Learn how to make these vanilla Swiss rolls 2 ways – classic sugar rolls and vanilla cream rolls. Bakes perfectly every time, and rolls easily without peeling or cracking. Say goodbye to all your Swiss roll woes – this is THE perfect Swiss roll recipe.


Mention Swiss rolls and festive Yuletide log cakes filled with delicious creams and covered in decadent frostings might come to mind right away!

Who doesn’t love Swiss rolls, right? Considered a light dessert, these are sponge cakes rolled around a cream or jam filling, or both, and sometimes with fruit.

Also known as roll cakes, jam rolls, and cream rolls, Swiss rolls are popular cake treats you’ll find in bakeries and confectionary shops.

Sugar-coated vanilla Swiss roll cake filled with Chantilly cream, and served with fresh strawberries.

Today, I’m excited to show you how to make my favourite classic vanilla Swiss roll that’s wonderfully moist with a light and airy crumb. Trust me, once you’ve tasted these, you won’t ever need to search for another Swiss roll recipe – this is it!

But that’s not all. I’m also going to show you how to make two classic styles – the classic sugar rolls (which are your vanilla Swiss rolls coated in sugar) and plain cream rolls (think Japanese-style).

Vanilla swiss rolls on a serving plate with fresh strawberries

Why this is the perfect Swiss roll recipe

  • Extra moist and tender. No more problems with Swiss rolls that turn out dry or crumbly! Because this sponge cake uses the chiffon method, it’s moistened with oil in place of butter, which guarantees a very moist and tender crumb that doesn’t dry out.
  • Cotton-soft and fluffy. You’ll love this chiffon-based sponge cake for it’s super light and fluffy texture. You’ll feel like the crumb literally melts in your mouth!
  • Easy to handle and roll no peeling or cracking. The crumb has a delightful springy quality, which helps these Swiss rolls retain its light and airy texture even when rolled up. You won’t have to worry about peels or cracks. Just follow the tips and techniques I’ll be illustrating here, and you’ll be on your way to becoming a pro at rolling cakes!
  • Quick to master. Many Swiss roll recipes use a traditional sponge or genoise method. Though these can work really well for Swiss roll cakes, they can be a little challenging to get right. In my humble opinion, chiffon-based sponges are much easier to perfect and master. When done well (without over-whipping the egg whites or over-baking), this vanilla sponge cake bakes perfectly every time. Not just for Swiss rolls, but also for your favourite white layer cakes.

Ingredients for vanilla Swiss roll cake

The great thing about making Swiss rolls is that the ingredients you need are easy to source, and probably already in your pantry and chiller.

So, these cake rolls can be whipped up at a moment’s notice without having to make an extra trip to your grocer’s or baking supplies store.

Ingredients for vanilla Swiss roll cake

Here’s what you’ll need:

For the sponge cake

  • cake flour. Using cake flour or other low-protein flour like pastry flour helps create a lighter, fluffier and finer crumb in your roll cake. Though you could use plain flour, the texture of the crumb won’t be as soft or as fluffy. But the good news is that you can easily make cake flour from scratch with a mix of plain flour and corn flour/corn starch.
  • baking powder. This is added to leaven the batter and give the cake additional lift.
  • salt. Salt accentuates the sweetness and other flavours. You don’t need much at all, but a bit goes a long way!
  • eggs (6 egg yolks, 5 egg whites). There are more yolks than whites in this recipe. The larger quantity of egg yolks, which contains lecithin, acts effectively as a natural emulsifier. Emulsifiers help fats like oil, butter and that present in egg yolks, bind together with water or liquids into a stable emulsion.
  • vegetable oil. Use a neutral-flavoured vegetable oil like sunflower, safflower or canola oil for best results. Avoid using olive oil.
  • full-cream milk. I love using whole milk whenever a cake recipe calls for milk. Basically, the more fat, the more flavour! However, if you want to avoid dairy, suitable substitutes would be unsweetened soy milk, almond milk or most nut milks. Just be aware that each of these do present unique flavours that can come through in your baking.
  • vanilla extract. Always use vanilla extract over vanilla essence. The flavour will be so much richer, deeper and bolder. This is all the more important in recipes where vanilla is the dominant flavour, as in these vanilla Swiss rolls.
  • caster sugar. I use caster sugar or sugars labeled as fine or extra-fine sugar. The finer the sugar particles are, the more effectively they’ll cut through the egg whites as they’re whipped up, hence trapping more air and increasing the volume of the batter.
  • cream of tartar. This is used to help stabilise the meringue. It can be substituted with vinegar or lemon juice. To replace 1 part cream of tartar, use 2 parts vinegar or lemon juice.

