Lemon Swiss Roll: A Celebration of All Things British

Filed under: Carolina Bed and Breakfast, recipes

Lemon Swiss Roll at the Carolina Bed & BreakfastI am making a Lemon Swiss Roll today for our guests at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast. It’s a light sponge cake spread with jam (or in this case, lemon curd ) and rolled up tightly then cut into slices so a spiral of lovely yellow filling shows.

It’s because I am obsessed with the Great British Baking Show.  Have you seen it?  It’s the kinder, gentler, British version of an American cooking show.  It takes place in a large tent on the beautiful green lawn of an old English Manor House in Berkshire (where it always seems to be raining).  Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood are the judges.  She is the warm and knowledgeable grandmother of British baking.  She always finds something kind to say but her air of slight disappointment lets the contestant know when they have not hit the mark.  Paul Hollywood is the English gentleman in his country estate blue jeans and plaid shirt who is also one of the great artisan bakers of the UK.  They are joined by two classic examples of BBC TV hosts and a cast of wonderfully British people, all of whom are familiar to me from my years living outside London.

But it is the food that I love the most.  It’s all about baking and it’s all about food that I once lived with and remember with affection (and longing for!).   Scones, Chelsea buns, Picnic basket pie, and suet pastry puddings are mixed with more familiar foods like sponge cake, bread pudding and apple pie.  In one recent episode the contestants had to make a Charlotte Royale which involved making a Swiss roll and using slices of it to line a pan before filling it with a thick mousse.  Well, I am not prepared to go that far but something about the making of a Swiss roll sounded like a challenge I could rise to and have fun with.

So today I am making a sweet sponge cake, rolling it around a lemon filling and creating my own British Bake!




For the Cake:

4 eggs, room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp milk mixed with 1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

For the Filling:

½ cup Lemon Curd
¼ cup Mascarpone

Making the Cake:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 15” x 10” rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray, line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the parchment paper.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.

Using the whisk attackment, whisk together the four eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer until pale yellow (3 minutes or more).  Change to the beater attachment and slowly beat in the sugar.  Add liquid ingredients and beat for at least one more minute.  Add the dry ingredients and beat to combine.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until it springs back when touched.

Take a piece of parchment paper which is larger than your cake pan and sprinkle it with sugar. You can use either cane sugar or powdered sugar, whichever you prefer.  Turn out the still hot cake

Roll the sponge cake up in the parchment paper while the cake is still warm

Roll the sponge cake up in the parchment paper while the cake is still warm

onto the parchment paper and carefully remove the greased paper off the bottom.

Using a sharp knife carefully score a line across the bottom of the cake about three inches in.  Be careful not to cut through the cake all the way.  Starting at the scored end, roll the cake up tightly in the parchment paper and then leave to cool completely.

Assembling the Cake:

Mix together the lemon curd and the mascarpone until it is smooth.

Carefully unroll the cake and spread the filling on about ¾ of the cake.  Go to the edges on the sides but stop ¼ of the way before the end of the cake.  The filling will spread as you roll the cake and cover this portion.

Starting at the scored end again, roll the cake carefully and tightly.

Dust with powdered sugar if you wish.  Slice into ½ inch slices to serve.

Once filled and rolled, trim the ends and slice into 1/2 " pieces

Once filled and rolled, trim the ends and slice into 1/2 ” pieces

I wrapped my roll in plastic wrap and chilled it in the fridge to set the filling before cutting but this is not necessary.





While you are waiting for your cake to cool, here is a lovely little poem from a book called “Please Mrs. Butler” about going to school in England which was a favorite of mine and my children when they went to grammar school  there.

Emma Hackett’s Newsbook – Allan Ahlberg

Last night my mum
Got really mad
And threw a jam tart
At my dad.
Dad lost his temper
Then with mother,
Threw one at her
And hit my brother.
My brother thought
It was my sister,
Threw two at her
But somehow missed her.
My sister,
She is only three,
Hurled four at him
And one at me!
I said I wouldn’t
Stand for that,
Aimed one at her
And hit the cat.
The cat jumped up
Like he’d been shot,
And landed
In the baby’s cot.
The baby –
Quietly sucking his thumb –
Then started howling
For my mum.
At which my mum
Got really mad,
And threw a Swiss roll
At my dad.

~Allan Ahlberg



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