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

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© 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

70 comments

  1. Just gorgeous, Sally! This is the prettiest cake roll ever!

  2. This is so pretty! I would love to make this for Christmas but I have some non-cream-cheese people in my family. (the nerve!) Do you think I can substitute a buttercream frosting? Or do you have another recommendation?

  3. I made this, but it cracked when I was rolling it up the final time. However,  it didn’t come completely apart and I was able to hide the crack inside the role. Looks so beautiful! Can’t wait to eat it tomorrow when my family comes over for Christmas Eve!

  4. Hi Sally! Do you think this would work in a 13 x 15 inch baking pan? I can’t find a 10 x 15 anywhere for some reason.

  5. I tried making this roll twice last weekend. The cake was way too dense both times and my sister said that it was rather dry and was only saved by the filling for moisture although the cake itself tasted fine in small doses. I was surprised since I’ve made so many of your recipes and they all came out perfect. If I try again, should I beat the eggs longer? Also, I’ve made a fluffy matcha roll cake (using a 10×15) before and it only called for 4 ingredients of 40g cake flour, 80g sugar, 1T matcha powder, and 4 eggs and the cake was made into a sponge with separating the eggs and whipping the whites into a meringue. Do you think it would be possible to sub the 1T matcha for that recipe with 1T cocoa or would the cocoa require extra sugar for balance? I’d really like to try making a red velvet roll cake with a more airy texture.

  6. I’ve done this with different methods, but I think the towel works best.

  7. I’ve wanted to try a roll cake forever, I love the light and airy texture in them. I KNOW you said the right pan size is important, but I just have to ask! I have a Nordic jelly roll pan that’s 15.75″L x 11.25″W in size. I actually have two of them, so I don’t want to add yet another one that’s so close in size. Could I use that in this recipe?

  8. Where did you get that cute little dessert spoon?! I’m in love.

  9. Mine also cracked when I unrolled it, so it looks pretty sad… hoping it will taste ok! Any suggestion should for next time? I used a jelly roll pan. I didn’t measure but it might be more than 10×15, so maybe it was too thin?

  10. Hi! Sally!
    Thanks for another great recipe! I just finished making this and it turned out perfectly! First time I’ve ever made a cake roll. Great instructions!

    I’d like to make a chocolate Swiss cake roll. Should I add more cocoa? And use buttercream frosting? Your advice would be really appreciated. Thanks again!
    <3

  11. Hi Sally! I am from the phils! Im been ‘silently’ reading your blog I cant help myself to ask you this time.. My oven is just small and a 10×11 pan would only fit.. do you think it would work well too?

  12. Hi Sally,

    Can I use this recipe for making cake? If yes, I have an 8inch pan. Will it work? What will be the baking time?
    Thank you

  13. Hi Sally! I’m going to attempt to make this for Valentine’s Day next week! I love your recipes and use them OFTEN! Quick question: if I choose not to use the food colouring, would I still use the vinegar, since you mentioned that it helps bring out the red colouring? Thanks for any help you provide!

    And seriously, thanks for sharing your gift of yummy recipes to the world!! I love them!

  14. Sally, I am a very experienced baker and followed the recipe exactly.  The cake turned out dry and cracked majorly.  I am so disappointed because I wanted to bring this to a Date Night Event at our church. 

  15. I’m an experienced Baker. I bake cakes everyday and I tried this recipe, followed it to the ‘T’ and I had to throw it away! The cake was too dry and stiff

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