For the Chantilly cream filling

  • whipping cream. I use whipping cream or heavy cream with at least 35 – 38% dairy fat. If you’re skipping dairy, you can also use non-dairy whipping cream alternatives.
  • vanilla extract. Again, go with a natural vanilla extract instead of the artificial essence.
  • caster sugar. I tend to use caster sugar to sweeten my whipped creams, but powdered or icing sugar works equally well. If using icing sugar, you will need to add more to get the same level of sweetness of sugar. Use 1¾ tbsps of powdered sugar to replace 1 tbsp of sugar.

How to make vanilla Swiss rolls: Step-by-step

Step 1. Make the Chantilly cream

Most Swiss roll recipes start off with making the cake but I like to get the cream filling done first. This way, it has ample time to chill and firm up.

Start by combining whipping cream, caster sugar (or powdered sugar), and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl.

With handheld beaters or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip on medium speed until the peaks are just stiff. Place the Chantilly cream in the refrigerator to let it chill and firm up.

Step 2. Make the roll sponge cake

Make the sponge cake batter

  • Preheat the oven (top and bottom heating mode) to 170°C (335°F). Line the base of an 11 x 14 x 1-inch baking pan with baking or parchment paper (see notes on baking pans below).
  • Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a clean mixing bowl, combine egg yolks and caster sugar. Whisk until the sugar dissolves, and the yolks turn pale and increases in volume, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the oil, a bit at a time, stirring until fully incorporated.
  • Next, stir in the milk and vanilla extract until well combined.
  • Add the sifted flour mixture in 2 additions, stirring with a whisk until the batter becomes smooth and free of lumps.

Make the meringue

  • In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or using handheld beaters fitted with a whisk), add egg whites to a clean and grease-free mixing bowl. Sprinkle the cream of tartar over the whites.
  • Whip on high speed until the whites turn frothy. Add sugar, bit by bit, and continue whipping until the meringue forms just stiff peaks. This may take 5 to 7 minutes, depending on your mixer and speed.

Fold the meringue into the batter

  • Lighten the batter by folding in ⅓ of the meringue. Do this gently with a whisk until well incorporated. It’s okay to have some meringue streaks in the batter (see photos below).
  • Add the next ⅓ of the meringue and again, fold gently to avoid losing those trapped air bubbles. Again, don’t worry about leaving some streaks of meringue unmixed.
  • Lastly, fold in all the remaining meringue – again, do it gently without over working the batter. This time, you want to ensure that the meringue is well combined. The final batter should feel light, look homogenous and have the same consistency throughout. There should no streaks of meringue visible.

Fill the pan and bake

  • Pour the batter into the pan. Spread with a dough scraper or offset spatula to fill the sides and corners of the pan. Smooth the surface and shimmy (shake) the pan a bit. Give the pan a firm tap on the counter to eliminate air pockets.
  • Bake on the middle rack in the preheated oven for 22 to 25 minutes or until the top turns golden brown. The top should no longer look moist and spring back when lightly pressed.
  • Remove the pan from the oven. Immediately drop it from a height of 2 – 3 inches above the countertop. This helps redistribute the air in the baked sponge and minimises shrinkage.
  • Let the cake sit in the pan for 1 – 2 minutes. Run a knife or spatula around the edges to release the cake from the sides of the pan. Flip over onto a clean sheet of parchment paper/cloth, and remove the pan. Gently peel away the paper that was on the bottom of the cake.

Step 3. Fill and roll the cake

Cut the cake in half, lengthwise. You will now have two sponge layers, each measuring roughly 11 x 7-inches, which will be rolled into two logs.

For sugar rolls: Leave one sponge cake with skin (brown layer) on, facing downwards on the parchment paper.

