Sunday, June 7, 2009

156. Rhubarb Roulade (p. 720)

I was a little nervous about making this recipe. I've never made a jelly roll before, and I was sure that it was going to be a disaster. But just look at that picture! I don't mean to brag, but I think it came out pretty darn good.

The other thing that surprised me about this recipe (the first thing being that I could actually pull it off) was that I learned that the thing that I've been calling a cookie sheet all these years is actually a jelly roll pan. Who knew?

The Book says to make the cake first and to make the filling while the cake cooks. But, because I was so nervous about the cake, I decided to make the filling first and get that out of the way.

Rhubarb is in season now, so I knew I'd be able to find some. I looked first at my usual source for local produce, but they had just run out of rhubarb. The mega-mart had it, though. The filling is very simple. It's just some finely chopped rhubarb and sugar cooked down into a sweet/tart puree. Once that was ready, I put it in the refrigerator to cool while I made the cake.

First, I prepared the pan but buttering it, lining it with wax paper, and buttering it again and dusting it with flour. Next I beat together some egg yolks, sugar and vanilla. I cleaned the beaters and beat some egg whites and sugar until they held stiff peaks (or at least a close approximation of stiff peaks). Then in alternating batches, I folded some flour and the egg whites into the yolk mixture until it was all incorporated.

I spread the batter out onto the jelly roll pan. At first it didn't look like it was going to be enough batter to cover the pan, but with a little bit of patience and some gentle spreading with a rubber spatula, it worked out. I cooked the cake until it was "pale and dry to the touch."

Now the scary part. I took the cake out of the oven, covered with a kitchen towel (to keep in some of the humidity?) and let it cool for just a few minutes on a rack. Next I spread the filling on the cake (I took the towel off first ... duh). Then, very carefully, and with my wife's assistance, I began rolling the cake. As I rolled, I peeled the wax paper off the bottom of the cake and used it to help me roll the cake as tightly as I could without breaking it. I gently lifted the rolled cake off the pan an put it on a platter and let it cool completely.

The Book says that you can make the filling a day ahead of time. I actually made the whole cake a day ahead of time. I wrapped it in plastic wrap and kept it in the fridge over night, sprinkled it with confectioner's sugar just before serving, and it was great.

This was a delicious cake. Perfect for a spring or summer meal. The cake is light, tender and airy (and relatively low-fat! no butter). But the filling is the real star of this cake. It's bright and sweet with that distinctive rhubarb puckery-ness. And the color! A really nice cake, and not that scary after all.

Date Cooked: May 23, 2009
Degree of Difficulty: Medium
Rating: A-

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