Coffee & Tia Maria Swiss Roll

Quite possibly the ultimate nostalgic treat, a simply timeless cake, would have to be the humble Swiss roll. Although it may have fallen out of fashion & been a bit neglected in a world full of cronuts & rainbow cakes, this lighter than air little sponge cake is still much loved by the nation (& me!). Despite the name though, this is a very British cake. One that has graced the tables of birthdays, Christmases, street parties & bake sales for generations. This popular dessert really has stood the test of time.. Why? Put simply, the Swiss roll isn’t as hard to master as it looks (honestly).

Crossing the threshold between patisserie looks & simple technique, this swirling sponge is surprisingly simple to make for something that looks so impressive. The key to a good Swiss roll is using equal quantities of eggs, sugar & flour for the sponge, not to under whisk your eggs & not to overfill it (which is surprisingly all too easy to do!). Once you’ve mastered the art of the perfect spiral, you won’t look back with this winner in your repertoire. It’s open to endless interpretations in terms of both flavourings & fillings.

Whilst Swiss rolls conjure up memories & ideas of children’s birthday parties for me, I wanted to make a rather more grown up version. Two flavours that most children would despise growing up would be coffee & alcohol (with the exception of the old coffee creme centres in the Roses tin for this child growing up), both distinctly adult preferences, it isn’t until we age that our palettes can begin to appreciated the good stuff (or at least that’s how I’m coming to terms with the ageing process). Now, in my third decade (only just) I definitely appreciate both the flavour & caffeine of a good coffee & it’s become one those irresistible smells & flavours, especially when put in a cake.


That being said, there’s nothing more disappointing than a coffee cake that’s seriously lacking in that almighty star flavour , here I’ve used a good concentrated dose, which may seem like a lot for such a small sponge, but trust me, it’s not too strong. Being such a light, airy sponge makes this perfect for soaking up extra flavour & I also finds that it adds a nice moisture to an otherwise potentially dry sponge but if you’d prefer to keep your cake alcohol free then simply skip the Tia Maria or replace with the same quantity of cooled coffee.

This dessert wouldn’t look out of place served at any occasion (I can guarantee impressed hungry eyes & a sheer sense of smugness when you whip it out) but it’s so moorish & easy to make that it barely even needs an occasion to justify making it.



For the sponge:

  • 4 eggs
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g self raising flour
  • 4 tbsp instant coffee (made up in 2 tbsp hot water)

For the filling:

  • 5 tbsp Tia Maria
  • 284 ml double cream
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar


  • Grease & line a 16cm x 28cm swiss roll tin
  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs & sugar together for around 5 minutes with an electric whisk until it doubles in size & becomes pale & fluffy
  • Add the coffee to the bowl & whisk again
  • Sift half of the flour into the bowl & gently fold this through the mixture using a large spoon or spatula
  • Sift over the remaining flour & fold again until there are no more visible pockets of flour
  • Pour the mixture into the cake tin & gently ease into the edges & corners, evening the surface
  • Bake the cake in the oven at 180C for 10-12 minutes until risen & firm enough to spring back when gently pressed with a finger
  • Cut out a piece of baking parchment slightly larger than your sponge, lay it out flat & sprinkle all over with 2 tbsp of caster sugar
  • Once baked, remove the cake from the oven & immediately invert it out onto the sugar sprinkled parchment
  • Remove the original lining from the cake & use a sharp knife to score a line 1 inch from the short edge of the cake all the way along the width (be careful not to fully cut through the cake though)
  • Starting with your scored edge, begin to roll up your sponge with the caster sprinkled parchment, rolling it up inside of the cake
  • Place the rolled up cake, seam side down onto a cooling rack to cool
  • To make the filling, place the cream & sugar into a clean bowl & whip up until it holds its shape
  • Once the cake has completely cooled, careful unroll it
  • Use a pastry brush to soak the inside of the sponge with the Tia Maria
  • Next, spread the whipped cream over the sponge in an even layer
  • Starting with the same edge you originally began rolling from, carefully re-roll your cake, trying not to press down too much to avoid squeezing out any of the filling
  • Trim off the edges of the roll for neatness & give it a little dusting of icing sugar to finish


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