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Springtime Birthday for Uncle Bill... and a First Cake for Zoey
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We have lots of spring birthdays in our family, so we're always looking for fun recipes. We just made a decadent chocolate cake for Joe's birthday, so this Orange Chai-Spiced Cake Roll was just the thing for his brother, Uncle Bill. Now, I'm not so good with mailing out cards, but if you come to my house on your birthday we will definitely celebrate with cake!

Zoey, my daughter, wanted to make this cake all by herself. It involved separating eggs into yolks and whites, which is one of her favorite baking activities. (Chocolate Cream Macaroon Tarts are another of her favorite recipes, partly for this reason but partly because she loves when everyone raves about her baking.)

The roll-up style cake is easy to make, but there are a few tricks I learned in junior high home economics class that are worth sharing. First, when you put the parchment into the pan, crease the edges so the batter can fill the pan and the paper stays in place. We had to use two smaller pieces because our parchment wasn't big enough for the pan, and she buttered the paper lightly instead of spraying with oil.

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Next, lay out your clean dish towel and sprinkle it with powdered sugar by tapping it through a small sieve. Use a smaller towel, just slightly bigger than the 10" x 15" jelly-roll pan.

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Now, make the cake batter. Start by separating the eggs and whipping the whites until foamy. Then add the sugar.  

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Continue beating until the whites form stiff peaks. Here, they're not quite ready -- notice the "string" of whites falls over.

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When the 'string' of whites stands up tall, you're ready to make the second part of the batter.

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Mix the yolks with the remaining sugar.

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When combined they'll be a golden yellow.

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After about 200 times around with the whisk (or a minute or two with the electric mixer), the batter will turn light-colored.

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Add the zest, baking powder and salt and mix well. Then, gently fold the yolk mixture into the whites.

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To fold, use a motion that is like scooping from the bottom and flipping the spoon upside down up top, gently rolling the spoon rather than stirring in a circle. This helps maintain the air and lightness whipped into the egg whites.

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Continue folding until the mixture is just combined and appears the same color, then pour it out onto the prepared pan. Smooth the batter into the pan, getting it to all the edges and as even as possible. Then, pop it into the oven. This is the quickest cake in town -- only 10-14 minutes!

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When the cake is done -- test by lighting pressing into the center of the cake and making sure it springs back -- flip it out of the pan. First run a butter knife along the edges to make sure it isn't stuck anywhere. Then, get the pan in position on its side near the sugared towel...

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... and flip!

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Piece of cake! Now simply lift the pan off the cake and start with an edge to peel off the parchment paper. It's easiest to do this right away, while the cake is still steamy.

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Once the edges are peeling well, you can simply pull across the cake slowly and the parchment will lift right off.

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Now, roll the cake up in the towel while it's still warm. Start by folding one edge of the towel up onto the cake...

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... and then roll it up carefully. It's much easier than you think! The high proportion of egg in the cake makes it spongy and flexible.

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Then, place the rolled-up towel into the fridge. This can be a little messy so be careful with your sugary bundle.

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While the cake is cooling, make the filling by mixing the butter, spice and orange zest until creamy, and then adding the powdered sugar and half & half. Your final filling is creamy like a frosting, with lots of pretty specks of spice and zest!

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When your cake is cool, unroll and spread the filling to within 1/2 inch of the edges and roll the cake back up. Start carefully on the shorter edge that is a little curled up already to get the roll going...

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... and continue until the roll is complete. At this point, you can wrap the roll in plastic and keep it in your fridge until you're ready to cut and serve. Ours refrigerated about 24 hours.

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To serve the cake, sprinkle the roll with powdered sugar...

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... and trim the rough ends.

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For ease in cutting, first cut in half, then in quarters, then in eighths.

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Serve your cake with whipped cream, or as we did with ice cream. Zoey picked vanilla and ginger, which were great complements to the chai roll!

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If you have an Uncle Bill in your family, we're pretty sure he'll like this cake, too. Ours did!

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I hope you try this elegant yet quick and easy Orange Chai-Spiced Cake Roll, for a birthday or anytime. Zoey says it was an easy recipe, but we must admit after the cake was baked she got awfully tired and had to go to bed. All in all, we thought this cake roll was uniquely delicious and a lot of fun. Be sure to rate the recipe and send me your comments. I'd love to hear them!

Stop back in a few days when Becky makes a creamy butterscotch pie.

Liz is paid to write for the Land O'Lakes Recipe Buzz™ Blog.

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