Eighteen-Layer Brazilian Guava Cake Roll (Bolo de Rolo)

March 21, 2016
4 Ratings
Photo by Denise Browning
  • Makes one giant cake roll
Author Notes

This sweet delicacy from the northeastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco consists of numerous thin sheets of cake roll filled with a melted guava paste filling and sprinkled on top with granulated sugar. It was recognized by law as an intangible cultural legacy of the state in 2008. —Denise Browning

What You'll Need
  • For the cake batter:
  • 5 sticks plus 5 tablespoons (45 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to grease baking sheets
  • 3 cups plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 9 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more to flour baking sheets
  • 9 large egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks
  • For the filling and topping:
  • 28 ounces guava paste, chopped
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons port wine (optional)
  • 18 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided (for the topping)
  1. Measure ingredients for the batter and set aside.
  2. Prepare the filling. Add guava paste, water, and port, if using, to a non-stick medium pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring well until guava paste is fully melted and mixture is homogeneous and smooth. Strain through fine mesh sieve if chunky. Remove from heat, let cool, and divide into 9 portions. Set aside.
  3. Next, prepare the batter: In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed for about 2 minutes. At a slow speed, gradually add the sugar, then beat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until mixture is homogeneous and creamy. Add the yolks one by one, beating at low speed after each addition until just incorporated.
  4. At low speed, gradually add flour until you have a homogenous batter. You may have to scrape down the batter from the sides of the bowl a few times.
  5. With a spatula, gently fold in the egg whites (do not beat). Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  6. Grease and flour 9 (10- by 15-inch) jelly roll pans and pour about 1 cup of batter into each. (If you are short on baking sheets, you can wash and dry the baking sheet, repeating the process of unmolding and rolling as described below as each layer of cake bakes.)
  7. Use an offset icing spatula to spread the batter into a very thin and uniform layer covering the bottom of each sheet pan. Bake the first layer of cake for 3 1/2 to 4 minutes; do not let the cake brown.
  8. Remove from the oven and place baking sheet on a counter lined with a kitchen linen or towel. Since this cake is thin and delicate, here is a great technique to release it from the pan without breaking the layer: Gently run a butter knife around the edges to loosen the cake from pan, making it easier to unmold. Next, sprinkle the top of cake with 2 tablespoons of sugar and spread a kitchen towel on top. Then place an empty and larger baking sheet pan on top of this, right side up, to sandwich the cake and towel between the two pans. Finally, flip the whole assemblage over in order to release the cake from the pan in which it was baked. Remove what is now the top baking sheet pan, and then gently slide the bottom pan from beneath the cake and towel. Working quickly, spread melted guava paste mixture on top of the cake and then roll: Starting from one end, pull up the two adjacent corners along the short length of the towel to initiate rolling of the edge of the cake. Continue supporting/pushing the rolling edge of the cake with the towel beneath as needed until the cake layer is completely rolled. The cake rolls more easily while still warm. Reserve rolled cake layer covered with towel.
  9. Each rolled cake is then rolled into the next subsequent sheet of cake that has been spread with the guava paste. If any breaks appear in cake, press break with fingers to seal while it is still warm, and sprinkle more sugar on top. Slice the 2 edges of the cake to remove rough, imperfect ends. Serve cake roll sliced into thin slices by itself, with a slice of Edam cheese, or slightly warm with a scoop of vanilla or coconut ice cream.
  10. NOTES: 1) For easier handling, you can make 3 smaller cake rolls using the same recipe: To do this, make three rolls with three layers each. 2) Guava paste is available in the Latin aisle of many different supermarket chains such as Walmart, as well as in virtually any Latin market. Alternatively, the guava paste filling can be substituted by thin layers of Nutella or dulce de leche/caramel spread.
  11. STORAGE: You can store in the refrigerator for about 1 week, or at room temperature, covered in parchment paper or plastic wrap, for up to 3 days. Cake can be frozen for up to 1 month.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Rhaíssa Harrop
    Rhaíssa Harrop
  • Nancy
  • Rhonda35
  • Denise Browning
    Denise Browning

10 Reviews

Rhaíssa H. August 7, 2016
Roulade e Swiss Roll seria a mesma coisa? Eu quis dizer rocambole no meu primeiro comentário.
Rhaíssa H. August 7, 2016
Oxe, agora que eu vi que quem postou foi uma pernambucana. =)
Rhaíssa H. August 7, 2016
So happy to see this recipe here! In other places in Brazil is very mistaken with roulade. I'm from Pernambuco and I couldn't be so proud of it.
Denise B. August 8, 2016
Ola, Rhaissa! It is so good to see someone from Pernambuco commenting here. The roulade/swiss roll (= rocambole) has thicker sheets of cake and because of this, one ends up with a lesser amount of layers than this Brazilian cake roll -- which is so unique to our home state. Um abraco grande!
Nancy August 7, 2016
Wow I love guava anything and this is so intriguing BUT SRSLY... hats off to those of you who have 9 jelly roll pans. Dang!
Denise B. August 7, 2016
Thank you, Nancy! This is the most popular cake from my home state, Pernambuco, in Northeastern Brazil. I am so glad you are curious about this recipe. I hope you can make it one day... Enjoy!
Amy March 25, 2016
Can you give an approximate volume needed if we were to use one of the substitute fillings you mention in the notes? Since the guava paste measurement is by weight (and i have never seen it in person to know how big it is) and the rest of the ingredients are in volume measurements, it is difficult to even ballpark. Thanks!
Denise B. March 25, 2016
Hi, Amy! Thanks for stopping by. If you decide to substitute Nutella or dulce de leche for the melted guava paste filling, you will need about 4-5 tablespoons to spread (thinly) between each of the nine sheets of cake. Make sure either of these substitutes is used as is from the jar, at room temperature (i.e. without melting like the guava paste). If you decide to make the full 9 sheets of cake, you will 40-45 tablespoons of Nutella . This means that you will need to buy the 33.5 oz size jar, which has about 50 tablespoons. I just want to emphasize that whatever filling you choose, it has to be spread as thinly as possible. The reason why is because the thicker and heavier each layer of filling is made, the greater the probability the cake has of breaking when it is rolled. I hope this helps. Happy Easter!
Rhonda35 March 23, 2016
Denise, can you please clarify what you mean: "5 tablespoons sticks plus 5 tablespoons (50 tablespoons) unsalted butter" - the wording and math are confusing. Do you mean 5 STICKS of butter plus 5 tablespoons? Most sticks of butter are 8 tablespoons, so 5 sticks would be 40 tablespoons, plus the additional 5 T = 45 tablespoons. Help!! (This cake sounds delicious and reminds me of a rolled version of Maryland's Smith Island Cake.)
Denise B. March 23, 2016
Rhonda: I do apologize for the error. What I meant to type was: 5 sticks plus 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter. That's all! If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask. I will be happy to answer them. I hope you enjoy this treasured recipe from my home country. Happy Easter!