Friday, November 9, 2012

Pumpkin Roll

As you may know, I don't generally do cakes.  I've make a few here and there, but I don't have the patience for decorating, so I stick to the things I love--like cookies and muffins.  But, like any good Girl Scout, before I hang up my apron in defeat, I do like to give a good try to anything.  So the idea of baking a thin cake and spiraling it up with filling to make a rolled cake was a challenge I'd be willing to accept.  While seemingly difficult, I thought it was more about engineering that actual patience with details so since decoration was not necessary, I might be able to succeed here.  And who knew I could do it?  While there are a few tweaks I'll make for my next go around, I loved this cake and this process.  Dave was in awe and could have finished the whole thing if I'd have let him.  The cake has perfect texture with a lightness to it, not dense or heavy.  The cream cheese filling is sweet but not sickly and the addition of fiori di sicilia (like I did in the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins) offers a slight citrus note the complements the pumpkin and spices, as well as the lightness of the cake.

Pumpkin roll is ubiquitous with Thanksgiving and in my family, my aunt who is generally responsible for making it lives 15 hours away.  While I'll get the opportunity to enjoy her version for the holiday this year, I wanted to try my hand early in case I ran into any issues so I could ask the expert, as well as compare notes.  So I picked this recipe from Kristi at Life is Just a Bowl of Cherrys and got started.  In the end, I made only a handful of notes for my next try (yes, I will make cake again!)  First, the substitution of fiori di sicilia for part of the vanilla and elimination of the nuts.  Then, I need to be more liberal with the powdered sugar on my towel because I did have a little bit of a sticking issue.  But my biggest breakthrough was that rather than spread the cream cheese filling on the unrolled cake with a spatula, I piped it on.  I know, I know, I don't have the patience for decorating.  But I didn't use a tip--just the coupling--and my fear was two fold: first, the very center part of the cake wouldn't unfold and I didn't want to tear the cake.  So piping the filling in made sure it filled that whole area.  And second, I did have a small tear in the cake in another spot and I was afraid the spatula would create too much friction and cause more tearing.  Piping laid the filling down smoothly without stressing the cake, so I didn't have any new tears upon the final roll.  All in all, I was super pleased with how easy this recipe ended up being and over the moon at the lovely flavor.  Can't wait to make it again, and try other flavors as well.

Pumpkin Roll

Ingredients for cake

3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Ingredients for filling

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
6 Tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fiori di sicilia

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.

In the bowl of stand mixer, beat eggs and sugar until thick.  Then beat in pumpkin.

Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add flour mixture and mix until incorporated

Grease a 15 x 10 inch pan, then line with waxed paper and grease and flour waxed paper.  Spread batter into an evenly layer over waxed paper.


Bake at 375 degrees F for 13-15 minutes or until golden and top of cake springs back when touched.  While cake bakes, lay a clean, thin towel over the back of a baking sheet and sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar.  (Note: I felt the baking sheet gave my towel more stability than just lying it on the counter top.  Either works.)


Remove cake from oven and immediately (and carefully) flip over onto prepared towel.  Peel the waxed paper carefully off the cake.

Roll the cake up in the towel and let sit on a wire rack until cool (about an hour or so).

While cake cools, prepare filling by beating cream cheese and butter together.  Then add powdered sugar, vanilla and fiori di sicilia and beat until smooth.  (Note: A good blogger would have taken pictures of this process by my camera batteries--both of them--died at this point and I couldn't find my phone.)

Transfer filling into a piping bag or a zip-top bag with a corner snipped off.  Carefully unroll the cake and pipe filling to within 2 inches of the outside edge, maybe a 1/2 inch on the side edges.  (Note: as you roll the cake, the pressure will push the filling to the rest of the edge without oozing out the sides.)

Very slowly and carefully, reroll the cake, removing the towel as you go.  It may be useful to have another set of hands hold the other side of the towel to keep it still and prevent tearing.  You may need to gently tap the towel away from the cake in some areas.

Wrap cake roll in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour before serving.  Sprinkle top with more powdered sugar to serve, if desired.

Makes one cake roll, about 16 slices.

Happy Baking,
The Cookie Princess

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