Bahulu Roll: A Malaysian-inspired Swiss Roll recipe

Bahulu Roll – just roll with it.

Kuih Bahulu is a classic Malaysian cake traditionally made in copper or steel moulds and baked over an open charcoal fire.

Each cake is small and shaped like a half-opened mangosteen, although fish shapes are also quite common and modern bakers make Bahulu in ovens instead.

Crispy on the outside and spongy on the inside, this fluffy mini cake is a must-have during the Aidilfitri season.

The Swiss Roll has been around since the 1800s and many variations and names for it exists across the globe.

Despite being known as a “Swiss” Roll, it is believed to have originated in Central Europe, possibly Austria. The Swiss Roll travelled great distances to arrive on Malaysian shores and has remained a popular staple in many local bakeries ever since.

Bahulu Roll: The lovechild of Kuih Bahulu and Swiss Roll

The Bahulu Roll replaces spongey Swiss Roll batter with one made following the exact same recipe as that of Kuih Bahulu, resulting in a roll with a crispy exterior.

Depending on how fluffy you get the batter to be, Bahulu Gulung can range from a texture that’s dense and chewy, to one that is almost as soft as a Swiss Roll.

The end result is a fairly sweet cake that can be paired with strawberry jam, kaya or just about anything else you fancy.


• 140g all-purpose flour

• 200g castor sugar

• 3 eggs

• 1 tsp vanilla essence

• 1, 2 or more spreads of your choice

• Butter for greasing the baking tray

Batter and baking

• Heat oven 200°C.

• Sift your all-purpose flour.

• In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and eggs and beat with an electric mixer or whisk until pale yellow and fluffy and the sugar has completely disintegrated.

Combine eggs and sugar.
Beat until pale yellow and fluffy.

• Add vanilla essence and beat to combine mix through.

Add vanilla essence.

• Next, add whisked flour in one third at a time. Mixing it with a regular whisk or spatula into the batter to combine.

Add flour one-third at a time.
Stir until thoroughly combined.

• Line a square baking tray with some waxed or baking paper. We used a 10”x10” baking tray. Grease the entire surface with butter.

• Pour batter into the greased baking tray, using a spatula to spread the batter to all corners of the baking tray. Do make sure the batter is evenly spread.

Pour batter into baking tray.
Spread batter so it reaches all corners of the baking tray.

• Pop the tray into the oven and bake it at 200°C on the top rack for 20 minutes. Then, without opening the oven door, turn down the heat to 180°C and let it bake for another 5 minutes.

• Once completed, check to see if your cake is done by inserting a wooden dowel or toothpick. If it comes out clean, your cake is ready. If it’s still wet, continue baking for another 5 minutes.

The roll

• Lay a clean sheet of baking paper on a baking sheet, tray or other surface large enough to hold the cake.

• While the cake is still hot, carefully turn it over onto the fresh surface to remove the cake from the tray.

• Working quickly but gently, peel off the baking paper.

• Optional step: If you’d like two different fillings for your bahulu roll, cut your cake into equal halves (horizontally or vertically is fine, as long as it’s not diagonally. We want rectangles, not triangles). This also makes the rolling step a little easier, especially if this is your first time trying to make any kind of roll cake.

• Spoon generous amounts of your favourite filling onto the cake and spread it to cover the entire surface.

Mmm… the mouth-watering scent of Nutella.

• Start rolling your cake inwards towards the spread, starting at one end until you complete the roll. This step is why it’s important to work quickly while the cake is still hot, as the crust will harden as it cools, resulting in cracks on the surface when you roll the cake up.

Cracks forming as we roll the cake up.

• Wrap your completed roll with some wax paper and let it cool before slicing and serving. This helps to keep its shape.

Wrap Bahulu Roll to keep its shape.
Why not a marmalade filling instead?
That marmalade Bahulu Gulung.

• Before serving, use a serrated knife to slice the Bahulu Roll.

Extra tips

• Have fun with your spreads. Nothing is stopping you from trying out spreads such as cream cheese, whipped cream, peanut butter, durian and so on. You can even do a combination of spreads like peanut butter and jam.

Just ensure your spread isn’t watery, or it will seep into the cake and you’ll end up with a mushy mess.

• Bahulu Roll is a great tea-time snack. Serve it with some kopi-o or teh-o kosong to balance out the sweetness of the cake.

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