Cake · fail stories

Orange Swissroll with Cranberry Mousse

In 2016 I decided I will give cakes away to my friends as birthday presents. I was just getting into baking and trying out different recipes so that sounded quite fun.

From top left to bottom right. Pavlova with blueberries and lemon curd. Orange sponge with chocolate buttercream. Keylime cheesecake. Strawberry mousse cake on a chocolate genoise sponge. Coffee cheesecake with chocolate and seafoam chunks. And a very nice chocolate vanilla marbled chiffon cake.

They are not the most spectacular and they are very very far from being the most stunning cakes. I like baking a cake for a special occasion because the planning is fun and people think you are extra spectacular for doing it.

I am a fan.

So. A friend whose birthday was in December is going to get a late cake because December was a crazy month. My inspiration plan comes from a fantastic chocolate I got at Circle Craft last year. It is a white chocolate covered cranberries with a hint of orange, I never gave cranberry a thought except around thanksgiving and certainly never thought to use it in baking until now. My original idea was something like that strawberry mousse cake above with fancy presentation. (I think we can all agree that is the best looking cake in the bunch) However, one thing I always have to consider is that I don’t drive, so if the cake is too heavy or fancy, there is always a bit more difficulty to transport. With that in mind, I settled on trying to make a swiss roll, a decorated swiss roll. The sponge would be orange flavoured and the filling would be this cranberry mousse.

Countless youtube videos told me making a decorated swiss roll is not hard! All you have to do is scoop out some of your cake batter, add colouring. Pipe the design on the pan you are going to bake your cake in, chill it or bake it. Then pour the remaining batter on top and there you have it! Decorated swiss roll!

Look at it! Most brilliant of ideas!

I am here to remind you for every “easy” recipes there are so many ways to fail.

I thought dots is a good way to start.

Ya I know. I am not even being very ambitious here. I thought if I make little cute orange dots, it’d be good to represent the orange(?) element in the sponge. The first mistake I made is that the dots are too tall. Any designs you make should be relatively flat, because when you pour the batter back in you’ll have to smooth it out. And since the cake itself is quite thin, you end up knocking the designs over when you smooth out your cake batter.


The second mistake was that I didn’t peel off the parchment paper right away, or at the right time, I don’t even know when it is supposed to be. You are supposed to peel off the paper along side with the browned bits to reveal your design.

At least the mousse is a lovely colour?

The third mistake… I KNOW! There are more!
The third mistake is that the area marked with the red arrows above should be left empty. Once you start rolling up the cake all those excess filling is going to get squeezed out of the cake and make a mess. A delicious mess that you clean up with your finger, is still a mess nevertheless!

Guess what else went wrong?

The fourth and most important mistake. Can you guess what it is?
WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH THAT THIN CAKE?!  I know there is a lot of filling but that cake is so pathetically thin! It doesn’t look like the fluffy cake rolls I have seen on pinterest at all!

The cake roll is basically a chiffon cake in rectangle form, so I must have somehow mess up the cake even though I have baked so many chiffon cake last year I thought it was my most consistent quality cake.

So. Round 2.

I present to you, cake tower. There was also an attempt of decoration, not that you can see it.

Round 2 went even worse. Not only was it a disappointing height, it was also overbaked.
I was so unhappy with it I made a tower out of it. The worst thing was that the cake was design to go with a sweet filling so by itself it was so blend it wasn’t even good to eat.

After this, I gave my recipe a long hard look and tried to figure out if there is something I was missing. Of course I missed something. >.> The recipes I have tried thus far calls for a 28 x 28(cm, not inches, that’d be a giant ass pan), my pan is 23 x 38.. so it is at least 10% bigger…. so it probably just didn’t get enough batter to really get the height!….. perhaps!

Not baked the same day, even I am not that crazy. Also, I ran out of eggs that day.

I don’t actually own a 28 x 28 pan. I did some math and one of my other pan should have the same area … maybe. My math says it should. So I tried the same recipe and had the above roll. … It still isn’t quite as high as I thought it should be but it definite looks more like the photos I have seen. So. Math mistake. And careless mistake. Luckily, solvable! Far more solvable than somehow I can’t get the cake the rise and… well the decorations don’t show up.

For the final version of this cake, I have made some changes.
First of all, I love the mousse. It is stabilized with white chocolate and is a treat to eat by itself. As a filling I think it is a bit on the wet size, which may or may not make the cake a bit soggier than it should.

White chocolate version on the left, gelatin version on the right.

So instead I opted to set it firmer with gelatin. The result is a much milder cranberry flavour because of extra cream and the texture is a bit more … moussey. It is firm enough to set by itself as a cake layer.


For the sponge, I added one extra egg white. >.> It rises …..a lot… but also a bit lopsided that it was thicker on one end. … I am not sure if it is good or bad because the end result ended up being the height that I wanted.

