Filled with strawberry jam and sweet cream cheese, this strawberry roll cake is the way to anyone's heart. Decorate the cake with hearts as I have for a Valentine's treat, or omit to make a classic strawberry jelly roll.
I recreated my Pumpkin Cake Roll for another holiday! The pumpkin version is one of the most popular recipes on my site, and I think it warrants a pink variation.
With strawberries and cream in mind, I set out to make a Valentine's cake. I started my Valentine's Day Strawberry Cake Roll with a génoise cake. It's style of cake that is light and airy, so it complements a rich filling, and bonus, it is flexible.
Not like doing-the-splits flexible, but close. If a regular cake is bent or rolled, it cracks. As with typical American cakes, there is an excess of butter, and butter makes cakes tender and rich, and quite delicious, but the texture is, well, less flexible.
But, of course, I couldn't make this a regular strawberry jelly roll cake. Oh no, I had to make it a patterned roll cake for Valentine's Day!
Tip: You can make the cake recipe as written, or you can omit the extra heart designs to create a classic strawberry roll cake.
What is a Génoise Cake?
Génoise originated in Italy and is used in French pastry shops. It is a light, eggy cake that is perfect for layering and for cake rolls.
It's traditionally brushed with simple syrup or layered with jam to add moisture and flavor. I opted for jam in my Valentine's Day cake, with a rich filling made from cream cheese and heavy cream.
Believe it or not, the roll cake itself requires minimal ingredients and is very easy to make. The light and fluffy texture is thanks to a combination of whipped eggs and granulated sugar.
Salt and almond extract flavor the sponge cake, while all-purpose flour provides some structure.
The entire cake is made with just 2 ½ tablespoons of melted butter. You'll also need plenty of confectioners' sugar when rolling the cake into the classic jelly roll shape.
- Neutral oil like canola
- All-purpose flour
- Food coloring
- Almond extract
- Confectioners' sugar
- Cream cheese
- Heavy cream
- Strawberry jam
Making the Strawberry Roll Cake
Classic génoise recipes call for heating the eggs and sugar, but this is tedious, and I wanted an easier, make-at-home kind of method. I opted to beat the eggs like crazy and add the sugar slowly while the eggs whip, so the sugar dissolves as it mixes, without deflating the mixture.
There's no chemical leavening (like baking powder or baking soda) in this cake. So whipping the eggs and using a light touch when mixing in the flour is key. The air built in to the eggs as they whip will act as the leavening.
I also didn't use the actual cake batter for the heart designs, because the actual cake needs to be baked right after mixing. Instead I created a mini cake batter recipe for the pink and red hearts. You can pipe it onto the pan and freeze it solid while you make the génoise.
Flipping and Rolling
One thing that is different with this Valentine's cake roll is that because the heart design is on the bottom when baked, you need to do an extra flip once the cake is out of the oven.
Usually you simply turn the cake out and roll. Here I used two clean kitchen towels to do this, turning the cake out of the pan, pulling off the parchment, then laying another towel on top and flipping over. Then, simply roll the cake up in that towel to let it cool in the shape of a spiral.
The jam and filling comes next, and then I let the cake chill and set up for a spell. I serve mine with fresh strawberries.
What Size Pan Should I Use?
I used a jelly roll pan to get just the right size for a cake roll. Jelly roll pans are slightly smaller than a typical rimmed baking sheet (often called a half-sheet pan and are about 13-by-17-inches).
The jelly roll pans measure 10-by-15 inches like this one I used from Oxo.
Can This Recipe Be Made in Advance?
Absolutely! The cake needs to chill for at least 2 hours before it can be sliced and served. However, it can be prepared up to 1 day before serving. Once filled and chilled wrap well in plastic wrap so the cake doesn't dry out.
Can I Use Another Type of Jam?
Yes, definitely! You're welcome to use any flavor of jam that you like. I intended this strawberry swiss roll recipe to be served on Valentine's Day so I used a red jam (strawberry), but any flavor will work.
Tips for Making a Patterned Roll Cake
- Because the heart design is on the outside of the cake, you'll need to flip the cake an extra time once it comes out of the oven.
- I baked this specifically as a Valentine's Cake, but you may omit the heart design altogether to create a classic strawberry roll cake.
- Make sure to buy brick-style, full-fat cream cheese. If you use lite or spreadable cream cheese, the filling won't set up properly.
More festive cakes:
Valentine’s Day Strawberry Roll Cake
Heart Pattern Batter:
- 1 egg white
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Food coloring
Almond Génoise Cake:
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2½ tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled
- ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
- Confectioners’ sugar
Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling:
- 4 oz cream cheese softened
- ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup strawberry jam
- Strawberries for garnish
- Line the bottom of a jelly roll pan (10-by-15 inches) with parchment.
- To make the heart pattern batter: with an electric mixer, whip egg white and sugar until soft peaks form. Mix in oil and then fold in flour by hand.
- Divide batter in half and color half red and half pink with food coloring. Place each color in a small ziptop bag and snip a small hole in one corner.
- Pipe hearts, dots and designs onto parchment and freeze the pan 20 to 30 minutes.
- To make cake batter: heat oven to 350º F. With an electric mixer or in a stand mixer, whip eggs and salt until very light and fluffy, 10 minutes with a hand mixer, 6 minutes in a stand mixer. Gradually add the sugar while mixer is going and then beat another four to five minutes.
- In a small bowl, stir about ½ cup of the egg mixture into the melted butter with the almond extract. Then stir butter mixture back into the mixing bowl to combine with the rest of the fluffy egg.
- Stir the flour into the batter until just combined. Immediately removed pan from the freezer and gently spread cake batter over the frozen heart designs.
- Bake until cake is light golden brown and is just firm to the touch, about 20 minutes.
- While cake bakes, prepare a clean dish towel by lightly dusting it with confectioners’ sugar. Have a second clean towel on hand.
- When cake is done, let sit in pan about one minute and then run a knife around the edges to gently loosen. Turn cake onto prepared towel. Remove parchment and lay second towel over the top of the heart designs. Carefully flip cake over in the towels.
- Remove the towel from the plain side of the cake, then roll the warm cake inside the second towel from one short end to the other. The heart designs should be facing outward. Let cake roll cool for about 20 minutes.
- To make the filling: Beat cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar until very smooth. Add heavy cream and almond extract and whip until mixture if fluffy and stiff, about 2 minutes.
- Unroll cake and spread the plain inside surface with a thin layer of strawberry jam. Gently spread cream cheese filling over the jam, it will be about ¼–inch thick. Roll cake back up over filling.
- Wrap cake roll in the towel and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. Trim ends and serve on a platter with strawberry slices as garnish if desired.
My recipe appeared on KSL.com.
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Recipe and photography Tara Teaspoon