This stunning gluten free tiramisu Swiss roll is one of the best desserts I’ve ever tasted. It truly tastes like tiramisu, with an ultra-fluffy coffee sponge that’s basically a pillowy cloud of coffee goodness and a rich, velvety mascarpone whipped cream filling. The gluten free sponge also rolls like a dream, so you don’t need to worry about it cracking – you’ll get a perfect swirl every time.
I’ve been on something of a Swiss roll kick lately – and I’m LOVING it. I’ve realised that Swiss rolls just might be my all-time favourite cake form. Sure, I love a good layer or loaf cake, but there’s something extra special about a Swiss roll, with it’s delicate, fluffy sponge rolled into a perfect swirl with all sorts of flavour-packed fillings.
For the longest time, I used to be scared of Swiss rolls. They inevitably cracked when rolling and the whole process was just unnecessarily stressful. But then, I stumbled across the most brilliant method of rolling Swiss rolls and roulades that prevents cracking with a pretty much 100% success rate… and it’s been a total game changer. (And I’ll tell you all about it in the blog post below!)
Now, making Swiss rolls is completely stress-free and just incredibly fun.
This gluten free tiramisu Swiss roll is my ideal dessert. It’s just so incredibly cosy and indulgent, a real flavour explosion. It takes all of the best elements of the timeless classic that is tiramisu and pairs it with the delicate, elegant deliciousness of a Swiss roll. And I just can’t get enough of it.
From the ultra-fluffy gluten free coffee sponge (that I soak with extra coffee because I like my tiramisu as coffee-packed as possible) to the velvety-smooth, rich mascarpone whipped cream filling, every single element of this tiramisu Swiss roll is just spot on. But when you put them all together, you get a truly unforgettable dessert.
And it really does taste like tiramisu!! I actually recommend making it the day before and storing it in the fridge overnight before serving – much like you would with a traditional tiramisu. This refrigeration period gives all the flavours time to mingle and meld and develop further into something really spectacularly delicious.
Before we get to the bits and bobs of making this amazing lamington Swiss roll – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!
Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.
The ultra-fluffy, delicate coffee sponge
The best way to describe the sponge in this tiramisu Swiss roll is as a fluffy, pillowy cloud of coffee goodness. It’s just amazing and I could easily eat it on its own. Yes, it’s that good.
Thos coffee sponge is actually based on the vanilla sponge from the Vanilla & Raspberry Swiss roll in my gluten free cookbook, Baked to Perfection. The simple vanilla gluten free sponge is a great starting point, as it’s perfectly fluffy and delicate, yet also flexible and sturdy enough so that it doesn’t crack and crumble when you roll it (more on that below).
I added two whole tablespoons of instant coffee granules (dissolved in some milk) to the sponge, which might sound like a lot but it actually achieves just the right intensity of coffee flavour.
Now, coffee tends to make cakes and sponges more delicate and therefore more likely to crack or crumble, which can be a problem when it comes to Swiss rolls. That’s why I’ve increased the amount of xanthan gum slightly, by ¼ teaspoon, compared to the vanilla version. This gives the gluten free sponge enough flexibility to roll easily and neatly, without having to worry about it cracking.
How to prevent your Swiss roll from cracking when you roll it
If you want to prevent your Swiss roll from cracking, then I really recommend using the rolling method from Stella Parks (Serious Eats).
The traditional method of rolling Swiss rolls and roulades asks you to roll up the hot sponge into a towel, allow it to cool while rolled-up, then unroll it, spread on the filling, and roll it up again. This is A LOT of rolling and unrolling – and it all puts A LOT of stress on what is a very delicate sponge, especially if it’s gluten free.
So, it’s really no surprise that Swiss rolls tend to crack all over the place if you use that method.
Stella’s method (you can read about it in detail here!) is very straightforward: cover the hot sponge, straight out of the oven, with a sheet of aluminium foil and allow it to cool to room temperature or lukewarm. Covering the sponge with aluminium foil traps the moisture within the sponge, making it much more pliable and flexible – and therefore less likely to crack.