Not a bad looking cake now is it?

I tried to pipe a design on it again. But the side that has the design on won’t peel off to reveal the texture. …. I was going to serve it with a nice brown top, which, for some reason, decided to peel off instead so. There you go, things never go as planned. Ever.

Makes one roll in a 24.5 x 32 pan (or 28 x 28 if you have it)

Cranberry Orange Mousse adapted from Baking Obsession
165g Fresh or Frozen Cranberries
85g Sugar
56g Water (for cranberries)
Zest of 1 Orange
1 Tbsp Orange Liqueur (I used Triple-Sec)
360ml Whipping Cream
5g Gelatin
45ml Cold Water (for gelatin)

Orange Cake Sponge
4 Eggs Yolks
15g Sugar (Yolk)
40g Sugar(White)
10g Sugar (Zest)
Zest of 1 Orange
45ml Orange Juice
40ml Unflavoured Oil
80g Cake Flour

To make the Mousse:
1. Sprinkle gelatin on the surface of water. Let it sit and bloom.

2. Put the cranberries, sugar and water in a small saucepan and cook till all the cranberries down. Did you know cranberries pop when you cook them? Best have the lid on to prevent poppage.

3. Once it cooks down into a paste, remove from heat. Stir in orange zest, liqueur and let it cool down a bit. Then strain the mixture through a sieve, and put in a bowl with an ice bath. Stir till it thickens.

I just want to show you my favourite orange. It is called a Cara Cara and the colour is slightly more pink almost like a grapefruit.

4. Whip cream into stiff peaks, fold into the cranberry jelly mixture, 1/3 at a time.

To make the Cake:
1. Preheat Oven to 170°c/338°f. Combine zest with zest sugar, give it a quick mix.

2. Line your baking tray with parchment paper. For best result, you would want to butter/oil the tray up so the parchment would really flatten down.

3. In a bowl, combine yolk and yolk sugar, whisk till combined. Then add zest sugar, orange juice and oil, whisk till it no longer separates. You can use a hand mixer for this.

4. Sift (and do sift this well) cake flour into the yolk batter. Some recipes say don’t overmix it because gluten will develop and make your cake tough. I call BS on it because this is cake flour, as if it is that easy to develop gluten. That being said, there is no need to knead it for half an hour, ya know? Just until the batter becomes nice and smooth.

5. In a different, and very clean bowl. I cannot stress this enough. Clean, oil free, and dry. If your bowl isn’t perfectly clean, your egg white will NOT whip up. You can rub the bowl and the beaters with some white vinegar or lemon juice if you wish, that usually helps. In this bowl, start beating the egg white. Once you get it foamy, you can start adding the sugar in bit by bit. Beat until glossy soft peaks forms.
**Most recipes I have read say stiff peaks, but I find that stiff peak white is really tricky to mix into the yolk batter. It is so much more prone to have bits of unmixed egg white. So your judgement call here.

Glossy. And peaky.

6.  Fold white mixture into the yolk mixture. 1/3 at a time. Fold it in gently, take care not to destroy any of your hard whipped egg white bubbles. Also take care to mix it in thoroughly and scoop up the bottom of the mixture as well. You want this really well mixed.

The mixture colour will lighten from a dark yellow to a light yellow and looks fluffy.

7. Once all mixed, you can either scoop out a few spoons of batter, colour them and do whatever design on the baking pan. Remember to do a flat one, and chill for 10 minutes between each colour. (or bake for a minute if your oven is ready). Once that is done, pour your batter into the pan, smooth out the top with any implement you wish. Hit it on the counter a few times to get rid of large air bubbles.

8. Bake for around 15 minutes. Pay close attention to it and make sure you do not over bake! It is done when the cake is spongey to the touch and springs back when you press it gently. Or poke a fork in it and make sure it comes out clean. Many methods of testing.

9. Once it is out of the oven, and as soon as it is cool enough to handle, flip it out of the pan and roll it up. It doesn’t have to be a beautiful roll just need to be rolled up so the sponge get used to being in a coil shape. If you wait till it cools down completely before you roll, it may crack. If you have done a design, make sure you roll the way your design to show. You probably want to give it a quick roll, then peel off the parchment to reveal your design. I have never succeeded on this so I can’t really tell you when is the best moment. It would be trial and error on your end.

10. Leave the cake to cool in a roll and once it is cool enough, spread the filling, take care not to spread it too thick, or too close to the edge. A tighter roll will ensure a prettier look. Once that is done, wrap it in clingfilm and chill. Because it is a gelatin set mousse, I’d say give it at least a good couple hours in the fridge before serving.

11. Cut off both ends before serving. Eat those ends. You deserve it. :>




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