Jelly Roll | Alexander and the Horrible, Terrible, No Good Day

‘There were two cupcakes in Philip Parker’s lunch bag and Albert got a Hershey bar with almonds and Paul’s mother gave him a piece of jelly roll that had little coconut sprinkles on the top. Guess whose mother forgot to put in dessert?’

-Alexander and the Horrible, Terrible, No Good Day, Judith Viorst


They’re known as sponge rolls, jelly rolls, jam rolls, roll cakes, swiss rolls and even roulade. Regardless of what name you call it, many kids will have grown up knowing these at a treat at some point.

While appearing in different variations over the years, history shows the jelly roll in the form we see it now, appearing under the name ‘jelly cake’, in New York in 1852. 1 Of course, the rolled cake with filling isn’t anything new. The yule log, or bûche de Noël, dates back to at least 1615 when it first appeared as a written recipe in Gervaise Markham’s “The English Huswife. 2 Whatever the name, this simple childhood treat is a memory for many.


Jelly Roll | Alexander and the Horrible, Terrible, No Good Day

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  • Author: Bryton Taylor @ Food in Literature
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 25 mins


Units Scale
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 jar of strawberry or raspberry jelly
  • confectioners’ sugar and coconut shavings for dusting


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F/ 190°C.
  2. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray.
  3. Roll out waxed paper and press into pan, then spray with cooking spray again.
  4. In a mixer, whisk together the eggs and sugar until light in colour.
  5. Add in the vanilla and water.
  6. In another bowl sift together the flour, cream of tartar, and baking soda, before adding to the wet mixture.
  7. Mix until just smooth.
  8. Pour the batter evenly onto the baking tray.
  9. Place in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes.
  10. Dust a clean tea towel (cotton/linen) generously with powdered sugar.
  11. Remove the baking tray from the oven, and turn the cake upside down on to the tea towel.
  12. Peel off the waxed paper and roll the cake and tea towel (shortest end) into a roll. Trim the ends for a neat finish.
  13. Let it cool for half an hour before gently unrolling and covering the inside of the cake with jelly, edge to edge.
  14. Roll back up and sprinkle with powdered sugar and coconut shavings before serving.


Recipe adapted from between Betty Crocker and Food.com

 1 many articles reference Northern Farmer vol. 1 no. 12, page 188 (Dec. 1852), Utica, New York
2 http://www.history.com/news/hungry-history/the-delicious-history-of-the-yule-log


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