St. Patrick’s Day Jelly Roll Cake

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Shamrock Jelly Roll Cake

Jelly Roll Cake with Natural Green Dye Jelly Roll Cake with Natural Green Dye St. Patrick's Day Jelly Roll Cake - Method

Jelly Roll Cake - Method Jelly Roll Cake with Natural Green Dye Shamrock Jelly Roll Cake

Naturally-Dyed St. Patrick's Day Jelly Roll Cake

Over the years I recall seeing red jelly roll cakes for Valentine’s Day and green jelly roll cakes for St. Patrick’s Day in most bakeries.  I made a jelly roll cake once before: a Bûche de Noël for a high school French cooking project.  But it was so long ago that I pretty much forgot how to make one.  It seems like it would be complicated but it is actually so simple, especially after you have done it once and have the method down.  It is typically a sponge or genoise cake that is baked in a thin sheet and then filled with whipped cream or jam and rolled into a log, to then be sliced into indiviudal spiral rolls.  You can use the cake and filling of choice, as long as the cake is moist and flexible enough to roll without drying and cracking (although rolling the cake in a towel while it is still warm helps mold it into shape, and you may be able to get away with using other types of cakes baked in thin layers, as well.)

Earlier this year I was checking out at a grocery store and saw a red Valentine’s Day jelly roll in the checkout display.  Right then and there I started thinking of a green jelly roll cake made with natural {spinach} food dye, similar to the method that I used for my naturally-dyed rainbow cake.  Amidst the checkout chaos of paying for groceries with a 4- and an almost 2-year old , I started envisioning a naturally-dyed green jelly roll cake in the shape of a shamrock.

Shamrock Jelly Roll Cake

And voilà!  Here we are a few days before St. Patrick’s Day and I my brainstorm image has come to life.  You can enjoy your jelly roll in individual slices or arrange three slices per plate to make a festive St. Paddy’s shamrock.

I adapted a basic sponge cake recipe from The All New Joy of Cooking, a recipe that turns out to be pretty similar to Paula Deen’s jelly roll cake.  I strayed from the cookbook’s method and followed Cooking Light’s step-by-step instructions: How-To Roll a Jelly Roll Cake.  I found the same or similar method in many other recipes that I referenced, including Paula Deen’s.

I substituted spinach juice for half of the milk and I omitted the egg yolks to help achieve a truer green, both changes that you can ignore if you don’t wish to dye your cake green.  I added a bit of vanilla extract for flavor and used a basic vanilla whipped cream frosting for the filling.

And here’s one more reason to love jelly rolls {and a baking confession!}: I was using an old pan that didn’t lay flat in the oven once it got hot.  My mini-mid-baking crisis was checking on the cake a few minutes in to find that all of the batter had run to one side of the pan.  Fortunately, I was able to spread the cake out again with a spatula, even though parts of it were partially baked.  You will notice in some of the pictures that especially one corner of the sheet got pretty thoroughly cooked.  Even still, I was able to trim around the edges and salvage most of the cake to make almost a complete roll.

St. Patrick's Day Jelly Roll Cake
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 18+
Enjoy your naturally-dyed jelly roll cake in individual spirals or arrange three spirals per plate to make a festive shamrock. Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Jelly Roll Cake {Adapted from The Joy of Cooking}
  • ¾ cup sifted cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 2 Tbsp spinach juice
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 5 egg whites
  • Powdered sugar for dusting
Whipped Cream Frosting
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • Dash of salt
  • ½ - 1 tsp vanilla extract
Jelly Roll Cake {Adapted from The Joy of Cooking}
  1. Grease a jelly roll pan and then line it with greased parchment paper.
  2. Sift the cake flour and the baking powder together.
  3. In a small saucepan, heat the milk, butter and spinach juice over low heat until the butter melts.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites and the sugar until the consistency of softly whipped cream (roughly 3-4 minutes).
  5. Reheat the butter mixture if necessary to ensure that it is steaming hot.
  6. In three additions, sift the flour mixture over the top of the beaten eggs and gently fold in.
  7. Once all of the flour has been added, add the hot milk mixture at once, folding in at the same time until completely combined.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared jelly roll pan.
  9. Spread the batter with a spatula to make sure that it is evenly distributed across the pan.
  10. Bake the cake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes until it springs back to the touch, making sure not to overbake it.
  11. Gently slide a thin knife around the edges to release it from the pan.
  12. If desired, trim off any browned edges.
  13. Invert the pan onto a large towel that has been generously dusted with powdered sugar.
  14. Gently peel off the parchment paper.
  15. Roll the cake up so that the towel is rolled inside the cake.
  16. Let it cool completely wrapped in the towel roll, seam-side down, and if desired, roll that in aluminum foil to help achieve a tighter roll that will keep a rounder shape. (If wrapped in foil, the cake will take longer to cool.)
  17. Once cooled, unroll the cake and spread the whipped cream frosting across the sheet cake. (The sheet cake will be wavy and won't lay flat from being rolled.)
  18. Then re-roll the cake, this time without the towel.
  19. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator seam-side down for at least 30 minutes to chill and help set it's shape, or until ready to serve.
  20. To serve, dust the top of the roll cake with powdered sugar if desired.
  21. Slice into rolls, and if desired, arrange three rolls per plate for St. Patrick's Day shamrocks, adding a portion of a roll or scraps of the green cake for the stem.
Whipped Cream Frosting
  1. Beat the cream, sugar and salt until stiff peaks form.
  2. Fold in the vanilla extract.
  3. Keep the frosting and the frosted desserts in a sealed container in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve them.


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