For plain cream rolls: Turn over the other sponge cake and place onto another clean sheet of baking paper. Gently peel away the skin, this must be done while the cake is still warm (this is entirely optional, you could leave it so the skin is on the inside of the roll). Start from one corner, peeling away in a diagonal direction towards the opposite end.

Make cuts into the sponge cake (prevents cracking when rolling up)

With a sharp knife, make 2 shallow slits, about 1.5 cm apart, on the short end. Do not cut in too deep, otherwise the cake may break when rolled. At the opposite end, cut away a bit of cake at an angle (see below). Repeat with the second sponge cake.

Pre-roll the cake (optional but helpful)

You can use parchment paper, a clean tea cloth or a sheet of cling wrap to roll. I prefer a tea cloth or cling wrap as these are softer, ensures a tighter roll and doesn’t stress the crumb as much as paper.

At the end with the cut slits, fold the edge of the cake together with the paper/cloth into itself and continue with the roll. Roll it snugly, with the paper/cloth inside the roll. Do it slowly and gently.

Wrap the rolled cakes in its parchment paper/cloth and let it cool a bit before unrolling and spreading the cream.

Spread the cream

When unrolling the cakes, be gentle – it does not need to be completely flat. Once the cake is cool enough, spread the whipped cream evenly on top, leaving about a 1-cm (1/2 inch) border around the cake.

At the end where the slits are, the cream should be thickest and nearer the cut end, thinnest. This is because as you start rolling, the cream gets pushed forward to the edge of the cake.

Roll the cake

  • Roll as before, but this time, pulling the parchment paper/cloth away from you at an angle, to help lift the cake off the counter and roll into itself (I use cling wrap as illustrated below). Be careful not to let the paper/cloth drop onto the cream, otherwise you’ll have a messy roll. NOTE: If you pre-rolled the cake, you can re-roll without using paper/cloth but be gentle with finger pressure.
  • Once rolled, keep the rolled cakes wrapped in its paper/cloth (use a new, clean sheet if the one you used to roll got messy. Make sure the rolled cake is sitting with the edge facing down.

Chill the cake roll

Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 to 3 hours, though I recommend overnight chilling for best flavour and texture. Another reason why Swiss rolls are great make-ahead desserts!

Slice the cake roll

Have a few sheets of paper towel handy. Gently remove the parchment paper (or cling wrap) from both log cakes.

For sugar rolls: Sprinkle caster sugar on a clean sheet of parchment paper. Roll the log cake with its brown skin on the outside, a few times to coat thoroughly with sugar.

For plain cream rolls: Do not coat with sugar.

Using a sharp knife, slice a bit off both the ends of each log cake to reveal the rolled pattern. Wipe the blade clean.

Slice each log cake into 6 equal slices, about 1-inch thick per slice, always wiping the blade clean after each cut.

Sugar Swiss roll, served on a plate with fresh strawberries

How to store Swiss rolls

These vanilla Swiss rolls will keep well for up to 5 days in the refrigerator, in an air-tight container. They need to be chilled due to the cream filling.

To freeze, wrap the uncut log cakes and seal with cling wrap. Store in a freezer bag, in the freezer for 2 to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the chiller, still covered. Remove the wrapping when you’re ready to cut and serve.

However, if you opt to use a jam filling instead, the Swiss rolls will keep well in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Tips for perfecting vanilla Swiss rolls

Do I need to pre-roll the cake?

Pre-rolling an un-filled sponge is not needed, but helpful. It can make the final roll easier as pre-rolling helps ‘tame’ the sponge into a roll pattern.

If you pre-rolled the cake, you can do the final roll without using parchment paper.

A pre-roll is also a useful practice run that helps build confidence if you are unfamiliar with the technique.

What can I use to roll the cake?

Baking or parchment paper, a clean tea cloth, or cling wrap can all be used.

A tea cloth or cling wrap is softest, and also does a better job of holding the cake in its tightly rolled pattern.

Should the cake be rolled while still warm or when cooled?

You’ll get an easier and tighter roll when the cake is still warm, like a few minutes after removing from the pan. But you need to let it cool a bit before spreading the cream.

Can I bake in different size pans?

This recipe works best in an 11 x 14-inch baking tray, as the thickness of the baked sponge ends up between 2 – 2.5 cm (0.75 – 1 inch).

