Brazo Gitano de Guayaba / Guava Spanish Cake Roll
Brazo Gitano, Brazo de Reina or Pionono is a Spanish Cake Roll. They have become super popular in Puerto Rico and of course we have made it our own. One of the most popular flavors is guava. Today, you can learn how to make it at home! No need to order one online or ask your family member to hide one in their carry on from their trip to Puerto Rico. I promise that fresh out of the oven, beats the store bought one any day!
4 eggs at room temperature, separated egg yolks and egg whites
⅔ cup of sugar, separated into two ⅓ cup containers
1 tsp vanilla
¾ cup cake flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
4 tbs butter, melted and cooled
2 tbs butter at room temperature
14 oz guava paste
1 ½ tbs lemon juice
¼ cup water
We are going to start this recipe by preparing the guava filling. The first step is to cut the guava paste into small pieces, however, there is no perfect size here. All we want is to cut the paste in small equal pieces so that the paste melts quicker. I cut mine into pieces that were about ¼ inch thick, by ½ inch wide and 1 inch long, but as I said it doesn't have to be this exact size, the important thing is to cut them in equal size so they melt evenly.
Once your guava paste is cut, take a pot and put it on the stove on medium high. Then add the guava paste, lemon juice and water to the pot and stir. Continue stirring every minute or so to make sure that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.
Mine took about 7 minutes to melt completely. When the guava paste is all melted, move the mixture to a clean bowl and set it aside to cool.
With our filling ready, we are now going to prepare the cake roll. Start by turning on the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven is heating up, the next step is to prepare the baking pan. I am using a 10 x 15 baking tray. Take the 2 tablespoons of butter at room temperature, and using your fingers start spreading butter on the bottom and sides of the pan. Once it is all covered in butter, place a parchment paper on the bottom of the tray and spread the remaining butter on top of the parchment paper.
This will prevent the cake from sticking to the pan and also allow the cake to come out really easily after it is baked.
With the baking tray ready, let’s move on to preparing the cake mix. Start by adding the salt and baking powder to the cake flour. Mix it altogether and set aside. We are now going to move on to the egg whites.
Using a hand mixer on medium speed, beat the egg whites until they are foamy, like soap bubbles. Once the egg whites are foamy, we will add the first ⅓ cup of sugar to the egg whites. With the mixer on medium-high speed, add about one tablespoon of sugar at a time. Beat for about 15 seconds before adding the next tablespoon of sugar. It is very important that you start with egg whites at room temperature as this will impact the consistency of the cake. Continue adding the ⅓ cup of sugar until it is all incorporated, then increase the speed of the mixer to high and continue mixing until you get firm peaks. The mixture will resemble shaving cream. Set the egg whites aside while we prepare the rest of the cake mix.
For the next step, take the egg yolks and add the remaining ⅓ cup of sugar and vanilla. With the mixer on medium high speed, mix the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla until the mixture becomes light in color and creamy. This will take about 3 minutes.
Next, add the melted butter and sift the flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture and mix on medium speed until everything is combined, this will take a minute or so. Now we are going to fold in the egg whites.
Take about half of the egg whites and add them to the egg yolk mixture, using a rubber spatula, fold in the egg whites. Do this slowly and gently as you don’t want to deflate the batter. Once it is all combined add the remaining egg white mixture and repeat the folding process, again slowly and gently to avoid deflating the batter.
Once the batter is ready, spread the batter into the prepared baking pan. Using an offset spatula, level out the batter to make sure that the cake is baked evenly. Be gentle with this process as you don’t want to deflate the batter.
Once the batter is smooth and even, place it in the heated oven and bake for 10 - 12 minutes. Mine was perfect at 11 minutes, but not all ovens are the same so start checking yours at 10 minutes.
When the cake is lightly golden on the top, remove it from the oven and let it cool for 3 minutes. Using a butter knife, run the knife along the edges to make sure that the cake is not stuck to any edges. After the 3 minutes, sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar. Make sure that it is completely covered.
Then, place a damp clean kitchen towel on top of the cake and invert the cake into the towel. Remove the parchment paper from the cake. Then, gently roll the cake up with the towel. As you are rolling, gently apply pressure to the cake.
Once rolled, let the cake cool in the rolled up shape for 15 - 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes, take a clean baking tray and line it with clear plastic wrap. Then, place the cake on top of the prepared tray. We are now ready to fill the cake. Using a spoon, start dropping spoonfuls of the guava filling on top of the cake, then use an offset spatula to smooth out the filling, making sure that it is about the same thickness throughout the cake. Continue adding the filling, but make sure to leave about a 1 inch space at the end of the cake with no filling.
Once the filling has been evenly distributed, roll the cake back up. Again, applying gentle pressure as you roll. Then, roll the cake again into the plastic wrap and let it cool in the fridge for about 15 minutes. This will ensure that the filling will not come out of the cake when you cut into it and also that the cake will maintain its shape.
After the cake is completely cool, sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar on top. Be generous with the powdered sugar this time. And just like that your brazo gitano is ready, enjoy!
Check out our instructional video, showing how to make this recipe step-by-step HERE.