Black Forest Roll Cake

Chocolate rolled cake with pink cream spiral. Slice sis on plate in center with whole cake and another single serving behind.

The holidays are a wonderful time of year for dessert lovers because there is an endless amount of cookies, brownies, cakes and confections to be enjoyed. These treats add a special flair to holiday gatherings and are a delicious way to pass the time with loved ones. This black forest cake roll is a unique and simple addition to your holiday menu. It combines moist chocolate sponge cake with tart cherries for a well-balanced flavour.

 The layers of chocolate cake and whipped cream dotted with cherries make for a striking dessert that’s sure to catch your guest's attention. Let Chummys Bakery fill out the rest of your table this season with our delicious varieties boxes of brownies, blondies and chunky NYC cookies. Remember, even if you’re hosting, you don’t have to do it all. Just as we mentioned in our Tips for a Relaxing Holiday Celebration post, it’s important to take on a handful of the tasks that you like and let those around you lend a hand as needed. Here at Chummys Bakery, we are more than happy to make sure a bundle of gooey chocolate brownies arrives at your door ready to be enjoyed so you can get back to celebrating. 

Why you’ll love it

Twist on a classic- Black forest cake is a holiday staple. Rather than simply making a layer cake or parfait, this rolled cake creates a gorgeous swirl of pink cherry cream reminiscent of the traditional cake but with a fun presentation.

Visual appeal- This cake can be decorated to fit your occasion and makes a beautiful centrepiece for gatherings. For elegant occasions, you can pour a smooth layer of chocolate ganache over the top and add pieces of shaved chocolate. If you’d like it to look more rustic, feel free to use a fluffy chocolate frosting with swirls to look like tree bark. Both decorating methods are sure to wow your guests. You can also keep it simple by adding a dusting of icing sugar.

Rich but Light- Some chocolate desserts can be over-the-top decadent but that’s not always the flavour you crave. Especially on holidays when the table is full of so many amazing desserts, it’s nice to have some variety. This cake is chocolatey but truly has an airy taste due to the simple sponge and whipped filling. The tartness of the cherries pairs with the silky whipped cream for a wonderful bite that won’t overwhelm the senses.Roll cake dusted in powdered sugar on a serving platter, uncut

What is a roll cake?

A roll cake is one that rather than being baked into deep cake pans, is baked on a shallow baking sheet and then rolled. It’s often made from a flexible cake such as sponge cake and filled with cream filling. They are also referred to as jelly rolls, cake rolls or Swiss rolls. 

Ingredients

Eggs- Eggs are whipped into stiff peaks in this recipe to give the cake structure and allow it the flexibility needed to roll.

Plain Flour- Flour is a traditional base for cakes and you may notice that this recipe uses less than a standard cake. This is because the egg whites take centre stage as the base while the flour is used in a lesser amount as a stabilizer that supports the air bubbles in the egg whites. 

Cocoa powder- Cocoa powder gives this rolled cake its classic chocolatey taste. Whenever possible, it’s ideal to sift the cocoa powder to remove clumps so that it mixes evenly into the batter. 

Baking powder- Alongside the eggs, baking powder acts as a secondary leavener. This cake isn’t as thick as a regular cake but baking powder will still give it a bit of lift it needs for a spongy texture.

Salt- Salt uplifts the natural flavours and balances the sweetness in the recipe

Flavour extract- Both vanilla extract and almond extract are used in this recipe. Almond extract in particular adds a subtle cherry-like sweetness that plays wonderfully with the cherry compote. 

Sugar- Sugar is used in two different forms in this recipe. Granular is used in the base of the cake and cherry compote for sweetness and icing sugar is used in the cream for flavor and stability. 

Butter- Butter not only makes the cake taste great but introduces fat into the recipe which will prevent the cake from becoming dry and crumbly. 

Double Cream- This makes the base of the filling for the black forest cake roll. Be sure to use cold cream for the best results. 

How to prevent cake roll from cracking 

The key to avoiding cracks in your cake roll is temperature control. It should be cooled in a roll for a few hours and then allowed to come to room temperature before attempting to unroll it for filling. If it’s still chilled when you begin to unroll it, that’s when you’re most likely to run into breakage issues. But don’t worry, a few small cracks won’t affect the overall outcome of the cake and a ganache topping can help reinforce the cake if the issues are small. If yours does break beyond fixing, simply cut it into cubes and layer it into a parfait dish- it’ll still taste great!

