Two days ago, before I made this, all I could think of was how great it would be to go to Japan. I’m a huge fan of French pastry but an even bigger one of the Japanese take on the traditional French sweets. I find that there’s a certain elegance and the texture is always almost mesmerising.
The sad thing is that lately, when I think about Japan, I imagine hundreds and thousands fleeing their homes, abandoning the comforts and lives they know, scrambling for survival. The earthquake they were prepared for, but the tsunami? Horrendous. I hope they get a peaceful nights sleep soon!
I had baked this Swiss roll two days ago and declared Japan the best place ever (though I’ve never been)! It’s soft, magical, a melt-in-your-mouth quality that makes you think it can’t possibly be that extravagent so you take another slice…and another. Until you realise it’s probably in your best interest to pack up the rest and bring it to the office. Who knows what kind of dangers remain if you had it sitting in your home…with it being so unsuspectingly cute and all.
The mixture is made in a rather interesting way and has been described the the author as a means to prevent gluten from forming so the sponge retains all that angelic softness. Not sure if it really made a difference to the sponge in this case since we’re already baking gluten-FREE. But hey, no harm, worked like a charm. Whooopdeedoo! And will you succeed? Yes, yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed! (as the amazingly funny Dr Seuss would say)
Cotton Sponge Roll (adapted from Okashi by Keiko Ishida)
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
scant 1/2 cup GF flour blend
60g fresh milk
3 egg whites
70g caster sugar
1) Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a 28 x 28cm flat square tin with baking paper.
2) Combine egg, egg yolks and vanilla in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
3) Place butter in a small saucepan and heat gently until melted. Increase heat to medium and wait to butter to brown (beurre noisette). Add flour to browned butter and cook through. It will look like wet crumble topping. Remove from heat and transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Add egg yolk mixture in and whisk with a spatula. Add in the milk and whisk until homogenous. Strain into another mixing bowl.
4) In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks and slowly add in the sugar, while whisking until stiff, firm peaks. Add one third of meringue to the batter and fold in gently. Add remaining meringue and fold in completely, careful not to deflate the batter too much. Pour into prepare cake tin and spread evenly with the back of a spoon or palette knife. Bake for 20-22 minutes.When you touch the cake it should spring back.
5) When done, remove from pan and place in a big plastic bag to cool. This prevents it from drying out.
300ml whipping cream (very cold)
2 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
1/2 cup Anko (sweetened red bean paste) or a selection of fresh fruit or jam
1) Whip the cream until soft peaks form, add in the icing sugar and continue whipping until stiff. Do not over-whip or the cream will seize and turn into butter (I’VE TRIED IT just for fun, it happens)
2) Spread the Anko onto the sponge using a palette knife or the back of a spoon. It’ll look like there isn’t enough but Anko is really sweet so too much may not be a good thing.
3) Spread the whipped cream over the Anko until it reaches the edges. Depends on whether you want a thick roll or a thin roll, gently start rolling up the sponge from the width for a shorter, thicker roll or the length for a longer, leaner roll. Dust with icing sugar or melt chocolate and butter together for a glaze.