A Showstopper Summer Dessert

During the pandemic, my entertaining (if you can call it that) was limited to my family or a small number of friends. I searched for recipes that served 2 to 4, and occasionally 6. Fast forward to today. Post pandemic, at our house, we’re happy to host larger gatherings. In April we planned a buffet for 12, and in June we invited a group of 10 for Sunday brunch. Recently, I created a special dessert for larger gatherings–an orange-scented roulade with strawberries, pistachios, and whipped cream which serves 8 generously.

This luscious cake roll is filled with  heavy cream that is whipped with crème fraîche and scented with orange zest and juice, plus chopped pistachios, and sliced strawberries. It would make a perfect ending for a summer get together, whether a family reunion, a neighborhood potluck, or a backyard cookout for a crowd. You can bake the light and airy sponge cake roll, whip the orange scented cream, and then assemble the cake several hours ahead. At serving time, it will take only minutes to add the garnishes. Be prepared for your guests to pull out their phones and snap a picture of this beauty!


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Orange Scented Roulade with Strawberries, Pistachios, and Whipped Cream

Cake roll
3/4 cup sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted plus extra for greasing parchment paper
Confectioner’s sugar

Filling and garnish
2 cups heavy or whipping cream
1/2 cup crème fraîche
2 tbsp confectioner’s sugar plus extra for sprinkling over the cake roll
1 tbsp orange juice
1 1/2 tsp orange zest
3 1/2 tbsp chopped roasted pistachios
2 cups hulled and sliced strawberries, plus 5 to 6 more for garnish
2 to 3 tsp granulated sugar           

1.Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 10 by 15-inch jelly roll pan with parchment trimmed to fit. Butter paper and sides of the pan.           

2.To make the cake, sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl and set aside. Place the sugar and orange zest in a medium mixing bowl and with your fingers rub he orange zest into the sugar until mixture is a light orange hue. (This will release the oils in orange zest and result in a stronger taste of orange.) Beat eggs with an electric mixer on high speed until light and foamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and gradually beat in the sugar mixture. Increase speed to high and continue to beat until mixture is thick, light in color, and almost tripled in volume, 8 to 10 minutes if using a heavy duty mixer, longer if using a hand mixer. Sprinkle dry ingredients over the egg mixture and fold in until there are no traces of flour. Fold in vanilla and the melted butter.     

3.Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake until cake is golden and springs back when touched, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven.

4.While the cake is in the oven, spread a kitchen towel on a work surface with long end toward you. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

5 When cake is removed from the oven, run a knife around edges of pan to loosen cake. Using potholders, invert pan onto the kitchen towel with long side toward you, and carefully pull off and discard the parchment paper. Starting at a long side of the cake, roll up the cake into a log along with the towel. Place the cake on a baking sheet and refrigerate until cool, about 15 minutes.

6.For filling, in a chilled mixing bowl, whip the cream with an electric beater on medium high speed until soft peaks form. Then lower speed and beat in crème fraîche and confectioner’s sugar. Raise speed to medium high and beat until just firm. Stir in orange zest and orange juice. Set aside.

7.Place sliced strawberries in medium bowl and taste one. Then add 2 to 3 teaspoons granulated sugar to taste and toss berries until sugar has dissolved.

8.Unroll cooled cake roll and using a metal spatula, spread 1/2 of the filling evenly over it. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the pistachios over the cream and then arrange the strawberries on top. Using the towel as an aid, roll the cake into a log. (Cake can be prepared 6 hours ahead; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Refrigerate remaining whipped cream in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

9.When ready to serve, carefully transfer the cake roll to a serving platter or board, and dust with confectioner’s sugar. Transfer remaining whipped cream to a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe large rosettes down the center on top of the cake roll. If you don’t have a pastry bag or tip, you can place generous dollops of whipped cream down the center of the cake roll. (If using dollops, you might need to loosen the whipped cream with a tablespoon or more of milk.) Sprinkle rosettes with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped pistachios. Hull and halve remaining strawberries and place between whipped cream rosettes. Serves 8 generously or 10 with smaller portions.

Market note: Use local, seasonal strawberries when possible. If unavailable, and your purchased berries have white center cores, slice in the following way. Hull them and then cut red slices from around all the sides of the berries, leaving the white center cores to discard. 

Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2023


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