Cake is generally a dessert that gets a lot of love, but the fact that layer cakes serve 16 makes it a rarity in my kitchen. That’s why I love jelly roll-styles! A pumpkin roll is a pumpkin/cinnamon flavored sponge cake that is rolled up tight with a cream cheese frosting filling – it only serves 8 and I haven’t yet found a person who doesn’t love food that is rolled, so you can’t really go wrong.
Sponge cake has no fat but is different from angel food cake (which has no fat and no egg yolks) because it uses whole eggs. The eggs are beaten up for at least five minutes with sugar – resulting in a frothy, full, light batter. This helps to leaven the cake (or make it rise). Sorry to get technical but with cake, technicalities are vital. All of you “cooks” out there who like to disobey the recipe – do not stray for a sponge cake! You might wind up a little sad when your end result just doesn’t work out. Usually I’m not a stickler but I must advise you to carefully read my recipe for the best results. The eggs should be at room temperature, as should the cream cheese/butter for the filling. Cake baking is chemistry at its most delicious.
Due to the cream cheese filling this cake needs to chill – I’d say you could make it up to 24 hours ahead and let it sit for about 20 minutes before dusting with powdered sugar and slicing. Though the pumpkin (not to mention the filling) keeps this sponge cake from being dry, I love a pumpkin roll served with a scoop of fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. For some final pizzazz, shake cinnamon or grate fresh nutmeg on top and you will find yourself with 8 friends or family members that are happy happy happy.
3/4 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. ground allspice
¼ tsp. salt
4 eggs, room temperature
1/3 c. brown sugar, packed
2/3 c. canned pumpkin
½ tsp. vanilla
Powdered sugar – for towel
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, room temperature
1 c. powdered sugar
2 tbsp. butter, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Heat oven to 350°.
2. Grease a jelly roll pan (which is a 18 x 13 rimmed baking sheet) with shortening or plenty of nonstick spray. Line sheet with parchment paper and grease parchment.
3. Sift or whisk flour, baking powder, spices and salt together in a medium bowl until evenly combined.
4. Mix brown sugar and white sugar well with a fork.
5. In a large bowl or in standing mixer, whip the eggs (with an electric mixer) on medium high speed until frothy.
6. Gradually add the sugar mixture and then the vanilla. Continue to whip the mixture until very thick and voluminous, 4 to 8 minutes.
7. Beat in pumpkin until just mixed.
8. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the egg mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until just incorporated.
9. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking sheet and spread out to an even layer. Bake the cake until it feel firm and springs back when touched, about 17 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
10. While cake bakes, prepare dish towel. Lay out a clean dishtowel and sift powdered sugar on top in the shape of your cake.
11. Remove cake from the oven, run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it, then flip the hot cake out onto towel. Peel off and discard the parchment paper that has baked onto the bottom of the cake.
12. Starting from the short end of the cake, roll the cake and towel snugly into a log and let cool seam side down, for 15 minutes.
13. Meanwhile, make your filling. Beat cream cheese and butter until creamy and smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
14. Gently unroll the cake. Spread the filling over the cake, leaving a 1/2-inch border at the edges.Re-roll the cake gently but snugly.
17. Trim the ends of the cake, transfer the cake to a platter, and let the cake cool completely, about 30 minutes. If storing to serve later, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.
To make whipped cream, beat 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream and 2 tbsp. sugar with the whisk attachment on an electric mixer. As it gets thick, add 1/2 tsp. vanilla and continue to whip until soft peaks form.