Sweet, ripe, and juicy blackberries say Summertime, and this old-time favorite recipe shows them off beautifully. Blackberry Roly Poly is fun to say, fun to make, and fun to share at any summertime celebration!
What is a Roly Poly?
Like pound cake and scones, the roly poly is a traditional dessert with roots in the United Kingdom. The roly poly shows up in confectionary history in the 19th century, and varies in ingredients, shape, and cooking methods.
It’s always a sheet of dough, spread or filled with something sweet, rolled up like a jelly roll, and the cooked until done.
The classic British Roly Poly was made with suet, which is rendered beef fat widely, used in sweet and savory baking in the traditional British kitchen. My
Blackberry Roly Poly calls for butter, not suet, and fresh fruit rather than jam, which was the most common form of roly poly in its English homeland.
How Were Traditional Roly Poly’s Cooked?
Like Christmas puddings in the time of Charles Dickens, a roly poly was usually filled and rolled up, wrapped in a sheet of muslin, and then steamed or boiled until done. Hot, messy, and slow — interesting to know but not what I’m looking to do during blackberry season, AKA summertime in the USA!
Baking is easy, speedy, and gives a handsome brown color to the finished confection! And I include a simple blackberry sauce so that there’s lots of color and lusciousness to enhance your roly poly enjoyment.
How Do You Make the Dough?
Here’s how it works: You mix flour, sugar and salt with cold butter, leaving it a bit bumpy (think biscuits, not smooth batter. Then add milk to make a soft gooey dough
Turn it out onto a floured surface or silpat mat and shape it into a dough, pressing and turning but not too hard.
Then roll it out into a big rectangle, about 10 by 12 inches, and brush with melted butter. Use half or less, with the goal of keeping a 1-inch border around the edges. Don’t worry, just do what you can and save the rest of the butter.
How Do You Shape the Roly Poly into a Roll?
Scatter it with the blackberries and then cover (except that border!) the berries and dough with both brown sugar and granulated sugar; then drizzle on the rest of the melted butter, as much as you can. Extra can go on top later.
What Shapes Can a Roly Poly Take?
Today the Roly Poly is usually shaped into a plump cylinder, placed on a baking sheet, baked, and then sliced for serving.
I love to slice it up before baking, turn the spiral-showing, berry-displaying sides up, and arrange them in a round baking pan like cinnamon rolls or sticky buns.
You can also arrange the cylinder into a plump round ends touching, making a giant doughnut, in a big round cake pan and bake it whole. Then turn it out and slice it, or simply scoop it out into bowls as you would a cobbler.
Why Blackberry Roly Poly Is the Very Best Roly Poly of Them All
Truth is, I can only speak for myself on this, so assume no objectivity whatsoever. Blackberries are one of my very favorite fruits. (I’ve written a book on fruits which you can find more about here and here. I love all the Southern fruits included plus many others without Southern American roots. Thus, on favoritism, I shall say no more.)
However, blackberries do indeed work wonderfully in a roly poly because of their color and juiciness.
They show up, unlike the simple traditional jam filling, or grapes, or stone fruit, adding visual delight to the filling and sauce. They’re also juicy, a roly poly plus.
What Else Could I Use for a Roly Poly?
So Many Things! Raspberries, chopped strawberries, blueberries, mixed berries! Or one of these or a combination of them, coarsely chopped: Peaches, nectarines, mangoes, or plums. I praised blackberries for their deep rich color and dissed stone fruit — but note that any and all of these have their beauty and goodness. How about you use YOUR favorite, just like I did?
Of course, old-school is a good school, so when fresh sweet ripe fruit is harder to find, consider the British original: Jam! It’s Jam Roly Poly for so many sentimental dessert raised in the UK. This feature story in the Guardian, explores the jam roly poly tradition.
What tools do I need?
To make my recipe for Blackberry Roly Poly, all you need are a big mixing bowl, measuring cups and spoons, and a sheet pan for baking the whole roll, or for holding any other baking pan you use, to catch buttery juices which may bubble up and out, .
For my favorite version, with the roll sliced into rounds, you could use;
- a springform pan (wrap the base in foil to contain any juices which may escape during baking)
- an 8 or 9-inch round cake pan
- an 8 or 9-inch square cake pan
- a deep-dish pie pan
- a standard loaf pan (cut off ends if needed to fit, and bake them in ramekins if need be; cook’s treat!)
Which ever one you use, be sure to butter it generously, and then place your baking pan on a sheet pan to catch any juicy goodness which may bubble up and out during baking. Lining the baking sheet with aluminum foil or baking parchment will help greatly with clean-up.
