Saturday, December 14, 2013

Cranberry-Walnut Jelly Roll

If I am going to have a dessert, I am more of a salty-sweet or sour kind of girl.  Straight-up sweetness has never been my thing - although I know everyone else on earth is all about the sweets!  Nevertheless, when my Thanksgiving issue of Food Network Magazine had a recipe for a cake roll filled with a sweet and tart cranberry filling, I was excited and added it to my list.

Now, there is good news and there is bad news about this dessert.  I'll start with the bad: something happened to my cake roll.  And it was ugly.  It cracked, it broke, the cranberry filling leaked out, and since I made it all the night before, I figured it would be a soggy, sopping mess by the time we brought it to Tracy's.  And then it did look pretty rough... rough enough that no one cut into it at dessert time.  I couldn't blame them because it really wasn't as pretty as I wanted it to be; because it cracked while I rolled it, and some of the filling seeped out, it just was a mess.

Here's the good news: Gary told me that he ate nearly the entire roll by himself the week after Thanksgiving!  He said it was one of his favorite desserts, and that it was absolutely delicious, especially the cranberry filling, which is sweetened with orange juice and sugar and then flavored with allspice, nutmeg and a cinnamon stick. The cake itself is lemony from zest and sprinkled with chopped walnuts before it is rolled up with the filling.  The fact that Gary gave it such rave reviews makes me feel that this cake is worth another shot.  I'm not sure why my roll cracked (maybe I rolled it while it was still too hot?), or why my filling ended up being thin enough that it sort of leaked everywhere (I think I didn't refrigerate it long enough, maybe?) ... but if it tastes that delicious, then it's worth working on the cosmetics :)


cranberry-walut jelly roll
from the November 2013 issue of Food Network Magazine

for the filling:
1 pound cranberries, fresh or frozen
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick

for the cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
unsalted butter, softened, for the baking sheet
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
confectioners' sugar for dusting (optional)
whipped cream, for serving


1) Cook the cranberries: combine the cranberries, sugar and orange juice in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low; stir in the allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon stick and simmer 5 to 7 minutes

2) Make the filling: strain the cranberry mixture; set the berries aside.  Return the liquid to the saucepan, bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook until syrupy, about 8 minutes.  Discard the cinnamon stick, then puree half of the cranberries in a blender; transfer to a bowl.  Stir in the rest of the cranberries and the reduced syrup.  Spread the mixture in a baking dish so it cools more quickly.  Refrigerate until completely cooled, about 20 minutes.

3) Make the batter: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Sift the flour, baking powder, and cream of tartar into a bowl.  Combine the eggs, granulated sugar, lemon zest, and 1/3 cup water in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.  Beat on high speed until light and airy, 3 to 5 minutes.  Gently fold the egg mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula.  Do not over mix: the batter will posse from volume, but small bubbles should remain.

4) Bake the cake: butter a 10-inch-by-15-inch jelly roll pan, line with parchment paper and butter the parchment.  Add the batter.  Slowly tilt the pan back and forth to evenly distribute the batter.  Bake until the cake is golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

5) Unmold the cake: while the cake is still warm, place a slightly damp kitchen towel on top; lay a cutting board over the towel.  Hold the cutting board and baking sheet together and flip over.  Lift off the pan, then peel off the parchment.  Let the cake cool slightly, 3 to 5 minutes.

6) Add the filling: dollop the cooled filling over the cake and spread gently, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides.  Be careful not to tear the cake (ha!).  Sprinkle with the walnuts.

7) Roll the cake: position the cake with the shorter end facing you.  Use the towel to tip the edge of the cake forward and gently roll it over, using the towel to guide it.  Once you make one full roll,  pull the towel away and gently squeeze the cake to make the roll compact.  Continue rolling the cake, using the towel to guide it and gently squeezing as you go.  Position the cake roll seam-side down and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.  Transfer to a platter and dust with confectioners' sugar.  Slice and serve with whipped cream.

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