How to Make a Cake Roll

Although elegantly spiraled cake rolls (also called jelly rolls) might look hard to make, they whip up in just a few steps. Follow our cake roll recipe and step-by-step instructions to learn how to make this stunning and delicious dessert. Once you've mastered the basic technique, you can switch up the recipe to make a chocolate cake roll, strawberry cake roll, pumpkin cake roll, and more!

Cream-Filled Cake Roll

Cake rolls are a gorgeous way to put a fun new twist on regular layer cakes. You can dress up this easy cake roll recipe for any holiday or birthday by changing up the filling, using a different sponge cake recipe for the cake, or adding mix-ins like sprinkles, nuts, or fruits to the frosting layer. You can try some of our favorite cake roll recipes, or you can create your own!

Why do some call this a jelly roll and others call it a cake roll?

  • Originally, most probably called this cake type a jelly roll because it bakes in a "jelly roll pan." Never heard of a jelly roll pan? That's because we think of them now as 15x10x1-inch baking sheets or a baking sheet with sides. As the term jelly roll pan lessens in popularity, so too does the name jelly roll cake. Call it what you like, we're just here to help you make it.

Step 1: Make and Bake the Cake

Prepare and bake the cake roll recipe as directed.

Cake roll recipe tips:

  • 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

Next, 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 with Towel Inside

Starting with a short side of the cake, roll up the towel and the warm cake together into a spiral. Yes, the towel will be inside your baked cake roll. This step helps to form the cake roll shape later without any cracking.

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 cooled 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.

Note: You're NOT rolling the towel inside this time, just use it to help evenly lift the cake as you 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—be sure to follow your recipe's guidelines.

Cake Roll Dress-Ups

Need a little inspiration for taking your cake roll recipe to the next level? Look no further than these holiday-theme treats! We have cake rolls that are dressed up for autumn, Christmas, and even the 4th of July. To make our patriotic July 4th cake roll, reserve some of the cake batter and use food coloring to turn it red and blue, then create firework bursts in the cake batter. For a Christmas cake roll, try our gingerbread cake roll recipe, featuring a spiced sponge cake, a maple drizzle, and a sprinkling of almonds on top. And for pumpkin-spice lovers, there's no better way to celebrate autumn's arrival than with a pumpkin cake and cream cheese filling. Plus, it gets a little crunch from walnuts baked into the batter. Try all three of our holiday-theme cake rolls, or put your own twist on this classic recipe for any occasion that calls for cake.

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