Japanese Cake Roll

Japanese Cake Roll

This Japanese cake roll recipe yields a fluffy, airy, and perfectly soft cake that will be the best roll cake you will ever taste! Japanese Swiss roll is not too sweet and is filled with a deliciously light whipped cream.

Up close of a slice of Japanese roll cake garnished with a sliced strawberry on a small plate.

This Japanese roll cake recipe is made with a light and airy chiffon cake base and filled with an even lighter whipped cream. It is made with a minimal amount of sugar for the perfect, “not too sweet” dessert that you are craving. Plus, you can customize your own Japanese Swiss roll by filling it with your own jam, flavored whipped cream, or frosting.

When I am stressed, I always bake as a form of therapy. My favorite thing to bake is always a cake. It is simply the most rewarding dessert to bake. There is nothing more satisfying than peeling parchment paper off of a freshly baked cake, icing it with my favorite whipped cream frosting, and devouring it shamelessly by myself. If you love baking cakes, be sure to peep my Vietnamese Coffee Tiramisu Cake, Japanese Strawberry Shortcake, or my Mini Chocolate Bundt Cakes!

This Japanese roll cake recipe may seem intimidating to make, but in reality, it is really straightforward, especially with all of the tips and tricks I’ve laid out for you to follow.

Looking down at a dessert plate with a slice of Japanese roll cake.

Table of Contents

  • What is a Japanese Cake Roll?
  • What is the difference between a Japanese Cake Roll and a Swiss Roll Cake?
  • 🍽 Kitchen Equipment
  • 🛒 Ingredients
  • 📝 How to Make Japanese Cake Roll
  • ⭐️ Tips for the Best Japanese Cake Roll
  • ✨ Tips on How to Roll The Perfect Cake Roll
  • 🥡 Storage Instructions
  • 💬 Frequently Asked Q’s & A’s
  • 👩🏻‍🍳 Recipe
  • 💬 Comments

What is a Japanese Cake Roll?

Japanese cake roll is a rolled-up chiffon cake that is ordinarily filled with a light and airy whipped cream. It is very popular in Japan because these roll cakes are incredibly fluffy and the freshly made cream simply melts in your mouth. It is like eating a delicious not-too-sweet cloud.

Every country has its own version of a roll cake. They are most commonly referred to as a Swiss roll cake, a cake roll, or a roll cake.

Up close of a slice of Japanese roll cake garnished with a sliced strawberry on a small plate.

What is the difference between a Japanese Cake Roll and a Swiss Roll Cake?

Swiss rolls from European countries tend to have a drier crumb, a thinner texture, and use more jams and icings. A Swiss roll cake is predominantly made with a genoise sponge.

Japanese cake rolls tend to have more light and subtle flavors, smaller portion sizes, and less sugar compared to a Swiss roll cake. Japanese cake rolls are lighter and softer in texture because it is made from a chiffon base. Moreover, they are generally filled with light whipped cream.

🍽 Kitchen Equipment

  • Kitchen Scale: for every baking recipe, you will notice that the ingredients are listed by measurement and by grams. Trust me, you will want to follow the grams for the most exact fool proof Japanese roll cake recipe. I love my cute pink little kitchen scale which is incredibly accurate!
  • Mixing Bowls: you will use two mixing bowls to create the egg yolk mixture and the egg white meringue. I love using my Duralex glass nesting mixing bowls for baking. They come in 10 different sizes and are very versatile.
  • Electric Mixer (Stand or Hand): in order to achieve a meringue, you will need an electric mixer to add all the air bubbles into the egg whites. You can use either a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer.
  • Fine Mesh Sieve: you will need a fine-mesh sieve to sift the cake flour and baking powder to prevent any lumps in the batter
  • Rubber Spatula: you will use a rubber spatula to gently fold the batter without deflating the air in the meringue.
  • 9×13 Baking Pan: for this recipe, I used a 9×13 baking pan.
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🛒 Ingredients

  • Eggs: are the key ingredient for this cake. The air in the eggs creates a beautiful and soft rise in the cake. Make sure your eggs are at room temperature for an even rise.
  • Cream of Tartar: Cream of tartar stabilizes the egg whites and helps provide the characteristic high peaks in the meringue. You can substitute cream of tartar for a touch of lemon juice instead as well.
  • Granulated Sugar: helps activate the eggs to reach their lightest and fluffiest potential. It also adds some flavor and sweetness to the cake.
  • Salt: adding a touch of salt to any baked good is a secret ingredient. It enhances the other flavors while also balancing out the sweetness.
  • Whole Milk: adds a touch of moisture and flavor to the cake.
  • Vegetable oil: adds and retains moisture and creates a soft texture. You can also substitute vegetable oil for avocado oil instead.
  • Vanilla Extract: adds a layer of vanilla flavor to the cake.
  • Cake Flour: yields a softer crumb and gentler texture than all-purpose flour.
  • Baking Powder: is a chemical leavening agent that aids the eggs in the rise of the cake.

Whipped Cream

  • Heavy Whipping Cream: Make sure the heavy whipping cream is cold. Do not remove it from the refrigerator until you are JUST about to use it. This will allow your cream to whip up quickly.
  • Powdered Sugar: Powdered sugar blends in the heavy whipping cream more evenly than granulated sugar and it also aids in stabilizing the whipped cream.

