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This Patriotic Cake Roll is perfect for the Fourth of July. With it’s red and blue filling and soft sponge cake, it’s the perfect party dessert.
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What is a patriotic cake roll?
A cake roll, also known as a jelly roll, is a sponge cake that is filled and rolled. The magic of the cake is that it’s rolled while it’s hot, straight from the oven, so that once it’s cool it’s easy to roll back up with filling.
This Red, White, and Blue Cake Roll is so easy to make. I made a basic vanilla cake to pair the red and blue butter cream with. If you need a step-by-step instruction on how to roll the cake, check out this post.
I love the red and blue pops in this cake. It screams Fourth of July, which is probably my favorite holiday!
Don’t be scared of cake roll recipes. They really are easier than you think. They’re perfect for parties, especially when they’re dressed up all patriotic. And the cutting will inspire oohs and awwwws, not bad words and ugliness.
Ingredients in a Vanilla Cake Roll
- Eggs: The eggs are what gives this cake it’s soft texture, keep in moist, and makes it rise.
- Sugar: Granulated sugar gives the cake the sweet flavor.
- Oil: Just a bit of oil keeps the cake moist.
- Vanilla: For flavor
- Salt: Needed, since oil has no salt in it.
- Baking Powder: To help the cake rise.
- Powdered Sugar: This is to help us roll the cake.
- Frosting Filling: You can use a canned frosting or make my homemade vanilla buttercream.
- Food Coloring: Gel food coloring is the best for this, especially to get a deep red color. I recommend Wilton or AmeriColor (see my tools list below) for food coloring.
How to make a Cake Roll
- Beat eggs: This is a super important step. You need to beat your eggs for at least 3-5 minutes. If you’re using a stand mixer you can beat them about 3 minutes on medium-high speed. For a hand mixer you’ll want to go the full 5 minutes. The eggs will get thick and yellow. This is what keeps the cake moist and helps it rise.
- Mix: Then mix in the rest of the ingredients until smooth, being careful not to overmix.
- Bake: Bake the cake in a cake roll pan for about 12-17 minutes or until it bounces back when lightly touched.
- Towel: While the cake is baking, set out a clean kitchen towel and spread it with powdered sugar.
- Roll it HOT: Invert the cake pan onto the towel and roll the cake up, let it cool.
- Fill: Once it’s cool, unroll it and fill, then re-roll and chill.
- Serve: Before serving top with whipped topping (or homemade whipped cream) and sprinkles.
Tools you need to make a 4th of July Cake Roll
- 10×15-inch Cake Roll Pan (also called a Jelly Roll Pan): A cake roll pan is a sheet pan with 1-inch sides. Buy a cake roll pan here.
- Foil or Parchment Paper: If you’re using foil to line your pan you’ll also need baking spray (the kind with flour). Or use parchment paper sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
- Kitchen Towel: This is to help you roll up the cake. You can also roll it in the parchment.
- Food Coloring: Wilton or Americolor Gel Food Coloring. I recommend a “super red” and a darker blue.
Chances are you didn’t beat the eggs long enough, or you baked the cake too long.
Cake rolls crack for so many reasons: It’s not baked enough, it’s over-baked, or one of a million other reasons.
If you notice it cracking as you’re unrolling it, try to be really careful so it doesn’t fall apart. Fill it and then frost the outside – no one will know it cracked.
This happens if you don’t use enough powdered sugar on the towel. I like to spray the parchment with nonstick cooking spray also, that will help it not stick.
A toothpick will come out clean but what I always check for is the touch test: touch the cake and it should bounce back. The indent shouldn’t stay, it shouldn’t come off on your finger. It should be springy.
Red food coloring is really difficult. I recommend using gel food coloring in whatever the brand has that’s called something like “super red”. Use more than you think you need. And let the frosting sit for a bit – the color should develop over time.
Patriotic Cake Roll
For the Cake:
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup (93g) all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs
- ¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar to aid in rolling
For the Filling:
- ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter , softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoons heavy cream (as needed for consistency)
- Red and Blue gel food coloring I used Americolor Gel, Navy Blue and Super Red
- Powdered sugar for dusting
- 8 ounces Cool Whip (or 2-3 cups freshly whipped cream)
- Sprinkles , for topping
- Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line a jelly roll (10×15”) pan with foil and spray with nonstick baking spray (the kind with flour) or grease and flour the foil. If using parchment paper, spray with cooking spray.
- Whisk together salt, baking powder, and flour. Set aside.
- Beat eggs at high speed for 5 minutes, until frothy and dark yellow. Beat in sugar, oil, and vanilla extract.
- Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients just until blended.
- Spread in prepared pan. Batter will be in a very thin layer and you will need to use a wooden spoon or spatula to spread it to all the corners of the pan. Bake for 10-17 minutes. You know the cake is done when a toothpick comes out clean and it springs back when touched.
- While the cake is baking, set a clean kitchen towel out on a large work surface. Sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar (about 1/4 cup). As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, turn it over on the kitchen towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Remove foil carefully.
- Working at the short end, fold the edge of the towel over the cake. Roll tightly, rolling up the cake into the towel.
- Let cool completely while rolled, at least one hour.
- While the cake is cooling, make the frosting. Beat the butter until it’s fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth, adding heavy cream for consistency.
- Divide the frosting into two bowls. Tint one with blue and one with red food coloring. Place each color frosting in it’s own ziploc bag, for easy piping onto the cake.
- When cake is cool, carefully unroll the towel. Snip the corner off the blue frosting and pipe evenly spaced stripes horizontally on the cake. Spread slightly with a knife or offset spatula. Repeat with the red. Gently but tightly, re-roll the cake and wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill until it firms up a bit, at least thirty minutes to one hour. Cake can be wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to one month.
- Before serving, top with Cool Whip or fresh whipped cream and sprinkles.
- Instead of making your own frosting, use 2 cans of vanilla frosting.
This Patriotic Cake Roll is a festive twist on my favorite vanilla cake roll recipe. We fill this with red and blue buttercream which makes it perfect for your fourth of July celebrations!
Last Updated on June 24, 2023