A few weeks ago, I was sitting with Almanzo on the couch. We had just eaten dinner and, like usual, were sitting side by side on the couch, typing away in silence on our matching macbooks. I was engrossed in one of The Pioneer Woman’s Thanksgiving recipes when all of a sudden Almanzo goes, can you make…a pumpkin roll?
a pumpkin roll?
Why, I’ve never made one before, I’d said. I guess I could give it a shot.
Almanzo sighed. It’s my absolute favorite dessert ever, he said. I can’t even imagine anything sweeter in life than you making me a pumpkin roll.
I looked over, shocked. Your favorite dessert….ever? How have we been dating for almost nine months and I’m just finding this out now? You do realize that all I do every day is make dessert and then write about it? That I actually went to school to learn how to do it? That I love dessert more than life itself?
He stared at me, blinked, and then turned back to his laptop.
I resisted the urge to leap off the couch and shout vehemently I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO YOU ARE!! And instead, I researched. I gathered. I stalked. And when I was quite sure that this was it— the best pumpkin roll in the whole darn world—I baked.
For some reason, I feel like pumpkin rolls (and jelly roll cakes in general) are cakes that everyone loves but no one bakes. I feel this way because the whole process is rather intimating. It is! You’re supposed to bake a near perfect cake, spread it with frosting and then roll it up without the slightest tear, rip or break.
It’s a very scary thing….but I know you can do it. I have faith in you, dear reader!
It’s honestly not as hard as it looks. First, you start with a simple sponge cake. Traditional sponge cakes have no added fat (like butter or oil) in them and get all their air from beating the heck out of whole eggs and sugar. For example, I beat three eggs and a cup of sugar together on high in my KitchenAid today for ten minutes straight. The end product should be pale and really, really thick and ribbony.
Then, you just fold in the rest of the ingredients….being careful not to overmix and kill the air that you worked so hard to achieve with all the previous beating. Today I folded in two thirds cup pumpkin:
and the dry ingredients: flour, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking powder.
Stir gently and then pour on a greased and wax paper lined sheet pan.
Pop in the oven at 350 for fifteen minutes, or until golden.
While that’s cooling, make the cream cheese frosting. Then, gently flip over the sheet tray, peel off the wax paper from the cake and plop the frosting on top.
Oh man, this is going to be delicious!!
Now spread it all around…this is the most crucial part!
And now, my friends, it’s time to rock and roll. Start at the far side and roll the cake up gently. Don’t worry if you get a splatter of frosting here or a tiny rip there. It’s all good.
When you’re all wrapped up, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. This ensures no crazy frosting squirts when you slice into the cake.
Because the last thing you want to do is squirt your date in the eye with cream cheese frosting, right?
That would entirely defeat the purpose.
Classic Pumpkin Roll
3 eggs, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
for cream cheese frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 T soft butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350. Beat the eggs and sugar together with a Kitchen Aid on maximum high speed for about ten minutes. When done, the mixture will be very thick and very, very pale. Add the lemon juice, vanilla and pumpkin and stir gently.
In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet and mix just until combined.
Pour the cake batter onto a sheet tray (or jelly roll tray) that has been greased and lined with wax paper. Spread out the batter evenly and bake for fifteen minutes, or until golden.
Let cool on the pan for about ten minutes and start your frosting.
Whip the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed for three minutes or until creamy looking. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and whip on high for another six to eight minutes. Set aside.
After you have cooled the cake for a few minutes, turn over the sheet pan and gently peel off the wax paper. Spoon the frosting on top of the cake and spread out. Starting at the far edge, roll up the cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for about an hour before serving.
**this cake freezes beautifully, making it super easy to just cut off a frozen slice whenever you have the urge. Just be sure to wrap it completely in plastic wrap and then again in tin foil.