📝 How to Make Japanese Cake Roll

Whipping up this vanilla roll cake is very simple and straightforward. It may only seem long and daunting because I’ve added all the tips and tricks so that you’ll have all the tools you will need to create a fluffy and delicious Japanese cake roll.

  1. Mix the egg yolk mixture. In a medium mixing bowl, add the egg yolks, ¼ cup of sugar, salt, vanilla, oil, and milk. Mix with a whisk until combined.
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Mixing an egg yolk mixture in a small glass bowl.
  1. Sift in the cake flour and baking powder. Using a fine-mesh sieve, sift the cake flour and baking powder into the egg yolk mixture. Whisk to combine.
  • Sifting the cake flour into the egg yolk.
  • A egg yolk and flour mixture blended together in a small glass bowl.
  1. Make the egg white meringue. In a large mixing bowl, quickly wipe the bowl with a paper towel and some lemon juice or vinegar. Add the egg whites and beat with an electric mixer on high until bubbly and frothy, then add the cream of tartar and beat until the whites are opaque and the bubbles have tightened up. Next, slowly pour the ⅓ cup of sugar in three increments while the mixer is running. Continue beating the egg whites until stiff peaks form and the egg whites hold their pointed tip.
Someone holding up a stand mixer attachment with freshly whipped meringue on it.
  1. Combine the egg mixtures. Using a rubber spatula, add about ⅓ of the egg white meringue into the egg yolk mixture and very gently fold until mostly mixed. Then add the next ⅓ of the mixture and gently fold and repeat with the remaining third.
  • Folding egg white meringue into the roll cake wet batter.
  • A completely combined Japanese roll cake batter in a bowl.
  1. Bake. Pour the batter into the parchment-lined 9×13 inch pan and even out the batter with a spatula. Give the tray a few taps on your work surface to release any large air bubbles. Bake at 350°F or 176°C for 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Pouring the Japanese roll cake batter into a lined baking tray.
  • Spreading roll cake batter evenly across the bottom of a lined tray.

Assemble

  1. Remove and roll. Once you take the cake out of the oven, quickly flip the cake onto a slightly damp kitchen towel that is larger than the cake on your work surface. Peel off the parchment paper. Begin to roll the cake tightly with the kitchen towel starting with the short side of the cake. Do this very slowly and very gently. Allow the cake to cool completely rolled up in the towel.
Freshly baked caked released and rolled within a large dish towel.
  1. Make the whipped cream. Using an electric mixer or your stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract until medium to stiff peaks form.
Freshly whipped cream being shown on a hand mixer.
  1. Assemble. When the cake has cooled completely, gently unroll the cake and trim the edges. Spread the whipped cream evenly on top using a rubber spatula leaving about ½ inch border around the edges. Gently roll the cake back up without the towel. Tightly wrap the cake with plastic wrap and chill the cake in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Then garnish, slice, and serve!
  • Spreading whipped cream onto the unrolled cake.
  • A rerolled cake with a whipped cream filling wrapped in plastic wrap.

⭐️ Tips for the Best Japanese Cake Roll

  • For the egg white meringue clean your equipment, it is important that the egg whites, the bowl, and the whisks are clean from any kind of fat. For best results, do not use a plastic bowl and instead opt for a glass or stainless steel bowl. To solve this problem, simply wipe down the bowl and the whisk with a paper towel and a touch of white vinegar.
  • Never add all the sugar at once for the meringue. The egg whites need to reach a soft peak before adding any sugar. Adding the sugar all at once will deflate the egg whites and prevent them from forming a meringue.
  • Be careful when folding the egg yolk and egg white mixtures. Be as gentle as you can incorporating the egg white meringue into the egg yolk mixture. Run a rubber spatula along the edge of the bowl to the bottom and scoop upward and continue this until just combined. You want them to be homogeneous and mixed but you don’t want to deflate the air out of the meringue.
  • For the whipped cream, heavy whipping cream turns into whipped cream the fastest when the heavy cream and the bowl are both cold. Place your mixing bowl in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes before making the whipped cream.
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A plate with a slice of roll cake with a forkful taken out.

Tips on How to Roll The Perfect Cake Roll

The hardest part about this entire Japanese roll cake recipe is nailing the roll. It takes patience, a gentle touch, and the right tips and tricks.

  • Roll the cake in a kitchen/tea towel as soon as it comes out of the oven. The cake is at its peak flexibility at this time and it is the best time to shape the cake. Plus, it is important to use a kitchen towel instead of parchment paper because towels are much softer and will not cause wrinkles to form on the surface of your cake.
  • Leave a ½ inch border around your cake when adding the cream. When you roll the cake, the cream will naturally spread. It is best to apply a thick layer in the center of the cake and leave some space along the edges for the cream to spread.
  • Wrap the cake roll in plastic wrap and chill. Once you have filled and rolled the cake, tightly wrap it in plastic wrap and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. This will help set the shape of the cake and prevent it from rolling out.

🥡 Storage Instructions

You can store this Japanese swiss roll cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Alternatively, you can wrap and freeze the cake for up to 3 months.

💬 Frequently Asked Q’s & A’s

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