My boyfriend is called Gaylord. He was named after a character in a book, apparently a rambunctious little boy. When we met (one day, I will tell you that story as it’s a good one), I assumed he was joking when he introduced himself. Now, I don’t hear the name as it is his. He wears it well, like a fashion statement. Gaylord has, completely subconsciously, imitated his namesake. He is clownish yet witty, a French Shakespearean Puck if you will. Today though, I want to make it clear – I don’t compliment him often as it makes his head grow to enormous proportions – he makes the best roulade I’ve ever eaten. Particularly this berry and basil roulade.
Last month I released my first recipe ebook. It is called Easy Elevenses and includes 15 recipes of bakes that can abate those incessant stomach rumbles between breakfast and lunch. You know the ones I mean. The rumbles that make people’s heads turn in surprise. The ones where you gulp water in desperation, hoping it will fill the void. The ones you try to mask with a loud cough. This book shares recipes for the snacks we need to avoid that social embarrassment.
Over three years, the ebook has shaped and evolved, and was originally built in MS PowerPoint before I finally remembered that Canva exists. Three years, you might ask? Yes, indeed, three long years – a pandemic and the endless yo-yo of lockdowns, a move to France, the Queen’s death and three Prime Ministers later, I eventually finished this ebook.
It was sitting in my files for a good two of those years. I’d tried to upload it to Amazon and Google Books but they weren’t having any of it – maybe making it in PowerPoint was the issue – and in my frustration, I hid it in a file and forgot about it. Then, last summer, after Gaylord and I sampled the most incredible dessert of our lives, I realised I had new inspiration for my book.
This is where Gaylord’s roulade-making comes into play. He’d already subtly demonstrated these skills – a photograph of a roulade sent at Christmas, the intricate swirl imitating a snail’s shell, or a quick roulade he rustled up and spread with jam for a sweet snack. Before I knew it, I was acknowledging deep down that all the roulades I’d had in my life simply didn’t compare to the ones Gaylord was producing. Delicate and soft, yet robust enough to hold its shape, each morsel of roulade melted in my mouth.
So, you take this mischievous roulade maker, and then you sample a dessert that makes you want to weep, and what can you do but combine them?
The Origins of a Berry and Basil Roulade
The dessert in question was at a bistro in Paris. We ate at Le Ballon Voyager on one summer’s evening, dining outside in the sun. It was hot. I had to borrow Gaylord’s cap to shield my pasty complexion. We ate steak and duck-fat fries and chimichurri, all of which were delicious, and we were only perusing the dessert menu, you know, just because. Then we saw it: Basil mousse, raspberry coulis, strawberries, almond crumble.
We ordered it immediately. The two of us have a big problem with basil – Gaylord nurtured his Lidl basil plant tenderly for a summer, affectionately naming it Baby Bas until it inevitably died – as we have discovered it goes with almost anything. Particularly berries.
The dessert arrived. A bowl of quivering creamy mousse covered in a red blanket of coulis and berries. The waiter had barely set down the bowl before we’d sunk our spoons into the mousse and were lifting them to our mouths. Cue my brain setting off fireworks. Gaylord probably set down his spoon in shock, maybe lifted his hand to his mouth. He really should be on the stage. The mousse was so light and smooth, so subtly speckled with basil, and the berry compote was the perfect hit of fruity, fragrant sweetness. The flavours spun together, entwined in a tango, neither taking the lead. Never before has there been such a partnership.
We scraped the bowl clean. We also waddled home. And we couldn’t stop talking about that mousse, that coulis. When it comes to food, we are both obsessive. We egg each other on; it’s a bad habit sometimes especially when we really don’t need to eat another pan of brownies, but in the case of this strawberry, raspberry and basil roulade, our obsession was necessary.
Gaylord made the roulade. I made the filling, a simple mixture of mascarpone, macerated strawberries and raspberries and torn basil, and the garnish, a display of total extravagance including sugar-crusted fruits that no one has time for in an Easy Elevenses book. Gaylord tenderly wrapped the roulade in a warm towel like a new born. Its spiral was tight and even, like the whorl of a lollipop, and when he unrolled it, the sponge bounced bake like a spring.
Slowly, carefully we filled it with the berries and basil, rolled it back up and I proceeded to douse it in unnecessary toppings. But hey-ho. Our summer was now sitting there in cake form.
Summer wouldn’t be right for us if we didn’t sample at least one dish with berries and basil, and we are delighted to add our strawberry, raspberry and basil roulade to the world’s repertoire. Now, just don’t tell Gaylord how good he is at making roulades.
Download your copy of Easy Elevenses here!
Raspberry, Strawberry and Basil Roulade
- 6 eggs separated
- 200 g sugar
- 160 g flour
- 100 g strawberries hulled
- 60 g raspberries
- 100 g mascarpone
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 4 basil leaves
- 100 ml double cream for garnish
- Raspberries, strawberries and basil for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F. Line a 23 x 33cm (9 x 13 in) baking tray with baking parchment, making sure there is some paper overhanging the two ends.
- Whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks. With electric beaters, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and thick, around 5 minutes.
- Fold half of the flour into the egg yolks and sugar mixture then half the egg whites, then repeat. Pour it all gently over the lined baking tray and push it to the corners. Tap the tray against the kitchen counter to release any air, then put it in the oven to bake for 10 minutes.
- Once risen and golden, remove from the oven and immediately turn the cake out onto a damp tea towel. Remove the tray and peel off the baking paper. Working quickly, gently roll up the roulade, wrapping the towel inside and around the roll. Leave to cool.
- Chop the berries into small pieces. In a bowl, beat the mascarpone until smooth. Add the chopped berries, the sugar, and tear the basil leaves into small shreds and add them to the bowl. Fold it all together until the mascarpone is light pink.
- Once the roulade is cool, carefully unroll it, keeping it on the tea towel. Spread the filling over the surface, leaving a section at the furthest end of the roll clear so that it doesn’t overflow when rolled up. Gently re-roll, taking care not to push the cream out the sides. Once back in a tight roll, the roulade is ready to garnish.
- Whip the double cream into firm peaks. Either fill a piping bag or use a spoon to place dollops down the centre of the roulade. Top the cream with the raspberries, strawberries and basil.