Japanese Cake Roll

By: MeganPosted: 12/04/2022 Updated: 12/04/2024
Prep 25 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Total 1 hour 10 minutes
This Japanese cake roll recipe yields a fluffy, airy, and perfectly soft cake that will be the best roll cake you will ever taste! Japanese Swiss roll is not too sweet and is filled with a deliciously light whipped cream.
Japanese Cake Roll

This Japanese cake roll recipe yields a fluffy, airy, and perfectly soft cake that will be the best roll cake you will ever taste! Japanese Swiss roll is not too sweet and is filled with a deliciously light whipped cream.

Up close of a slice of Japanese roll cake garnished with a sliced strawberry on a small plate.

This Japanese roll cake recipe is made with a light and airy chiffon cake base and filled with an even lighter whipped cream. It is made with a minimal amount of sugar for the perfect, “not too sweet” dessert that you are craving. Plus, you can customize your own Japanese Swiss roll by filling it with your own jam, flavored whipped cream, or frosting.

When I am stressed, I always bake as a form of therapy. My favorite thing to bake is always a cake. It is simply the most rewarding dessert to bake. There is nothing more satisfying than peeling parchment paper off of a freshly baked cake, icing it with my favorite whipped cream frosting, and devouring it shamelessly by myself. If you love baking cakes, be sure to peep my Vietnamese Coffee Tiramisu Cake, Japanese Strawberry Shortcake, or my Mini Chocolate Bundt Cakes!

This Japanese roll cake recipe may seem intimidating to make, but in reality, it is really straightforward, especially with all of the tips and tricks I’ve laid out for you to follow.

Looking down at a dessert plate with a slice of Japanese roll cake.

What is a Japanese Cake Roll?

Japanese cake roll is a rolled-up chiffon cake that is ordinarily filled with a light and airy whipped cream. It is very popular in Japan because these roll cakes are incredibly fluffy and the freshly made cream simply melts in your mouth. It is like eating a delicious not-too-sweet cloud.

Every country has its own version of a roll cake. They are most commonly referred to as a Swiss roll cake, a cake roll, or a roll cake.

Up close of a slice of Japanese roll cake garnished with a sliced strawberry on a small plate.

What is the difference between a Japanese Cake Roll and a Swiss Roll Cake?

Swiss rolls from European countries tend to have a drier crumb, a thinner texture, and use more jams and icings. A Swiss roll cake is predominantly made with a genoise sponge.

Japanese cake rolls tend to have more light and subtle flavors, smaller portion sizes, and less sugar compared to a Swiss roll cake. Japanese cake rolls are lighter and softer in texture because it is made from a chiffon base. Moreover, they are generally filled with light whipped cream.

Kitchen Equipment

  • Kitchen Scale: for every baking recipe, you will notice that the ingredients are listed by measurement and by grams. Trust me, you will want to follow the grams for the most exact fool proof Japanese roll cake recipe. I love my cute pink little kitchen scale which is incredibly accurate!
  • Mixing Bowls: you will use two mixing bowls to create the egg yolk mixture and the egg white meringue. I love using my Duralex glass nesting mixing bowls for baking. They come in 10 different sizes and are very versatile.
  • Electric Mixer (Stand or Hand): in order to achieve a meringue, you will need an electric mixer to add all the air bubbles into the egg whites. You can use either a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer.
  • Fine Mesh Sieve: you will need a fine-mesh sieve to sift the cake flour and baking powder to prevent any lumps in the batter
  • Rubber Spatula: you will use a rubber spatula to gently fold the batter without deflating the air in the meringue.
  • 9×13 Baking Pan: for this recipe, I used a 9×13 baking pan.

Ingredients

  • Eggs: are the key ingredient for this cake. The air in the eggs creates a beautiful and soft rise in the cake. Make sure your eggs are at room temperature for an even rise.
  • Cream of Tartar: Cream of tartar stabilizes the egg whites and helps provide the characteristic high peaks in the meringue. You can substitute cream of tartar for a touch of lemon juice instead as well.
  • Granulated Sugar: helps activate the eggs to reach their lightest and fluffiest potential. It also adds some flavor and sweetness to the cake.
  • Salt: adding a touch of salt to any baked good is a secret ingredient. It enhances the other flavors while also balancing out the sweetness.
  • Whole Milk: adds a touch of moisture and flavor to the cake.
  • Vegetable oil: adds and retains moisture and creates a soft texture. You can also substitute vegetable oil for avocado oil instead.
  • Vanilla Extract: adds a layer of vanilla flavor to the cake.
  • Cake Flour: yields a softer crumb and gentler texture than all-purpose flour.
  • Baking Powder: is a chemical leavening agent that aids the eggs in the rise of the cake.