If baked in different-sized pans, the sponge layer may end up being too thick or too thin.

A sponge that’s too thin may break more easily when rolled. Conversely, a thick layer will be more difficult to roll, thus prone to breaking as well.

How can I avoid cracking or breaking the cake?

  • Avoid over-whipping the meringue. The ideal stiffness is when you get a firm peak that holds its shape on a whisk, but droops just a bit at the tip like a hook.
  • Avoid over-baking the cake. Baking for too long a time can dry out the sponge. It will be harder to roll, hence more prone to breaking. Once the top of the cake no longer looks moist, turns a golden brown, and springs back when lightly pressed, remove from the oven.
  • Pre-roll while the cake is still warm. A cake that is completely cooled will be harder to roll, and prone to breaking. However, once you’ve pre-rolled the cake, you need to let it cool before spreading the whipped cream.

Here are more delicious bakes you might enjoy:

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Vanilla Swiss Rolls (Vanilla Roll Cakes)

4.93 from 14 reviews
Prep Time: 35 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Chilling Time: 3 hrs
Total Time: 4 hrs
Yield: 12 slices
These vanilla swiss rolls are super easy to make – the sponge layer is moist and tender, easy to (man)handle and and rolls easily without cracking! No extra steps needed – just bake, spread, roll and chill for the perfect Swiss roll. 

Ingredients

For the Chantilly cream

  • 180 g whipping cream , (35 – 38% dairy fat)
  • tbsp caster sugar, (or 2½ tbsp powdered sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the batter

  • 100 g cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • tsp salt
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 60 g vegetable oil
  • 50 g whole milk
  • 25 g sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the meringue

  • 5 egg whites
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • 100 g caster sugar

Instructions
 

Make the Chantilly cream

  • Combine whipping cream, caster sugar (or powdered sugar), and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. 
  • With handheld beaters or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip on medium speed until peaks are just stiff. Chill in the refrigerator to let it firm up.

Make the cake

  • Preheat the oven (top and bottom heating mode) to 170°C (338°F). Line the base of an 11 x 14 x 1-inch baking pan with baking or parchment paper.
  • Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large mixing bowl, combine egg yolks and caster sugar. With a handheld whisk, whisk until the sugar dissolves and the yolks turn pale and increases in volume, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the oil, a bit at a time, stirring until fully incorporated. Next, stir in the milk and vanilla extract until well combined. Add the sifted flour mixture in 2 additions, stirring with a whisk until the batter becomes smooth and free of lumps.
  • To make the meringue, place egg whites in a clean and grease-free mixer bowl. Sprinkle over the cream of tartar. Fit a stand mixer or handheld beaters with a whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until the whites turn frothy. Add sugar, bit by bit, and continue whipping until the meringue forms just stiff peaks, about 5 – 7 minutes.
  • Fold ⅓ of the meringue into the batter. Do this gently with a whisk until well incorporated. Fold in the next ⅓, gently so as not to over-mix and lose the trapped air bubbles. Fold in the remaining meringue, again as gently as possible, and stop once the batter looks homogenous and has the same consistency throughout. There should no streaks of meringue visible.
  • Pour the batter into the pan and spread with a dough scraper or offset spatula to fill the sides and corners. Smooth the surface and give the pan a shake. Tap firmly on the counter to eliminate air pockets.
  • Bake on the middle rack for 22 to 25 minutes or until the top turns golden brown. The top should no longer look moist and springs back when lightly pressed.
  • Once out of the oven, immediately drop it from a height of 2 inches above the countertop. Let it sit in the pan for 1-2 minutes. Run a knife or spatula around its edges. Flip the pan over onto a clean sheet of baking paper (or cling wrap) to release the cake. Gently peel away the parchment paper that was on the bottom of the cake.

Prepare to roll the cake

  • Cut the cake in half, lengthwise. For sugar rolls: Leave the sponge layer(s) with its skin facing down on the parchment paper. For plain cream rolls: Turn over the sponge layer(s) onto a clean sheet of parchment paper. Optional: While the cake is still warm, peel away the skin.
  • On both sponge layers, make 2 shallow slits, spaced 1.5 cm apart, on the shorter edge with a sharp knife (do not cut in too deeply or else the cake may break when rolled). At the opposite end, cut away a bit of cake at an angle.
  • Pre-roll the cake while its still warm. Start at the end with the cut slits. Fold in the edge of the cake together with the paper/cloth and continue with the roll. Roll it tight, but slowly and gently, with the paper/cloth inside the roll. Keep it wrapped in its parchment paper/cloth until it cools slightly (you can pop it in the chiller for 10 minutes for a quick cool).

