My first baking disaster (or at least, the earliest one that I can actually remember) coincides with the year that I began taking Food Technology as a GCSE subject. I was in Year 9 and had decided that I wanted to make a chocolate roulade. Bearing in mind that at the tender age of 12-13, I had yet to discover my passion for baking, it was probably a mistake, and quite definitely over-ambitious for an amateur with so little experience. I’d never made meringue before, so I didn’t really understand how to work with egg whites properly. I’d never made a thin sheet cake before and inevitably managed to over-bake it. I’d never rolled a cake in my life. Aesthetically, it was a disaster. It cracked and broke and spilt cake crumbs all over the work surface, threatening to fall apart at any moment. Its one saving grace was the fact that it actually tasted just fine, in spite of all its other failings.
Up until now, that was my one and only attempt to make roulade. It isn’t that it was such a traumatising experience that I couldn’t bear to face trying again; in truth, it just never crossed my mind to make it again. Truthfully, I’m not a huge fan of roulade. It’s a nice cake, but given the choice, I wouldn’t necessarily pick it over something else. And then over the Christmas holiday, I happened to have two spare egg whites sitting in a bowl in the fridge. ’What can I make with these?’ I wondered. And then it came to me. Roulade!
Rolling a cake, if you don’t have much experience doing it, is scary. I was worried that the cake would be too dry and would simply break into pieces, but I kept my nerve and kept going and, to my great surprise, it turned out just fine. (I also used Mary Berry’s tip to start the roll: you slice almost all the way through the cake, about an inch from the end, fold the inch-wide piece over onto the cake and use this to begin your roll. It really works, people; trust in Mary Berry, she knows.)
A light and fluffy flourless chocolate sponge, filled with vanilla cream and topped with dark chocolate ganache; this is roulade as it should be. The speed at which this cake vanished in my house is a testament to just how good it was, even though I say so myself…
I think I can say that my Year 9 self would be proud of this roulade.
(Recipe taken from Joy the Baker.)