The basis for a jelly roll or a "Swiss roll" — sponge cake — is considerably less rich than typical cakes. But that doesn’t mean the jelly roll is any less tasty, as evidenced by its popularity for nearly two centuries. A thin layer of light-as-air sponge cake, spread with jam and rolled in a spiral, is not only delicious but also makes a lovely presentation when sliced and layered on a serving plate.
Preheat the oven to 400°F and line the bottom of a 10” x 15” jelly roll pan with parchment. Lightly grease the parchment to ensure the cake releases easily.
Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs until foamy.
Sprinkle the sugar into the eggs gradually, beating all the while, and continue beating until the batter is very thick and light lemon in color, 3 to 8 minutes. The batter should have doubled in volume. When the batter is sufficiently aerated, it should fall from the beater in a thick ribbon and mound on top of the remaining batter in the bowl temporarily, before being reabsorbed. Add the vanilla just before you stop beating the batter.
Gently fold in the flour mixture, using a rubber spatula or whisk. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake the cake for 12 to 14 minutes, until it’s golden brown and springy to the touch.
Remove the cake from the oven and invert it onto a clean dish towel that’s been lightly sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar. Peel off the parchment and using scissors, a sharp knife, or a rolling pizza wheel, trim the crusty edge of the cake, if necessary.
Starting with a short end, gently roll the cake and towel together into a log, and cool completely on a rack.
Once the cake has cooled, gently unroll it, spread with jam, and re-roll it. Place it on a plate, seam side down, and dust it with confectioners’ sugar.
Allow the finished cake to rest for at least 20 to 30 minutes before cutting and serving. This allows the jam to soak into the layers slightly and makes slicing the cake easier and cleaner.
Storage information: Store any leftover cake at cool room temperature, well wrapped, for up to three days. If you’ve used fruit curd rather than jam or preserves, refrigerate the cake.
Tips from our Bakers
Despite the name, we recommend using jam or preserves, not jelly, in this cake's filling. We find jelly too thin to hold up as the cake is rolled; it also seeps into the cake as the roll sits.
We find this jelly roll is even better the second day: the moisture from the jam softens the cake, and it slices more cleanly.