I have to say, the baking life has its ups and downs. Some days, everything goes great on the first try because your oven has been graced by all things rainbows and sunshine and unicorns.
Other days, not so much.
On the bright side, the downs tend to be particularly excellent at teaching the thrifty baker to push the bounds of upcycling the, um, forerunners of success. Seriously – I’ve done everything from half-baked carrot cake cookies to pulverized cracked meringue icing sugar to obscene numbers of formerly crumbly sheet cake cake balls. If you’re looking for a borderline madness approach to avoiding waste and shunting off tricky (and not-so-tricky) recipe intermediates, I’m your girl.
So on that note, as the expression goes, when life gives you questionable macaron batter, make inappropriately colorful almond cake rolls.
Or something like that.
Of all of my scrambled attempts at salvaging batch number two (because rule number 1 for beginner bakers making photo and/or dinner party quality recipes for the first time: ALWAYS bake a single tester cupcake/cookie/choux/whatever before the rest go in the oven – unbaked batter is so much easier to repurpose than baked), this cake roll has got to be my crowning achievement. It tastes extra top-notch even though half of the batter was put through the wringer before the flour was added (which leads us to rule number 2: nearly any amount of overmixing is salvageable into impromptu cake when you add enough baking powder and egg whites, as long as you haven’t added the flour yet). Blackberries + almond + lavender + lemon + honey = yum!
Fortunately, I’ve now adapted the recipe to remove all of my hasty last-ditch efforts to salvage the maca-cake. For example, since I’d already beaten the egg whites within an inch of their lives, after which they were vigorously macaronaged with dense almond flour, I originally added an extra 1/2 tsp baking powder to compensate for the inevitable loss in volume. Here, I circumvented all of the macaron-specific steps and opted for a more standard genoise (aka butter-free spongecake) technique. While this means that this exact recipe is technically untested, it’s more or less a hybrid between my chiffon cake recipe from the watercolor cake and the genoise recipe from petit fours, so I’m still pretty confident that everything will be fine. (I hope.)
The only other piece of advice that I have to offer is to remember to roll up your cake while it’s still warm, because all you will get will be sad crumbly cake fragments if you wait until it’s fully cooled. That being said, your cake still might crack a bit when you unravel it for filling. Don’t worry – just roll the cake back up neatly, matching up the edge as though the cake is whole, then frost generously – no one will be able to tell the difference!
So if you’re having one of those possessed-oven sort of days, I get it. I’ve been there. Actually, if we’re honest, I’m pretty much always still there. But hey, as they say in Meet the Robinsons (which is, by the way, such a cute and wacky and hugely underrated movie), “From failing, you learn. From success? Not so much.” Take a deep breath, grab a clean mixing bowl, and learn to last minute cake roll your way to hakuna matata. Hope you enjoy!
Blackberry Almond Cake Roll
Makes 1 cake roll
30 g almond flour
60 g all purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
100 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
Purple food coloring (optional)
1 cup blackberries
1/2 cup honey
2 tbs pectin
1 tbs lemon juice
Lavender Lemon Frosting:
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp lavender
4 oz cream cheese
1 tbs honey
1 tsp lemon juice
Colored icing sugar (or aforementioned pulverized cracked meringues (: )
- Preheat the oven to 350 ºF. Line a quarter sheet pan (9″ x 13″) with parchment paper.
- In a food processor, thoroughly blitz together the almond flour and all purpose flour, then sift through a fine mesh sieve.
- In a stand mixer or with an electric mixer, beat the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar thoroughly until the mixture is fluffy and has at least doubled or tripled in volume. If desired, add the food coloring and briefly mix until no streaks remain.
- Add in the flour mixture all at once into the whipped egg mixture, then fold just until no streaks remain.
- Transfer the batter into the lined sheet pan, then bake for 18-20 minutes, or until you can gently press the center of the cake and feel the cake spring back slightly.
- When the cake is just cool enough to handle, but still quite warm, transfer the entire cake on top of a hand towel (or 2 squares of paper towel) right-side up. Gently roll up the cake roll, then set aside to cool completely.
Tip: For a prettier edge for easier frosting, cool the cake roll such that the remaining edge on the outside of the cake curls downward (perpendicular) against the surface of the table.
- Transfer the blackberries, honey, pectin, and lemon juice into the bowl of a food processor, then process until smooth. Set aside for filling!
Lavender Lemon Frosting:
- Steep the lavender in the heavy cream in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours (or preferably covered in the refrigerator overnight). Strain out the lavender (which is still excellent for tea!) and set aside.
- In a stand mixer or with an electric mixer, whip 1 cup of the heavy cream and the lemon juice to firm peaks. At this point, when you lift the beaters out, you should see peaks that gently curl over at the tip. Transfer the whipped cream into another bowl.
- In the original bowl, add the cream cheese and honey. Beat together until the mixture is fluffy.
- Add the remaining 1/2 cup of the heavy cream to the whipped cream cheese in 3 additions, beating each time until fully incorporated.
- Fold in the whipped cream just until fully incorporated. Set aside for frosting!
- Gently unroll your cooled sponge cake.
Tip: Don’t worry if your cake starts to crumble and split, just be sure that you can match the pieces back up when you roll the cake back into place. To minimize cracking, avoid unrolling the cake all the way by setting a small bowl or teacup against the unrolled outer edge to hold it upright (instead of letting it lie all the way flat against the table).
- Slather on a layer of blackberry jam along the inside surface of the cake.
Tip: Leave a small 1/8″ – 1/4″ edge along the sides of the cake to avoid staining the outer frosting of the cake once you roll it back up!
- Dollop on about 1/3 of the frosting in the center of the inside surface of the cake, then spread into a thick 1/3″ – 1/2″ layer with small metal spatula, adding more frosting as needed to cover the inner surface of the cake but reserving at least 1/3 for covering the exterior.
Tip: To avoid disturbing the jam layer and swirling the jam into your frosting, make sure to keep the the frosting layer nice and thick.
- Line the inner edge of the cake roll with blackberries placed end to end such that the center of the cake roll will be filled with a line of berries.
- Roll the cake back up and set onto the serving plate.
- Using a small offset spatula, cover the exterior of the cake with the remaining frosting, smoothing roughly with the spatula for a rustic finish. Dust on a layer of colored icing sugar and top with extra blackberries as desired. Enjoy!