This decadent Easy Chocolate Cake Roll makes the perfect celebration cake or anytime treat. A classic, simple cake roll that’s as tender as it can be but still stable enough to be smothered and rolled with chocolate mousse.
This is a perfect make ahead dessert, the entire cake with filling can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days ahead of serving!
Made using a chocolate sponge, this cake is soft and fluffy, with a plush velvety crumb.
Forget about dry dense or rubbery texture because I’ve included all my tips and tricks to help guide you to create an impressive bake always!
Tip: This is a long and very detailed post and contains lots of photos, tips and frequently asked questions. Although this is an easy bake, these details are here to guide you. Great tips if its the first time making a cake roll. Follow the tips for the perfect bake always!
If you are already an expert baker or want to cut straight to the recipe, feel free to scroll right on down past my tips, tricks, to the recipe card!
Chocolate Cake Roll Ingredients
This recipe couldn’t be simpler to make! You’ll need just a few ingredients to make this cake, most of which are pantry staples. To make this cake, you’ll require:
For the cake
- White sugar
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- All purpose or cake flour
- Baking powder
- Coffee (optional)
- Canola or sunflower oil
- Hot water
Chocolate mousse filling is optional. The mousse has to be prepared and refrigerated for the minimum time of 2 hours before spreading onto the cake. I have included alternative fillings below If you do not have the time or ingredients to prepare the mousse. I do use these alternative filling in the swiss roll from time to time and they pair perfectly.
Ingredients For the chocolate mousse filling
- Chocolate, dark or milk
- Cocoa powder
- Whipping cream
- White sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Hot water
Alternate filling for your Chocolate cake roll
- 3 ingredient whipped cream frosting
- Vanilla buttercream (recipe in my Strawberry Butter Cookies post)
- Chocolate buttercream (recipe in my Chocolate Hot Milk Sponge Cake post)
- Any flavor jam/jelly you prefer
How to make Chocolate Cake Roll with mousse filling (Swiss Roll)
Start with the chocolate mousse if you are using as a filling. It has to be prepared 2 hours in advance. Alternately it can be prepared and refrigerated up to 2 days before you bake the cake.
- Combine hot water and cocoa.
- Melt the chocolate in the microwave
- Combine hot water and cocoa mixture with the melted chocolate
- Whip the cream:
- Fold the whipped cream with the combined chocolate and cocoa mixture:
Make the cake
Combine oil, cocoa powder and instant coffee granules (if using) in a measuring jug or bowl of hot water.
In a separate large bowl beat the egg yolks and sugar until creamy and light.
Add the combined cocoa/coffee/oil mixture
Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and mix gently until just combined.
Beat the egg whites to soft peaks in a separate bowl then fold them into the egg yolk mixture with the flour.
Spread the mixture onto a well-greased and lined 15x10 inch (39 x 27cm) baking tray and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
Sprinkle a tea towel or parchment paper with caster sugar and turn the cake out onto it.
Roll it up, gently, and leave, covered, until it has cooled down.
Gently unroll the cake and spread with the filling.
Carefully roll up again and refrigerate for about 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Dust with extra caster sugar if needed.
Keep the Chocolate mousse in the fridge.
Only get the chocolate mousse out of the fridge once you are ready to spread it on to the cooled cake roll.
The cold mousse is firmer and much easier to spread and roll up into the cake. The mousse contains whipped cream and will soften and melt when left out too long at room temperature.
Refrigerate the filled cake if using any dairy based frosting
Refrigerate the filled cake for about 1 hour until ready to serve. Leftover cake roll filled with any type of dairy cream has to always be refrigerated until ready to eat or serve.
To speed up the cooling process, I keep the filled cake in the freezer for 25 to 30 minutes before serving. (The cake will not freeze, instead just be perfectly cold) This makes it much easier to slice into neat servings without smearing the frosting.
Roll the cake in parchment paper or tea towel as soon as it comes out of the oven
This is the most important step when creating a swiss roll.
When the cake is warm, it has the most elasticity and flexibility.
Rolling it while warm moulds it into a proper shape as well as preventing any cracking. Since it has taken the flexible shape, makes it easier to roll with the filling.
Oil in the cake
The use of oil in the cake ensures a soft sponge which keeps its light and fluffy texture days after it has been baked. The cake remains soft textured even when removed from the refrigerator.
Tip for separating the eggs
When separating eggs, it’s crucial not to allow any yolk to escape into the white. Any yolk in the white will hinder or lengthen the whipping process.
The best way to separate eggs are while they are still cold. It will separate more easily than a warm one. Then allow the separated yolks and whites to reach room temperature (usually within 20 to 30 minutes) before whipping.
Frequently asked questions
Why is the baked cake so rubbery?
The batter needs to be mixed very gently. Over-mixing the batter increases the development of gluten which in turn produces a rubbery cake.
Over-mixing can also deflate the air bubbles that were created when whipping the egg whites, causing the cake to deflate. This in turn causes a dense, rubbery texture.
Why does the cake crack when rolling?
Overbaking leads to a dense rubbery or hard textured cake prone to cracking when rolling.
Bake for just between 12 to 15 minutes or until the top springs back when touched lightly in center.
The edges of the cake should not be crisp or very browned. One way to tell when the cake is baked to perfect texture: The entire cake should have the same coloring and texture from the middle to the edges
How long in advance can I make the chocolate mousse?
Chocolate mousse filling is optional. The mousse has to be prepared and refrigerated for the minimum time of 2 hours before spreading onto the cake.
I have included alternative fillings and frostings in the recipe card below.
The alternate fillings are for when you do not have the time or ingredients to prepare the mousse. I do use these alternative filling in the swiss roll from time to time and they pair perfectly.
How long in advance can I bake and fill the cake roll?
This cake roll can be baked and filled up to 2 days in advance. The filled cake MUST be refrigerated if you are filling with chocolate mousse or ANY dairy filling. Refrigerate until ready to serve
How to store cake baked in advance
Since this cake can be prepared and frosted up to two days in advance, it must be rolled tightly in cling wrap, refrigerated and covered well so that it doesn't get dry.
How do I prevent the frosting or cream squeezing out of the cake when rolling up?
This is important when rolling the cake and will ensure that the cake is filled perfectly.
Fill the centre of the roll with more of the cream or frosting and the edge or outer part with a thinner layer
The centre of the cake where the innermost roll is will have the most cream.
If you apply a thick layer to the outer part of the roll it will be squeezed out of the cake when rolled up.
How can I flip out the baked cake without it breaking
A great method, if you have difficulty or just nervous about flipping out the baked cake directly from the pan.
- Before removing the cake from the pan, dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar.
- Place another sheet of parchment or kitchen towel over the dusted cake.
- Place a cooling rack on top of the parchment paper or kitchen towel
- Flip everything onto the cooling rack.
- Remove the pan then carefully peel off the paper on which it baked.
- Slide the cake off the cooling rack with the parchment paper or kitchen towel (onto which it was flipped)
- The cake should now be on top of the flipped parchment paper or towel on a flat surface. Roll and fill the cake as directed.