This cake and I have history.
We go way, way back……to 1996.
Allow me to set the scene: I was in college, living in an adorable rental house with a tidy hedge, green lawn and two of the happiest plum trees you’ve ever met. Times were good. I had great friends, good music, a sweet VW Jetta, and a seriously awesome boyfriend. My days were filled with lectures, studying, and LOTS of baking. Baking was my “unofficial” major in college. My real major was Psychology, but my passion was for what went on in my cozy little kitchen. This was a kitchen circa 1960’s with dark cabinets, harvest gold appliances and a sketchy electric cook-top that excelled at burning things to a crisp. Luckily the oven behaved itself most of the time, so I did my best to exercise that baby on a regular basis. Cookies, cakes, muffins, breads, candy. You name it, I made it.
Number one on the favorites list? Vanilla Roulade. Beautiful and delicate, I loved everything about this dessert. Watching the egg whites transform in my mixing bowl to an ethereal cloud of shiny fluff thrilled me. Folding the egg whites into the lovely yellow batter, or gently rolling the roulade satisfied my soul. Plus, it’s hard to not feel special when a slice of roulade is placed before you.
That’s why I was surprised when I realized I hadn’t made a gluten-free/dairy-free version of this dainty dessert. Exactly two hours later, I was in the kitchen, working on a recipe to share with you. It is tender, moist and flavorful and requires minimal ingredients. It does require a standing mixer or heavy duty hand-held to whip the egg whites with, unless you’re looking for your next CrossFit workout. After experimenting with a few different versions of this recipe, I settled on this one because of flavor, and ease of rolling. Rolling a gluten-free cake and not having it crack into a million pieces is no small thing. It takes a little bit of patience and a sense of humor. Most importantly, remember that it will still taste delicious!
Vanilla Chiffon Roulade
- 4 large egg yolks
- 6 large egg whites
- 1 cup granulated sugar (divided)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I use Frontier brand or homemade for corn-free version)
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour* (click here to see the one I used)
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum (I use a corn-free variety from Authentic Foods)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder (Hain brand or homemade for corn-free)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- your favorite raspberry jam, for filling the roulade
- coconut whipped cream (see recipe below)
→ Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 17 ½ by 12 ½ inch jelly roll pan taking care not to grease the sides (this allows the cake to rise correctly). Line the pan with parchment paper (the oil will help hold the paper in place).
→ In a mixing bowl combine the 4 egg yolks, ½ cup of sugar, the vanilla extract, oil and water. Whisk until combined. Add the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the bowl. Whisk ingredients until smooth and well-combined (1 minute). Set aside.
→ In the bowl of your electric mixer (fitted with a whisk attachment) add the 6 egg whites. Mix on medium-low and allow the eggs to get a bit frothy (1-2 minutes). Increase speed to medium-high and add the sugar a teaspoon at a time until it is all incorporated. Continue mixing until the whites triple in size and hold stiff, glossy peaks.
→ Remove bowl from mixer and using a large spatula, gently fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter. When there are a few white streaks still left in the batter, add ½ of the remaining whites, gently fold, and then repeat with the remaining whites.
→ Very gently pour the batter onto your prepared jelly roll pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake in the center of preheated oven for 10-14 minutes or until the top is just beginning to turn golden and the cake is starting to pull back from the edges of the pan.
→ Remove from oven and cool for 4-5 minutes in the pan. Then run a small knife around the outer edge of the cake to insure that all the edges are free. Sprinkle the surface of the cake with a tablespoon of granulated sugar, lay a clean (lint free) tea towel on top of the cake, and begin to gently roll the cake from the short end, into a cylinder shape – leaving the parchment paper attached to the base of the cake. Push the cake roll up against one edge of your pan so that it doesn’t come unrolled while it cools. Allow to cool completely.
→ Gently unroll the roulade and fill with your favorite jam. Re-roll the roulade, using the parchment paper to help you, and removing it as you roll. Serve with fresh berries and whipped coconut cream. This is best served the day it’s made, but you can also store it well-wrapped in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Whipped Coconut Cream
- 1 can of coconut milk (not light), do not shake
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar (corn-free if necessary)
Place the can of coconut milk into the refrigerator overnight, or for at least 8 hours.
Open the can without shaking and scrape the thick, coconut cream into the chilled bowl of an electric mixer with whisk attachment. This will be about 1 cup. Save the remaining coconut water for another application.
Add the powdered sugar and starting your mixer slowly, increase speed to medium high and whisk for 2-3 minutes or until the coconut milk holds soft peaks. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator – up to 2 days.
Tips for success:
- Use full-fat coconut milk such as Thai Kitchen. Don’t use “Cream of Coconut” which is pre-sweetened and has a lot of added ingredients, or a light version such as Trader Joes (which I love for other uses).
- Use a heavy-duty mixer that can whip fast for 2-3 minutes.
- Use powdered sugar, or any other powdered sweetener for best results. Liquid sweetners like honey, agave or maple syrup will prevent the coconut milk from whipping.
- If you would like to add vanilla flavor, stick with the scrapings of a vanilla bean, vanilla powder, or a very small amount of liquid vanilla (1/2 teaspoon). Adding too much additional liquid to this coconut cream inhibits the whipping process.