Then, I like to dust the top of the sponge with a bit of powdered sugar (to prevent sticking) and turn it out onto a large sheet of parchment paper. You want the caramelised “skin” side to be facing down, so that it’s on the outside of the roll.
Peel away the parchment paper that used to line the baking sheet and then, to really amp up the coffee flavour of the sponge, brush it gently with some extra room-temperature coffee. Don’t over-soak the sponge, as that can make it too fragile.
Finally, spread the mascarpone filling (more on that below!) evenly across the sponge and roll it up! It should roll beautifully and easily, without any cracking. Make sure to keep the roll fairly tight from the very beginning, otherwise you’ll be left with an empty hole in the centre of your Swiss roll.
The whipped mascarpone filling
As this is a tiramisu Swiss roll, the filling obviously has to be mascarpone-based. I used my go-to tiramisu filling: a mix of mascarpone cheese, double/heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla.
The filling is almost ridiculously easy to make: you just need to combine all the ingredients together and whip them to very soft peaks. Be careful not to over-whip it, as it does firm up with time, even if it’s just standing on the counter waiting to be used in the Swiss roll.
Use just over half of the mascarpone whipped cream to fill the tiramisu Swiss roll, and then use the remainder to cover the outside of the cake. I like to give the Swiss roll a fairly rustic look by creating loose swirls and swoops of the mascarpone cream.
At this stage, I recommend chilling the tiramisu Swill roll overnight, to achieve both the best flavour and texture. However, if you’re in a hurry (or just very impatient) you can also serve it straight away.
Just before serving, dust it generously with cocoa powder and sprinkle on some chocolate shavings. After all, no tiramisu is complete without a dusting of cocoa powder – it’s just a fact.
And that’s it – the gluten free tiramisu Swiss roll is ready to be enjoyed. It’s a real beauty and incredibly fun to make… and, of course, even more fun to eat.
I really hope you’ll love it as much as I do.
More amazing gluten free cakes
If you’re looking for more amazing gluten free cake recipes, here are some of the most popular ones:
- Lamington Swiss Roll
- The Ultimate Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
- The Best Gluten Free Lemon Drizzle Cake
- Gluten Free Chocolate Swiss Roll
- Small Batch Gluten Free Boston Cream Pie
- Easy Coffee Cake with Cappuccino Frosting
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Tiramisu Swiss Roll (Gluten Free)
- 1-2 tbsp sunflower oil or other neutral-tasting oil of choice, for greasing the baking sheet
- 8 g (2 tbsp) instant coffee granules
- 20 g (4 tsp) whole, full-fat milk
- 3 US large/UK medium eggs, room temperature
- 125 g (½ cup + 2 tbsp) caster/superfine or granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
- 45 g (⅓ stick + ½ tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
- 80 g (⅔ cup) plain gluten free flour blend (I used Doves Farm Freee plain gluten free flour that doesn't have any xanthan gum added. You can also mix your own gluten free flour blend using this recipe. Note that for this homemade blend, 1 cup = 150g, so ideally use a digital food scale for best results.)
- ¾ tsp xanthan gum (If your gluten free flour blend already contains xanthan gum, reduce the amount to ½ tsp.)
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
Mascarpone whipped cream filling:
- 250 g (1 cup + 1½ tbsp) mascarpone cheese, cold from the fridge
- 160 g (⅔ cup) double/heavy cream, cold from the fridge
- 60 g (½ cup) powdered/icing sugar, sifted
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
- 4 g (1 tbsp) instant coffee granules
- 12 g (1 tbsp) granulated sugar
- 45 g (3 tbsp) hot water
For assembling the Swiss roll:
- 1-2 tbsp powdered/icing sugar
For decorating the Swiss roll:
- 1-2 tbsp cocoa powder
- chocolate shavings, for decoration
- Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, pre-heat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and line a 10x15 inch (25x38cm) rimmed baking sheet with parchment/baking paper. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the sides of the baking sheet with oil (you can also spray it with non-stick baking spray).Tip: Greasing the parchment paper ensures that the baked sponge will smoothly release from it without sticking.