Depending on your pan, you may have extra rounds which don’t fit into the cake pan, pie pan, or springform pan. Simply place these into small heatproof glass bowls, or ramekins, or even cupcake tins, and make extra goodies for breakfast or samples
That Lovely Blackberry Sauce
The sauce adds so much goodness! It’s as simple as can be: Blackberries, sugar and a little water. It’s not a thick syrup, but rather a quick fruity expansion of the berries’ ability to bless each delicious biscuity-bite with blackberriness.
Two choices. After you mash the cooked berries to bring it all together and release all the juices, you can serve as is, or strain it. Blackberries have seeds, lots and lots of seeds.
You can strain the sauce well, pressing hard to get all the berry goodness and juices and leave only the seeds. OR leave it in and say “I’m rustic today!” That’s my favorite but both ways are fine.
Watch me make my Blackberry Roly Poly on “Charlotte Today”, WCNC’s delightful morning show. I had the best time with co-hosts Eugene Robinson and Christine Odegaard, and I can’t wait to go back to share a new recipe. Click HERE for me on Roly Poly TV!
More Blackberry Goodness
Here’s a great little video on how to make blackberry jam. It’s only 5+ minutes long, leaves out the pectin (berries + sugar + heat), and uses everyday tools.
I am looking for a place to pick wild blackberries this year, after saying I would but forgetting to find a spot. If you are a Piedmont NC person and have ideas, leave me a comment won’t you? Or send me a message on social media. I love blackberries very very much.
More Sweet Treats
How about some ice cream to go with this? I used vanilla ice cream from the grocery store this time, but I have been known to make coconut ice cream and it is very very wonderful
If you love this but need something simpler to make, do check out my Coconut Custard Pie. Delicious and do-able — you won’t believe how simple it is to make a true old-time Southern favorite. Make and take, or make and enjoy at home.
Sponsored items used in this recipe:
Adams Extract: Vanilla Extract
Anolon: Advanced Graphite 9-inch Round Springform Pan
Dixie Crystals: Light Brown Sugar
For the Roly Poly
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup very cold butter
- About 2/3 cup milk
- 3/4 cup melted butter (1 1/2 sticks / 6 ounces)
- About 2 1/4 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen (two 6-oz containers)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, light or dark
- 1/2 cup cup granulated sugar
For the Blackberry Sauce
- 2 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees F, and combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and whisk or stir with a fork to mix well..
- Chop the butter into small bits, toss with flour mixture, and then use a pastry blender, two knives, or your hands to work most but not all of the butter into the flour, pinching and squeezing to made a raggedy, lumpy mixture with pea-sized bits of butter still showing.
- Add most of the milk and use your hand or a big spoon to transform the dry mixture into a raggedy dough.
- Turn it out onto a flour counter or cutting board and knead gently about 5 turns, until you have a nice soft dough, dipping hands in flour to help sticky goo join the dough.
- Set the dough on a large, floured sheet of baking parchment, big enough to line an 11 x 17 sheet pan.
- Roll it out into a rectangle about 10 by 12 inches and about ¼ inch thick.
- Pour half the melted butter over the center portion of the dough, leaving a 1 inch border.
- Scatter the berries over the buttered dough, and arrange them somewhat evenly, leaving a 1-inch border all around the edges.
- Sprinkle both sugars evenly over the buttered dough and berries. Pour the remaining half of the melted butter over the sugared berries.
- Reaching up and across the berry covered dough to the far edge, gently roll the dough toward you, enclosing the sugared berry filling and making a big fat roll. Roll it into a cylinder as tightly and evenly as you can, using the parchment paper to help you manage the unwieldy shape.
- Stop rolling when the open edge is on the bottom, and let this be the center seam underneath the roll.
- Carefully transfer the roll on its parchment paper bed to the baking sheet, and bake at 400 degrees until the roly poly is nicely browned and firm, and the doughy center of the roll is cooked through, about 30 minutes.
- OR slice the roly ply into 1 inch thick rounds and transfer to a well-buttered 9-inch round cake pan; or a spring form pan; wrapping the base of spring form pan well with aluminum foil to catch any syrup.
- Meanwhile, make the blackberry sauce, combining the 2 cups blackberries, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Stir well and boil gently for 5 to 7 minutes, using a potato masher or a large metal slotted spoon to mash berries well..
- When they have released their juices and formed a lightly thickened sauce, set aside to cool.
- When the roly poly is ready, remove it from the oven and cool for at least 10 minutes; then let cool to room temperature.
- Slice or scoop out portions, hot, warm, or at room temperature, and serve in bowls, anointed with the blackberry sauce, and if possible, topped off with a flourish of ice cream or whipped cream.
- Note: To remove the seeds, press the berry mixture through a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and scrape the rounded outside of the strainer to capture every drop of the rich, sweet berry sauce.
Nutrition InformationYield 10 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 419Total Fat 19gSaturated Fat 12gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 50mgSodium 516mgCarbohydrates 60gFiber 4gSugar 37gProtein 4g