I know, I know, you must be thinking how this can possibly be an authentic Mexican Dessert. And that is okay, but for some generations of Mexicans this is something they have seen all their lives being sold at local bakeries and in some occasions taking the place of the traditional birthday cake. A similar situation happens sometimes in my family since this dessert is one of my mother’s favorites and she always asks for it on her birthday. This indulgence is sold filled with different kinds of fruits like mangos and peaches, but strawberries are the most famous of them all. I guess the young people in my country don’t even think about where this yummy treat came from, because they grew up seeing it all their lives, specially if you live in the city.
This cake has different names according to the region. It is called “Brazo Gitano” (gypsy arm), more common in the south and in Latin American countries where it is also filled with fruit jelly ; “niño envuelto” (wrapped boy) and “rollo de fruta” (fruit roll), or the “Buche de Noel” (Christmas Yule Log) in France. In Spain, however, besides the sweet recipe they also have a salty version filled with cold meats and it is served sliced as an appetizer. There is a story about how it got the name “gypsy arm” HERE. As with most other breads in Mexico, it came from Spain or France, I believe one of those countries must take credit for this recipe, anyway, they really enriched our gastronomy in so many ways.
This recipe has been adapted from a small booklet that came inside the box of my first set of glass baking dishes a long, long time ago. The name of the book is “ Platillos, Platos y Platones”
Recipe for about 8-10 servings
- 3/4 cup sugar for batter plus 1/2 cup for the whipping cream
- 6 eggs separate egg whites and yolks
- 2 teaspoons vanilla, one for the batter and one for the whipping cream
- 1/2 cup of flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 stick butter melted and cooled
- 1 pound of strawberries washed and cut in small pieces leaving some whole for decoration.
- 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar or more if you like sweeter
1. First line an 11 by 16 cookie sheet with parchment paper or buttered and floured waxed paper. Set aside. I am very generous with the buttering part to avoid any accidents with the batter.
2. Combine the sugar, one teaspoon of vanilla and the yolks in a bowl and beat until it changes to a lighter color. Mix the flour and the baking power in a separated container. All this is in preparation for the assembly of the batter.
3. Beat the egg whites until they hold firm and form peaks. Now with a wire whisk add the egg yolk mixture and beat into the batter. Then using a rubber spatula place the flour-baking powder blend, in a folding manner. Go as fast as you can to avoid a grainy texture. Finally, fold in the melted butter.
4. Pour into the prepared pan smoothing the batter evenly so that it touches all sides.
5. Bake in a preheated 400 oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the batter begins to shrink from the sides of the pan. When done, cover with a wet kitchen towel.
6. Carefully invert the cookie sheet over a flat surface (the towel is under the cake) remove the pan and lift the parchment paper.
7. Slowly start rolling the sponge cake with out pressing it. Let it cool for about 30 minutes rolled in the wet kitchen towel.
While the cake is cooling, whip the cream until it begins to hold shape, add the confectioners sugar and the remaining teaspoon of vanilla, and continue to whip until the cream is stiff. Keep refrigerated.
8. Once the cake is cooled unroll and spread it with some of the whipped cream and place the fruit as shown in the picture.
9. Roll up tightly with the help of the towel leaving the cake seam side down. With a spatula spread the rest of the whipped cream over the top and sides of the roll and garnish with the whole strawberries.
Enjoy and come back soon! Buen provecho!