This stunning gluten free Boston cream pie Swiss roll is an incredibly delicious twist on the classic Boston cream pie – it’s a bit more delicate and fancy, but still very easy to make. With a super fluffy gluten free vanilla sponge, a luscious, silky-smooth vanilla pastry cream filling and a generous layer of chocolate ganache glaze, it’s definitely a dessert you’ll want to make over and over again. The recipe is optimised to give a gluten free Swiss roll that rolls beautifully, so you don’t have to worry about it cracking.
I might have a teeny tiny Boston cream pie problem… in that I just can’t stop making Boston cream pie EVERYTHING. So far, there’s been the classic two-layer cake Boston cream pie (a gluten free and a vegan version), the most amazing gluten free Boston cream doughnuts, and Boston cream pie cookies which are seriously one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.
And today, a new recipe joins the Boston cream lineup: this glorious Boston cream pie Swiss roll.
This Swiss roll takes the classic Boston cream pie and makes it a bit more delicate and fancy – but it’s still super easy to make. And, of course, the flavour is absolutely INCREDIBLE.
Before we get to the bits and bobs of making this amazing 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 three elements of the Boston cream pie Swiss roll
- The super fluffy gluten free vanilla sponge. It’s basically a pillowy-soft cloud of sweet vanilla goodness and it simply melts in your mouth. It gets its texture from eggs that are whipped with sugar until pale and fluffy, as well as some baking powder for a bit of extra rise.
- The luscious, silky-smooth vanilla pastry cream. It can’t be a Boston cream pie Swiss roll without the perfect pastry cream filling! This is a slightly reduced batch of my go-to vanilla pastry cream (crème pâtissière) – if you want to see detailed step-by-step photos for how to make it, check out this blog post!
- A luxurious, glossy dark chocolate ganache. This is what takes any Boston cream pie dessert from amazing to SPECTACULAR, and really ties the whole thing together. Make sure to use a high quality dark chocolate, with around 55-65% cocoa solids content (though if you’d like the ganache to be on the bitter end of bitter-sweet, you can go as high as 70-75% cocoa solids).
Now, I know that making a Swiss roll (especially a gluten free one!) can seem scary, with the threat of it cracking and crumbling looming over you. But I promise you that this recipe is as fail-proof as possible, and I’ve really optimised it so that it rolls like an absolute dream, without any cracking.
I’ve used this Swiss roll sponge recipe and the rolling method (more on that below) numerous times – as have other people – and it’s incredibly reliable. It really gives perfect, crack-free results pretty much every single time.
And even if there is a tiny crack here or there: you’ll be covering the whole thing with chocolate ganache anyway. So, don’t stress, have fun, and don’t let the fear of a cracked Swiss roll stop you from making this recipe… because it’s AMAZING and 1000% worth it.
How to prevent your Swiss roll from cracking when you roll it
There are two things that will help you to prevent your gluten free Swiss roll from cracking: xanthan gum and the correct rolling method.
If you compare this recipe to my other non-Swiss-roll cake recipes, you’ll notice that it contains a slightly larger amount of xanthan gum. That’s because xanthan gum acts as a gluten replacement and it gives gluten free bakes some elasticity. When it comes Swiss rolls, you need the sponge to be more elastic and pliable than when making, for example, a layer cake. So, you need to use a bit more xanthan gum.
The rolling method is equally important. I’ve found the one from Stella Parks (Serious Eats) to be most reliable – it gives incredibly consistent results, prevents cracking with a super high success rate, and it’s also incredibly straightforward.
The traditional method of rolling Swiss rolls and roulades asks you to roll up the hot sponge into a clean dish 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/icing sugar (to prevent sticking) and turn it out onto a large sheet of parchment/baking 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 spread the filling on top in an even layer. And then, 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.
Assembling the Boston cream pie Swiss roll
After you’ve rolled up the Swiss roll it’s best to wrap it in parchment/baking paper and chill it in the fridge for 1-2 hours. This gives the pastry cream filling some time to set and firm up a bit, and that really helps with getting a prettier swirl.
This chilling step also means that you’ll pour the chocolate ganache over a cold cake, which helps to create a thicker ganache coating (as the ganache sets quicker on a cold cake and less of it drips off). And, as we all know: more chocolate is always a very good thing.
Another thing that will also help you to achieve a deliciously generous layer of ganache on the Boston cream pie Swiss roll is to cool the ganache slightly, until it’s still pourable but thicker and more viscous.
I placed it in a cold water bath (but you can also chill it in the fridge with occasional stirring) and poured it over the Swiss roll when it reached a temperature of about 75-77ºF (24-25ºC). The exact temperature isn’t that important, as different types of chocolate will require slightly different temperatures to reach the same ganache consistency – just make sure that your ganache is runny but a bit thicker.
Then, pour it over the chilled Swiss roll. I allowed some of the sponge to peek through the ganache glaze on the sides, to somewhat mimic the appearance of a traditional Boston cream pie. But feel free to cover the cake completely with the chocolate ganache glaze – there are no strict rules here, just have fun!
Finally, allow the ganache to set in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes before slicing and serving.
To get clean, neat slices I recommend using a sharp serrated knife that you dip into hot water between slices (and, of course, wipe it dry before you cut).
And that’s it! I really hope you’ll give this wonderful gluten free Boston cream pie Swiss roll a try – I’m simply in love with it, it’s just so wonderfully soft and fluffy, and the mingling of the vanilla and chocolate flavours is just so, so good. It’s basically like a hug in dessert form: super cosy and comforting, and you always want just a little bit more.
