german chocolate swiss roll cake

roulade 2 edit-

Ya’ll, it is just straight up swampy outside. The humidity is at 79%, which is just rude.

Let’s talk about happier things. Like cake. Specifically, this tasty German chocolate cake-inspired swiss roll. One of my favorite dessert places in Chicago always has a phenomenal variety of pastries and cakes to choose from, yet I always find myself going for a slice of their strawberry roulade. It’s just too good to pass up. I finally figured that it was probably time to try my hand at making a swiss roll/roulade, despite being completely certain that it was going to break into a million cakey pieces when I tried to roll it (in which case my back-up plan was to turn it into some kind of trifle…)

roulade long-

The nice thing about this adventure was that there’s not a ton of work involved. The filling has to be made ahead of time and refrigerated, and the cake and whipped cream both take minimal effort. In an effort to keep it real, I’ll tell you this: this is NOT the dessert to make on a hot/humid day. I could not get my eggs to be as fluffy as they should’ve been before adding the rest of the ingredients, which is why the cake layer looks so thin (although it was still quite tasty). And because heat and humidity are flat out evil, I also had one hell of a time getting whipped cream to stay whipped. It just kept melting and turning into a sad, gloppy mess. What you see there, unfortunately, is cool-whip (and even the cool-whip is a little melty). Yeah yeah, I know. But it was either that, or have a runny mess. Even with the cool-whip, it was still delicious. And I’d still prefer cool-whip over a cake filled to the brim with buttercream frosting.

There are all sorts of flavor combinations out there…if you’re interested in trying this out, I’d say explore some of the other flavor profiles and mix and match your recipes based on what sounds good to you.

roulade close-

German Chocolate Cake Swiss Roll
recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen and LeDelicieux

for the cake:
3 large eggs
80g brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 TB vegetable oil
1 TB milk
60g all-purpose flour
15g cocoa, plus extra for dusting
pinch of salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and grease and line a 9 x 13 inch jelly roll tin with parchment.
  2. Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract in a large bowl and whisk with an electric mixer until the mixture is extremely pale and creamy, around 5 minutes.
  3. Add the oil and milk and gently fold through with a metal spoon or spatula. Sift in the flour, cocoa and salt and fold through gently, being careful not to knock too much air out of the whisked eggs.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and tilt to distribute evenly. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cake has shrunk back a little from the sides and springs back when touched.
  5. While the cake is in the oven dust baking paper with cocoa and when the cake is done remove from the oven and immediately turn out onto the cocoa dusted baking paper. Remove the parchment from the back of the cake and immediately, beginning at the narrow end of the cake, roll into a tight roll. Place on a wire cooling rack, seam side down, to cool completely. (If you’re nervous about the rolling, I rolled mine around a small/medium-ish rolling pin so I wouldn’t accidentally squish the cake…worked like a charm.)

**A note: I’ve seen several different methods for preparing the cake portion of the swiss roll/roulade…if anyone’s tried anything different, I’d be curious to know what your results have been like!

for the German Chocolate Cake-style coconut-pecan filling:
2 egg yolks
1/2 can (6oz) evaporated milk
1/2 cup (7oz) granulated sugar
1/8 cup packed brown sugar
3 TB unsalted butter, cut into pieces
a pinch of table salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4  cups unsweetened shredded coconut (you can use sweetened if you like)
3/4 cup finely chopped, toasted pecans


  1. Whisk yolks in medium saucepan.
  2. Gradually whisk in evaporated milk.
  3. Add sugars, butter, and salt and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until mixture is boiling, frothy, and slightly thickened, about 6 minutes.
  4. Transfer mixture to bowl, whisk in vanilla, then stir in coconut.
  5. Cool until just warm, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cool or cold, at least 2 hours or up to 3 days. (Pecans are stirred in just before cake assembly.)

To assemble the cake:

  1. Let the coconut filling sit out for a few minutes until it becomes stir-able, then stir in the pecans.
  2. Prepare your whipped cream (you can use your favorite recipe)…you’ll probably want at least 2 cups, and you’ll want it to be firm. You don’t want it all squishing or melting out the sides when you roll the cake.
  3. Unroll the cake. Spread the coconut-pecan filling over the cake, and then spread the whipped cream on top of the filling.
  4. Re-roll the cake (gently!)
  5. Dust with cocoa powder and/or confectioner’s sugar.
  6. Refrigerate for at least half an hour.
  7. Slice with a serrated knife (like a bread knife), and serve!

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