8 Nov 2011

Swiss Roll

For the second of my Home made vs. Shop bought series I decided to make a swiss roll, for no reason other than that my mum said in passing that she really fancied one and I thought 'I have never made one of those before, it could be interesting.'  Well, I also thought that, since I have made a yule log and a chocolate roulade before, it would be similar and therefore not too hard, I should really decide on things which will test my skills and be a bit more challenging.  Maybe next time.  Saying that though, I had to make two swiss rolls this morning because the first one, following a recipe from the BBC Good Food website, was a total disaster, I could not even bring myself to taste a bit, it looked that horrible, I also didn't want to disgust you by putting up a photo of it so I will describe what happened instead.  The recipe was not very explanatory and did not explain how much whisking of the eggs was required and, seeing as the recipe had self-raising flour in it, I did not think that the eggs needed to be the main source of the volume of the cake, this is where it went wrong.  Cooking with no air already in it the cake did not rise and, when I took it out of the oven, was just a flat, rubbery oblong which smelled of eggs, it was a bit like a big, rectangular pancake but more eggy.

After this culinary disaster I decided to go back to my dear friend the Good Housekeeping cookery book  which has never led me astray.  I was slightly concerned about this recipe because it involved whisking the egg mixture over a pan of hot water but, when I had done it with no trouble, I realised that I was worried over nothing.  This is a summarized version of that recipe:

125g caster sugar
125g plain flour
3 eggs
125g jam

  1.  Grease and line a 33x23cm swiss roll tin, grease the paper and dust with flour and sugar
  2. Put the eggs and sugar into a large heatproof bowl and whisk over a pan of hot water until thick enough to leave a trail when the whisk is lifted, then remove from the pan and whisk until cool and thick.
  3. Sift in and fold in the flour with a metal spoon then fold in 1 tablespoon of hot water
  4. Pour into the prepared tin and tilt it backwards and forwards to spread it evenly.  Bake at 200 degrees or gas mark 6 for 10-12 minutes or until cooked.
  5. Place a sheet of greaseproof paper on a work surface and dredge with sugar.  When the cake is cooked tip it onto this, peel off the lining and trim off the edges of the cake.
  6. Warm the jam in the microwave for about 20 seconds to make it easier to spread.  Spread it evenly onto the cake.
  7. Roll up the cake, starting from a short end, using the greaseproof paper to help you
This is a picture of how my swiss roll turned out, using this recipe:

The swiss roll I bought to compare to my homemade one was a tesco own brand one.  I would have bought a slightly better quality one but I wanted one with only jam inside and, at short notice, this is the only one I could find:

As you can see from the photo, the texture of the two cakes is very different; the home made one has a much lighter, airier texture while the shop bought one was quite dense and dry.  There is a very noticeable difference in quality between the two.  As well as the texture being much nicer in the home made cake, the taste was also better; though the strongest flavour in both of them was from the jam, you could actually taste the sponge in the home made one, whereas with the shop bought one you could not taste the sponge at all.  The one thing that I can say that the shop bought swiss roll has over the home made one is that it is easier to cut and looks a bit tidier, but is that really what you want from a cake?

In terms of cost, the shop bought cake was 39p and, roughly estimating prices, the home made one was about £1.  Though it seems like the home made one is much more expensive, it was also much bigger.  I weighed out 1/6 of each cake, which is what the back of the packet on the shop bought one said was the size of an average portion.  The shop bought piece weighed 25g whereas the home made one weighed 70g which makes it 2.8 times bigger than the shop bought one.  If we multiply the cost of the shop bought cake by 2.8 it is £1.09, making it actually more expensive in terms of weight than the home made one.  This means that, not only is the shop bought swiss roll of a worse quality and less nice than the home made one, it is also more expensive which I think is frankly shocking.  I only just worked out the numbers for it and I am very surprised the the shop bought did not turn out to be the cheapest.

Anyway, I am sorry if my little bit of maths at the end bored you, it would just not feel like a proper comparison if I did not work out the cost of each.  Until next time.


  1. I love this post! I am trying to make a Swiss roll myself - I'm trying to stop buying cakes in stores because of the additives - and this was a great post. I sometimes worry about the costs, but you are right: the homemade cake has more, and tastes better...and ultimately is actually cheaper!

  2. I'm so pleased I came across your post after a disaster 'Swiss Roll' (exactly as you described) ;) I would never have attempted another again! I followed your recommended version and it came out wonderful ;) ;) Just need to practice my roll up method now ;) Thanks

  3. I'm so pleased I came across your post after a disaster 'Swiss Roll' (exactly as you described) ;) I would never have attempted another again! I followed your recommended version and it came out wonderful ;) ;) Just need to practice my roll up method now ;) Thanks