Japanese roll cake

By Jessica McGovern
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  • 4 eggs, whites and yolks divided
  • 2/3 cup (160 milliliters) sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons (45 milliliters) vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) water
  • 3/4 cup (180 milliliters) cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) cocoa powder
  • Yellow food colouring
  • Orange food colouring
  • Brown food colouring
  • Icing sugar, for dusting


  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) thinly sliced orange segments, for filling

Fondant lion heads:

  • Orange fondant
  • Yellow fondant
  • Black fondant

Special equipment:

  • 4 piping bags
  • Baking template with lion heads
  • Offset spatula



  1. Preheat oven to 340 F (170 C).
  2. In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 1/3 cup (80 milliliters) sugar. Add oil and water and whisk in. Sift in cake flour and whisk together. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually incorporate remaining sugar, vanilla, and cornstarch. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Fold egg white mixture into egg yolk mixture.
  4. Scoop a small amount of batter into three separate small bowls, and one very small bowl, leaving the majority of the batter in the large bowl. Add cocoa powder to the large bowl and mix in completely.
  5. In the first small bowl, add yellow food colouring and stir until it forms an even yellow colour. In the second small bowl, add a little orange food colouring and stir until it forms a light orange colour. In the third small bowl, add orange food colouring and mix until an even, darker orange colour forms. In the very small bowl, add brown food colouring and stir until it forms an even dark brown colour.
  6. Add yellow, light orange, dark orange, and dark brown mixtures to separate piping bags with small tips. Place a sheet of parchment paper on top of a baking pan. Lift the parchment paper and place a lion head template underneath with three lion heads.
  7. Use the dark brown batter to outline the lion heads and draw the eyes and nose. Put tray in the oven and bake for one minute. Let cool.
  8. Use the yellow batter to fill in the lion heads and cheeks. Use the dark orange batter to fill in the lion manes. Use the light orange batter to fill in the rest of the lion heads. Bake in the oven for one minute. Let cool.
  9. Using an offset spatula, spread the chocolate batter over the sheet of parchment with the baked lion heads on it, which should be flat on the baking sheet, until completely covered. Spread evenly. Drop pan carefully on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven. While still warm, cut along the edges of the cake so you can then easily turn the cake out onto a piece of parchment paper dusted with icing sugar. Remove the stencil. Gently remove the parchment paper. Place a fresh sheet of parchment on top of the cake. Flip the cake back over (so the side without the design is facing up) and remove the parchment paper. Make thin surface slices lengthwise down the inside of the cake (this will help roll it). Replace the parchment paper and carefully roll the cake lengthwise (the design should be on the outside). Let cool in the rolled shape.


  1. Add chilled heavy cream to a bowl. Whip to soft peaks. Gradually add sugar and whip to stiff peaks.

Filling the cake:

  1. Unroll the cake. Spread the filling on top. Place the fruit on top of the filling in a single layer, leaving a one centimeter border on either side. Carefully roll the cake. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and place the roll in the fridge to chill for 30-60 minutes.

Fondant lion heads:

  1. Work the fondant until it’s soft. Roll large balls out of the orange fondant – these will be the heads. Use a toothpick to mark where you want the eyes and ears to go. Use a toothpick to create an open mouth.
  2. Roll two small balls out of the yellow fondant. Flatten them into circle and press them onto the head – these are the cheeks.
  3. Roll three tiny balls out of the black fondant, with one being slightly bigger than the other. Press the two tiniest balls onto the marks for the eyes. Press the slightly larger ball onto the top of the cheeks – this will be the nose.
  4. To make the mane, roll out a large ball of the orange fondant and divide it into smaller balls. Roll a small ball out into a short strand. Affix both ends of the strand to the lion head behind the marks for the ears, so that it forms a small loop. Repeat for the rest of the balls until the mane is filled out.
  5. For the ears, roll out two small orange balls and two slightly smaller yellow balls. Flatten all four balls into circles. Press one yellow circle into one slightly larger orange circle. Pinch the ends – this is an ear. Repeat for the second ear. Place ears on the head where the ear marks were made.
  6. Repeat three times to create a total of four lion heads. If the fondant is not sticking to itself, use a little water to act as glue.

To complete:

  1. Remove the roll from the fridge. Top with four dollops of whipped cream. Place lion heads in whipped cream dollops.

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