Brazo Gitano (Swiss Roll)


Brazo de Gitano, which translates literally to ‘Gypsy’s arm,‘ is the Spanish name for a Swiss roll. Ironically, the Swiss roll most likely originated in Germany and Hungary. This dessert became a favorite in Spain and in some New World countries as well and even as far away as the Philippines, a former Spanish colony. There, it is known as a “brazo de Mercedes.”



1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
3 or 4 eggs [the number of eggs depends on their size—altogether they should measure 2/3 cup]
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla
powdered sugar, for dusting [optional]
jam and/or whipped cream, for filling and decorating the cake


1. Grease a 10.5 x 15.5 x 1-inch jelly roll pan. Line the pan with parchment or waxed paper, and grease the paper. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

2. In a medium bowl, sift the flour together with the baking powder and salt. In a large bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer), beat the eggs for 10 minutes, or until they thicken, and then gradually add the sugar. Add the water and vanilla to the egg mixture, and then carefully fold in the sifted dry ingredients or use the mixer’s lowest setting. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 15 minutes.

3. Remove the cake from the oven, and before it cools, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert it onto a damp dish towel or a dry one dusted with powdered sugar. Carefully peel off the paper, and trim the edges of the cake with a sharp knife. Roll the cake and the towel up together, and let the cake cool.

4. Once the cake has cooled, gently unroll it and spread your choice of jam or whipped cream over the cake. Re-roll the cake and decorate as desired.


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