- Mix the instant coffee granules with the milk and heat them (either in the microwave or on the stovetop) until the mixture is hot and the coffee is fully dissolved. Set aside to cool until warm or at room temperature.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a hand mixer fitted with the double beaters, whisk the eggs and sugar together until pale, thick, fluffy and about tripled in volume (the ribbon stage). This should take about 5-7 minutes on a high speed setting.
- Add the coffee-milk mixture, vanilla and melted butter, and whisk briefly until combined.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the gluten free flour blend, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and whisk well for about 15-30 seconds until no flour clumps remain. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl to prevent any unmixed patches.
- Transfer the batter into the lined baking sheet and smooth it out into an even layer. You can tap it a few times on the counter to make it perfectly level and also to get rid of any large trapped air pockets.
- Bake at 350ºF (180ºC) for about 10-12 minutes or until well risen, soft and spongy to the touch, and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Immediately out of the oven, cover the baking sheet with a large sheet of aluminium foil. Allow to cool to room temperature or lukewarm – ideally, the temperature of the sponge shouldn't drop below 72ºF (22ºC).Tip: Covering the sponge with aluminium foil traps the moisture within the sponge, making it much more pliable and flexible – and therefore less likely to crack when you roll it.
Mascarpone whipped cream filling:
- You can prepare this filling using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer fitted with the double beaters.
- Combine all the filling ingredients in a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer, if using) and whip them to very soft peaks. Tip 1: Be careful not to over-whip the filling, as it does firm up with time, even if it’s just standing on the counter waiting to be used in the Swiss roll.Tip 2: Regardless of whether you use a stand or a hand mixer, I recommend whisking the filling on a low speed setting. This gives you better control over the texture/consistency of the filling and it lowers the chances of over-whipping it.
- Mix together the coffee granules, sugar and hot water for the "coffee soak", until the coffee and sugar are fully dissolved.
- Allow to cool until warm or at room temperature.
Assembling the Swiss roll:
- Once sufficiently cooled, gently loosen the sponge from the edges of the baking sheet with an offset spatula or a thin knife. Lightly dust the top of the sponge with powdered/icing sugar, to prevent sticking.
- Turn it out onto a large sheet of parchment/baking paper, so that the caramelised “skin” side is facing down (so that it’s on the outside of the Swiss roll when you roll it up).
- Peel away the parchment paper that used to line the baking sheet.
- Use a pastry brush to gently brush the sponge with the coffee soak. You might not need all of it – don’t over-soak the sponge, as that can make it too fragile.
- Spread just over half of the mascarpone filling evenly across the sponge, all the way to the edges.
- Turn the sponge so that a short edge is closest to you. Using the parchment/baking paper underneath to help you, roll up the sponge until you get a 10 inch (25cm) long log.Tip: Make sure to keep the roll fairly tight from the very beginning, otherwise you’ll be left with an empty hole in the centre of your Swiss roll.
- Use the remaining mascarpone filling to cover the outside of the cake (you can cover the ends of the cake or leave them "open" as I've done – see blog post for photos). For a fairly rustic look, use a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon to create loose swirls and swoops of the mascarpone cream.
Chilling & decorating the tiramisu Swiss roll:
- At this stage, I recommend chilling the Swill roll overnight (or at least for 1-2 hours) before serving, to achieve both the best flavour and texture.However, if you’re in a hurry (or just very impatient) you can also serve it straight away.
- Just before serving, dust the Swiss roll generously with cocoa powder and sprinkle on some chocolate shavings.
- The tiramisu Swiss roll keeps well in a closed container in the fridge for 4-5 days.