Whipped Cream

  • Heavy Whipping Cream: Make sure the heavy whipping cream is cold. Do not remove it from the refrigerator until you are JUST about to use it. This will allow your cream to whip up quickly.
  • Powdered Sugar: Powdered sugar blends in the heavy whipping cream more evenly than granulated sugar and it also aids in stabilizing the whipped cream.

How to Make Japanese Cake Roll

Whipping up this vanilla roll cake is very simple and straightforward. It may only seem long and daunting because I’ve added all the tips and tricks so that you’ll have all the tools you will need to create a fluffy and delicious Japanese cake roll.

  1. Mix the egg yolk mixture. In a medium mixing bowl, add the egg yolks, 1/4 cup of sugar, salt, vanilla, oil, and milk. Mix with a whisk until combined.
Mixing an egg yolk mixture in a small glass bowl.
  1. Sift in the cake flour and baking powder. Using a fine-mesh sieve, sift the cake flour and baking powder into the egg yolk mixture. Whisk to combine.
  1. Make the egg white meringue. In a large mixing bowl, quickly wipe the bowl with a paper towel and some lemon juice or vinegar. Add the egg whites and beat with an electric mixer on high until bubbly and frothy, then add the cream of tartar and beat until the whites are opaque and the bubbles have tightened up. Next, slowly pour the 1/3 cup of sugar in three increments while the mixer is running. Continue beating the egg whites until stiff peaks form and the egg whites hold their pointed tip.
Someone holding up a stand mixer attachment with freshly whipped meringue on it.
  1. Combine the egg mixtures. Using a rubber spatula, add about 1/3 of the egg white meringue into the egg yolk mixture and very gently fold until mostly mixed. Then add the next 1/3 of the mixture and gently fold and repeat with the remaining third.
  1. Bake. Pour the batter into the parchment-lined 9×13 inch pan and even out the batter with a spatula. Give the tray a few taps on your work surface to release any large air bubbles. Bake at 350°F or 176°C for 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Assemble

  1. Remove and roll. Once you take the cake out of the oven, quickly flip the cake onto a slightly damp kitchen towel that is larger than the cake on your work surface. Peel off the parchment paper. Begin to roll the cake tightly with the kitchen towel starting with the short side of the cake. Do this very slowly and very gently. Allow the cake to cool completely rolled up in the towel.
Freshly baked caked released and rolled within a large dish towel.
  1. Make the whipped cream. Using an electric mixer or your stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract until medium to stiff peaks form.
Freshly whipped cream being shown on a hand mixer.
  1. Assemble. When the cake has cooled completely, gently unroll the cake and trim the edges. Spread the whipped cream evenly on top using a rubber spatula leaving about 1/2 inch border around the edges. Gently roll the cake back up without the towel. Tightly wrap the cake with plastic wrap and chill the cake in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Then garnish, slice, and serve!

Tips for the Best Japanese Cake Roll

  • For the egg white meringue clean your equipment, it is important that the egg whites, the bowl, and the whisks are clean from any kind of fat. For best results, do not use a plastic bowl and instead opt for a glass or stainless steel bowl. To solve this problem, simply wipe down the bowl and the whisk with a paper towel and a touch of white vinegar.
  • Never add all the sugar at once for the meringue. The egg whites need to reach a soft peak before adding any sugar. Adding the sugar all at once will deflate the egg whites and prevent them from forming a meringue.
  • Be careful when folding the egg yolk and egg white mixtures. Be as gentle as you can incorporating the egg white meringue into the egg yolk mixture. Run a rubber spatula along the edge of the bowl to the bottom and scoop upward and continue this until just combined. You want them to be homogeneous and mixed but you don’t want to deflate the air out of the meringue.
  • For the whipped cream, heavy whipping cream turns into whipped cream the fastest when the heavy cream and the bowl are both cold. Place your mixing bowl in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes before making the whipped cream.
A plate with a slice of roll cake with a forkful taken out.

Tips on How to Roll The Perfect Cake Roll

The hardest part about this entire Japanese roll cake recipe is nailing the roll. It takes patience, a gentle touch, and the right tips and tricks.

  • Roll the cake in a kitchen/tea towel as soon as it comes out of the oven. The cake is at its peak flexibility at this time and it is the best time to shape the cake. Plus, it is important to use a kitchen towel instead of parchment paper because towels are much softer and will not cause wrinkles to form on the surface of your cake.
  • Leave a 1/2 inch border around your cake when adding the cream. When you roll the cake, the cream will naturally spread. It is best to apply a thick layer in the center of the cake and leave some space along the edges for the cream to spread.
  • Wrap the cake roll in plastic wrap and chill. Once you have filled and rolled the cake, tightly wrap it in plastic wrap and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. This will help set the shape of the cake and prevent it from rolling out.

