It’s what’s on the inside that matters, and this blackberry passion fruit meringue roulade and coffee ricotta stracciatella cake really make it count. Photograph: Jill Mead for the Guardian.
What you see is not what you get. Unlike all those fancy gateaux and extravagantly frosted cakes, swiss rolls and roulades keep their velvety richness and sweet fruity creams hidden within, ready to break out the flavour.
Some cakes wear it all on their sleeves: bouffant gateaux blooming into buttercream swirls and layer cakes flashing glimpses of jam, cream and mousse. Others are less assured. These swiss rolls and roulades aren't much to look at, but what they lack in good looks, they more than make up for in flavour and sheer heft. Slice into the coffee cake below for a fat swirl of sweet, chocolate-flecked ricotta curd, or try the roulade for berry-studded passion fruit cream wrapped in cracked meringue.
Coffee ricotta stracciatella cake
Swiss rolls call for a light, springy cake that won't crack under the pressure of rolling. A genoise sponge " eggs and sugar whisked until thick and foamy, mixed with flour and a little fat " is perfect for this. It's not got the buttery smoothness or soft crumb you might expect of other cakes, but its lightness is the perfect foil for rich fillings, syrups and buttercreams.
1 tbsp instant coffee
100g caster sugar
3 large eggs
90g plain flour
Icing sugar, to dust
For the filling
125ml double cream
50g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
40g dark chocolate, coarsely grated
1 Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 and line a 20x30cm baking tin or roasting dish with baking parchment. Melt the butter over a low heat and set aside to cool slightly. Dissolve the coffee in one tablespoon of boiling water and leave to cool.
2 Whisk the sugar and eggs together in a large bowl at high speed for 8-10 minutes, until the mixture is very thick, pale and moussey. When you lift the whisk from the mixture, it should leave a trail that sits on the surface for a few seconds before slowly sinking back in. This can be really hard work if you're whisking by hand, but you can speed things up a little by warming the eggs and sugar first. Just set the mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk lightly until the mixture's warm to the touch, then remove from the heat and whisk hard.
3 Sift the flour, a third at a time, into the egg and sugar mixture, folding the ingredients together as you go. Don't rush and add all of the flour at once, or you'll be left with clumps. Work slowly and gently, taking care to mix right to the bottom of the bowl (the flour tends to sink through the mixture). The aim is to keep as much air in the eggs as possible.
4 Once the flour's mixed in, fold in the melted butter and coffee, and stir until just barely combined. Spoon into the prepared tin, level the batter lightly with the back of a spoon and bake for 9-12 minutes, or until the sponge is risen, set on top and lightly springy to the touch. It's really important not to overcook this, or it will shrink, dry and become difficult to roll.
5 While the sponge bakes, set a sheet of baking parchment on the work surface and dust with icing sugar. Once it's cooked, immediately turn the sponge out on to the sugared parchment, peeling off the original sheet of paper from its base (now on top). Roll the cake up from short edge to short edge with the baking parchment " the parchment will separate the swirls and stop the cake from sticking to itself as it cools. Leave to cool completely.
6 For the ricotta stracciatella filling, first whisk the cream and icing sugar until very firm and just beginning to hold stiff peaks. Fold in the ricotta and vanilla extract, followed by the grated chocolate. Gently unroll the cake, spread it with the cream, then roll it back up, this time without the baking parchment. Enjoy this cake soon after making.
Blackberry passion fruit meringue roulade
I think the bright acidity of passion fruit complements the summer berries perfectly, but for a quicker roulade, you could try swapping the homemade passion fruit curd for a shop-bought lemon one.
For the passion fruit curd
4 large passion fruit
50g caster sugar
2 large egg yolks
For the meringue
4 large egg whites
200g caster sugar
Icing sugar, to dust
For the cream filling
300ml double cream
30g caster sugar
150g blackberries, halved
1 Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3. Halve the passion fruit, scoop out the pulp and strain through a fine sieve, squeezing out as much of the juice as you can. Whisk this juice with the sugar and egg yolks in a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir constantly while the steam heats the curd. It will take 5-10 minutes for the curd to thicken; it's ready when it can opaquely coat the back of a wooden spoon. Add the butter, stirring it in. Leave to cool to room temperature before chilling the curd in the fridge.
2 In a large, scrupulously clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they're completely foamy. Add the sugar a quarter at a time, whisking for 30 seconds or so between each addition. Once the sugar has been incorporated, whisk for 8-10 minutes on high speed (this is a real chore if you're whisking by hand) until the meringue holds stiff peaks.
3 Line a 20x30cm swiss roll tin or roasting dish with baking parchment and spread the meringue into it in an even layer. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven until well risen and crisp on top, but still soft within. Leave to cool.
4 Whisk the double cream with the caster sugar until it's very thick, firm and holds in soft peaks. Fold in the passion fruit curd, taking care not to overmix. Dust a sheet of baking parchment liberally with icing sugar and carefully tip the cooled meringue out on to it so that it's now upside-down. Peel off the original sheet of baking parchment, now on top. Spread the cream filling thickly all over the meringue then arrange the blackberry halves on top.
5 Roll the roulade carefully from long edge to long edge, for a roll that's 30cm long. Use the baking parchment underneath to help lift the meringue over the cream filling. Don't worry about the meringue cracking as you roll " that's just how it works, and it adds a homemade charm.