More amazing gluten free cakes
If you’re looking for more amazing gluten free cake recipes, here are some of the most popular ones:
- Tiramisu Swiss Roll
- Lamington Swiss Roll
- The Ultimate Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
- 6-Ingredient Flourless Chocolate Cake
- Easy Coffee Cake with Cappuccino Frosting
- The Best Gluten Free Lemon Drizzle Cake
- Easy Gluten Free Coconut Cake
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Boston Cream Pie Swiss Roll (Gluten Free)
Vanilla pastry cream:
- 400 g (1⅔ cups) full-fat, whole milk
- 1½ tsp vanilla bean paste (You can also use vanilla pods. If using vanilla extract, use 3 tsp.)
- 5 US large/UK medium egg yolks, room temperature
- 100 g (½ cup) granulated sugar (You can increase the amount of sugar by a few tablespoons if you want a sweeter filling.)
- 42 g (5½ tbsp) cornstarch (US)/cornflour (UK)
- 45 g (⅓ stick + ½ tbsp) unsalted butter, cubed
- 1-2 tbsp sunflower oil or other neutral-tasting oil of choice, for greasing the baking sheet
- 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
- 120 g (4¼ oz) dark chocolate (55-75% cocoa solids), chopped (I recommend a 55-65% dark chocolate, but you can go up to 70-75% cocoa solids content if you’d like the ganache to be on the bitter end of bitter-sweet.)
- 180 g (¾ cup) double/heavy cream
You will also need:
- 1-2 tbsp powdered/icing sugar
Vanilla pastry cream:
- You can prepare the pastry cream a day or two in advance and keep it in the fridge until needed.
- In a large saucepan, cook the milk and vanilla over medium-high heat until the mixture only just comes to a boil.
- While the milk is heating, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl until pale, slightly fluffy and smooth.Tip: This step is called ‘blanching’ – the sugar protects the egg proteins, preventing lump formation and curdling during cooking.
- Add the cornstarch to the egg mixture and whisk well until combined and no clumps remain.
- Pour the hot milk in a slow, thin stream into the egg-sugar mixture, whisking constantly.Tip: It’s important that you add the hot milk slowly – this is called ‘tempering’ and it prevents the egg yolks from scrambling. If you added the boiling hot milk to the egg mixture all at once, the eggs would cook and curdle. This way, you’re slowly increasing the temperature of the egg yolks while also diluting them. This helps to achieve a perfectly silky-smooth pastry cream.
- Return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, with constant whisking, until thickened and it comes to a boil. This will take about 2-3 minutes. Once the pastry cream comes to a boil (you should see occasional large bubbles forming), cook for about 1 minute more.Tip: This one extra minute of cooking time is important, as cornstarch will reach its full thickening power only if the mixture reaches the boiling point and stays there for about one minute. Keeping the pastry cream at or around boiling for the extra minute also deactivates the enzyme amylase that's present in egg yolks, which can break down starch particles and can transform a thick pastry cream into a runny sauce. So, don't skip the extra minute of cooking!
- Remove from heat and stir in the butter, whisking well until the butter has melted and the cream is smooth and glossy.
- Transfer the pastry cream into a bowl and cover it with a piece of cling film pressed directly on the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming on top. Set aside and allow to cool completely at room temperature, then chill in the fridge until needed.
- 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.
- 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 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.
Assembling the Swiss roll:
- Give the chilled pastry cream a good whisk (either by hand with a large balloon whisk, with a hand mixer fitted with the double beaters, or with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment) to smooth it out. Initially, the cream will look rather rubbery and firm, but after a few minutes of whisking it will become silky-smooth and luscious.At this point, the pastry cream should be of the right consistency to be easily spreadable, but if it's slightly too thick or too firm, leave it at room temperature for 10-15 minutes, until it's warmed up slightly and of a looser consistency.
- Once the sponge is sufficiently cooled, gently loosen it 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.
- Spoon dollops of the pastry cream evenly over the sponge, and use a small offset spatula to spread it out into an even layer approximately 1cm thick (about the same thickness as the sponge, slightly less than ½ inch), all the way to the edges.You might have a few tablespoons of the pastry cream left over, you can use it for serving later.
- 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.
- Chill the Swiss roll for 1-2 hours.Tip: Chilling gives the pastry cream filling some time to set and firm up a bit, and that really helps with getting a prettier swirl.
- Place the chopped dark chocolate into a heat-proof bowl.
- In a saucepan over medium-high heat, cook the double/heavy cream until it only just comes to a boil.
- Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for 2-3 minutes, then stir together until smooth and glossy.
- To achieve a generous layer of chocolate ganache glaze on the cake, it's best to cool the ganache until it's slightly thicker. You can use a cold water bath or chill the ganache in the fridge, with occasional stirring, for about 10 minutes.You want the ganache to still be pourable but thicker and more viscous. Tip: I used the ganache when it was at 75-77ºF (24-25ºC), but the exact temperature can vary depending on the exact type of chocolate you used.
- Transfer the chilled Swiss roll onto a wire rack and place it over a rimmed baking sheet – this will catch any excess chocolate ganache as it drips off the cake.
- Pour the chocolate ganache over the chilled Swiss roll.I allowed some of the sponge to peek through the ganache glaze on the sides, to somewhat mimic the appearance of a traditional Boston cream pie. But you can also cover the cake completely with the chocolate ganache glaze.
- Chill the glazed Swiss roll in the fridge for 20-30 minutes until the ganache sets and is no longer sticky/tacky to the touch, before slicing and serving.Tip: To get clean, neat slices I recommend using a sharp serrated knife that you dip into hot water between slices (wipe it dry before you cut).
- The Boston cream pie Swiss roll keeps well in a closed container in the fridge for 3-4 days.