Storage Instructions

You can store this Japanese swiss roll cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Alternatively, you can wrap and freeze the cake for up to 3 months.

Frequently Asked Q’s & A’s

Why did my cake crack?

There are a few reasons why your cake could have cracked.

1. It is possible that you may have over-baked your cake which would cause the cake to be dried out and thus easier to crack when rolled.

2. Alternatively, you could have cracked it when you were rolling the cake by squeezing the cake or trying to roll it too tightly.

To ensure the swiss roll is assembled without cracks, make sure to roll the cake immediately when it is still warm. The cake is more flexible when it is warm rather than cooled.

Why is the parchment paper stuck to the cake?

The parchment paper may be stuck to the Japanese swiss roll cake because the cake is under-baked and slightly damp. The surface of the cake should be dry and bouncy to the touch.

Why is my batter thin and runny?

If the batter is thin and runny after you fold it all together, it could be because the eggs were under beaten or you have over folded the batter which burst all the air bubbles in the egg whites. This may result in a tough and less airy cake.

How do I serve this Japanese swiss roll cake?

It is best to slice the cake when you are ready to eat. Simply remove the cake from the refrigerator and cut the ends off with a serrated knife. Slice the cake into about 1-inch slices and clean the knife in between each cut.

Can I make this Japanese cake roll in advance?

Yes! You can make this Japanese roll cake recipe in advance. Simply wrap it with plastic wrap and foil and store it in an airtight container for up to 3 months. To serve, simply bring the cake to room temperature, slice, and enjoy!

Did you make this Japanese Cake Roll?

If you made this dish and loved it, please leave a review and comment below. We would greatly appreciate it!

Share your dish with us on Instagram, and tag us @takestwoeggs—we’d love to see and share your delicious creation!

Hungry for more? Follow us on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Pinterest, and Facebook for more tasty creations and updates 🍜

Recipe

Up close of a slice of Japanese roll cake garnished with a sliced strawberry on a small plate.

Japanese Cake Roll

4.88 from 47 votes
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Chill Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
This Japanese cake roll recipe yields a fluffy, airy, and perfectly soft cake that will be the best roll cake you will ever taste! Japanese Swiss roll is not too sweet and is filled with a deliciously light whipped cream.
Servings: 8 servings
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 large egg yolks room temperature
  • ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar for egg yolk mixture
  • ¼ teaspoon (1 g) salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup (50 ml) vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoon (50 ml) whole milk
  • ½ cup (67 g) cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon (2 g) baking powder
  • 4 large egg whites room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon (1 g) cream of tartar
  • cup (67 g) granulated sugar for egg white meringue

Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup (250 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoon (38 g) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Prepare the oven and pan. Prepare a 9×13 baking tray with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350°F or 176°C.
  • Mix the egg yolk mixture. In a medium mixing bowl, add the egg yolks, 1/4 cup of sugar, salt, vanilla, oil and milk. Mix with a whisk until combined.
  • Sift in the cake flour and baking powder. Using a fine mesh sieve, sift the cake flour and baking powder into the egg yolk mixture. Whisk to combine. Stop when there are no more lumps or traces of flour.
  • Make the egg white meringue. In a large mixing bowl, quickly wipe the bowl with a paper towel and some lemon juice or vinegar. Add the egg whites and beat with an electric mixer on high until bubbly and frothy, then add the cream of tartar and beat until the whites are opaque and the bubbles have tightened up. Next, slowly pour the 1/3 cup of sugar in three increments while the mixer is running. Continue beating the egg whites until stiff peaks form or when the egg whites are fluffy, shiny and the egg whites holds its pointed tip when you lift the mixer from the bowl.
  • Combine the egg mixtures. Using a rubber spatula, add about 1/3 of the egg white meringue into the egg yolk mixture and very gently fold until mostly mixed. Then add the next 1/3 of the mixture and gently fold and repeat with the remaining third. Be careful to not deflate the air in the mixture by over folding. (*Folding is not stirring. You want to gently take the spatula around the edges of the bowl to the bottom of the mixture and scoop upward. Continue until the mixture is combined.)
  • Bake. Pour the batter into the parchment lined 9×13 inch pan and even out the batter with a spatula. Give the tray a few taps on your work surface to release any large air bubbles. Bake at 350°F or 176°C for 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Remove and roll. Once you take the cake out of the oven, quickly flip the cake onto a slightly damp kitchen towel that is larger than the cake on your work surface. Peel off the parchment paper. Begin to roll the cake tightly with the kitchen towel starting with the short side of the cake. Do this very slowly and very gently. Be sure not to squeeze the cake too tightly because this may create cracks. Allow the cake to cool completely rolled up in the towel.
  • Make the whipped cream. Using an electric mixer or your stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla extract until medium to stiff peaks form.
  • Assemble. When the cake has cooled completely, gently unroll the cake and trim the edges. Spread the whipped cream evenly on top using a rubber spatula leaving about 1/2 inch border around the edges. Gently roll the cake back up without the towel. Tightly wrap the cake with plastic wrap and chill the cake in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Then garnish, slice and serve!