Tips and Substitutions 

Cherries may be hard to find in the winter depending on your location. Frozen cherries are typically available year-round and will work perfectly when making the compote. This recipe uses frozen cherries but feel free to use fresh cherries if they are available. Alternatively, you can swap for strawberries.

Espresso- Adding a teaspoon of espresso powder can make the chocolate flavour really pop. It’s completely optional but does add a nice depth of flavour. If you or someone you’re baking for avoids caffeine, decaf may also be used. Add 1/4 teaspoon when sifting the flour, if you wish.

Don’t skip the final chill- After the cake has been filled, it’s important that it chills one more time to ensure it’s firm and ready to cut. If it’s overly soft, the roll will squish when you cut into it. Chilling ensures firm cake and filling for more rounded even cuts. 

Bowls of ingredients to make the recipe

How to make a Black Forest Roll Cake

This recipe has a few separate components but none of them are overly complicated. The cake and compote can be made 24-36 hours in advance but the whipped cream tastes best when prepared the day of serving.

Prep time: 60 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Chill time: 3 hours+

Serves 8

Ingredients

Cherry Compote

140 grams frozen cherries, defrosted

2 tablespoons granulated white sugar

Chocolate Sponge Cake

4 large free-range eggs, whites and yolks separated

100 grams granulated white sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract 

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

60 grams plain flour

20 grams unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt 

Cream Filling

236 ml double cream 

Optional; 2 tablespoons icing sugar for additional sweetness

Directions

To make the cherry compote

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the cherries and sugar. Allow the cherries to cool down and come to a low boil until the juice begins to coat the bottom of the pan, about 7-10 minutes. Break apart the cherries with a wooden spoon to make smaller pieces and stir occasionally. Remove the compote from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature. 
  2. Then, place into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the cake. Do not use warm compote in the filling or the cream will melt.  

Make the Cake 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 26.6 cm x 39.3 cm jelly roll pan or comparable sheet pan with parchment paper. 
  2. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Then, add the sugar. Continue whipping on high speed until stiff peaks form, typically in 3-5 minutes. 
  3. In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolks, vanilla extract, almond extract and butter then set aside. 
  4. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a medium bowl. Fold the flour mixture and salt into the egg whites until well combined. Then, add the egg yolk mixture to the bowl and gently fold until a cohesive batter forms. It will be very light. Whipping it quickly, using a whisk and overwhipping can all cause the batter to become more dense and deflate.
  5. Scrape the batter onto the prepared pan and use an offset spatula to smooth into an even layer in the pan. Bake for 10 minutes until edges and centre appear set.
  6. While the cake is baking, use a fine mesh sieve to dust a fresh piece of parchment with cocoa powder. This will prevent the cake from sticking.
  7. Once baked, allow the cake to cool for 1-2 minutes. Carefully invert the cake onto the cocoa powder-dusted parchment paper. Carefully peel off the piece of parchment paper the cake was baked directly on. 
  8. Beginning at the narrow end, tightly roll the cake up with the parchment. Allow the cake to cool completely while rolled in the parchment. You may refrigerate it after 30 minutes to speed up the process or for next day storage.Reference photo for six steps. One of egg whites whipped, one of batter, the batter spread on a pan, rolling the cake, the cream and cherry mixture and assembling the cake

Make the Cream Filling

  1. In a large bowl, whip the cream (and optional sugar, if using) until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2.  Fold the cherry compote into the cream until well combined. Feel free to mix completely or leave it streaky for pops of colour. Icing sugar is dusted over the cake roll using a small fine mesh sieve

Assemble and Serve

  1. Allow the cake to warm to room temperature before attempting to unroll. Trying to unroll cold cake will result in cracking. Once ready, gently unroll the cake and spoon the cream filling across the cake, leaving a small border at the edges. You’ll trim the edges before serving so it doesn’t have to be perfect.
  2. Beginning at the same narrow end as last time, roll the cake up, this time without including the parchment. It should roll easily into its shape. Don’t press down firmly otherwise the filling may come out or the cake may break.
  3. Roll a fresh sheet of parchment or plastic wrap around the cake. Place into the refrigerator to chill for 2 hours but 4+ will yield better results. 
  4. When ready to serve, feel free to drizzle with chocolate or add a dusting of icing sugar. Place the cake seam side down. Using a sharp knife, gently trim the ends of the cake to reveal the spiral. Slice into pieces and serve chilled. 
  5. Store leftovers wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator for up to two days.




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