Lemon Swiss Roll

A summer's day delight; sweet lemon vanilla cake rolled up with a tart and lemony curd filling. 

Did someone say lemon?

This is Lemon, with a capital L. Seriously flavourful and with a tingly tastebud sensation, this is the "Lemon" Swiss Roll, not "lemon" Swiss roll. 

My name is Eve and I love lemon desserts. Lemon meringue pie, lemon drizzle cake, you name it; I love the sweet citrus flavour that lemons have. This Swiss roll is no different, with it's lemon and vanilla whisked sponge cake and lemon curd filling, it will satisfy even the most picky of lemon lovers. 

Give me a choice of a chocolate cake or a lemon cake and I will probably dive for the lemon flavour, I think it comes from my mum's side ;) 
Lemon is just such a refreshing flavour and even though I love chocolate cakes and cookies, sometimes chocolate can be a bit over the top. However, a lemon, plain or vanilla flavour can just hit the spot. 

I love Swiss rolls/ cake rolls. They are the same thing but in Scotland, we call them Swiss rolls, capiche?

Swiss rolls are such a versatile cake, you can make the cake any flavour and the filing any flavour and you have a showstopper of a cake. The swirl of the filling in the cake makes it look like a difficult cake to make but actually, it is so easy using my no fail recipe.

Swiss rolls are notorious for being a bit "temperamental"; sometimes not rising, sometimes chewy and sometimes just not working at all! However, the main fear that strikes bakers is when their Swiss rolls crack and break when rolling up. I have created a recipe that guarantees every Swiss roll cake you will make to be perfect. Purists may not agree with my recipe as a traditional Swiss roll cake should only contain three ingredients but after making the traditional recipe for many years, I decided to venture off track and create the perfect no-fail recipe, perfect for beginner bakers to advanced bakers alike. 

Instead of having a three ingredient sponge which may or many not fail for new bakers to this type of cake, I created the same basic recipe but added my top 2 secret ingredients to create this foolproof cake that I promise won't be flat, chewy or have the tendency to crack and break.

Secret ingredient 1 - boiling water
Just one tablespoon of boiling water is a miracle worker in this cake. Once you add and fold in the flour, if over-mixed, the flour develops a tough gluten structure, giving the cake a chewy texture. The boiling water can also tenderise the batter, making it looser and not become as chewy. Also, the water helps the cake not to crack when rolled.

Secret ingredient 2 - oil 
Traditionally, a Swiss roll is a fatless cake, only containing the fat from egg yolks however, the absence of fat can make the cake dry, tough, crack or break and the cake normally goes stale in a day. By adding just one tablespoon or 15g of oil, you can avoid all of these problems! The oil tenderises the batter, reduced the chance of a tough dry cake and also adds "flexibility" to the cooked cake, being able to roll it without cracks and breakages forming.

For the filling of this cake, I made a super simple lemon curd-style filling. Be warned; this lemon curd is so lemony, it will make your lips pucker and crave for more. Even though the filling is sweet, you can add more sugar if you desire a less intense puckering sensation. 

The lemon curd contrasts so nicely against the sweet sponge and altogether, this cake is such a delicious lemony hit if you are craving a citrus punch. You can even use a good quality shop-bought lemon curd in place of the homemade one I have included. Make sure the curd contains butter and sugar, not margarine and glucose-fructose syrup. Authentic lemon curd may also be labeled as "lemon cheese". 

Lemon Swiss Roll
Posted by Eve
Makes 1 cake

For the lemon filling*
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 egg, free range or organic, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tiny pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 125g qood quality lemon curd or lemon "cheese" 

For the cake
  • 3 eggs, free range or organic, at room temperature
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 large lemon
  • 100g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp. oil, I used rapeseed
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. boiling water


  1. First make the filling. In a small pan, mix together the lemon juice, lemon zest and sugar until combined. Heat on a medium heat to dissolve the sugar. 
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg until well mixed and slowly pour the lemon mixture into the egg, whisking at all times until all of the lemon is incorporated. 
  3. Pour the egg and lemon mix back into the saucepan and cook on a low heat, mixing at all times until it starts to bubble. Mix in the vanilla and salt.
  4. Pour the filling into a bowl and add the butter. Mix until the butter has melted, cover with clingfilm and chill until needed.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200ºc/ 190ºc fan/ gas mark 5 and line a 33cm x 23cm swiss roll tin with non-stick paper and lightly grease it using butter or oil.
  6. Whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla and zest together in a large bowl until thick, mousse-y and light. Add the flour and baking powder. Fold in using a metal spoon until thoroughly mixed but not over-worked. Pour into the tin.
  7. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes until golden and a  skewer inserted comes out clean. While the cake is baking, lie a clean tea towel on the counter and dust with caster sugar.
  8. Once the cake is done, immediately tip the whole cake on to the prepared tea towel and roll up the cake, rolling from the longest side of the cake with the non-stick paper still attached and the tea towel inside. Leave to cool like this.
  9. Once the roll is cooled, unroll the cake and spread the lemon filling all over, leaving a 2cm border from the end of the cake. Using the towel to help you, roll the cake up tightly. 
  10. Serve! 


This roll is best eaten on the day of making but it still tastes great 2 -3 days after baking. It should be stored in an air-tight container at room, temperature. 

*Lemon filling adapted from food.com