A spring roll that won’t burst and leak whilst cooking? And, it’s oven baked? What more a cheese filled spring roll? I went through 3 sessions of spring roll making before figuring out how to prevent these oven baked cheese ones from becoming a mess. 

After working on over 100 spring rolls, rolled in varying configurations, sealed with either egg wash, egg white or a cornstarch water solution, pricked with a toothpick in differing formations of 1, 2, 3 or 4 holes to discourage the rolls from bursting open, baking them with seam side down or up, in 360F(180C), 380F(190C), 400F(200C), 420F(220)C temperatures and going through even more testing than you could possibly imagine rolling spring rolls warrant, I had my eureka moment.

One evening, whilst peering through my oven glass door to see yet another tray of spring rolls randomly burst open, the solution struck me. 

Baking cheese filled spring rolls is tricky. The solid cheese will turn liquid in the oven heat. There must be enough volume within the spring roll to allow for the extra space liquid cheese occupies. Therein lies the challenge. Conventionally, spring rolls are formed into neat little packages with sides folded, tucked snugly inwards and then rolled to seal shut. This tight ‘nip and tuck’ packaging is just begging for the molten cheese to erupt out of its constraint. To avoid the chaos, follow these tips:

(1) Leave the ends of the rolled spring rolls open, that is, do not tuck them in. This allows steam to vent out and space for the liquid cheese to splay.
(2) It is essential that the cheese filling be placed in a specific manner to help direct and contain the flow of the liquid cheese.
(3) Use grated or ready sliced cheese (good quality of course). Feta or soft goat cheese will work but use less. Cheese cut into batons will not work.
(4) A little goes a long way with cheese. So fill less than more.
(5) Roll up the spring roll as you would a swiss roll and to keep the spring rolls securely sealed, use an egg wash. Best to refer to my pictures below.

So why baked the cheese spring rolls? Apart from helping to keep my arteries clogged free, there are other compelling benefits:
(1) No oily stove top to clean
(2) Less washing up
(3) Less oil usage
(4) The spring rolls are less greasy
(5) They stay crispy for a longer period
(6) Standing against the stove top deep frying always turns me into an overheated dripping mess. With oven baking at least I can keep some sense of decorum – especially important when I have guests over.
(7) Not all spring rolls taste better baked but these cheese filled ones are certainly better baked.

Oven Baked Cheese Rolls That Won’t Go Pop

Prep: 20 minutes 
Cook: 7 – 10 minutes per tray
Inactive:
Level: Easy
Makes: ~50 spring rolls (5″)(12.5cm)
Oven Temperature: 380F 190C Lower Middle Rack
Can recipe be doubled? Yes
Make ahead? Spring rolls can be rolled, covered and refrigerated a day ahead. Brush with oil just before baking.

Ingredients

50 (5″ [12.5cm] square-sized) spring roll wrappers.
~8 slices of cheese OR ~5 oz(150g) grated cheese OR feta OR soft goat cheese in lesser quantities*
1/4 cup finely diced onions
1/4 cup finely diced coriander leaves/parsley
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons fennel seeds**
1 Tablespoon mix of black pepper and chilli powder***
1 egg beaten
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
* Good quality, strong tasting cheese is best. I have tried but am not keen on brie, camembert and similar soft rind cheeses as fillings. Mild tasting cheese like mozzarella will not do either. I use a mature/sharp/vintage cheddar with an assertive flavour. If using feta or goat cheese, use less of it (it can be strong) or a combination of cheddar and feta/goat cheese.
** Fennel seeds provide a refreshing anise seed flavour that cuts through the creaminess of the cheese. You could substitute with cumin seeds but I would use less of it as too much overpowers. Alternatively, omit altogether.
*** You need the chilli powder to give it some heat to balance out the richness. 

Method

Preheat oven to 380F (190C), oven rack adjusted to lower middle rack.

Prep your work area and ingredients
1. Set ingredients nearby (refer to image above), 2 pastry brushes (one for egg washing and one for brushing the oil) within reach and have a wet tea towel over wrappers to prevent drying out.

A rectangular or diamond shaped roll? 
1. Choose to roll either a rectangular roll which will look like cigars or a diamond roll which will roll out to look like pointy cigars. Diamond rolls will look quite pretty but as the 2 ends will be thinner than the rest of the roll, they have a tendency to brown too much, so you need to watch them more carefully as they bake. The rectangular rolls would not have the same issue so I tend to go with the rectangular rolls.

Rolling them up
1. Fill the wrappers exactly as shown below, keeping the filling, as far as possible, in one layer and within the boxed area I have created. A little filling goes a long way. If using feta/soft goat cheese, as it is a softer cheese, you need to use less of it.

3. Roll the wrapper away from you. Do not roll it too snug and keep the ends open.

4. Egg wash in the boxed areas I have created.

5. Brushing them with oil just before it is baked is easy if you place them close together. You do not have to be too meticulous about getting all areas brushed but do remember to turn the rolls to brush the under side.

6. To ensure rolls are crispy all round, set the rolls seam side down on a wire rack and then on to a baking tray.

7. Bake for 7 – 10 minutes. You could choose to turn the rolls half way through baking to encourage it to brown evenly but I sometimes don’t bother.
8. An oven’s internal temperature differs widely. So as you put in your first tray to bake, watch them and adjust your baking time and temperatures accordingly.
9. Cool on wire racks before serving as they are hot.

Tips

(1) Line the bottom of your tray with a silicon mat or parchment paper before you set the wire rack over it. Not only will it catch any leakage but any melted cheese that settles on the silicon mat or parchment paper will solidify when cooled. They will peel off easily and make tasty crispy cheese treats. As you get better with gauging how much or how little cheese to place on your wrappers and where to place them, soon enough none of your cheese filled spring rolls will leak.

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