A roulade is traditionally a sweet confection made by spreading a thin oblong of light sponge cake or meringue with jam, buttercream and/or cream then rolling it into a tight cylinder. When you slice into it you reveal a pretty spiral of cake and filling which have an enjoyable contrast of flavour and textures.
To make a roulade line a rectangular Swiss roll tin with a sheet of baking parchment. Make your sponge mix and spread it evenly into the lined tin and bake for the appropriate time. Take the cake from the oven and leave it to cool in the tin. Once cold turn the cake onto a large sheet of greaseproof paper and remove the baking paper from the base. Spread the base with your filling of choice, leaving a 2cm border all the way round the outside edge. With one of the short edges facing you begin to roll the cake as tightly as you can using the paper as a guide, pulling it away from yourself as you roll. Finish with the seam side down. Dust with icing sugar or continue to decorate to create the roulade you desire or be adventurous and make this brilliant chocolate stripe cake.
Roulades can be quite a delicate cake with vanilla sponge and a fine layer of raspberry jam or thinly sliced strawberries inside meringue or more substantial constructs like a chocolate sponge rolled with whipped cream and sometimes covered in crushed nuts. Savoury roulades are becoming increasingly popular with a savoury sponge with spinach and smoked salmon or Delia's cheese and parsnip roulade with onion stuffing
Perhaps the most famous roulade is the Christmas delight of bûche de Noël or yule log where a light sponge cake is rolled with coffee buttercream then covered with chocolate buttercream and textured to look like bark. The roll is further decorated with more buttercream to make the 'log' have stumps from removed branches and perhaps little meringue mushrooms for effect. Once cut light and dark swirls revealed imitate the growth rings of freshly cut wood to the delight of all present. Cake as magic!