Who remembers arctic roll? If you are of a certain age then it no doubt featured heavily in your school dinners. Although to be fair, I never actually had school dinners. I was the kid who had a Tupperware of salad waaaay before Jamie Oliver made this socially acceptable. I had crisps. But only on a Wednesday. And they were never pickled onion Monster Munch. My friend Rebecca had those EVERY day.
Anyway, I digress. Wikipedia tells me that back in the day, when the appeal of arctic roll was at its zenith, Bird’s Eye used to sell 25 miles of the stuff every month. Factoid! It’s made a bit of a nostalgic resurgence in recent years and is one of those foods, like Scotch eggs, that has been pimped and preened to suit the menus of gastropubs across the UK.
The origins of my arctic roll can be found in this recipe here which was published in the May edition of Olive magazine. It appealed because I have FINALLY managed to track down elderflower cordial in Johannesburg (at the Bryanston Organic Market if you’re interested.) Originally it was meant to be a rhubarb and elderflower combo but being unable to find fresh rhubarb here in SA, I thought I would give it a tropical twist and substitute the tart rhubarb jam for a zingy concoction of pineapple, cape gooseberries and my homegrown passionfruit.
Initially the recipe didn’t seem too testing. I made the elderflower parfait. I made the jam. I made the sponge. Actually, I made the sponge twice. For some reason it said to use self-raising flour in the sponge. Pourquoi? Surely the point of a whisked sponge is it doesn’t need raising agent. And it didn’t. My first sponge was way too thick so I made it again with plain flour. Parfait. Jam. Sponge. Check, check, check.
So all was looking good until it came to assembling the arctic roll. That’s when the recipe, the roll and myself fell apart. You make the parfait in a loaf tin and then roll it into a cylinder once frozen. However, the recipe said to leave the parfait to thaw for 20 minutes before rolling by which time it was very soft. Still I ploughed on ahead but the recipe also negated to say how big my cylinder of parfait should be. When I tried to wrap my melting parfait cylinder in the sponge I found it was too big. So I tried to turn it round and roll it the other way. But it ended in an epic mess of oozy parfait and broken sponge. In a fit of pique, I through the whole sorry pud in the bin but not before I had tasted a bit and decided that it was worth a second attempt.
So a second parfait, a second lot of jam and a third sponge later (and a few calculations as to the diameter of parfait necessary to be successfully wrapped in sponge), I tried again and this time got it pretty perfect. I think the sponge was still a little thick – I might try reducing that by a 1/4 next time. But otherwise it was yummy! The combination of the tropical fruit jam and the silky smooth parfait reminded me of another childhood favourite, the Wall’s Solero lolly. Do they still sell them? They were my favourite.
My top tips for this recipe:
- The sponge tastes better the fresher it is. Make the parfait and jam the day before then make the sponge and assemble the pud nearer to serving.
- If you can’t get cape gooseberries, substitute with more pineapple. Or you could use pretty much any fruit to make a jam using the same fruit:sugar ratio
- Your rolled parfait should be about 6-7cm in diameter, any larger and the sponge won’t cover it
Pineapple, passionfruit and elderflower arctic roll
For the parfait:
- 2 egg whites
- 65g caster sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 4 tbsp elderflower cordial
- 350ml double cream
For the jam:
- 250g pineapple, peeled and central core removed, roughly chopped
- 100g cape gooseberries
- 2 passionfruits
- 150g caster sugar
- zest and juice of ½ lemon
For the sponge:
- 4 eggs
- 100g caster sugar
- 100g plain flour
1. For the parfait, line a narrow loaf tin with clingfilm so that the clingfilm generously overhangs the sides. Whisk the egg whites with half of the sugar until soft peaks form. Put the remaining sugar in a bowl with the yolks and cordial and whisk over a pan of gently simmering water until thickened. Remove from the heat and continue whisking until the mixture is pale and has doubled in size.
2. Whip the cream. Fold the cream into the yolk mixture then fold in the egg whites. Pour into the loaf tin, cover with the overhanging clingfilm and freeze for at least 4 hours.
3. For the jam, put the pineapple and gooseberries in a food processor and whizz to a chunky puree. Stir in the passionfruit pulp. Place in a small frying pan with the sugar and lemon and bubble over a moderate heat until jammy (about 20-30 minutes). Leave to cool.
4. For the sponge, preheat the oven to 190C/170C/gas 5 and line a Swiss roll tin with baking paper. Place another sheet of baking paper on your worktop and sprinkle with caster sugar. Whisk the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until very pale and fluffy (this should take you a good 7-10 minutes to achieve.) Sift the flour over the batter and fold in gently. Pour in to the tin and smooth the top. Bake for about 8 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch. Turn out on to the sugar covered paper so that the sponge is sandwiched between the two sheets of baking paper. Roll the sponge around a rolling pin or other cylindrical object (a wine bottle would do!) and leave to cool.
5. To assemble, unroll the sponge and remove the top layer of paper. Spread the jam evenly over the sponge, leaving a 1cm gap around the edges. Remove your parfait from the freezer and, still covered in clingfilm, tip on to a double layered sheet of foil. Wrap the foil around the parfait and roll on the worktop to encourage it into a cylindrical shape, about 6-7cm in diameter. Unwrap the parfait and place along the short edge of your rectangle of sponge. Roll the sponge around the parfait, using the bottom layer of paper to help you. Return to the freezer for 1 hour. Trim the edges to neaten before serving.