One of my favorite things about sponge cake is the incredible range of possibilities when it comes to decorating the cake. In pastry school, we used stencils to create fairly detailed effects. Nowadays, I like to tint the batter and swirl multiple colors together or use a pastry bag to pipe a design in one color, before topping with another. The freezer helps this first layer to firm up, making it easy to spread the remaining batter on top without ruining the effect. It’s a perfect technique to whip out this peppermint-flavored roll cake and make it look like a giant candy cane!
—Erin Jeanne McDowell
- Prep time 40 minutes
- Cook time 20 minutes
- makes one 15-inch roulade
- Peppermint Sponge
(115 grams) cake flour
fine sea salt
(76 gram) plain whole-milk yogurt
(56 grams) unsalted butter, melted
large (245 grams) egg whites
cream of tartar
(264 grams) granulated sugar
Red gel food coloring
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting and garnishing
- White chocolate whipped cream
(113 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
(176 grams) heavy cream
(170 grams) white chocolate, melted
(113 grams) finely crushed peppermints or candy canes
- Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center of the oven. Grease a jelly roll pan (10x15 inches) with nonstick spray and line the pan with parchment paper.
- Make the roulade: Into a medium bowl, sift the cake flour and salt together. In another medium bowl, whisk the yogurt, melted butter, vanilla, and peppermint extract to combine.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy, 2 minutes. With the mixer running, gradually add the sugar in a slow, steady steam, then continue whipping until the mixture reaches medium peaks, 4 to 5 minutes more.
- Temper the yogurt mixture with about one-quarter of the egg whites. Once the mixture is combined, gently fold it back into the egg whites until uniform. Sift the flour mixture into the egg whites, gently folding to combine.
- Place about one-quarter of the batter into a medium bowl and add the food coloring, gently folding it in until the mixture is red; take care not to overmix. Transfer the red batter to a pastry bag with a ½-inch opening.
- Pipe the red batter onto the prepared baking sheet in stripes. I like to start with thicker stripes by applying generous pressure to the bag, then pipe smaller stripes by applying more gentle pressure in between them to make them look like peppermint sticks. Freeze the sheet pan for 15 minutes.
- Pour the white batter onto the chilled sheet pan and gently spread into an even layer. Transfer to the oven to bake until the edges are just starting to turn a very pale golden and the center springs back gently when touched, 14 to 16 minutes. While the cake bakes, scoop some confectioners’ sugar into a sifter and set it on a plate. Line a work surface with a large sheet of parchment paper.
- As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, dust the surface of the cake evenly with confectioners’ sugar. Use a small offset spatula to gently loosen the cake from the edges of the pan. Gently invert the sheet pan onto the parchment on your work surface. Lift away the pan and carefully peel away the parchment from the bottom of the cake and discard it.
- With one of the longer sides of the cake facing you, use the sheet of parchment to help roll the cake up into a tight cylinder. Let the cake cool completely, still rolled up.
- Make the cream filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream cheese until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cream and whip to soft peaks, 2 to 3 minutes. With the mixer running, add the melted chocolate in a slow, steady stream. Whip to medium peaks.
- Assemble the roulade: Unroll the cake and position it on the parchment paper with one of the long sides facing you. Dollop the cream all over the cake and spread it in an even layer all the way to the edges. Sprinkle the crushed peppermints evenly over the surface. Starting with the side closest to you, gently roll the cake up into a log. It won’t be as tight this time because of the filling, but try to make it as rounded as possible. Use the paper to help you; it adds a protective layer so you can apply a little pressure if needed without damaging the cake.
- Chill the roulade for at least 15 minutes, and up to 8 hours, before serving. Garnish with more confectioners’ sugar just before serving and slice into 1½-inch slices to serve.