This Vertical Black Forest Swiss Roll is THE cake to make when you want to impress! It is soft, moist, light and delicious, with vertical layers of chocolate cake and cream that add the extra *wow* factor. It's like a Black Forest cake and a Chocolate Yule Log came together but got a lot better... there is seriously no better cake to make for the holiday season!
Now, I am not going to lie and say this is a simple recipe. Each component is simple, but overall this cake does require patience and a little skill. Don't worry, though, I will walk you through everything so you can easily make it!
WHY YOU NEED TO TRY THIS RECIPE
You need to try this recipe because not only does it have the flavor, it also has the extra *pizzaz*! Everyone has seen black forest cakes, Swiss rolls, yule logs, and chocolate cakes. But how many people have seen a Vertical Black Forest Swiss Roll? Each slice reveals a surprise, with vertical layers of light chocolate cake and ganache contrasted with whipped cream and red cherries. It is a visual deligh.
But it doesn't stop there: this cake tastes phenomenal. It is incredibly light and balanced, with the perfect harmony of chocolate, cherries and cream. It is indulgent without being heavy, and you can easily eat a slice or two in a single sitting.
WHAT IS A VERTICAL SWISS ROLL?
A Swiss roll is a term used to describe cakes which are rolled up to form a log, similar to cinnamon rolls. It is also called a roulade or Swiss log. These cakes are served lying flat, and their slices are round with a swirl of cake and filling. These cakes are usually very light and look stunning. For example, check out my popular Mango Chantilly Swiss Roll! A Yule Log, popular around Christmas, is another great example.
A vertical Swiss roll is very similar, except the roll is shorter in length and much thicker, and served vertically so it has a similar shape to regular round cake on the outside. How1ever, when sliced like a regular round cake, it reveals vertical layers of cake and filling instead of horizontal layers. This makes this type of a cake highly unique in its appearance.
In order to make a vertical Swiss roll, a light sponge cake is typically baked in 2 sheet pans. Each cake is then sliced in half to create 4 long strips of cake. These strips are covered with the filling, and rolled up one after another, aligning the end of one cake with the end of the next, to create one large roll or log.
HOW TO MAKE VERTICAL BLACK FOREST SWISS ROLL
This cake is best understood visually, so I highly recommend watching this short video first:
Now, let's quickly go over the steps (all details are provided in the recipe card at the bottom of this post):
1. Bake the chocolate genoise sponge cake
This is a genoise sponge cake, and getting it right requires whipping the eggs and sugar for a long time until they become ribbony, followed by very gently folding in the dry ingredients. This cake is not difficult, but many people struggle with it due to under-whipping the eggs or not being gentle enough with the dry ingredients. Divide the batter between 2 baking sheets and bake until cooked through.
2. Roll up the cakes (first roll)
Immediately after the cakes are removed from the oven, you have to tightly roll them up in tea towels dusted with icing sugar. This creates a "muscle memory" in the sponge, making it easier to roll it with the filling once they have cooled. If you let the cakes cool and then try to roll them, they will crack
3. Prepare the fillings
As the cakes cool, prepare three fillings: a simple chocolate ganache (which will also be used as a frosting), whipped cream, cherry juice and chopped cherries. All of these are very simple to make.
4. Assemble the cake (second roll)
Now comes the fun, although slightly technical, part. Unroll the cakes, and divide each cake into 2 to get 4 strips. Soak each with the cherry syrup, then coat with ganache, whipped cream, and chopped cherries.
Starting with one strip, gently roll it up into a log as tightly as you can. When that's done, line the end with the end of the next strip, and continue rolling up. All 4 strips will form one large log or roll.
5. Clean up and decorate
Place the cake vertically on a serving board and clean up the edges. Frost with ganache on the sides and allow it to cool down. Decorate with whipped cream and cherries and you are ready to dive in!
If you like this recipe, you will also love other popular cakes on the blog:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
This happens when you are not gentle enough when folding the dry ingredients into the wet. A genoise sponge requires very gentle and slow folding. You need to preserve as much air in the batter as possible, otherwise it can become rubbery.
This can happen if you let the cakes cool down before the first roll, or try to roll them too tightly. It is important to roll the cakes when they are still hot, and do so gently. Using a tea towel dusted with icing sugar makes the process much easier, as the cakes can be sticky.
It is normal for cakes to crack slightly when you are rolling up a Swiss roll after filling it. This can happen due to the weight of the filling, or because the cakes get stuck to the surface they are placed on. To avoid this, make sure to dust the surface with icing sugar before you start assembly, and be gentle and slow with the rolling. A few cracks are normal, so don't worry too much about them!
Yes! You can play around with different fruits or omit the fruit altogether if you don't like cherries. Make sure to soak the cake in simple syrup instead of cherry syrup, in that case, so it doesn't become dry.
This cake should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge, and can be kept for up to 5-7 days.
Yes! This is a great cake to prepare in advance. I suggest rolling up the cake and covering it lightly in cling wrap, then storing in the fridge for 1-2 days. When you are ready to serve, neaten the frosting and decorate with whipped cream and cherries.