Is it really November 26? I’m feeling very behind on all holiday things. Anyone else? This past weekend, Carrie and I drove to NC to see a concert put on by Carrie’s broadway idol, Jessica Vosk. It happened to be near Hannah’s place so, as a big bonus, we got to see Han too! It was a great trip! Brunch, wedding venue tour, concert, met Jessica Vosk, hot yoga and avocado toast. Super quick and fun trip! It was a little easier to leave this time because Hannah’s coming home for Thanksgiving!
Usually, when November 1st hits, I’m knee deep in Pumpkin Roll making. Not this year. I don’t know why but I hadn’t made any until today. Time has definitely snuck away from me and here it is the week of Thanksgiving and I’m cramming in some Pumpkin Rolls.
I told Hannah and Carrie this is their year to learn to make them while Hannah’s home. They’ve always enjoyed the scrumptious treat but never really spent time making these with me. I want them to know how so they can keep this annual tradition alive for years to come.
I learned how to make Pumpkin Roll from my mom and grandma and have always associated it with Thanksgiving because it’s usually part of the dessert line-up. I love it! Pumpkin Roll is delicious and classic and it’s a dessert that can be made weeks or months in advance and stored in the freezer. It’s actually much easier to slice while it’s frozen! It also makes a wonderful gift.
You don’t need many ingredients but you do need space and dedicated time and patience. Don’t be intimidated by the rolling. I’m going to share some of my tricks with you and you’ll see how easy it is.
Fresh, seasonal ingredients make for a perfect cake. Eggs (these are from Harvest Bell), sugar, vanilla, pumpkin purée, all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice.
Prep your pans! I use jelly roll style pans. I line them with unbleached parchment and give them a quick spray with oil to be sure they don’t stick. It’s not pretty but it gets the job done.
Start by beating the eggs, sugar and vanilla until nice and thick. Can we talk about the color of those eggs for a second? Beautiful!
Add the pumpkin purée (mine is homemade from pie pumpkins I got from Martha’s Farm) then add the dry ingredients.
Pour the batter into prepared pans. I’m making a double batch. One plain and one with pecans. Please add pecans! Just chop them and sprinkle them on top before baking. My sweet Daisy Mae is there to make sure I get it right! 🙂
Pop them in the oven and clean up your mess. You could also have a cup of coffee or glass of wine. Yeah, do that! These only bake until the top springs back when touched. If you bake it too long, there’s a chance it will crack when you roll it.
Here’s where I have some advice on the rolling. For years, I flipped these things out onto a towel covered with powdered sugar. There was always a dust cloud of sugar and it went EVERYWHERE! Also, the whole process made me nervous–would the cake come out of the pan, would it crack, would I miss the towel??!! Enough of that! I adopted a new technique a few years ago and it much less messy and more calming for the baker!
I get a larger cookie sheet ready by turning it over and covering it with a tea towel. I use my handy dandy powdered sugar sprinkler jar to sprinkle sugar right on top of the pumpkin roll when it comes out of the oven. Then I put the towel and cookie sheet on top and gently invert it. Remove the pumpkin roll pan and parchment and roll up the hot cake. Let it cool completely in the towel on a cooling rack. Cotton tea towels work best.
When the Pumpkin Roll is cool, make the filling which is simply cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla whipped up with a mixer until creamy and fluffy.
Gently unroll the cake and spread the filling to cover the cake. If your cake cracks, do not panic. These things are very forgiving. Keep spreading the filling and move to the next step.
Roll her back up nice and tight. It’s best to do that right onto a piece of plastic wrap then sprinkle a little more powdered sugar over the roll and wrap the whole thing tightly in the plastic then in foil. Stick it in the fridge or freezer for several hours to set up.
When you’re ready to serve, simply slice to your desired thickness. I like to slice mine in about 1″ slices. It’s so pretty and always tastes amazing!
For me, Pumpkin Roll is about the memories I have of Thanksgiving. I miss those big family gatherings. Due to all sorts of family changes, it’s hard to keep everything the same. That’s one of the many things I love about food. It can give all the feels, bring back nice memories and create new experiences.
Maybe next year Hannah and Carrie will make this for me! Until then, I’m ready to get going on preparing one of my favorite meals of the year. I have much to be thankful for! Safe travels if you’re traveling and enjoy time with all those you’re with. Happy Thanksgiving!
From the heart,
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 TBSP pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup pure pumpkin puree
Choppped pecans, if desired (highly encouraged!)
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 TBSP butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat eggs, vanilla and sugar until thick. Add in pumpkin and mix to combine. Stir in flour mixture. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. If adding pecans, sprinkle those on top.
3. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. Immediately loosen then sprinkle the top with powdered sugar and invert cake onto a larger cookie sheet covered with a tea towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool completely on wire rack.
4. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla until smooth. Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Roll cake as tightly as possible. Wrap in plastic wrap then foil and refrigerate at least one hour.
Store prepared Pumpkin Roll in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also store in the freezer for up to one month. Remove frozen Pumpkin Roll and slice in 1″ slices and serve at room temperature.
If you want to double the recipe, it’s about 3 cups of batter per pan.