How to Make a Red Velvet Cake Roll

Learn how to make a deliciously soft red velvet cake roll using this step-by-step photo tutorial and recipe! sallysbakingaddiction.com

Today, let’s learn how to make a red velvet cake roll!!

If you’ve never made a cake roll before and are scared to death to try OR have attempted to make a cake roll before and have failed, don’t you fret. I got your back! Together, we’re going to make the most irresistible red velvet cake roll Christmas has ever seen.

And it all starts with a deep breath. Take one! Because making a red velvet cake roll is not as tricky as it looks. It just takes a little patience.

Learn how to make a deliciously soft red velvet cake roll using this step-by-step photo tutorial and recipe! sallysbakingaddiction.com

Let’s jump right in because there are a million step pictures to get through. Like most jelly roll type cakes, this is a sponge cake. But with a delicious red velvet flavor! There’s cocoa and vanilla, a little brown sugar, with a slight tang from buttermilk. It’s a light and airy cake, leavened mostly by the air whipped into the eggs in step 4. We’re talking lots of air– 5 full minutes of beating 4 eggs together. This is the bulk of the cake batter.

Here are the eggs after 5 minutes. They’re super fluffy and practically quadrupled in volume:

How to make a red velvet cake roll on sallysbakingaddiction.com

This cake recipe is particular. Meaning there’s 1 cup MINUS 1 Tablespoon of flour*, only 2 Tablespoons of this, and 3 Tablespoons of that. It’s best to follow the ingredients precisely as any little change could sabotage your efforts. I had trouble getting the proper sponge texture and taste. At first, I put all my effort into making the red velvet cake roll with creamed butter (for butter flavor) but the cake constantly ended up too dry and cracked. Once I switched to oil, I had zero issue. And I am confident in the final recipe below! You’ll love it.

*About the flour: all you’ll do is measure 1 cup of flour and take out 1 Tablespoon. It’s easy.

Unlike the other ingredients, you can play around with the amount of red food coloring. If you’re not comfortable using food coloring in your cake roll, simply leave it out. If you want the ruby red color of this cake roll, use about 1 Tablespoon of liquid food coloring or about 1 teaspoon of gel coloring.

Another must: the correct size baking pan. This isn’t a lot of cake batter, nor is it a thick cake. We want a thin sheet cake, as that’s the real trick to successfully rolling it up. The best size pan for this is a 10×15 inch pan. You can get the one I have off Amazon for super cheap. 🙂

How to make a red velvet cake roll on sallysbakingaddiction.com

The cake bakes for only about 16-17 minutes until it springs back when you poke it with your finger. Now once it comes out of the oven, don’t waste any time. Flip that thing right out of the lined pan and onto a thin kitchen towel to begin rolling. Why immediately? If you roll it up while it’s still warm, it will help prevent any cracks in the cake roll.

3 tips for this step:

  1. Prepare the kitchen towel as the cake bakes. Lay it out on your counter and sprinkle it with 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar. Be generous with the sugar. It will prevent the sticky cake from adhering to the towel. The towel will help you roll it up. Remember, make sure it’s a thin towel.
  2. Make sure you had that cake pan lined with parchment paper so it absolutely does not stick to the pan!
  3. Immediately flip the warm cake onto the prepared towel once it comes out of the oven.

Peel the parchment paper off of the warm cake. What you see here is the bottom of the cake and the surface that will be frosted with cream cheese frosting once it cools.

How to make a red velvet cake roll on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Gently and slowly roll it up with the towel. The towel prevents any sticking.

How to make a red velvet cake roll on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Then let the cake completely cool, while rolled up in the towel. It’s so odd, but it really does work this way! Place the whole roll on a large plate because some confectioners’ sugar can spill out the sides. I place the roll into the refrigerator for a couple hours to speed up the cooling process.

Once cool, let’s remove it from the refrigerator and let it sit out for a few minutes as we make the frosting. If we tried to unroll the cake while it’s super cold, it could begin to crack. So let it warm up for a few minutes on the counter.

And for the frosting? Cream cheese frosting, of course! Red velvet’s tangy creamy luscious bestie. Make sure it’s a nice even layer so there aren’t any uneven sections of frosting inside the cake roll.

How to make a red velvet cake roll on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Once again, roll the cake up. Only this time without the towel. The cake will automatically want to curl up again because it cooled in the rolled up position. Does this make sense?

Once the cake is all rolled up, refrigerate it for about 20 minutes before slicing and serving so the cake sets its shape and is easier to cut.

How to make a red velvet cake roll on sallysbakingaddiction.com

It’s beautiful! Doesn’t it remind you of a swirly peppermint candy? So much love for this festive cake.

Here’s what you’ll taste: a light and spongey cake texture with lots of cocoa and vanilla flavor. There’s a little brown sugar for moisture and flavor, too. The cream cheese frosting might just be the star here though. You know how good that stuff is with red velvet! ♥ ♥

Learn how to make a deliciously soft red velvet cake roll using this step-by-step photo tutorial and recipe! sallysbakingaddiction.com

Learn how to make a deliciously soft red velvet cake roll using this step-by-step photo tutorial and recipe! sallysbakingaddiction.com

You can do this!

