How I Roll

Despite my best intentions, that “day off” on Thanksgiving never actually happened. Instead, I found myself baking frantically all afternoon, rushing to complete this month’s Daring Baker Challenge before it was too late. Shuna Fish Lydon’s caramel cake was an excellent choice by Dolores, Jenny, and Alex, but putting it off until the very last moment was just asking for trouble. Sure, the first attempt was edible, but it sure as hell wasn’t pretty, and most disappointingly, was inexcusably bland. Unwilling to give up and serve this boring, amateurish cake, it was back into the kitchen for me!

Keeping things simple and veganizing the cake by using EnerG to replace the egg, there was no time for fancy ingredients or iffy procedures. Adding a pinch of five spice powder to the batter this time in hopes of livening up the flavor, the situation started looking better by the minute. Into a long, thin jelly roll pan it went this time, baking in a record 15 minutes. It certainly wasn’t one of the more difficult recipes to begin with, but at this point it seemed like a done deal.

Naturally, there was only one thing I wanted to do with this jelly roll: Roll it! When that cake wrapped snugly around the layer of silky and sweet caramel frosting, making it out in one piece, the clouds suddenly seemed to lift. All it needed was a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar, and then to gild the lily, a few pieces of star-shaped caramel candy.

This was a whole different beast than the original cake- and thank goodness! Some claimed it reminded them of gingerbread, while others could only puzzle over that enciting spice. There were raves, and a chunk of it was taken away with the dinner guests. What a relief, and a what a wonderful way to celebrate one full year of being a Daring Baker!

Perhaps the early disappointment was lucky, because it led to a far more spectacular dessert in the end.

92 thoughts on “How I Roll

  1. Five spice…

    Jelly roll…


    Thanks for baking with us this month. I’m sort of glad your first attempt didn’t work out, because I’m looking forward to trying YOUR version for Christmas.

  2. I LOVE that you made a roll – how perfect for the Holidays, and so pretty. My cake was similarly holiday inspired in flavour…you know what they say about great minds :) Ok, but yours is much, MUCH prettier! I’m definitely trying your roll idea next time around.

  3. It’s beautiful!

    My roll cakes have been epic failures in the past! I’m excited to try this recipe and hopefully revive my mom’s bouche de noel this season.

  4. Congrats on completion of an year of daring baker! I backed out after just two – just couldn’t go through find the alternatives here! You roll looks fabulous:)

  5. I’ve been thinking of making a jelly roll-style cake, but didn’t even think of it when making this cake this month. Dang! And five spice – brilliant! Love the little caramel candies – did you flavor those with five spice too?

  6. Hannah that looks great. I still haven’t had a chance to post mine. The start of the holiday season marks insanity for me. This is inspiring me to make a roll sometime during the holidays. They are so beautiful.

  7. Caramel….cake…? Oh my goodness! That sounds soooo good (I LOVE caramel!) and like the perfect opportunity to try my first jelly roll. Hm……definitely will add that to my (very long) to-do list!

    Also, because you were one of the first three people to comment on my last blog post, I was wondering if you would like to participate in the Pay It Forward Challenge. Please let me know by emailing me at

  8. How ingenious and sooooo appropriate for the coming Holidays… that is what very creative idea you’ve given your readers! …and a beautifully accomplished challenge!

  9. I’m sorry you never got your day off, I hope you give yourself a break before the next month’s holidays!

    In any case, this looks bea-yootiful. The little stars are marvelous; I’m so impatient sometimes and have never had caramel turn out very nicely.

  10. Wow, Hannah! This is stunningly gorgeous! Adding the five-spice was clever, but rolling the cake was genius! It looks so sophisticated.

    I don’t suppose there’s a teeny-tiny slice left for me to taste?

  11. Wow! I’m so impressed. I’ve never made a jelly roll before, it looks really beautiful and so creative. I love the caramel stars.

  12. Oh Hannah, you’re brilliant! Love the jelly roll and the fact that you veganized it?! You are so very very talented, hon. GREAT job.

  13. Oh my oh my oh my. Brilliant. Seriously. Perhaps if I made mine into a jelly roll, I would have liked it better. I think what you did with this recipe is amazing. I am so impressed. Excellent job.

  14. Wow, fantastic idea for coming up with a jelly roll version. I don’t think any one did this. All I can say is great job and love the idea plus the deco.

  15. I’ve seen so many variations of this cake, but you’re the first with the jelly roll version. Love it AND the little stars! Great work!

  16. Your site is really one of the most beautiful site vegan that I have ever seen! Your pictures are always beautiful and your ideas, superb!
    It’s good to see that in the vegan community, we do not just eat salad!
    I like coming to your site watch your creations, you have fingers in gold, gift waouw impressive!
    Your challenge is just perfect!

  17. I was thinking of doing a jelly roll (good to see that it worked) but I decided on lamingtons. Your jelly roll looks great and a nice variation on the orginal cake. Happy holidays to you and your kin.

  18. You did a fabulous job on your cake. I love your idea to make it as a jelly roll and the lovely stars on top. Nice touch to use Chinese 5 spice too!

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  19. There are so many comments I couldn’t tell if I already left you one, but if not, outstanding job on this challenge! It’s the best one I’ve seen.

  20. How pretty, and what a great idea! I didn’t think it was possible for this particular cake to be rolled. I love your presentation, and anything that reminds anyone of gingerbread, is definitely a good thing :)

  21. Looks amazingly tasty!
    May I ask? What are the stars? They are so simple and cute, but what are they? They look almost like ‘jell-o’.

  22. What a fantastic cake- just what I’m looking for for my Christmas-pudding-hating guests on the 25th!
    The five-spice you used- is this like Chinese 5-spice, or what is known in Britain ‘allspice’ and has cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger and allspice in?
    Cheers, and keep up the good work!

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