A Swiss Roll is quite easy to make, despite popular belief to the contrary. You bake a thin butter-free sponge cake, roll it when still warm, then fill it after it has cooled down, roll again and serve it. Easy as can be.
To make this pistachio Swiss roll, I first make a vanilla Swiss roll, which is then filled with pistachios and whipped cream. As the flavours are subtle and I want the vanilla to pop, I use a vanilla bean. You can, however, follow the recipe as for the Cherry Compote Swiss Roll, which also has a vanilla cake as a base, but which uses vanilla extract instead.
For the cake roll:
- 4 eggs
- 100gr sugar
- 100ml milk
- 1 vanilla bean
- 125gr flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
For the filling:
- 200ml heavy cream
- 5 tsp sugar
- 100gr pistachios
Makes 8-10 slices
Line a large baking tin (mine is 27 x 37cm) with baking paper, leave the paper to stick out a little bit for easier rolling later on.
Pour the milk in a saucepan. Scrape out the vanilla bean seeds into the milk and add the empty pod as well. Bring the milk to a boil – careful as to not let it boil over – and leave to simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, then let the milk cool down. When lukewarm, fish out the vanilla pods.
Whip up the eggs with the sugar until very light and foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the milk to the foamy eggs and mix for another 2 minutes.
Combine the flour and baking powder. Gently – yes I mean very gently – fold the flour mixture into the foamy eggs. The gentler you are, the lighter the result will be.
Gently – everything is gentle with this batter – pour the batter into the baking tin. Try to spread it out as much as possible by pouring, that way you don’t need to touch it so much afterwards. First, tip the tin to distribute the batter, and if that doesn’t work well enough, use a spatula to gently spread the batter around.
Bake the Swiss Roll for 10-15 minutes on 190°C.
When finished, the edges will have somewhat shrunk away from the sides and the center is light and bouncy.
Now comes the interesting part, the pre-rolling of the Swiss roll. Rolling it when still warm will make it less likely to break. Also, I roll with the bottom of the cake outwards, as the top is more likely to crack due to it being directly exposed to the hot oven air.
Flip the cake over onto a large cooling rack (or anything else that is easy to flip over together with the cake). Peel the baking paper away from the cake, then place it back on it and flip the cake back to its original side. So what you achieved is to get the baking paper away from the cake and the cake loosely laying on it. You could omit this stage and roll directly, the baking paper attached to the cake, but sometimes it can be more difficult to get the baking paper off later.
Some people roll it on a layer of sugar and with a tea towel, but I always roll with the paper the roll baked on. Sometimes the top sticks a little when unrolling, but as that will be on the inside of the cake, having a thin flake come off the dried top never bothers me, it is impossible to spot when the cake is finished.
Where were we? Oh right, your cake is lying on the baking paper. Position it in such a way that the short end is at your side and it effectively lies away from you. Either place the cake at the edge of the baking paper or cut away the baking paper sticking out between you and the cake. This avoids that you have a bunch of baking paper to roll into the center of the cake. Cut the cake 2.5cm (an inch) from the side closest to you, along the entire short end, but make sure to not cut all the way down. Cut about halfway down. This will ensure that the cake can be rolled easier.
Now roll up the cake. Tuck the cut end upwards and then roll it up together with the baking paper. You can roll it normally, it doesn’t have to be tight, as there will be filling to come inside the roll later.
Position the cake roll on the end, so it doesn’t open up during cooling. Leave to cool.
Whip up the cream together with the sugar.
Chop the pistachios, I usually chop half finely and half a bit more coarsely.
Unroll your cake roll. If the baking paper sticks to the cake top (which will be the inside), peel it away gently. If flakes come off the top, that’s ok, nobody will notice.
Spread the whipped cream over the cake roll, using a very small amount for the last 5cm of the roll and none for the last 2cm. The filling will be pushed up a bit during rolling and this will avoid any spilling, and makes sure the cake can stand up without tipping. Spread the pistachios out over the whipped cream, also using less for the back end of the roll.
Re-roll the cake roll, starting from your side with the cut-in section of cake and the thicker layer of filling. Roll it tightly but not so tight as to push out all the filling. In the end, you want a firm cake roll without gaps, with an even distribution of filling that shows a lovely swirl. You can start more gently, and roll the end more firmly. Once you have done this once, you know exactly how to do it every following time.
Cut the rough ends off the cake (and eat them immediately!) and decorate with powdered sugar, cream, nuts or whatever else you fancy.