I’ve been trying to work up the courage to make this dessert for years. Every fall, I see pumpkin rolls around the internet and make it a goal to try one. And then I chicken out. A month or two later, the Buche de Noel becomes popular, giving me another chance to try my hand at one of these rolled cakes. And still, I just never believed it would be possible to bake a cake and then roll it up. I mean I can barely make a decent layer cake, and all that requires is stacking cakes on top of one another, which in theory anyway, should be way easier than rolling a cake, right?
A few weeks ago though, my friend Natalie posted a pumpkin roll over on her blog. She’d had the same fears as me, but forged ahead anyway, and discovered that it was nowhere near as difficult or scary as she anticipated. I was inspired to get in my kitchen and finally cross this rolled cake business off of my to-do list!
Though I’d initially planned to use the same recipe as Natalie (it was tested and approved, big bonuses in my book), I wound up going in a different direction at the last minute. The outcome was the same though – Natalie was 100% right, this is a completely doable project! The rolling part wasn’t even the most tricky for me at the end of the day. I didn’t grease my pan well enough apparently, and lost a few corners, but I just trimmed the ends of the cake to make them even. The other spot where I ran into a bit of difficulty was just in handling the cake. It was extremely moist, and a bit sticky, but a liberal dusting of powdered sugar helped remedy that issue. I didn’t experience any cracking with the cake at all; in fact, it was so simple I’m sort of kicking myself for not doing this sooner.
I shared the pumpkin roll with my friend Lauren who loves all things pumpkin and cream cheese frosting related. Initially she told me her husband wouldn’t have any because he wasn’t into pumpkin, but I later found out this cake won him over. Even their baby Jude gave it his seal of approval My only note is that I wouldn’t suggest making this too far in advance. We found it got a bit soggy after a few days, so if you have to make it ahead, try to keep it to just one day.
3/4 cup cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
6 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the cake: Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 15 by 10 by 1-inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray the parchment with nonstick cooking spray.
Whisk the cake flour, cinnamon, ginger and allspice together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to beat the egg yolks, granulated sugar and brown sugar until pale and very thick. Add the pumpkin and beat on low until incorporated. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed just until combined. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or with the hand mixer and clean beaters), beat the egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter with a rubber spatula until most of the white streaks are gone.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Bake for 14-18 minutes, or until the cake springs back when gently pressed, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (While the cake is baking, spread a clean kitchen towel on your work surface and dust generously with confectioners’ sugar.) Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and generously dust the hot cake with confectioners’ sugar. Run a thin knife around the edges of the cake then turn it out onto the kitchen towel. With a short side facing you, fold the towel over the edge of the cake and roll up the cake (with the towel inside of it). Transfer to your fridge, with the seam down, and let cool for 1 hour.
To make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar, butter and vanilla and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat until light and fluffy. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and gently unroll. Spread the filling evenly over the cake, leaving just a tiny border (about 1/4-inch) around the edges. Reroll the cake and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Let the cake come to room temperature for about 30 minutes and sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.