There’s just something about Swiss Rolls that I love. They’re pretty common here- with even our little donut shops selling them in all kinds of flavors and colors. Unfortunately, they usually love something to be desired, with a dried out cake and pretty plain whipped cream. I try not to be a hater, but it just seems like a missed opportunity. Swiss Rolls are a perfect blank canvas to incorporate flavor (and in this case, design) into an otherwise boring cake roll. I did an extensive search on Youtube for swiss rolls (something I do a lot, admittedly) and found this great video from Lisa’s Kitchen for a Giraffe Pattern Swiss Roll. It’s a channel that’s entirely in Chinese so I had to follow the captions, but it really wasn’t that big of a deal. Lisa’s instructions, although in an entirely different language, are so thorough and well detailed. Additionally, the pattern just looked so stunning that I needed to try it for myself.
The recipe starts off by making a chiffon cake- whisking together your standard fare of egg yolks, sugar, milk, salt, and oil. From there, you whisk in the cake flour. Now I actually ran out of cake flour, but there’s this cool trick of making your own. You basically measure out your all-purpose flour and remove a portion (I went with 5 grams) and replace that with cornstarch. I whisked that to combine, then sifted it into the wet mix. You then set aside some of the batter into a small bowl. Some cocoa powder is mixed with hot water, which is then added to the large amount of cake batter- these are the two colors we’ll use to achieve that pattern. In a large bowl, egg whites are whipped up with sugar to make a meringue. You then fold in a small portion of that meringue into the yellow cake batter. Fill that into a piping bag and carefully pipe the mixture onto a prepared pan to create the “lines” for the giraffe pattern. I followed Lisa’s simple scallop technique which proved to look great- but really you can pipe this however you want and it’ll turn out awesome. Bake that for about 3 minutes to set. The remaining meringue is then folded into the chocolate cake batter before it’s poured over the line pattern and baked for about 25 minutes. Let it cool in the pan and then turn it over onto some parchment paper to cool completely. I flipped that to reveal the beautiful giraffe pattern and then opted to make a chocolate whipped cream instead of the regular one that Lisa showed. That got spread evenly over the cake with the pattern faced down before rolling it up and letting it chill for about an hour.
I was a bit worried when I got to making this because some commenters said theirs had cracked. Mine did, but it was luckily right at the beginning so it was hidden in the middle of the spiral. I’ve made Swiss rolls before and those recipes often call for rolling the cake while warm to encourage it to remain flexible- it sort of creates this muscle memory in the cake. I’m not sure if that’ll work with this as the cake is pretty light, but I still ended up with a beautiful and crack-free exterior edge. The pattern worked out great, with only some stray bits that stuck to the second sheet of parchment- really nothing to worry about. The cake itself is extremely light and soft, nearly melting in your mouth at first bite. It’s the perfect sweetness as most other rolls tend to be pretty sickly. The filling was a winner too- with the melted chocolate that i streamed in solidifying into little shards in the whipped cream. It was this cool stracciatella effect you typically see in ice cream, only here, stuffed into our soft face I didn’t intend for that to happen, but it worked out amazingly. All in all, I really did have fun making this and the flavor was excellent. Please go check out Lisa’s video for the full recipe and method, though I’ll be posting the translated amounts and steps below for easy following.
Full Recipe | Method from Lisa’s Kitchen:
My Re-Written Recipe with Modifications:
Giraffe Swiss Roll
4 Large Eggs at room temperature
10 g Granulated Sugar plus 70 g for meringue
60 g of Cake Flour*
5 g Kosher Salt
20 g of Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
35 ml of Hot Water
50 ml of Milk
50 g of Vegetable Oil
Pinch of Cream of Tartar
200 ml of Heavy Cream
1 tablespoon of Granulated Sugar
2 oz of Semisweet Chocolate
*Can substitute for 55 grams of All Purpose Flour and 5 grams of Cornstarch
Preheat oven to 290 F
Prepare an 11” square can pan by greasing it with non-stick spray and lining with parchment paper. Separate eggs, placing the egg whites into the bowl of a mixer and the yolks into a medium sized bowl. Whisk in 10 grams of granulated sugar with the egg yolks, followed by the milk, vegetable oil and salt. Whisk until well combined. Sift in the cake flour and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Remove a small portion of the batter (no more than ¼ cup) and place into a small bowl. Mix the cocoa with the water and stir until smooth. Add to the medium bowl of cake batter and whisk until fully incorporated. Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed. When the whites are opaque, gradually add in the 70g of sugar and whip on high until medium peaks. Add a small amount of the meringue to the small portion of yellow cake batter (about ¼ cup) and fold to combine. Transfer to a piping bag. Cut a ½” opening and pipe the borders of the giraffe spots (or any pattern you like) onto the prepared pan. Bake for three minutes. Add the remaining yellow batter (if any) to the chocolate batter, then fold in the rest of the meringue. Once cohesive, carefully pour into the pan and tilt to spread to the edges. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (Check at the 25 minute mark). Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before placing a sheet of parchment on top and removing from the pan. Peel off the parchment to reveal the pattern. Let cool completely.
Break up the chocolate and add to a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments until completely melted. Let cool. In the bowl of a mixer, whip the heavy cream and sugar on medium speed until thickened. Increase speed to high and continue to beat until soft peaks. With the mixer running, pour in the melted chocolate. Scrape down the sides and beat on high for a few seconds to fully combine. Mixture will look curdled- that’s normal. Add a sheet of parchment to the cake and turn over so the pattern faces down. Remove the parchment from the other side and evenly spread out the whipped cream. Carefully roll into a log using the parchment to help you- do not roll too tight or it may break. The cake is very soft and prone to cracking at the middle- that’s okay. Aim for one spiral and let rest seam side down. Let chill in the fridge for 2 hours. Cut off ends and serve cold.