I vividly remember the sight of Bernadette Raveneau running full pelt across the village street in Chablis which separated her own house and the family domaine's harvest kitchen, carrying this cake hot from her oven. In order to make enough gâteau roulé for all her pickers to end their supper on a sweet note she was using ovens in both houses. A gâteau roulé cannot wait to be rolled up - it must be done while hot! So she took the Swiss roll tin in her hands (and perhaps her life, as tractors are apt to come round the corner rather fast during the harvest), running to get to the kitchen table where sugared paper and hot jam were waiting.
The sight of a Swiss Roll, freshly made and filled with homemade jam, is a nostalgic one for me. Growing up in post-war, rural England - the cottages built in local stone, many of them thatched, and yes, there were roses round quite a few doors - this was a regular tea-time treat. At 4.30pm my father would leave his office above the yard of the brewery which was the family business, walk past barrels and kegs ready for delivery to local pubs, cross our kitchen garden and join us for afternoon tea. Eaten by the fire in winter, in the garden in summer, there would always be brown bread and butter (the village had a good baker), biscuits, and a cake - a choice of two if visitors were expected.
MAKES ABOUT 12 SLICES
90 g (3 oz) self-raising flour 3 large eggs 90 g (3 oz) caster sugar plus some extra sugar 3 - 4 tablespoons strawberry, raspberry or other jam
You need a rectangular Swiss roll tin measuring 20 x 30 x 11⁄2 cm (8 x 12 x 3⁄4 in) for this. You should line it with parchment baking paper and grease both the tin and the paper.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 7, 425°F, 220°C.
Sift the flour. Take the eggs out of the fridge in good time so that they are at room temperature. Break them into a large bowl. Add the sugar and beat either by hand or using an electric beater. Stop when the mixture is light and fluffy and the whisk leaves a trail when lifted. Now fold in the flour with a metal spoon. Pour the mixture into the tin and smooth the top.
Bake for ten minutes or slightly less - it should be firm when you press it with your finger.
While it is in the oven, gently heat the jam in a pan, so that it is warm and easy to spread.
Have ready a piece of parchment paper cut to the size of the Swiss roll and sprinkle it with sugar.
Take the tin out of the oven and turn out the cake onto the sugared paper. Spread the jam. Roll up like a long sausage.
Your cake is made. Leave to cool. Eat on its own or with ice cream.