I’ve loved to bake for a long time, and I’ve baked a lot over the years. There’s not too much that intimidates me when it comes to baking. Sure, I have yet to try baking my own croissants (that didn’t come from the freezer section) and I haven’t attempted to make macarons, despite the bag of almond flour I ran out to buy after sampling some amazing specimens at a French bakery last summer. Those are intimidating baked goods though! The other item on my Baking Bucket List, up until just this week, was an old-fashioned cake roll. I know, I know, it sounds kind of lame in comparison, but the thought of rolling up a cake has made me so nervous that I’d never tried to do it.
I saw this recipe, though, and suddenly my apprehension flew away. It seemed doable. In fact, it was more than doable. It was pretty darn easy. If you can follow directions, you can put together a cake roll. It turned out to be one of the easiest desserts I’ve made recently, and was so delicious that my husband and one of my girls asked, immediately, if I’d make this on their birthdays. No problem, since I’m an old pro now and all. (wink wink)
The first thing I had to do was reduce down some Cherry Coke on the stove. Coke, in a cake? Yes. There’s Coke in the cake. If you’re from the South, you might not find this odd at all. If you’re from another part of the country, you might be scratching your head. Being a Midwestern girl, I thought it was kind of odd too, until I tried my first Coca Cola cake. I’ve never had a cake with Coke in it that actually tasted like Coke. Every one I’ve tried is extremely moist and delicious though, so if someone tells me to reduce down some Cherry Coke to add to my cake, I’m going to do it.
After the Coke had reduced down from two cups to about a half of a cup of thicker, Cherry Coke syrup, I let it cool for a bit before moving on.
Once cool, I mixed together the cake batter. Red Velvet cake is, traditionally, a lightly flavored chocolate cake with cream cheese icing. The cake batter does indeed have a good amount of cocoa powder mixed in, as well as the Cherry Coke syrup, but once the tablespoon of red food coloring was added, you never would have guessed. That was some seriously red cake batter!
I lined a baking sheet with buttered parchment paper, to help with removal, and poured the batter in the pan. After about 15 minutes in the oven, I had a beautiful, ruby colored cake on my hands.
After the cake had cooled in the pan for about five minutes, I turned it out onto a clean dishtowel that I’d dusted with powdered sugar, and then I trimmed off the edges (which my girls were happy to devour.)
Then came the scary part.
I dusted the cake with a little more powdered sugar, because I was paranoid that it would stick, and I rolled the warm cake up in the dishtowel. Here, the cake sat, until it cooled completely. It didn’t seem to mind and I was thrilled that it wasn’t actually as scary as I had imagined. It didn’t crack at all!
As the cake cooled, I whipped together the whipped cream-cream cheese filling. Plus there’s just a bit of almond extract added for good measure.
The filling chilled out in the fridge for a bit while the cake finished cooling.
Once it was cool, I carefully unrolled the cake (which was the other scary part) and spread the filling from edge to edge.
Once the filling was spread out, I rerolled the cake, minus the towel this time.
I moved the roll to a platter, dusted the top with powdered sugar (which conveniently covered up the couple of places where the cake had stuck to the towel just a bit) and we were ready to go!
The cake sliced up beautifully and, like I said, was a HUGE hit with the home crowd. It was moist and delicious, with hints of chocolate, almond and cherry keeping us all very happy. Emily said I should make this every week. Avery said I should make it every day. My waistline disagreed, but it certainly will make another appearance fairly soon, I’m sure.
Check one off the Baking Bucket List! Cake Roll has been conquered! Which item should I try next? The macarons or croissants?
RED VELVET-CHERRY CAKE ROLL
Adapted from Food Network Magazine
- unsalted butter, for the baking sheet
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 cups cherry-flavored cola
- 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- ⅓ cup buttermilk
- 1 Tbsp. red food coloring
- 2 tsp. almond extract
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- confectioners' sugar, for dusting
- 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1½ cups cold heavy whipping cream
- 2 tsp. almond extract
- ⅓ cup confectioners' sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350*. Butter an 11x17 inch rimmed baking sheet and line it with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper and dust with flour.
- Bring the cola to a simmer in a small saucepan and cook until reduced to ½ cup, 10-12 minutes. Let cool.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt together in a bowl. In a separate, large bowl, whisk together the sugar, vegetable oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, almond extract, vanilla and the cooled cola syrup. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. Spread the batter on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the cake starts to pull away from the edges of the pan, about 15 minutes. Let cool in the pan, on a wire rack, for 5 minutes.
- Dust a kitchen towel (not terry cloth!) with confectioners' sugar. Invert the cake onto the kitchen towel and carefully peel off the parchment. Trim the cake edges off. Dust with a little bit more of the confectioners' sugar. Starting with the short end, roll up the cake around the towel. Let cool completely on the wire rack.
- Make the filling. With a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese with ½ cup of the cream and the almond extract until combined. In a separate bowl, beat the remaining 1 cup of cream and confectioners' sugar until soft peaks form. Gradually fold into the cream cheese mixture. Cover and chill until ready to use.
- Unroll the cooled cake. Spread the filling on the cake and gently reroll the cake. Move to a platter and dust with confectioners' sugar. (The cake can be made one day ahead and, at this point, wrapped in foil and chilled until serving time. Just re-dust with more confectioners' sugar before serving.) Slice and serve!