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Brazo Gitano “Cien Años”
A Columbia Restaurant Signature Dessert

Story behind the recipe

“Brazo de Gitano translates literally as Gypsy’s Arm,” says Richard Gonzmart, 4th generation family member and president of Columbia Restaurant Group.  “It’s a recipe from my great grandfather Casimiro Hernandez, the founder of the Columbia Restaurant, and a dessert my family has enjoyed during the holidays since I was born. My mom [Adela Hernandez Gonzmart] used to make it for special occasions and holidays.  She was famous for it. Anytime I see it or eat it, it brings back memories of her.” 

Adela added meringue to this traditional Spanish jelly roll.

Gonzmart says he made some variations on the recipe for the Columbia Restaurant’s 100th anniversary in 2005:  “We take fresh strawberries and slice them up to make a glaze to pour over the cake, then flambé it with cherry brandy.  It’s a combination of baked Alaska meets strawberry shortcake.”


15 eggs, separated
1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
1 ¼ cup cake flour
4 cups Crema Catalana (see recipe)
3 cups syrup (see recipe)
Strawberry jam or preserves
Meringue (see recipe)
3 pounds fresh strawberries
¾ cup Kirschwasser, or any other cherry brandy
¾ cup grain alcohol


In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer at high speed for 2 minutes. Add egg yolks one at
a time. Then add sugar slowly. On low speed, gradually add flour. Bake in wax-paper-lined jelly-roll pan (11" ×
16" × 1") at 400 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes. Sprinkle cloth kitchen towel with sugar. When cake is done, immediately invert on towel. Remove wax paper. Evenly spread cake with Crema Catalana filling. Roll up lengthwise like a jelly roll. Place on an ovenproof serving tray. Soak cake slowly with syrup. Cover completely with meringue and bake at 425° for 6–8 minutes or until meringue is lightly browned.

To prepare the strawberries, remove hulls and cut large berries in quarters and small berries in half. Coat
strawberries with strawberry glaze and place to the side until ready to serve. Combine Kirschwasser and grain
alcohol in a small fire-safe pitcher. When ready to serve, pour strawberries evenly over cake and light alcohol
mixture on fire and pour evenly over cake and strawberries.  Once flames dissipate, cut cake crosswise as you
would a jelly roll.

Syrup Ingredients

2 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar
1 strip of lemon peel
1 cup dry Spanish sherry

Syrup Preparation

Boil water, sugar, and lemon peel for 10 minutes. Add
sherry and remove lemon peel.

Meringue Ingredients

5 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar

Meringue Preparation

Combine egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Start adding sugar
very gradually and beat until stiff.

Crema Catalana

Browning the top with the broiler makes this presentation special.


4 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
2 cups milk
½ teaspoon salt
1 strip of lemon peel
1 strip of orange peel
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


Beat egg yolks lightly in stainless steel or any nonstick saucepan. Add sugar; beat well with wire whisk. Add
cornstarch and milk; mix thoroughly. Add salt, lemon peel, orange peel and cinnamon stick. Blend well and
cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. When custard thickens, cook for 1 minute, stirring. Remove from
heat. Add vanilla extract. Remove cinnamon stick and orange peel; and cool (in individual ovenproof ramekins
or ovenproof serving dish). Sprinkle with sugar and place directly under broiler until sugar caramelizes.
Serves 4–6.