to be. Add the vanilla and strawberry extract, mix again, and set them aside, too.
To make the strawberry cake, place the softened butter into a large bowl, tip in the sugar, and beat with a mixer on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Crack the eggs into separate ramekins, then add one at a time to the butter mixture, and blend, still on high, until each is combined. If you are having trouble blending the batter, or it seems to be separating, add a tablespoon or two of the dry ingredients while mixing. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl, then add in the strawberries and oil, and whisk for just a minute more, until combined.
Add in the dry ingredients and mix on the lowest setting until just combined. It is better to turn off the mixer and finish the mixing with a spatula or a whisk, then to overmix the batter. Line a large baking sheet (36x36 cm) with baking parchment, and pour in the batter. It will need a bit of help in levelling and reaching all four corners, but be patient, and level it as much as possible, so it bakes evenly. Bake the cake in a preheated oven, at 180°C (350°F) for 15-18 minutes. Check it with a toothpick to make sure it is done, then remove it from the oven, and let it cool down to room temperature on the baking sheet.
When the custard has cooled, place the butter into a large bowl, and mix with an electric mixer on high until it becomes very light and creamy, almost resembling buttercream itself. Add in the powdered milk, and blend well with the butter. Whilst the whisk is running, add in the cooled custard, a spoonful at a time, as well as the white chocolate liqueur, and whisk until well-blended and looking silky and smooth.
At this point the cake should be at room temperature, so take a large bowl, and crumble up the cake with your hands, until you get very fine crumbs. Add in about a fourth of the cream filling and start mixing, either with a strong mixer (stand mixer works well here), or with your hands. Mix and add the filling until you’ve used about three quarters of it. The batter should resemble cake pop batter – smooth, but not sticky. Place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then evenly spread it out into a shape of a large rectangle, between two sheets of baking parchment. Spread the reserved quarter of the filling evenly, and roll it up, using the baking parchment as help. Very carefully, since the roll will be heavy, and quite fragile at this point, transfer it to a serving platter, and place it into the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Keep refrigerated until serving. Yields 12 large servings.