Notes

  • For the egg white meringue clean your equipment, it is important that the egg whites, the bowl, and the whisks are clean from any kind of fat. For best results, do not use a plastic bowl and instead opt for a glass or stainless steel bowl. To solve this problem, simply wipe down the bowl and the whisk with a paper towel and a touch of white vinegar.
  • Never add all the sugar at once for the meringue. The egg whites need to reach a soft peak before adding any sugar. Adding the sugar all at once will deflate the egg whites and prevent them from forming a meringue.
  • Be careful when folding the egg yolk and egg white mixtures. Be as gentle as you can incorporating the egg white meringue into the egg yolk mixture. Run a rubber spatula along the edge of the bowl to the bottom and scoop upward and continue this until just combined. You want them to be homogeneous and mixed but you don’t want to deflate the air out of the meringue.
  • For the whipped cream, heavy whipping cream turns into whipped cream the fastest when the heavy cream and the bowl are both cold. Place your mixing bowl in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes before making the whipped cream.

Nutrition:

Calories: 317kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 118mg | Sodium: 168mg | Potassium: 119mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 590IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 1mg

Rate & Review What did you think of this recipe?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




  1. 5 stars
    This came out amazingly!!! So fluffy and soft! I tweaked for some nondairy options too!

    If we wanted to make this a flavored swiss roll like matcha, taro, or black sesame, how would we adjust the dry ingredients?

    • Thanks for trying out our recipe! We’re so glad you loved it. When it comes to flavoring the cake, that is tricky to answer considering matcha, taro and black sesame have very different consistencies. We will add this into our queue for new recipes to make in the future!

  2. 5 stars
    I absolutely loved trying out this recipe! The cake turned out perfect – moist and delicious. I’m already planning to make it again soon.

    I have a sweet tooth for chocolate, and I was wondering if you could share any tips on how to tweak the recipe to make a chocolate-flavored version. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thank you! 😆

  3. 5 stars
    I made this tonight! It turned out great but a few things happened I want to mention. One, I forgot to wipe the bowl with vinegar or lemon juice but I don’t think it really did anything to change the cake in any way… Well I wouldn’t know since this was my first time and everything seemed perfect. The cake baked well tho I had a spot where it was like, white egg, so I think I was too gentle when folding in the egg mixtures. For the whipped cream I did half of it as the recipe called for and the other half I whipped in about 1/4 cup strawberry jam. My first impression of the cake which the regular whipped cream was “it’s like a Twinkie!” Which is pretty cool. It was like, the best Twinkie ever. And the strawberry side was really good too. I did not chill it before serving it so it wasn’t the cleanest slices as far as looks but it was good. I would make this again! Also this cake was so soft, I did not expect the texture to be soft like that. It makes me curious what a matcha version of this would be like

  4. Thanks for sharing this recipe!
    How long should I let the cake roll cool down in the towel before I unroll it and frost it with the whipped cream?

    • Hi! You will need to let the cake roll cool down completely before frosting it with the whipped cream. If the cake is warm at all, the whipped cream will melt and become a puddle.

  5. 5 stars
    Loved it! Highly recommended the recipe, I made it for my dad for Father’s Day since he used to make them for me as a child. Other than an extra egg (just like dad did) , I followed the recipe and it was perfect, thank you!! 🙂

    • Hi Toby,
      You can substitute cake flour for all purpose flour! The result may not be as soft, light and fluffy. It may yield a more spongey texture that would be just as delicious.

  6. I have a tub of cool whip at home. Can I use that for the filling instead of making my own whipped cream?

  7. 5 stars
    It’s so so fluffy and had the perfect amount of sweetness. My whole family loved it thanks so much for the amazing recipe! <3

  8. My daughter-in-law made this cake for the first time….it was excellent! Thank you Amy!!!! The best I ever had. I’m going to make it too!