Red Velvet Cake Roll

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup minus 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour (see note)1
  • 3 Tablespoons (15g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar (helps the red color stand out)
  • 1 Tablespoon liquid red food coloring2
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • for rolling: 1 cup (120g) confectioners' sugar

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 6 ounces (170g) block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick; 60g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (210g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Read the instructions through before beginning. Make sure you are prepared for step 7 immediately when that cake comes out!
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 10x15 inch baking pan with nonstick spray or grease with butter, so the parchment paper sticks. Then line it with parchment paper so the cake seamlessly releases in step 5. Spray or grease the parchment paper too. We want an extremely nonstick surface for this cake roll.
  3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt together. (Make sure they're sifted well!) Set aside.
  4. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat the eggs for 5 minutes on high speed. They will be light and very fluffy. On medium speed, beat in the granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, buttermilk, vinegar, food coloring, and vanilla until combined. Stop the mixer, pour in the sifted dry ingredients, then beat on low until the batter is completely combined. It will be a ruby red color.
  5. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Give the pan a shake to make sure the batter is level and reaches the corners. Bake for 17 minutes or until the cake springs back when you poke it with a finger.
  6. Meanwhile, lay a thin kitchen towel flat on the counter. Sprinkle with 1 cup of confectioners' sugar. Once the cake comes out of the oven, immediately invert it onto the towel. Peel off the parchment paper then, starting with the narrow end, begin rolling the cake up with the towel. Do this slowly and gently. The cake will be warm as it just came out of the oven.
  7. Allow the cake to cool completely rolled up in the towel. I stick mine in the refrigerator for about 2 hours to speed it up.
  8. Remove the cake roll from the refrigerator and allow to sit on the counter for a few minutes to warm up as you prepare the frosting.
  9. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese for 1 minute on high speed until completely smooth and creamy. Beat in the butter until combined. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until combined and creamy.
  10. Gently and slowly unroll the cake. Flatten it out and spread frosting evenly on top, leaving about a 1/2 inch border around the cake. Gently and slowly roll the cake back up, without the towel this time. Make sure you're rolling it tightly. Some frosting may spill out the sides, that's ok!
  11. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes before slicing and serving. Dust with more confectioners' sugar, if desired.

Make ahead tip: You can prepare the cake through step 7 and chill the rolled up cake/towel in the refrigerator for up to 1 day before continuing with step 8. Prepared cake roll, with frosting, freezes well for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before slicing and serving.

Recipe Notes:

  1. For the flour, all you have to do is measure 1 cup of flour, then remove 1 Tablespoon. This is 15 Tablespoons (118g) of flour aka 1 cup minus 1 Tablespoon.
  2. You can certainly leave the food coloring out if you do not wish to use it. You can use less for a less red cake. Or you can use 1 teaspoon of gel red food coloring instead.

Adapted from Domino Sugar

Did you make a recipe?

Tag @sallysbakeblog on Instagram and hashtag it #sallysbakingaddiction.

© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

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Here are a couple items I used to make today’s recipe.

Kitchenaid Stand Mixer | Jelly Roll Pan | Hand Crank SifterMcCormick Red Food ColoringKitchen Towels

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pays me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Learn how to make a deliciously soft red velvet cake roll using this step-by-step photo tutorial and recipe! sallysbakingaddiction.com

62 comments

  1. love the step by step instructions! cake rolls are definitely more intimidating when you think about them rather than when you actually make them (:

  2. So pretty! I’ve never made a cake roll, but I have always been tempted by the potentially high frosting-to-cake ratio 😉 Your step-by-step instructions are awesome! Thanks 🙂

  3. This sounds amazing, must try it out! Sophie x

    sophiehmstewart.com

  4. I was hoping that was CC frosting when I saw this on your instagram!  I successfully made a pumpkin roll once, but def need to purchase the right towels before I try this one as I think I just used a dish towel before, hehe.

  5. The step-by-step photos are so useful!! And I adore red velvet, with cream cheese frosting of course! This is a great idea for a Christmas dessert!

  6. Like a lot your recipes and your photos 

  7. You are so my favorite person today (well every day). I made my first “Yule Log” last year- it was a tiramisu filling and had a delish chocolate ganache. I want to do another Yule Log this year and I think I found the recipe to use for it 🙂 I love the look of the traditional yule log with different flavors. I was leaning toward a maple bacon flavor until I just saw this. I always trust you more than anything else I find online because your recipes are flawless and fool-proof!!!!! Thanks lady, will be sure to tag you as always in the finished results online <3

    • Your chocolate ganache/tiramisu roll sounds SOOOOOO good!! I want that recipe! Also, have fun making this one. Let me know how it goes!

