Runkel’s Fudge Roll

People often say to me, “You make all those hundred-year-old recipes . . . Don’t you ever have cooking disasters?”

And, I usually reply, “I seldom have a disaster. Most recipes turn out fine, but I make them only once; some are very good and I make them a couple of times; and, a few I absolutely love and they have become part of my regular cooking repertoire.”

But, I do occasionally have cooking disasters. This is one of those times.

I found a recipe for Runkel’s Fudge Roll in an advertisement for Runkel’s Cocoa in a hundred-year-old issue of Good Housekeeping,Β and thought to myself, “I bet this will be a good recipe. Usually recipes in advertisements were carefully tested.”

Wrong – The fudge filling hardened very quickly, and was difficult to spread; AND, the cake base broke into pieces when I tried to roll it.

The one good thing about this recipe is that it was very tasty – even though it didn’t look very nice.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (March, 1919)

Runkel's Fudge Roll

  • Servings: 7 - 9
  • Difficulty: difficult
  • Print

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375Β° F.Β  Put butter, sugar, eggs, milk, and vanilla in a mixing bowl, and stir together. Add flour, baking powder and salt; beat until smooth. Put batter on a 15x10x1 -inch baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper. Make sure that the batter goes to the edges and corners of the pan, and that it is spread evenly. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and turn upside down on a piece of parchment paper that has been covered with sugar. Peel off the parchment paper that was used when baking. Immediately spread with the fudge filling, and roll as for a jelly roll.

Fudge Filling

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup cocoa

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Melt butter using medium low heat in a saucepan, add cocoa and stir until smooth. Stir in sugar, salt, and milk. Increase heat to medium, and bring to a boil while stirring occasionally. Immediately remove from heat, and add vanilla. Beat until smooth, and spread on cake base. Note: This icing hardens quickly. Immediately spread as soon as it reaches a spreadable consistency.

50 thoughts on “Runkel’s Fudge Roll

  1. Some of the sorriest looking messes I ever made were quite delicious! I am experimenting with roasting vegetables in the oven right now. I know that I have departed from the instructions a lot but starting to smell wonderful. However what it will be another story. Thanks for the recipes. They are appreciated.

    1. Now that I think about it, I agree – Many of my cooking disasters were actually very tasty; they just didn’t look very good. And, as a result, ended up being consumed by the cook. πŸ™‚

  2. And my brain immediately tries to figure out what went wrong. Did you roll you sponge in a powdered sugared dish towel while it was warm? Did your chocolate seize? And then I remember that it doesn’t matter. It was delicious

    1. I think that you identified some of the things that caused me problems. I hadn’t made a jelly roll in years, and had forgotten about rolling it in a powdered sugar towel almost immediately after it comes out of the oven – and then unrolling to add the filling. I just followed the 1919 directions which said, “Turn out on a sugared paper, spread with fudge filling, and roll as for a jelly roll.” I should have actually looked in a more modern cookbook (or online) and figured out that rolling as for a jelly roll means pre-rolling while still very warm.

      As for the filling – it didn’t seize. It just hardened very quickly when I began to spread it. I think that maybe I beat it too long, and as a result the filling was too cool by the time that I was spread it.

      1. It’s still better than some of the recipes I see. Random lists of ingredients with no real instructions. I’d make/eat that cake.

    1. You’re making me feel better. I always want foods to look pretty when I photograph them for this blog, but that just didn’t happen this time.

  3. My first thought on seeing it was that it looked delicious. The cake looks moist, and kind of reminds me of the moist cake-like puddings common in European cooking.

  4. It looks like it should be a good recipe. I’m glad you tried it, though. Just because what’s life in the kitchen without a few mishaps? A dull life, I’d say. 😊

    1. It was yummy – just not aestetically pleasing. My husband and I enjoyed it, but it was one of those recipes where I was really glad that I hadn’t planned to serve it to guests.

  5. Really loved reading this old recipe, Sheryl — calling the pan a “tin,” and using “greased paper.” And no use of a KitchenAid stand mixer to cream the butter and sugar in those days. Enjoyed this post, thank you, Sheryl.

    1. I learned the hard way that I should have rolled it first in a kitchen towel without the filling. I really wish that I’d taken the time to research how to make a jelly roll before I dove right into making this Fudge Roll.

  6. At first glance I thought this looks like a piece of something yummy! So, while it didn’t turn out as expected it does look delicious and glad that it turned out to be. Nothing worse than a failed recipe that doesn’t taste good.

    1. Yes, I think that you’re right. If I hadn’t expected it to look similar to a jelly roll, I probably would have been pleased with this dessert.

  7. Is this something you’ll be making again? I’m glad it tasted good even if it didn’t look as pretty as you would have liked! πŸ™‚

    1. To be honest- probably not. It’s a recipe that I should experiment with – since I think that I could do it much better if I made the recipe again and tweaked the process a bit; but the reality is that I’ll probably just move on to a different recipe as I work on my next post.

  8. Main thing is .. that is was good. You could just change the title to chocolate crumb cake.πŸ˜‰ I wonder if you would use whipping cream instead of milk if it would make a smooth chocolate filling?…. I like to add calories to things,lol

    1. You’re right – if I renamed this dessert so that it wasn’t a roll, I’d probably be much happier with this recipe. Whipping cream might make the filling smoother – and I could just ignore any calorie implications. This wasn’t a low calorie food to start with. πŸ™‚

  9. I think everyone has said long as it tastes good then what the heck…I remember my mum making swiss rolls and I used to love the edges she cut off before rolling it…The best bit πŸ™‚

    1. I know that you and the others are right – taste is the important thing. Yet, in this age of food photography (and blog photos), it’s sometimes difficult to keep this in perspective. Thanks for the reminder.

      1. But those photos are perfectly staged, probably cold instead of hot the colours enhanced and every leaf and crumb perfectly placed…That isn’t the reality…As us home cooks know…Have a lovely week, Sheryl πŸ™‚ x

  10. At least it was tasty. I’d be interested in a compilation of those recipes that you love and make quite often. A linkfest would be a good way to do it.

  11. Some ingredients change over time; like cocoa. Back then there was probably only one choice and now you can buy 6 different kinds. Eggs, what size – I notice a difference with organic? Butter, flour and all your basics have changed as well. Fudge my hubby use to make for 40 years we have had to adjust some of the ingredients; look at pork – we no longer have to cook it to death for it to be safe to eat. I’m not surprised but good for you to give it a go and maybe come up with an updated version πŸ™‚

    1. Until I read your comment I hadn’t thought about how the changing composition of the ingredients might affect the finished product, but now I’m thinking that may have been a part my problems.

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