Although elegantly spiraled cake rolls might look hard to make, they're wonderfully easy to whip up in just a few steps.
Prepare and bake the cake roll recipe as directed.
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.
Starting with a short side of the cake, roll up the towel and the warm cake together into a spiral.
Roll to the end of the towel. Place the rolled cake in the towel on a wire rack and cool completely (about 1 hour).
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.
Reroll the cake, using the towel to lift and guide the cake into an even 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.