I decided it was time to try something different in cakes. Many years ago I tried making jelly roll cakes and had one success out of about four attempts. Let’s see what happens this time. I’m using Grace Howard’s recipe for Roll Jelly Cake from the 1906 Berlin Cook Book. The slightly backwards title suits my continuing upside down home at the moment. Soon I will be reduced to a small portion of my home as the water damage assessment and repairs continue. Fortunately my kitchen will remain intact.
I beat the sugar and eggs together and then added the baking powder and flour. Essentially this is a sponge cake. I used what people commonly call today a cookie sheet or pan but is really a jelly roll pan. I decided to simplify things by greasing the jelly roll pan and placing a sheet of parchment paper on it. In 1906 this would likely be called butter paper. I decided to put a bit of butter on the top side of the paper too to help remove the sponge cake. I spread the batter as evenly as possible on the paper covered pan. It is important to work quickly as the batter was already starting to rise. I placed the pan in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 12 minutes — just until starting to turn golden. Then I did a “pre roll” to make the final jelly covered rolling a little easier. Once I’d rolled and unrolled the paper covered sponge cake, I spread it with some black currant jelly. The next part is always tricky and sticky! I avoided putting jelly on the very ends and edges of the sponge cake so that it didn’t ooze too much. Take the narrow end of the jelly covered sponge cake and begin rolling and removing the paper as you go. You should end up with nice looking jelly roll cake or as Grace Howard says, a roll jelly cake.
Grace Howard was 22 years old in 1901. The census records her living with her parents and younger brother. Mother is of German heritage while father is of English background. The couple’s religions also differ. Mrs. Howard is Lutheran while Mr. Howard is Anglican. Grace is a Lutheran like her mother. Her occupation is dressmaker and her father works in the felt factory. Her brother is still a student at 19 years old. It is likely that Grace has married by 1911 but the rest of the family seems to be missing from the 1911 census.
This is an amazing recipe. It turned out a perfect jelly roll and I will use it again since it is quick and simple to make the batter and to bake the cake. The only tricky part is the “roll” but this cake rolls more easily than most I’ve tried. It will be fun to try different fillings. Be sure to store this cake air tight as it will probably dry out quickly. I can easily picture Miss Howard making her roll jelly cake for a number of occasions. She probably didn’t have to worry about storing it as it is so delicious she wouldn’t have any left.
ROLL JELLY CAKE
1 cup sugar, 3 eggs, 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder. Bake in a shallow pan spread jelly and roll while warm.