      • I’ll email the recipe to you for the chocolate one. It really was amazing!! I do have a question for you here. Obviously I need to cover the outside of the log with some type of frosting… do you have a recipe for a good white chocolate ganache? I’m thinking I could make the ganache I used for the chocolate yule log and just switch it to white but wondered if you had a good recipe as well. Let me know 🙂

      • Got your email and wrote back! I don’t have a great recipe for white chocolate ganache but I’d start with replacing semi-sweet chocolate with white chocolate in this ganache. 🙂

  8. You’ve always had beautiful photography, but holy COW these photos in particular are absolutely GORGEOUS!!! Plus, I love red velvet cake, sooooo I’ll take the whole roll, please!

  9. I’ve always been intimidated by cake rolls, but after reading through the instructions, it doesn’t seem too bad! And for such a beautiful result, it looks worth it too. The step by step photos help too. Don’t think I’ll get to make it for Christmas, but red velvet certainly screams Valentine’s Day, too. Or hey, any time of year. Also, still jealous of that super cute “eat dessert first” fork. If that’s not “me,” I don’t know what is 😉

    • I received that fork as a gift and I’m OBSESSED with it! But let me know if you try this sometime. They truly aren’t that difficult!

  10. How do you invert it without sending up a PUFF of icing sugar?  Or is this just inevitable? LOL  I think you should put another asterisk/warning to wear an apron when doing this.

    • Sometimes there is a big PUFF! But if you are super careful and maybe even enlist some help, some extra hands can help gently guide the cake down onto the towel without a giant mess 😉

      • I really want to try this for Christmas, but I’m a little concerned about inverting it. As you turn over the pan, does the cake start to drop out? This part sounds tricky. I wouldn’t want the cake to break into pieces.

      • I always try to flip it over quickly so it doesn’t fall out. It shouldn’t crumble even if it does!

  11. I love how much detail you go into to help us all out! It definitely sounds particular, but it is also gorgeous so I’m more than confident it was worth all of your testing =)

  12. I’ve always wanted to learn how to make these rolled cakes and this red velvet version looks absolutely amazing. Now I’m just going to have to find space in our tiny kitchen to make this. And figure how to not make a huge mess with all that powdered sugar! 

  13. Sally – this looks lovely and you have convinced me that I *can* make a cake roll. Your photos are so helpful. I just love, love, LOVE the dotted knife in your first photo – so cute! Merry Christmas to you and Kevin and of course Jude and Franklin. {{Hugs}} I hope you are able to enjoy family and friends, and I look forward to 2017 and your next cookbook!

  14. It looks beautiful! Does this mean you will do a buche de noel?!?! (Pretty please?) I have been wanting to try one for years, but if you write the recipe, I have confidence it will actually turn out right. 🙂

  15. I would like to make a vanilla cake roll for Easter. What can I use instead of the cocoa powder?
    Your step by step photos are wonderful ! Thank you.

    • Dottie, I’m unsure of the exact measurements with a vanilla cake roll. I’d keep trying to make it with butter because of the flavor… especially if you are not using cocoa powder. Sorry I’m not much help here, I just don’t want to steer you in the wrong direction!

  16. Hey Sally,

    Making a cake roll has been on my mind for a while now and I’m super excited to try this now. One thing I felt like I have to tell you is that you sound just like a good friend through your encouraging words as well as a great baker/teacher and that feels wonderful. I really enjoyed following your blog and baking along with you through these years. Thanks for all of that. 🙂

  17. With the T. Of flour removed & no T.  Of cornstarch added (homemade cake flour recipe)  I was wondering why this is done?…  Just curious ?

    • No cornstarch. We are not using cake flour here. I found the cake to be much too airy/flimsy with it. All-purpose, 15 Tbsp. 🙂

  18. This looks beautiful Sally and perfect for Xmas. Thanks for sharing!!!

  19. I’ve always been intimidated to attempt this, but yours looks so delicious!

  20. Gosh Sally! You’re photography has reached a new level of perfection. It has been incredible watching you grow over the years. And that cake roll. . . . mmmm drooling all over my tab! Again you’ve outdone yourself
    You go girl!

    • Thank you so much Verona!! I’ve had a lot of trouble shooting red velvet in the past but finally think I have it down. I truly appreciate the compliment.

  21. When I see those slices of cake roll, I feel a full satisfaction on my eyes, honestly! It looks amazing and I will sure save this for later!

  22. Wow this is so yummy.

  23. Wow excellent idea, I never thought about making a red velvet cake into a roulade. Nice work.

  24. Thank you for the recipe! Excited to try it this weekend!!

  25. Red Velvet cake roll, Red Velvet heaven. Same thing, I’m pretty sure. This looks absolutely beautiful and so delicious!

  26. Every cake roll I’ve made is tough and dry. This one actually looks like cake!!!!!!!!! YAYYYYY

  27. This looks so gorgeous! I love making cake rolls!

  28. Hi,

    Is it possible to make this the day before serving it? Any tips?

    • Absolutely. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap, stick it in the fridge, and let it sit out for 10-20 minutes before cutting and serving.

  29. Hi Sally, this recipe looks delicious. Can you use a fresh piece of parchment paper dusted with confectioners sugar and roll up cake instead of a towel?

  30. This looks fabulous! Maybe I will add some green food coloring to the icing or a few sprinkles for extra fun. Thanks for another great recipe!

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