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What Is a Banana Roll?

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T. Carrier
T. Carrier

A banana roll is a dessert food that typically consists of a spongy banana-based cake and a creamy spread. Once both substances are created, a cook usually spreads the cream over the cake and then rolls the cake into a cylindrical shape before baking. The average banana roll measures about two to three inches (about 5.1 to 7.6 centimeters) long.

Sponge cake is the usual base for a banana roll. This type of cake is typically created with sugar, flour, and eggs. The eggs are whipped into a foam, which gives the cake its spongy texture, and combined with the other ingredients. Cakes with this structure are useful for rolled desserts because, even after cooking, sponge cakes are pliable.

Bunch of bananas.
Bunch of bananas.

Other ingredients may enhance and better the cake base. For the banana roll, ripe mashed bananas are an obvious addition. Since the dessert originated as a popular Chinese pastry, Asian rice is often added in native locales. Baking powder and baking soda are also common additives. In addition, cooks frequently include a small amount of rum or vanilla to give the cakes more flavor. A dusting of powdered sugar over the cake’s surface is another popular option.

In China, banana rolls may feature a red bean paste filling.
In China, banana rolls may feature a red bean paste filling.

The cream filling in banana rolls can take on a variety of forms. A basic sweet cream spread might consist of ingredients like cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar mixed together. In China, a sweet mixture made with honey and beans — known as red bean paste — is another favored filling. Many bakeries and recipes also use finely chopped banana pieces as the filling for banana rolls. Some individuals may opt for pre-made fillings and frostings available for purchase, such as cinnamon frostings that can used to create banana cinnamon rolls.

Sponge cake is often used as the base for banana rolls.
Sponge cake is often used as the base for banana rolls.

Banana rolls are a baked good and are thus usually cooked in an oven. Recipes generally instruct the cook to first make the cake, place it in a pan, and then bake it for around 15 minutes. After cooling, the filling is spread onto the cake and then the cake is rolled up on itself. This creates a swirled design for the banana roll's interior.

Although they have moved to dessert plates around the world, banana rolls originated in East Asian cuisine, particularly China. Similar Chinese pastry products include almond biscuits, cream buns, and egg tarts. Chinese bakeries specializing in these products are often located in Chinatowns: small communities that celebrate Chinese culture and customs. In many cases, the banana roll is part of a dim sum meal, which comprises many small and separate portions of food.

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    • Bunch of bananas.
      Bunch of bananas.
    • In China, banana rolls may feature a red bean paste filling.
      By: Andrey Starostin
      In China, banana rolls may feature a red bean paste filling.
    • Sponge cake is often used as the base for banana rolls.
      By: torsakarin
      Sponge cake is often used as the base for banana rolls.