MARGARETE’S STRAWBERRY ROLL

My aunt Margarete makes a very simple, delicious strawberry cream roll. It is a sure sign of early summer! She shared her recipe with me and I am so excited to finally get my hands on good, fresh strawberries. It was our special Sunday afternoon treat! I miss my aunt and all of her amazing baking. She is a true gem! Her cheesecake is spectacular and her Christmas cookies are simply divine. 

For the Sponge Cake

  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 3 tablespoons of cold water
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon of sugar (75g)
  • zest and juice of half a lemon
  • 1/3 cup of flour (40g)
  • a scant 1/3 cup of corn starch (35g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
  • sugar for rolling up the cake

For the Filling

  • 1 pound of ripe strawberries plus more for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream
  • 4 tablespoons of vanilla sugar (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon corn starch (optional)

Using a standard mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites with the water until soft peaks form. Make sure that your bowl and whisk are absolutely grease free! Slowly add the sugar, the lemon juice and zest, whipping the mixture for about 8 minutes until hard peaks form. This works best if the egg whites are at room temperature. Reduce the mixing speed to low and add the egg yolks until just combined. Mix the flour, corn starch and baking powder and sift these dry ingredients over top of the egg white mixture. Carefully combine. 

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper. Pleat the corners of the parchment paper and fold the perimeter of the paper up to prevent the batter from flowing over the edges. Pour the batter onto the prepared sheet and spread it evenly. Bake for 10 minutes.

In the meantime sprinkle a very clean and scent free kitchen towel with sugar. Quickly invert the sponge cake onto the prepared kitchen towel and pull of the parchment paper. If you are having problems removing the parchment paper you can brush a little water on top of the paper - it should pull right off. Work quickly, sprinkle a little bit more sugar on top of the cake and roll up the sponge cake with the sugared kitchen towel. Let cool completely. 

Wash the strawberries and pat them dry. Reserve some of the most beautiful ones for garnish and cut the rest into small pieces. Sprinkle with sugar and let the strawberries sit for 30 minutes.

Note: Vanilla sugar is commonly used in Germany but less available in America. Or it is quite expensive! I make my own by splitting open a vanilla bean and submerging it in regular granulated sugar. Let it sit for 3 weeks. The vanilla bean will infuse the sugar with a wonderful vanilla scent and taste and when I feel like I might need to add a fresh vanilla bean to my sugar I use the old one for a vanilla sauce (something I make frequently). You can probably use vanilla extract for this cream but I like to use vanilla sugar. 

Whip the cream together with the vanilla sugar. Slowly add the corn starch and sugar if you are using it. It is a substitute for “Sahnesteif”, a German product that is used to keep whipped cream stiff and Margarete’s recipe calls for it. I find that you can notice the cornstarch in the cream so I am not using it. I think it works fine. Whip your cream in a chilled bowl for best results (I set my bowl in the fridge or run cold water over it). Reserve about 1/3 of the whipped cream. Combine the other 2/3rds of the cream with the strawberries. You may want to omit some of the strawberry juices if it seems like the mixture will get too soft.

Unroll the sponge cake but leave it on the kitchen towel for now. Spread the strawberry cream over the sponge cake and roll it up, using the towel to help. Use the cloth as a carrying device to set the sponge cake roll onto a platter. Use the reserved cream and strawberries to finish. Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving. 

SOURCE: ADAPTED FROM MARGARETE’S RECIPE

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