Welcome back to the Monthly Baking Challenge!
When I began planning out my fall editorial calendar a few months ago, I knew pumpkin HAD to be part of October’s Baking Challenge recipe. But the question was: what should we make?! Pumpkin cupcakes? Pumpkin cake? Pumpkin bars? (Those are all coming this month btw!) After going back and forth a few times, I stood firm on pumpkin roll. The classic fall beauty.
Why pumpkin roll? I wanted the CHALLENGE to be something, well, challenging. And while pumpkin roll is certainly not a difficult recipe (I swear it’s so easy), making jelly roll cakes may intimidate you. Admit it, they look complicated. A cake rolled up? What? Who? HOW? Heck, I was nervous when I first started.
But that will all change this month. It’s time to be confident and fearless when it comes to making pumpkin roll!
In the past year, I shared two jelly roll cake recipes: red velvet cake roll and strawberry cake roll. (The latter was May’s baking challenge! Did you participate?) And if you’ve tried either, you know how simple jelly roll cakes are. And if you haven’t attempted a jelly roll cake before, you’ll be a pro by the time Halloween rolls around. Today we’re going to walk through step-by-step photos, a how-to video, careful explanations, and a no-fail pumpkin roll recipe.
This pumpkin roll is moist and soft with soul-warming pumpkin flavor, lots of cinnamon spice, and a thick layer of homemade cream cheese frosting tightly packed inside. I feel like I don’t really need to sell you on pumpkin roll. I mean, it’s a show-stopper dessert with epic presentation skills. How can you not WOW WOW WOW and literally salivate when this swirly twirly beauty is presented before you?
Let’s watch it come together:
Now let’s review 2 things before you get started.
- The ingredients
- The method
Arming yourself with this knowledge sets you up for pumpkin roll success. 🙂
11 ingredients. Don’t run for the hills just yet. Those ingredients are likely all in your kitchen as we speak (read?). Baking powder + soda, eggs, flour, sugars, vanilla, spices, pumpkin. That’s basically it. There is no added butter or oil to this pumpkin batter. Why? We’re keeping this cake light and sponge-y.
Mix it all up and spread it into a lined 10×15 inch jelly roll pan— the ONLY size that works for this recipe. I can usually help with pan substitutions, but not today. You need a 10×15 inch pan. Good news: the really good ones are pretty inexpensive.
This cake is incredibly thin, so it only takes 15-18 minutes to bake through.
Now here is where you need to pay attention. Immediately after baking the pumpkin roll cake, invert onto a thin kitchen towel sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar. Roll it up inside the towel and allow it to cool completely.
What? That’s so weird! Yes, it is. But we’re rolling up the cake in a towel to prevent it from sticking to itself. And to make rolling the warm cake 100x easier!
But why are we rolling the cake when it’s warm? That’s weird too. Rolling the cake up when it’s warm allows it to cool in the rolled up shape. That means no cracks, rips, or tears when you go to roll it up again with the filling inside.
Does that make sense?
As the rolled-up cake cools, prepare the cream cheese frosting.
Cool, creamy, silky, sweet, and smooth– the perfect complement to this light ‘n’ spicy pumpkin cake. After the cake has cooled, unroll it and spread the frosting on top. A thick layer of frosting, obviously.
Just like this:
Roll it back up and chill it for about 20 minutes before slicing. Chilling ensures a neater slice and a tastier bite! This cake is sooooo very yum when it’s chilled. ♥
Will ya check out this thick layer of frosting?! Pumpkin roll you devilish beauty you!
Now that you’re armed with the knowledge, recipe, and a how-to video… you can master the pumpkin roll this fall season. 🙂
If you’re not into today’s recipe, here is the alternate October Baking Challenge:
After you made the baking challenge recipe or alternative, share your photos throughout this month using #sallysbakingchallenge on Instagram or email me, tweet me, or upload a photo of your recipe to my Facebook page or Facebook group.Print
How to make the BEST pumpkin roll! It’s moist, pumpkin spiced, easy, and filled with cream cheese frosting.
- 3/4 cup (95g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice*
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup (150g) canned pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- for rolling: 3/4 cup (90g) confectioners’ sugar
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 6 ounces (170g) block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick; 60g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 and 3/4 cups (210g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Read the instructions through before beginning. Make sure you are prepared for step 7 immediately when that cake comes out!
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 10×15 inch baking pan with nonstick spray or grease with butter, so the parchment paper sticks. Then line it with parchment paper so the cake seamlessly releases in step 5. Spray or grease the parchment paper too. We want an extremely nonstick surface for this cake roll.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, pumpkin, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
- Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Give the pan a shake to make sure the batter is level and reaches the corners. Bake for 17-18 minutes or until the cake springs back when you poke it with a finger.
- Meanwhile, lay a thin kitchen towel flat on the counter. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar. Once the cake comes out of the oven, immediately invert it onto the towel. Peel off the parchment paper then, starting with the narrow end, begin rolling the cake up with the towel. Do this slowly and gently. The cake will be warm as it just came out of the oven.
- Allow the cake to cool completely rolled up in the towel. I stick mine in the refrigerator for about 2 hours to speed it up.
- Remove the cake roll from the refrigerator and allow to sit on the counter for a few minutes to warm up as you prepare the frosting.
- Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese for 1 minute on high speed until completely smooth and creamy. Beat in the butter until combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until combined and creamy.
- Gently and slowly unroll the cake. Flatten it out and spread frosting evenly on top, leaving about a 1/2 inch border around the cake. Gently and slowly roll the cake back up, without the towel this time. Make sure you’re rolling it tightly. Some frosting may spill out the sides, that’s ok!
- Loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes before slicing and serving. Dust with more confectioners’ sugar, if desired.
- Make Ahead Instructions: You can prepare the cake through step 7 and chill the rolled up cake/towel in the refrigerator for up to 1 day before continuing with step 8. Prepared cake roll, with frosting, freezes well for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before slicing and serving.
- Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Glass Mixing Bowls | Rainbow Whisk | Jelly Roll Pan | Towel | Custom Stamped Forks
- Spices: Instead of prepared pumpkin pie spice, you can use 1/4 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg, ground ginger, ground cloves, and ground allspice. Sometimes I use closer to 1 and 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice. I like a lot of spice flavor!
- Adapted from Libby’s