Taste of Home Field Editor Susan Stetzel shares her experience of making a Lemon Cake Roll while assisting at a Taste of Home Cooking School event.
Ah, spring in Western New York! Robins chirping, crocuses blooming and of course – the spring Taste of Home Cooking School at Pavilion High School!
I love working these events for a couple reasons. I always learn something new and it’s a perfect escape from my everyday life! For one day I get to be a sous chef and chop, mix, prep, and stir to my heart’s content. Plus, it’s the perfect time to catch up with old friends.
Standing backstage waiting for Chef Michael to hand us our assignments is always an exciting time. It’s the first time we get to see what the stage recipes will be. As Chef Michael handed us our recipe sheets, you could see the look of panic fall over my face. In my hand was a recipe for a Lemon Cake Roll. LEMON CAKE ROLL!
My heart skipped a beat. I am a cook. I’m a great cook, actually. But I’m not a baker. Cookies? Sure! As long as I don’t have to roll them out. Brownies? Simple. But a CAKE ROLL? And not just any cake roll either, this is a chiffon cake roll. Which means it’s equivalent to a light and airy Angel Food cake. Egg whites beaten to a soft peak, ack! Cake flour, measuring, folding – I had to go eat a piece of chocolate just to calm myself down.
I could see every possible failure playing out in front of my eyes like a bad slide show. What if this thing falls? What if I roll it and it breaks? Or worse – what if it sticks? However, I had to suck it up. This cake had to be made. The show must go on, right? Break an egg and all that!
Back at my prep station I read through the stage card. Break & separate nine eggs into the glass mixing bowl & let sit to room temperature. OK, that’s not so tough. I can do that, I said to myself. Nine egg whites go into the bowl. Done. Step two: measure one cup and two tablespoons of sugar into a #16 container. Simple enough. I continued down through the steps, measuring as I went along.
Then it was time to beat the eggs. I plopped the bowl under the mixer and turned it on. Whooooooooosh! The eggs filled with air becoming light and foamy. Perfect. I added the rest of the ingredients and soon I had my chiffon batter. I poured it into a baking pan lined with parchment paper and popped it into a 350º oven. 20 minutes later I had a beautiful golden cake.
I was so grateful to have a trained chef holding my hand as I moved the cake out of the pan. “Just grab the parchment and give it a tug,” Chef Michael said. With one swift yet gentle tug, the cake slid right over to the cooling rack, with no cracks or crumbs. Then we set a timer for 10 minutes, just enough time to take the edge off the steaming hot cake, but not too long that the cake would lose its pliability.
When the timer let out a ding, we took another sheet of parchment paper and gave it a good coating of powdered sugar. Then came the really scary part. Moving quickly, we (and by we, I mean, Chef Michael) took the warm cake and carefully flopped it over on to the sugar coated parchment paper. Later backstage, I moved the cake on my own with much success. I’ll be honest, I held my breath when I flopped it over, and prayed that it would stay together.
Rolling that warm cake was much easier than I had anticipated. However, starting off that first roll was the hardest part. I rolled the parchment paper right up into the cake and then let it cool the rest of the way. On stage, Chef Michael unrolled that cooled cake, slathered it with filling, and rolled it back up. Then he added another coating of powdered sugar and Voila! A lovely Lemon Cake Roll.
I highly encourage anyone to try this; I know how intimidating the recipe looks but believe me when I say: It’s easy as…cake!
Get this recipe: Lemon Cake Roll