Rullekake; a perfect cake for any season
Rullekake is one of the few Norwegian “classics” t that is not Norwegian at all. More commonly known to English speaking readers as “Swiss Roll Cake” or “jelly roll”, its origins are unclear but is not from Switzerland as the name might imply. In fact, it may only be the British who gave credit to the Swiss for this cake, as everywhere else in the world it goes by different names. The cake most likely originated sometime in the 19th century in Central Europe.
I don’t see rullekake very often in Norway anymore. Norwegians may recall it being served at their grandparents homes, or something they enjoyed as a teenager when all things sweet were devoured at high speed. Perhaps the rullekake slowly disappeared along with people’s new habits of not eating desserts as much? I remember growing up in the 70s and 80s, my mother always used to end our dinners with a little sweet something, but then a period followed where people in general abandoned this tradition. Today there is talk of a new “dessert generation” emerging in Norway with all the popular coffee shops popping up everywhere, and people’s sweet tooth have appeared yet again. There is still hope for the rullekake!!
Endless varieties exist of this moist sponge cake. Quick to make, light and delicious in any flavor, it’s easy to see why this is such a popular cake all over the world, eagerly made all over Asia, Latin America, northern and southern Europe as well as right here in the U.S.
Here is a cool looking version made in Vietnam called where it is called Bánh bông lan cuốn:
And here is a pretty one from Russia, where its name is Рулет:
I like to make all my dishes with seasonal ingredients, because I feel there is a reason why certain fruits and vegetables grow at certain times of the year. Obviously they are more flavorful in season and of superior quality in this window frame, but it also somehow doesn’t feel right to eat strawberries in December or have pumpkin pie in June. Rullekake is a pastry that is easy to adjust according to the time of year by just switching out the filling, making this a perfect cake for any month of the year.
Strawberries are in full bloom now and at the height of their season, so any chance I get to make a recipe that includes these luscious berries, I jump on. While strawberries and cream are a very common and classic combination and one I happen to love, I decided to fold in some of that tangy Norwegian Snøfrisk cheese to make the filling a little more interesting. Adding some Scandinavian vanilla sugar, the filling tastes almost like a cheesecake, but the consistency is looser and lighter and pairs perfectly with the sweet and crisp tasting strawberries.
The key to a successful rullekake is to not make the sheet cake too thick, and not bake it too long – or else it will crack and break, leaving you unable to roll it together. This happened to me earlier this week. By no means am I claiming to be an expert at making this cake – as always, practice makes perfect! But if you end up with a less than stellar looking cake the first time around, I promise that if you follow this recipe, you will at the very least have a light, delicious tasting cake that will please you and your guests!
You can use strawberry jam if you don’t have fresh berries, and also add in some chopped nuts for a nice texture. Shaved chocolate on top also goes really well with strawberries .. use your imagination! Lykke til! (Good luck!)
RULLEKAKE MED JORDBÆR (Swiss Roll Cake with Strawberries)
120 g (4.25 oz) sugar
120g (4.25 oz) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
40g (1.5 oz) Snøfrisk cream cheese
1 basket fresh market strawberries, cleaned and thinly sliced
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
2 tbsp powdered sugar (or to taste)
Preheat oven to 400F. Spray and line a rimmed baking sheet or sheet pan with parchment paper.
Line a second sheet pan with parchment paper and drizzle an even layer of sugar onto it. Reserve.
In a stand mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar until light yellow, thick and frothy. Combine the flour and baking powder, and sift. Fold in to egg-sugar mixture carefully using a spatula until no more streaks of flour are visible. Pour the batter into the rimmed baking sheet and smear out evenly to a rectangle (the batter may not completely fill the baking sheet).
Bake in the oven on the middle rack for 7-8 minutes. NOTE: It’s easy to over bake this, take it out after this time regardless of whether or not you think it’s done – it will be!! If the cake is too dry you won’t be able to roll it.
Remove the cake from the oven and lifting the parchment paper with the cake on it, carefully turn the top of the cake onto the baking sheet with the layer of sugar. Carefully remove the parchment paper (which was the bottom, but now is on top). If you have problems removing it, it helps to brush with a little bit of water. Cover the cake with a moist, large kitchen towel to prevent it from drying out. Let the cake cool completely (it will take no more than 30 min). While you wait, prepare the filling.
To make filling:
Slice the strawberries and reserve.
Pour heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla sugar into stand mixer /mix by hand or using a stand mixer, mix until whipped cream and make sure to taste so cream is appropriately flavored. Spread the cream onto the cooled cake with a spatula, stopping an inch from the edge, to prevent it from spilling out when rolling it. Top with the sliced strawberries.
Carefully roll the cake together (start at the long end), using the parchment paper to tightly (but gently!) roll the cake together and make sure the seam is at the bottom. Sift some confectioners sugar on top and decorate with additional sliced strawberries.
The cake can keep for about 3 days in fridge and also freezes well!