aka Four Thieves Gone cake
Patterned cake rolls are fun any time of year, but are especially welcome at the holiday table. This one is filled with creamy chocolate peanut butter frosting. Gluten-free and vegan.
A few weeks ago, I found myself at a rare but happy juncture: all my short-term projects were complete, and I didn’t have to start any new ones just yet. I knew exactly what I wanted to unexpected bounty of time: I wanted to tackle the patterned cake roll. A task that requires focus and precision, careful planning, strict attention. All qualities that I’m no good at.
My faults are many, but there are some that stand out among others. I’m spacey. My mind wanders and rambles. I get overwhelmed and lost in details of planning. I’d like to say that I’m constantly working to liberate myself of these shortcomings, but that would be a lie. Life is messy for everyone, and sometimes I’m so busy that I forget that I want to be better.
The classic method of self-improvement is practice. If you’re a slow runner, you do sprints. If you’re a clumsy dancer, you stretch and repeat steps until you find grace. When you’re unfocused, you practice precision. And since I love to bake, I chose to practice precision through cake.
To make a pattered roll cake, you must first select your pattern. You can choose anything you like, hearts or Christmas trees or cats. I picked the album cover of one of my most beloved records of all time, Four Thieves Gone, by The Avett Brothers. They’ve been my favorite band for over a decade, and have affected my life in an ineffable way. But I’m getting distracted. Let’s talk about cake some more.
Once you’ve picked out & prepared the pattern (details in and below the recipe), it’s time to start piping. You whip up a stiff batter and scoop it into plastic zip-seal bag. Cut an infinitesimal corner off the bag. Don’t use a frosting tip — even that will be too large. Make a few practice doodles and then start piping over the prepared pattern. Take your time, catching as many lines and curves as you can. Take breaks when you get tired, don’t rush. You can even make the pattern one day and then bake the following day. Once the pattern is complete, freeze it to prevent warping. Then whip up the cake batter and carefully pour it over the frozen pattern.
Once the cake is baked and cooled, you can frost it. Even though I’m not a big frosting girl, I feel in love with the gooey middle of this cake. It’s creamy and dark, with none of the grittiness that is present in buttercream. Gently roll up the cake.
To serve, pour a big glass of milk and cut the cake with a serrated knife. Share it with someone who loves you, flaws and all.
Pattern printout is below the recipe. You will need to print out three pattern pieces. I’ve also included patterns from other albums, as well as instructions on how to make your own pattern
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I always use Bob's cup-to-cup GF flour and I love it. (not sponsored) If you are familiar with my blog, you know that I'm a stickler for sifting gluten-free flour. Sift while you measure, not before or after. It always yields better results, so don't skip it. For this recipe, I recommend sifting three times. This will avoid a gummy cake texture.
This recipe calls for bananas. Traditionally, bananas used in baking are the over-ripe, super soft kind. For this recipe, you want to do the opposite. Use bananas that are firm and still have a light green tinge.
You will need a10.5 x 15" jelly roll pan
- 1/4 cup aquafaba*
- 1/4 cup of vegan butter, like Earth Balance
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup of cocoa powder
- Copy outline batter, subbing 1/2 cup flour for the 1/2 cup of cocoa powder
- 2 flax eggs**
- 1 cup of mashed banana, from firm bananas (about 2 of them)
- 2 tbsp vanilla or spiced rum
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 3/4 cups very well sifted gluten free flour
- 3/4 cup almond milk
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 cup coconut milkfat***
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Mix the batters for the pattern outline and pattern filling. Scoop both into little zip-seal bags and cut an infinitesimal bit of the corner off the bag. It's essential that your cut is super tiny so that you can get as much detail out of the pattern as possible..
- Place a strip of parchment over your pattern printout and loosely affix with tape.It also helps to place it on a piece of cardboard for stability (like from a cut-up cereal box). Carefully pipe out the pattern outline with the darker batter. Place the parchment strip in the freezer until the batter hardens.
- Repeat with the other two pattern strips.
- Once the outline is hardened, pipe the fill-in pattern batter over the top, and then allow to freeze again. Leave in freezer until baking time
- Preheat oven to 350
- Combine the flax eggs, the bananas, the vanilla, the cinnamon, the salt, and the sugar, until well blended and smooth.
- Add the almond milk and blend again.
- Add the flour and the baking powder and blend again till smooth. Do not over blend
- Remove the pattern pieces from the freezer and line them, batter side up, in the jelly roll pan. Add plain parchment to line the rest of the pan. Tip: rubbing the pan with coconut oil will help the pieces stick and stay flat
- Carefully pour the batter into the pan
- Bake at 350 for 20-22 min.
- Remove from oven and immediately flip out onto a flat surface. (pattern side is facing up) Peel away the parchment. Once it cools some, move it to a wire rack to cool the rest of the way.
- Combine coconut milkfat, peanut butter, and salt till smooth. Add the almond milk.
- Add the powdered sugar and the cocoa powder in a little bit at a time. Combine till smooth.
- Lay a piece of parchment or wax paper down on your work surface. Carefully turn the cake back over (so that the pattern is face down) onto the paper.
- Spread the icing all over. Tip- if the edges are super crusty, slice them off for easier rolling.
- Using the paper to help you lift the corners, gently begin to roll the cake up. Make sure that you start rolling at the blank, non-patterned end.
- Once it's rolled up, you can either serve it right away or wait for it to chill. If you wait for it to chill, the roll will hold better.
- Serve with love.
* aquafaba is the leftover liquid from canned chickpeas. If you are not a vegan, you may use an egg white, should it be more convenient.
**One flax egg = 3 tbsp water+1tbsp flax meal
***coconut milkfat is the creamy solid from a can of coconut milk. Chill the can for a few hours, allowing the fat to separate from the water. Scoop the fat cleanly off the top.
- Moth, Pen, Compass, Rabbit, and Anchor by Scott Avett
- pattern batter and method from How to Cook That
- cake batter heavily modified from Averie Cooks
- and the frosting is my own 🙂
- Four Thieves Gone (featured)
- Velvet Underground and Nico
- Steal Your Face
- Bruised Orange
- Aladdin Sane
- Wu Tang Logo
- Sufjan Stevens Songs for Christmas (2006, Vol V)
I made the pattern printout in Photoshop. If you don’t want to use the Four Thieves Gone pattern or any of the other albums listed above, you can create your own pattern. Here’s how:
- Create a new file in Photoshop. (File – New) It should be 1050 pixels wide and 325 high. This will make it the width to fit in a jelly roll pan
- Pick an image that you want to turn into a pattern and open it in Photoshop. If can be square or rectangular. Crop or scale it down to 325 pixels high. You can also desturate it if you wish.
- Click control+A followed by control+C to select the photo
- Paste your photo into your blank canvas as many times as it will fit.
- Then flip the image so that it’s backwards. This ensures that it will be forwards on the cake (image…image rotation…horizontal flip)
And then print it out and you’re ready to go! 🙂