This soft and fluffy hojicha Swiss roll cake is made with a hojicha sponge cake, brushed with hojicha syrup, and filled with a light and airy vanilla whipped cream. A crackly sugar crust makes it extra impressive!
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I love a good tea and dessert fusion recipe and this hojicha Swiss roll cake definitely delivers. Hojicha is matcha’s milder cousin with a delicious nutty taste and fragrance, and I love using it for desserts!
What sets this hojicha roll cake apart?
This recipe takes a classic Swiss roll and adds a fragrant hojicha element in both the sponge and syrup. Hojicha is a Japanese green tea that is roasted at high temperatures to create a nutty, toasty flavor. When added to the Swiss roll cake, it creates a unique and sophisticated flavor that is a delicious fusion of tea and dessert.
A simple vanilla whipped cream helps balance out the earthy tea flavors, and a crackly sugar creates an impressive finish that is deceptively easy to make!
How to make a Swiss roll cake
This Swiss roll cake is made with a light sponge leavened solely through eggs. The texture is very similar to ladyfingers used in a tiramisu. Here’s an overview of the different steps:
- Make a French meringue – whip your egg whites and sugar to stiff peaks. The mixture should be firm and glossy as this is the primary way air is incorporated into the sponge
- Add the egg yolks – add the egg yolks directly into the egg whites while the mixer is running on high speed. After a few seconds, the yolks are incorporated
- Sift in flour and hojicha – sift in the flour in 3 batches, folding in gently to avoid deflating the egg mixture
- Spread and cover with powdered sugar – Spread evenly onto a half baking sheet, being careful not to deflate the mixture. Then top with powdered sugar which will turn into an impressive, crackly crust in the oven.
- Bake – bake the cake. It bakes fairly quickly, in just 7 – 10 minutes so be careful not to overbake, as that will dry the cake out
Where can I find hojicha?
For this recipe, you’ll specifically need powdered hojicha. You can find it from your local Asian grocery store, or order it online. I can no longer find the exact brand of hojicha I use online, but I have used matcha powder from Jade Leaf before with good results and they offer hojicha powder as well.
How to make a Swiss roll filling
For the filling, I like to use a very simple vanilla whipped cream to balance out the nutty hojicha flavors and keep the cake from getting too sweet. Here are tips for making whipped cream:
- Use Cold Ingredients: Start with cold heavy cream and a cold mixing bowl. This helps the cream whip up faster and hold its shape
- Chill Your Bowl: If you’re whipping and find that the cream is not holding it’s shape, place the bowl in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes, then try again
- Whip to Stiff Peaks: Make sure to whip to stiff peaks so that it will hold it’s structure when you spread in the cake
How to assemble a Swiss roll cake
To assemble the cake, you’ll brush the sponge with hojicha syrup, fill with whipped cream, then tightly roll into a swirled log. The most challenging part is preventing the cake from cracking and to make sure you have a tight, even swirl.
How to keep your Swiss roll from cracking
Careful handling and some tips can help keep the roll from cracking.
- Avoid Overbaking: Be mindful of the baking time. Overbaking can result in a dry and more fragile cake that is prone to cracking.
- Roll While Warm: Roll the cake while it is still warm but not hot. Allow it to cool slightly after baking, and then roll it up tightly with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. Rolling while warm helps the cake to retain its shape. Let cool while still rolled up
- Cool Completely: Allow the rolled cake to cool completely before filling. This helps the cake set in its rolled shape, reducing the risk of cracking when you add the filling.
- Fill Carefully: When adding the filling, be gentle. Spread it evenly over the cake, leaving a small border around the edges. Roll the cake back up slowly, ensuring that the pressure is distributed evenly. I usually cut off the ends where there is less filling
Can you make this Swiss roll cake ahead of time?
This Swiss roll cake is best served on the day that it’s made. I find that if you store it in the fridge overnight, the crackly sugar crust softens and the whipped cream deflates. It will still taste good, but the appearance will be less impressive and overall the cake will be a little less fresh.
Other tea-flavored desserts to love
- Matcha sesame cookies
- Hojicha cheesecake brownies
- Earl Grey tea cake
- Hojicha honey lavender cream bars
- Ruby and white chocolate chewy matcha cookies
If you make this recipe, please let me know! I always love to see what my readers are baking. You can comment below or tag me on Instagram @halicopteraway.
Hojicha Swiss roll cake
- Hand mixer or stand mixer
- Half baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Pastry brush
- 4 eggs, separated
- 2/3 cup (120g) granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp (107g) all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tbsp (13g) hojicha powder
- 1/3 cup (50g) powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup (75g) hot water
- 1 1/2 tsp hojicha powder
- 3 tbsp (36g) granulated sugar
Whipped cream filling
- 1 cup (240g) heavy whipping cream
- 2 tbsp (24g) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Make the sponge cake
- Preheat the oven to 400F and line a half baking sheet with parchment paper
- Using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium speed until bubbles form and they hold a soft peak
- Gradually add the granulated sugar while the mixer is running. Continue whipping until the egg whites are firm and glossy and hold a stiff peak. Add the egg yolks and whip on high speed until smooth, about 5 seconds
- Sift in the flour and hojicha in 3 batches, gently folding in each batch with a spatula
- Use a spatula to gently spread the batter evenly on the baking sheet. Sift powdered sugar on top
- Place in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 7 – 10 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes on a wire cooling rack
- While the cake is still warm, flip it from the tray onto clean kitchen or paper towels. The crackly sugar side should be facing down. Gently roll up the cake, shorter side facing you
- Let the cake cool completely while wrapped up in the towel. This will help prevent cracking when you fill and roll up the cake
Make the hojicha syrup
- In a bowl, mix together the hot water, sugar, and hojicha powder until everything is dissolved. Set aside to cool until at least lukewarm
Make the whipped cream filling
- In a large mixing bowl, add the heavy whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. Using a hand or stand mixer with a whisk attachment, mix on high speed until stiff peaks form
Assemble the cake
- Once the cake has cooled, gently unwrap it from the towel. Make sure the sugar side is facing down as that is the outside of the cake
- Brush the surface of the cake with the hojicha syrup, then spread evenly with the whipped cream. I leave a thin border around the edge so that it doesn't gush out the sides
- Gently but firmly roll up the cake, making sure to tuck it in tightly so you get a clear spiral. Trim off the ends of the cake if they do not have enough filling
- Whipping egg whites to stiff peaks. It’s important to whip your egg whites to stiff peaks, as the meringue is the primary leavener for this cake. When you remove the whisk from the meringue, the meringue should form a peak that does not droop or bend. You should also be able to turn the bowl over your head without the meringue falling out
- Can you sub matcha for hojicha? The recipe will still work if you substitute matcha powder for hojicha powder. The flavor will be different though as this will now be a matcha roll cake
- Can you make this cake ahead of time? This cake is best served the day that it is made. The sugar crust does not hold up well in the fridge when covered, as it loses its crackly texture. If you want to make ahead of time, I would suggest skipping the powdered sugar on the cake