Pumpkin Cake Roll

If you’re looking for a special Thanksgiving dessert to serve your guests after the bird, may I suggest this moist and delicious pumpkin cake roll?  It will most assuredly wow your guests, not to mention their taste buds.

Not only is this pumpkin cake roll absolutely scrumptious with its tender moist crumb and luscious cream cheese filling which is lightly flavored with fresh lemon juice and flecks of lemon rind, but its presentation will make people think you bought it at the bakery.

Don’t be put off by the several steps to this recipe—each one is relatively simple.  The results will be well worth the effort.

If you aren’t a fan of walnuts, you can just leave them out.  A sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar over the top of the cake roll just before serving will still make for a nice presentation.

The original recipe which I cut out of the Boston Globe over thirty years ago said that the cake roll can be frozen.  I have never done so, but it would certainly be a time saver for busy bakers if you’re inclined to try it.

Happy Thanksgiving baking!

One year ago:  Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

Two years ago:  Shrimp Scampi Appetize

Three years ago:  Roast Turkey with Stuffing and Gravy

Pumpkin Cake Roll

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Ingredients for Cake

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (can substitute all-purpose gluten free flour)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup canned pumpkin (plain purée—not spiced pie filling)
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Filling

  • 9 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 6 tbl. butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Directions for Cake

Line a greased 15x10x1-inch pan with parchment or waxed paper and grease the paper.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Beat eggs on high speed; gradually beat in sugar.  Stir in pumpkin and lemon juice.  Add dry ingredients to pumpkin batter and fold into batter.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.  Sprinkle with nuts.

Bake in preheated oven at 350o F for 12 to 15 minutes, until cake tests done when toothpick is inserted.  You want to see tender moist crumbs clinging to toothpick rather than bone dry.

Turn out cake onto dish towel which has been sprinkled with some confectioners’ sugar.  Remove paper.  Starting at narrow end, roll up towel and cake together.  This will help “train” the cake to be rolled.

Don’t worry if the cake cracks here and there.  Most of this will be covered with the cream cheese filling and a sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar on the top of the rolled cake.  Allow cake to cool on a cake rack.

When cake is cool, unroll, spread with cream cheese filling and roll up again.

Use towel to help move cake along.  Refrigerate for several hours until firm.  Sprinkle top of cake roll with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

Directions for Cream Cheese Filling

Beat cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy.  Mix in lemon rind.  Add sugar and beat well until light and fluffy.

Whip sugar with cheese, butter and lemon rind.  Spread over cooled cake.

Fran’s Notes

As I mentioned, the original recipe said that the cake roll can be frozen although I have never done so.

I cut down the ginger from the original recipe (called for 3/4 tsp.) because it was spicier than I prefer.  If you like really spicy fall flavors, just add the additional 1/4 teaspoon of ginger back in.

I have made this pumpkin cake roll many times through the years, but this time I made it substituting the all-purpose flour for an all-purpose gluten free flour (Bob’s Red Mill brand).  I could not tell any difference using the GF flour—it was just as moist and delicious as always.

Source:   Adapted from a recipe I cut out from the Boston Globe over 30 years ago.

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