Award-winning food blogger Bernard Laurance has a fantastic new cookbook out, and if you’re a fan of baking at home, you’ll want to pick up a copy. With dessert recipes from around the world, Baklava to Tarte Tatin has something for every sweet tooth. Head to South America for a tropical jelly roll that’s as beautiful as it is delicious.
Even though jelly rolls and rolled cakes of one sort or another can be found in many parts of the world, this version is typically Brazilian. It comes from the northeast of the country, and it is filled with goiabada, a popular guava paste. The paste is highly addictive and is an essential part of what makes this cake so good. You can also make rocambole with dulce de leche from Argentina. In Brazil, the cake is made in varying thicknesses. In Recife, the dough is very thin and the diameter of the cake is relatively wide. You can also make several batches of cake and roll them up together. The version I give here is the simplest, but also, in my opinion, the best. What’s important is that you combine the ingredients without beating the egg whites too stiffly. This makes for a batter that barely rises and bakes very quickly. Surprisingly, the proportions are those of pound cake, one quarter eggs, one quarter sugar, one quarter flour, and one quarter butter.
- 3 jumbo eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/4 pounds red guavas
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 cups sugar
For the guava paste
Carefully wash the guavas; you’re going to be using the peel. Cut them in half and scoop out the seeds in the center with a spoon. Set aside the guava halves.
Strain the flesh around the seeds, adding a little water to dilute it and make it easier for the flesh between the seeds (which contains pectin) to get through the sieve.
Cut the remaining flesh with the skin into cubes and place it in a large pot with the water, sugar, and strained guava flesh. Over low heat, slowly bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 2 hours, taking care to avoid any goiabada splatters (they’re hot!). Stir regularly to ensure that the bottom of the pot doesn’t burn.
When the goiabada is done, it has the texture of a fruit jelly and should come away easily from the bottom of the pot. It’s important to check the consistency of your goiabada regularly. To do so, drop a small quantity in a bowl and place it in the refrigerator, just as you would do for jam, to see whether it gels.
Goiabada can be stored for several months in sterilized jars.
For the jelly
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut out two 12 x 16 inch sheets of parchment paper and set one on a pastry board. Have a baking sheet large enough to hold the paper close at hand. Whip the eggs and sugar together until pale and thick. Whisk in the melted butter.
Fold in the flour with a flexible spatula. Pour half the batter onto 1 sheet of the parchment paper. Using a spatula, spread it out thinly and evenly to cover the paper entirely. Now you have the exact shape needed, and any excess can be easily cleaned from the board or baking sheet. Carefully, transfer the batter on the paper to the baking sheet.
You’ll see that the batter will take no longer than 3 to 4 minutes to bake. It must not color. It sets like pancake batter and that’s quite enough. If you bake it for too long, it’ll become breakable and it will be very hard to roll it all up. The cake is more like a barely cooked pancake than a sponge base. Remove from the oven, turn over onto a clean baking sheet and carefully peel off the parchment paper. Repeat the procedure with the remaining batter to make a second rectangle. If necessary, trim the edges of the cake so that they are perfectly straight. Place the goiabada in the microwave oven or in a saucepan with 2 to 3 tablespoons of water to melt it, if necessary. This is much easier with homemade guava paste.
Spread the goiabada thinly over each of the cake layers. Roll the first cake up evenly, making sure to roll tightly when you start. Place this roll on the second layer and roll up again to make a snail shape. Cover in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours to allow the goiabada to firm up again before serving.