Nat Paull, baker-in-chief at Melbourne’s Beatrix bakery teaches us how to make a deliciously fluffy lemon sponge roll with one-pot lemon curd and mascarpone.
She may have only been seven years old, but when Natalie Paull first made a butter cake for her mother she realised she had found her calling. That little girl went on to work for culinary icons Stephanie Alexander and Maggie Beer, and today she is the woman behind the Melbourne bakery Beatrix, which if you’re lucky enough to be based in Melbourne, you can find at 688 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne.
Key to Natalie’s success is her relentless commitment to sourcing only the best ingredients, buying seasonal fruit direct from farmers whenever possible. For this lemon sponge roll recipe, Natalie recommends looking a little closer to home…
“Try to find backyard lemons for this recipe … it takes it to next-level lemon loveliness.” – Natalie Paull
- Digital kitchen scales (Natalie used this)
- Large baking tray (Natalie used this)
- Mixing bowl (Natalie used this)
- Hand mixer (Natalie used this)
- Wooden board (Natalie used this)
- Citrus juicer
- Silicone spatula
- Cranked spatula
- Cooking rack
- Mesh strainer
Prep: 1 hour 25 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
- 2 large lemons, finely grated zest and juice
- 260g caster sugar plus 50g extra, for rolling
- 5 eggs, separated, plus 2 extra yolks for the curd
- 25g butter, softened
- 25g vegetable oil
- 25g milk
- 130g self-raising flour
- 2g (1⁄4 tsp) fine sea salt
- 2g (1⁄4 tsp) cream of tartar
- 250g mascarpone
- 200ml thickened cream
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly spray a 40cm x 30cm x 2cm deep tin with baking spray and line the base and sides with baking paper.
For the lemon curd:
- Put the finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon in a small non-reactive saucepan with 60g of the caster sugar, 2 egg yolks and the butter. Add a tiny pinch of salt flakes.
- Heat, whisking constantly, over medium-high heat until the curd just reaches a bubbling boil.
- Remove the pan from the heat, transfer the curd to a small bowl or container and gently press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface. Chill until ready to use.
Preparing the sponge:
- Put the remaining lemon zest and juice in a small bowl with the oil and milk. Set aside. Weigh the flour and salt together and set aside.
- Add the egg whites and cream of tartar into a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat on high speed for 5 minutes until they change from foamy yellow to white stiff peaks.
- Gradually add the remaining caster sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until you have a super-stiff, glossy meringue. Add the remaining egg yolks and beat on medium speed until just combined.
- Sift half the flour mixture over the meringue and use a balloon whisk to fold it in, for maximum air retention. Sift the remaining flour over and fold it in. Fold in the lemony milk mixture and combine gently, ensuring the batter is beautifully homogenised.
- Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin and even out the top of the batter with an offset spatula. Bake for 12–15 minutes until pale golden and springy when touched.
Rolling the cake:
- Prepare a large tray (big enough to hold the sponge) with a light coating of baking spray and line it with a 60cm long sheet of baking paper.
- When the sponge is cooked, scatter extra caster sugar on top of the sponge and use oven mitts to hold the hot tin as you bravely flip the sponge out onto the tray.
- Gently peel the baking paper off the back of the sponge and set aside to cool for 5 minutes before rolling. This will prevent the sponge from getting too hot and sweaty.
- Position the sponge with the shortest edge towards you and with lots of baking paper overhang closest to you. This overhang will roll up inside the warm sponge and stop it sticking.
- Swiftly roll the cake up with the paper inside the roll. Don’t roll too tightly and squish the sponge into submission, or the sponge will be hot and compressed and turn from fluffy to flabby and dense.
- Set aside at room temperature to cool for 30 minutes, so the cream doesn’t melt as you fill the roll.
For the mascarpone:
- While it cools, whisk the mascarpone and cream together to firm, yet billowy peaks and keep it cool. If mascarpone gets warm, it becomes grainy and clumpy.
- Unfurl the cooled roll: it will be nice and flexible. Trim a tiny strip of crust off each side and set aside for your snacks!
- Thinly spread the lemon curd on the sponge and then the mascarpone cream. Leave a 2cm strip mostly free of filling at the end furthest from you. This is the seal for the roll so it needs to be a little less creamy to stick well.
- Begin to roll and tuck, with your fingers, gently and tightly. After you have a nice tight start, continue rolling the sponge, using the baking paper to help roll (but don’t roll it inside the sponge this time). Employ a little lifting action with your rolling to get a nice shape.
- Finish with the seal side down, dust with icing sugar and eat delightfully large slices. Best eaten on the day, but leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 day.
“Sponge rolls are fluffy, creamy, dreamy and tangy all at once and they are the cakes of my dreams.” – Natalie Paull
Liked this lemon sponge roll recipe? You’ll love these: