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How to Make a Cake Roll

Although elegantly spiraled cake rolls might look hard to make, they're wonderfully easy to whip up in just a few steps.

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Step 1: Bake the cake

Prepare and bake the cake roll recipe as directed.

For tips on preparing cake roll batter, see our guide on how to make sponge cake

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Use a jelly roll pan (usually a 15x10x1-inch pan) only. Other pans may be too deep, making it difficult to remove the cake from the pan.

Be sure to grease and flour the pan (or line it with waxed paper) as directed in the recipe. That way, the cake will be easy to remove from the pan without tearing.

Do not overbake. The cake is done when you lightly touch the surface with the tip of your finger and the cake springs back.

Step 2: Remove cake from pan onto towel

  • Dust a clean, lint-free kitchen towel with powdered sugar.
  • As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, immediately loosen the edges of the cake from the pan with a flat knife.
  • Turn out the cake onto the prepared towel. The towel prevents the cake from sticking to itself when rolled, while the powdered sugar prevents the cake from sticking to the towel.
  • Immediately peel waxed paper (if used) from the cake and discard.

Step 3: Roll cake

Starting with a short side of the cake, roll up the towel and the warm cake together into a spiral.

Step 4: Cool rolled cake

Roll to the end of the towel. Place the rolled cake in the towel on a wire rack and cool completely (about 1 hour).

Step 5: Spread filling on cake

Unroll the cake, but leave the cake on the towel. Spread the filling over the top of the cake to within 1 inch of the edges.

Step 6: Roll cake with filling

Reroll the cake, using the towel to lift and guide the cake into an even roll.

Step 7: Chill cake roll

Chill the cake roll in the refrigerator as directed in your recipe. Note that some cake rolls, including those filled with whipped cream, are best served within a few hours. Others, such as those with a cream cheese filling, can be stored longer -- follow the recipe guidelines.

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