Spread the cream

  • Gently unroll and spread the whipped cream evenly on top, leaving about a 1-cm (½- inch) border around the cake. At the end where the slits are, the cream should be thickest and spread more thinly nearer the cut end.

Roll the cake

  • Start at the end where the slits were made and the cream is thickest. Fold this edge onto the cream, using the paper/cloth to lift the cake off the surface and roll into itself as you roll.
    Roll as before, but this time, pulling the parchment paper/cloth away from you at an angle, to help lift the cake off the counter and roll into itself. Keep the roll tight, but do it gently and slowly. Be careful not to let the paper/cloth drop onto the cream, otherwise you'll have a messy roll. NOTE: If you pre-rolled the cake, you can re-roll without using paper/cloth but be gentle with finger pressure.
    Once rolled, keep it wrapped in its parchment paper/cloth (use a clean sheet/cloth if it got messy). Make sure the rolled cake is sitting with the edge facing down. Chill for at least 2 – 3 hours, or overnight for best results.

Slice the cake

  • Have a few sheets of paper towel handy. Remove the parchment paper from both log cakes. 
    For sugar rolls: Sprinkle caster sugar on a clean sheet of parchment paper. Roll the log cake with its brown skin on the outside, a few times to coat thoroughly with sugar. For plain cream rolls: Do not coat with sugar.
    Using a sharp knife, slice a bit off both the ends of each log cake. Slice each log cake into 6 equal slices, about 1-inch thick, wiping the blade clean after each cut, with a paper towel. 

Notes

Tips for perfecting vanilla Swiss rolls

Should I pre-roll the cake? Pre-rolling an un-filled sponge is not needed, but helpful. It can make the final roll easier as pre-rolling helps ‘tame’ the sponge into a roll pattern. You can do the final roll without using parchment paper.
What can I use to roll the cake? Baking or parchment paper, a clean tea cloth, or cling wrap can all be used. A tea cloth or cling wrap is softest, and also does a better job of holding the cake in its tightly rolled pattern.
Should the cake be rolled while still warm or when cooled? You can pre-roll the sponge layer, and it will be easier to roll when the cake is still warm. Rolling the sponge when it has completely cooled will be a bit harder, if it’s not been ‘tamed’ into a roll pattern by pre-rolling. 
Can I bake in different sized pans? This recipe works best in an 11 x 14-inch baking tray, as the thickness of the baked sponge ends up between 2 – 2.5 cm (0.75 – 1 inch). If baked in different-sized pans, the sponge layer may end up being too thick or too thin. A sponge that’s too thin may break more easily when rolled. Conversely, a thick layer will be more difficult to roll, thus prone to breaking as well.
How do I avoid cracks or breaks? 
  • Avoid over-whipping the meringue. Though this is a chiffon-based sponge cake, you don’t want to whip the meringue to overly stiff peaks.The ideal stiffness is when you get a firm peak that holds its shape on a whisk, but droops just a bit at the tip like a hook.
  • Avoid over-baking the cake. Baking for too long a time can dry out the sponge. It will be harder to roll, hence more prone to breaking. Once the top of the cake no longer looks moist, turns a golden brown, and springs back when lightly pressed, remove from the oven.
  • Pre-roll while the cake is still warm. A cake that is completely cooled will be harder to roll, and prone to breaking. However, once you’ve pre-rolled the cake, you need to let it cool before spreading the whipped cream.

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 1slice, Calories: 211kcal, Carbohydrates: 19g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 119mg, Sodium: 93mg, Potassium: 67mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 12g, Vitamin A: 357IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 48mg, Iron: 1mg
Cuisine: Asian, Western
Course: Desserts, Tea
Author: Celia Lim
Did you make this recipe? Be sure to leave a rating and a review in the section below, and tag @foodelicacy on Instagram and hashtag it #foodelicacy so I can see!