Chinese vanilla roll cake

This is a Chinese version of the traditional Swiss cake rolls. My dad can’t resist buying one of these every time we visit a Chinese bakery.

Chinese vanilla roll cake

Tomorrow is my dad’s 70th birthday. It’s hard to believe that he has already reached this milestone birthday. Of course, we never thought that he’d have to spend it without my mom, but here we are.

Originally, my dad was going to be spending his birthday in Taiwan with his mom and sisters. However, due to the pandemic, he has remained at home. Even though Taiwan has one of the world’s best protocol regarding COVID, my dad didn’t want to have to deal with 14 days of strict quarantine. In fact, I just read a story about someone in Taiwan breaking the quarantine for 8 seconds and getting fined over $3000. Yikes!

Chinese vanilla roll cake

Since he is unable to be in Taiwan, my dad decided to remain in the US. We have been monitoring his state’s cases of infection and trying to determine if it’s safe to visit him. We did spend a week with my dad in late August at the beach, so we have already been exposed to him. However, it’s our #1 priority to keep him safe and healthy.

As of the writing of this blog post, we are still hoping to visit him for his birthday. We’ll likely make a game-day decision to see if we will drive up to celebrate with him. One of the things I am hoping to give him is this Chinese vanilla cake roll. It is, after all, one of his favorite items from a Chinese bakery. He can’t resist buying one every time we visit a bakery. Fun fact: he likes to eat a slice for breakfast every day until it’s all gone. Another fun fact: I had to make this cake twice. I waited too long (read: ~5 minutes) before rolling the first one, and it cracked/broke in half. When I baked the second cake, I only waited about 1-2 minutes after it came out of the oven before I rolled it. That worked!

Chinese vanilla roll cake

Here’s to wishing my dad a safe and very happy 70th birthday, with many more to come.

Husband’s rating: 4 out of 5
Addie’s rating: 4 out of 5
My rating: 4 out of 5 (this would taste even better with fresh berries on top)

Chinese vanilla roll cake

This Chinese version of a classic Swiss roll cake is my dad's favorite. He can't resist buying one each time we're in a Chinese bakery.
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Cake
Servings: 8
Author: Eva Bakes


  • ½ cup cake flour
  • 1 Tablespoon corn starch
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large eggs separated
  • 5 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar divided
  • 2 and ½ Tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • cup cold heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar optional


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a standard 9"x13" baking pan with parchment paper and set aside. You may need to cut the edges of the paper for the corners.
  • In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, corn starch, and baking powder. Do this twice (so you get a light and fluffy cake).
  • In a large bowl, mix together the egg yolks and 2 and ½ Tablespoons of the granulated sugar. Add in the oil and milk and keep whisking until the mixture is pale yellow. Gently fold in the dry ingredients and mix until there are no dry streaks. Briefly set the bowl aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a separate large bowl if using a handheld mixer, whisk the egg whites on high speed until you achieve soft peaks. Add 2 and ½ Tablespoons of the granulated sugar and continue beating on high speed until you achieve stiff peaks.
  • Gently fold in about a third of the egg whites into your batter. Add another third, fold it into the batter, and add the final third. Be careful when folding the egg whites - you don't want to deflate them too much.
  • Transfer your batter to your prepared baking pan, making sure to smooth the top. It's crucial that your batter is in an even layer. You may want to drop the pan on the counter a few times to knock out any air bubbles at the surface and to ensure your batter is truly even.
  • Fill a large, high-sided baking sheet with water. Place the 9"x13" pan with the batter into the large baking sheet so the pan is sitting in the water bath (do NOT get any water into your batter!). Bake in your preheated oven for 15 minutes or until the center is set.
  • Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to cool slightly. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a large surface. Flip the cake pan upside down onto the new sheet of parchment and peel off the parchment paper that baked in the oven. Set aside briefly.
  • In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, whip the cream on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the final 1 teaspoon of sugar and whisk until you achieve stiff peaks.
  • Once the cake has cooled slightly but is still slightly warm to the touch (just make sure it's not hot enough to melt your whipped cream), spread a layer of the whipped cream on top of the cake.
  • Gently roll the cake up into a tight log, making sure not to squeeze out the filling in the meantime. Place the roll, seam side down, on a serving platter and dust with powdered sugar if desired.


Leftover cake should be stored, covered, in the refrigerator and will last several days.
Source: The Woks of Life 


  1. December 25, 2020 / 9:11 am

    Eva, I really enjoyed this story. Happy birthday to your dad and I hope you got to see him. This is one of my son’s favorite kinds of cake so I will definitely have to try this.

    • evabakes
      December 25, 2020 / 4:37 pm

      Thanks, Jo. We loved the cake!

  2. Jim Cronburg
    May 10, 2022 / 4:08 pm

    Eva: I’ve tried your Chinese Roll Cake recipe twice. Both times the cake failed to rise more than about a quarter inch. When I tried rolling it, it broke into rectangles. I followed your recipe exactly, especially concerning the egg whites. I definitely got stiff peaks and I very carefully folded them into the base mix. What am I doing wrong? Thanks.

    • evabakes
      May 10, 2022 / 8:35 pm

      Hi Jim, without seeing what happened, my guess is that your oven might not be at the correct temperature. Have you calibrated it recently? The other potential issue could be that the egg whites deflated too much as they were folded.

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