Chocolate Mini Rolls
The Great British Bake Off is back so I thought, after a bit of a break, I’d better start baking again, or, more accurately, baking and blogging again. It’s not that I haven’t been baking recently, it’s just that with a four and five year old on summer holidays, the best that I’ve been able to manage are two-step cakes. You know the ones. Step one – mix all of the ingredients together. Step two – put them in the oven. They do taste nice, but I don’t really think they’re worth writing about. Oh, and I’ve also been moving the website and updating it a bit which has been more trouble than I thought it would be.
Anyway, even though school hasn’t quite started for my four year old yet (she starts Reception next week), the Bake Off has, so I thought I’d try the technical bakes again this year. I did it last year with some great – have a look at Mary Berry’s Marjolaine – and some not so great results – try the Fougasse.
I used the recipe on the Great British Bake Off website for Prue’s Chocolate Mini Rolls.
I didn’t have a very good start because I smashed an egg, and when I dragged my Swiss roll tins from the bottom of my cake tin pile I discovered that they were too big. Then I realised that I didn’t have any vanilla extract. Oh well, I had more eggs, I could use one tin instead of two and, after some searching, I did pull a vanilla pod out of the cupboard (I’m not sure how long it had been there, but it still smelled of vanilla so, to my mind, it was usable).
The first thing to do was to set my oven. Then I lined the bases of my Swiss roll tins with baking parchment (the recipe uses two 30cm x 20cm Swiss roll tins. Mine are 34cm x 24cm). My thinking was that I would make the recipe amount of sponge mixture and fill one tin. If I had enough, I could put some into the other.
I mixed sieved cocoa powder, melted butter, seeds from my vanilla pod, and boiling water into a paste. It looked less than promising!
Separately, I whisked egg yolks and caster sugar. The recipe says that you should do this until the mixture is light and fluffy. My mixture started looking like this
I stopped whisking when it looked like this.
I added the cocoa paste to the eggs and sugar and whisked them together.
I whisked egg whites to stiff peaks in the KitchenAid, which is still threatening to march off the worktop at anything other than the lowest speed, and added caster sugar. I was supposed to whisk then until the sugar had dissolved. I’m not sure how you can tell whether the sugar has dissolved or not. The egg white mixture I ended up with was quite dry and chunky. I’m not sure whether I’d over-whisked or under-whisked. Either way, I put a couple of spoonfuls into the chocolate mixture and beat it it (the recipe says that this is to loosen it), and then folded in the rest of the egg whites with a metal spoon. This was a bit tricky. My egg whites were pretty lumpy, but I didn’t want to end up stirring the mixture too hard because the air in the egg white was the only thing that was going to make the sponge rise.
Anyway, after a fair amount of folding in, I poured the mixture into one of the Swiss roll tins. I wasn’t going to have enough for two. I put it into the oven and handed the bowl over to my daughter for scraping. The sponge went into the oven at 160 degrees fan.
The cooking time in the recipe is between 12 and 18 minutes. It doesn’t give any indication of when the sponge might be done. Does a skewer need to come out clean? Do the sides need to shrink away from the tin? Does the sponge need to spring back when you touch it? Given that the recipe was from Prue Leith, I decided to consult Leith’s Cookery Bible – it’s not a book that I often use for Let’s Bake the Books, but it’s very good if you get stuck. In relation to a Swiss roll, which, to my mind, was the nearest thing to the chocolate mini rolls, the sponge is cooked when no imprints remain when the sponge is lightly pressed with a finger, and the edges look slightly shrunken. My sponge had 17 minutes in the oven. It seemed OK when I took it out.
Now, according to the Great British Bake Off recipe, when the sponge comes out of the oven, you put it onto a cooling rack and cover it with a damp tea towel until it’s completely cool. I had a look at several Swiss roll recipes, Mary Berry’s from the Baking Bible, Delia Smith’s from Delia’s Cakes and Prue Leith’s from Leith’s Baking Bible. They all roll the sponge when it is warm. I decided to do the same. First I made one large roll and almost decided to give up on the mini rolls altogether. Then I read the recipe properly. I should have rolled the bottom up towards the middle and the top down towards the middle to make two rolls. I ended up cutting the sponge in half and making two rolls that way. I wrapped them in baking paper and left them to cool.
I didn’t make the filling straight away. I had to take my daughter for an emergency shower. I’d given her the bowl and spoons to lick. I turned around once I’d put the cake into the oven to find her covered, hair and all, in a mixture of chocolate and egg white. I don’t have a picture. I was too busy trying to scrape her down.
By the time she was clean and dry again the cakes were cool so I turned to the filling. I was only intending to make half the recipe amount given than I only had one cake, but I forgot while I was sieving the icing sugar. Next, I beat some butter in the KitchenAid and, once it was soft, I added the sieved icing sugar. I did remember to halve the peppermint essence in the recipe and went with half a teaspoon instead of a whole one (I didn’t want it too minty because my little boy isn’t too keen). Once my buttercream was soft and fluffy I stopped beating and started to assemble the mini rolls.
I carefully unrolled the sponges. One of them cracked a bit, but it was salvagable – it was going to be covered in chocolate after all. I spread the buttercream onto the inside and rolled them up again. As expected, I had a lot of filling left over. There’s a tub in the fridge now waiting to be forgotten. After rolling the rolls as tightly as I could and put them into the fridge while I melted dark and milk chocolate over a pan of simmering water for the coating. I got my two rolls out of the fridge after fifteen minutes, and cut each roll into three.
The cooling rack they were sitting on went into a roasting tin and I poured the melted dark and milk chocolate over them. The rolls were covered in chocolate, but there was an awful lot of it in the tin at the end.
I handed three of the rolls over to my little girl. She wanted to help with the decorations and, to her, a cake isn’t a cake if it doesn’t have sprinkles.
I was going to stay with the recipe and neatly pipe white chocolate bands around mine.
I think my piping needs some practice.
Were they worth it?
There was a wide range of opinion on my chocolate mini rolls. “A Triumph,” said my husband – praise indeed. “Rubbery and too minty,” said my son. My little girl sided with Daddy and my mom was on the “too minty” side. I liked them. They were bigger and better than shop-bought (although they were bigger than they were supposed to be because of the size of the tin). I was also a fan of the peppermint. They also weren’t that difficult to make if you have the time.
I may make them again, but I’d try a filling that pleased everyone, and I’m also not sure that I’d bother with the coating. There was an awful lot of melted but unused chocolate. It doesn’t go to waste in our house but if it isn’t covering anything delicious, once-melted chocolate isn’t the nicest of snacks. All in all, I’d say that this was a good bake, and it is really good to be back in the kitchen again, even if my piping does require work.