How to Make a Jelly Roll

You can call it a Swiss roll, if you like. Or a jam roll (which is more precise, since you don’t see to many recipes for these that call for fruit jelly anymore). This one has some real fruit added in, which makes it a little more distinctive. Jelly rolls are, and always have been, a big deal in the South, where they’re one of the all-time “like-momma-used-to-make” comfort sweets.

So then, remember that génoise batter from yesterday? Pour it very gently into your prepared (greased, lined with parchment or wax paper, then greased again and floured) 18 x 13 jelly roll pan.

With an offset icing spatula, gingerly spread it out to the edges and into the corners. Make the layer as even as you can without manhandling it too much.

Insert the layer into your preheated oven (set to 400) for 8-10 minutes. While the génoise is baking, liberally dust a kitchen towel with powdered sugar, like so:

After 20 minutes, inspect your cake. You want it just done, so it springs back a little when you tap it with your finger. Any more than that and you’ll be building a thicker crust on the cake, which will only encourage cracking. If it’s underdone in the center, give it an extra five minutes. Just golden is about perfect:

While the génoise is still hot, and with your icing spatula, loosen the edges and probe a bit underneath to make sure the cake sheet is well detached.

Then flip the whole thing, pan and all, over onto the kitchen towel. Remove the pan…

…and carefully peel off the paper. Then with a serrated knife, trim off the crisp edges.

Now then, for the rolling. Turn the bottom edge of the towel up over the very end of the cake. If you have more than a couple of inches of towel down there you can double it over — all the better to keep the inside curl from breaking (mine did…oh well!).

Then gently roll it up. Use two hands to make sure the roll is tight on both ends.

Let the cake sit, rolled in the towel, for 10-15 minutes until cool.

When you’re ready to fill it, unroll the cake (there’ll be some little cracks there…don’t fret).

The spread on about a cup of your favorite jam. Spread it thin, leaving a half-inch border around the edges. Here’s I’m using raspberry…

…plus some raspberries.

Then re-roll the cake, this time without the towel. Again, use two hands to keep the roll as tight as you can.

Rotate the cake so it’s resting on its bottom edge. Dust with powdered sugar and serve!

It will also keep well in the fridge, covered in plastic wrap for a day or even two.

4 thoughts on “How to Make a Jelly Roll”

  1. The first time I made this, it didn’t work out. I was multitasking and didn’t devote enough attention to the cake.

    I made it again, though, and it’s beautiful! So proud! I’m trying to challenge myself with more complicated recipes, and this is a good gateway cake to the wonderful world of pastry. 🙂

    Many thanks!

    1. A gateway drug indeed! I love a good jelly roll. Such sweet simplicity. Let me know what else you take on…and let me know if I can be of any help!


      – Joe

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