The Great Pandemic Baking Show: Swiss Rolls

Netflix arrangement, season 1, episode 1. Cake week.

Signature challenge: Swiss rolls.

The contestants made:

  • lemon curd roll
  • orange and aniseed sponge with honey cream
  • cardamom, pistachio, and coffee
  • chocolate orange with orange jelly filling
  • pistachio with strawberry
  • strawberry and creme pat
  • raspberry and lemon
  • red velvet and white chocolate
  • tiramisu
  • apricot and basil with a mascarpone and white chocolate filling
  • black forest
  • coffee swiss roll with caramelized hazelnuts

My Swiss roll:

Early in the pandemic, I bought ground almonds for Passover baking. I then proceeded to use almost none of them. The remaining almonds have been in my freezer, but in preparation for a kitchen renovation, I brought them with me to my parents’ house. I decided to use them for an almond sponge for my swiss roll.

Then I spent way too long browsing recipes on the internet for a perfect almond sponge, gave up, and ended up making a basic sponge cake (Merlin’s Magic Sponge Cake) from The King Arthur 200th Anniversary Cookbook. Don’t worry; I’ll figure out something to do with the almond meal!

I asked my dad to buy an orange so that I could make an orange filling for yeasted rolls (think cinnamon rolls, only with orange), but instead decided to use the orange zest to flavor a Swiss meringue filling. (I thought about orange whipped cream, but that would have required another trip to the store, to purchase whipping cream, and we’re in the middle of a pandemic, so trying to minimize trips to the store. No whipped cream for this swiss roll!)

So, how’d it go? My Swiss meringue was closer to orange Fluff–delicious but not peaked–and the cake was…spongy. That said, it was a good first effort at a Swiss roll. I used Mary Berry’s tip to gently score the sponge to begin the roll, and I rolled the cake while it was still warm. No cracks in the cake, and I made a pretty decent roll.

The meringue resulted in four leftover egg yolks, so next up: lemon curd.

Photos (forgive my non-food-blogger quality photography!):

Ah, 19th century news

Is there anything more enjoyable than a brief item from a 19th century newspaper?

For example:

A man was taken out of the Canal last night by the Watchmen and carried to the watch-house. He was so far gone as to be unable to give any account of himself for three hours, but when he did speak he made a promise to quit “wrestling with old Ned,” and if possible keep out of the canal.

Evening Star (Washington (DC), District of Columbia), February 3, 1853: 3. 

“If possible.” Ha.

Carter G. Woodson

One of the benefits of the current location of the DC Office of Public Records is its proximity to the Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site and the Carter G. Woodson Memorial Park. On my way to the office to catch up on some work today, I stopped by the park to honor Dr. Woodson and his role in establishing Black History Month.

photo of Carter G Woodson statue

The Office of Public Records has Dr. Woodson’s will in the holdings of the DC Archives. In his will, he gave $500 each to his two brothers and one sister, and the remainder of his estate to the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History) for the publication of “The Journal of Negro History” (now named “The Journal of African American History”).

A DC.Nerd’s heaven

image of DC Code volumes 1924-1940

Shown here, my heaven. On the left, the 1901 District of Columbia Code, through 1924. Next to that, the 1901 Code amended through 1929, followed by five annual supplement volumes. The two dark blue volumes? The 1940 D.C. Code.

With so much legal material available online–and as an attorney who learned how to research cases in books while on crutches, I am eternally grateful for the commercial services that facilitate legal research–it is a joyful (and DUSTY!) day when I get to hold these old publications in my hands. Organizing these was a project last week. Next up…organizing the DCRR and DCMR.




Here I am two years after my last post sharing about pancakes. I’ll try to get back to more important things but really, pancakes are important, too. When Passover ends and you find yourself with milk (milk! that hasn’t spoiled!) and eggs and the chocolate chips you found while cleaning your kitchen in preparation for Passover, chocolate chip pancakes are a requirement.

Making pancakes–chocolate chip or not–is a pain. I found this recipe at Eating on a Dime, courtesy of a web search for “baked pancakes,” added chocolate chips, and had pancakes for Monday morning breakfast. Success!