The second time I came home from college in the fall was for my 18th birthday which was on Halloween. I remember how much I was looking forward to celebrating with my family and some of my friends from the University of Maryland that weekend.
Since it was late October which is the time when everyone in my neighborhood displays carved pumpkins on their front porch, I thought that making a pumpkin dessert would be perfectly ideal in the spirit of Halloween. My parents were also ordering a birthday cake from my favorite bakery, Classic Bakery, so I wanted to bake something on the side that would be lighter than their Signature Fruitcake but still extremely delicious to have as an accompanying treat.
While my dad and I were shopping at Giant, our usual grocery store, we saw a lot of ready-made pumpkin rolls for sale. With their white and bright orange color and light sprinkling of snow-like confectioners sugar, they looked gorgeous and quite tempting to buy. However, one of my weird quirks, which must have emerged after I developed an interest for baking, is that I very rarely buy cakes, baked cookies, or cupcakes at my grocery store now. I definitely love getting Oreos and other packaged treats (and often incorporate those in recipes I make at home) but otherwise, if I’m craving a dessert that I know how to make, I’ll bake it myself! (My parents commented several times on how odd that is…but that’s just me!)
The part that I was most excited to make as I was baking my pumpkin roll at home must have been the cream cheese frosting! I had read plenty of recipes on how to make the regular one that you often find on top of pumpkin or red velvet cupcakes, but I decided to tweak it a bit! I added more fresh,fruity flavor by adding some orange zest and gave the cake more crunch by throwing in some walnuts as well. (If I had pecans, I would have substituted with that!)
One note to keep in mind is that when you make rolls (jelly rolls/pumpkin rolls), sometimes as you’re rolling the cake it tends to form cracks which are probably not very appealing to see. However, this can be easily fixed by frosting the outside of the cake or simply by dusting it with confectioners sugar! That way, it looks more like a nice blanket of snow on a tree log.
Instead of serving it in the shape of a log, I chose to cut it into slices and arrange it like flower petals on plates. This enables you to really see the white cream cheese frosting with hints of color from the walnuts and orange zest rolled inside the pumpkin cake.
~Pumpkin Roll Cake~
3/4 cup All Purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Butter a jelly roll pan, and line it with parchment paper.
- In one bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and granulated white sugar until the mixture thickens and turns a pale yellow color.
- Add the pumpkin puree and vanilla extract to the egg mixture, then fold in the flour mixture.
- Pour the pumpkin cake batter into the jelly roll pan and make sure to spread it out as evenly as possible.
- Bake the pumpkin roll cake for 12 minutes.
- While it is baking, dust a lint free kitchen towel that is bigger than the pan with a generous amount of confectioners sugar.
- Let the cake cool for 5 minutes then invert it onto the lint free kitchen towel and peel off the parchment paper.
- Dust the top of the cake with more confectioners sugar and starting at one of the short sides of the cake, roll up the towel with the cake inside of it.
- Set the rolled up cake aside for an hour to let it cool to room temperature and maintain its shape.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
2 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup walnuts
Zest of an orange
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit and toast the walnuts on a baking sheet for 5 minutes.
- Chop the walnuts into smaller pieces to add to the cream cheese frosting.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, unsalted butter, confectioners sugar, orange zest, and vanilla extract, then fold in the walnuts.
- Unroll the lint free kitchen towel which contains the cake and spread the cream cheese frosting evenly on top.
- Roll the cake back up (without the towel) and refrigerate it for 5-6 hours or preferably overnight.
- Slice up the pumpkin roll on the diagonal and arrange the slices on a serving plate.
This pumpkin roll recipe was a hit with my family and friends. The cake has a soft, sponge-like texture and the cream cheese is extremely flavorful with the toasted walnuts and the citrus flavor of the orange. I’m definitely making it again next fall!