Pumpkin Roll Recipe
Try this next-level pumpkin roll recipe- it’s like none other! Airy-soft pumpkin spice cake spiraled around a whisper-light cream filling.
I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to finally try my hand at a pumpkin roll recipe!
I mean, it’s a true classic, especially for this time of year. A thin layer of pumpkin spice cake, twirled around cream cheese frosting in a beautiful spiral pattern? Why not?
The truth is, I’ve never really had a pumpkin roll cake that I really loved. Every time I’ve ever sampled it, it’s been overly sugary and dense. So I’ve always been more keen to enjoy my fall pumpkin and spice in the form of pumpkin gooey butter cake, pumpkin pie, or pumpkin scones.
Well, that all changes as of this year!
I’ve put my nose to the grindstone and worked out a nouveau pumpkin roll recipe that is everything anyone could ever want, and more.
The cake is impossibly light and springy, with a good, earthy pumpkin presence and plenty of warm fall spice. And the filling is satiny-smooth and airy, with a nice cream cheese tang.
If you’ve tried other pumpkin roll recipes and been disappointed, this one will make you a convert!
WHAT IS PUMPKIN ROLL
Pumpkin roll is a traditional dessert, mostly served in the fall and winter months.
- A thin pumpkin cake, and
- A cream cheese filling.
The pumpkin cake is spread with filling and then rolled into a cylinder, similar to the way cinnamon rolls would be made. When you look at it from the side, you’ll see a beautiful swirl of pumpkin and cream cheese.
The log is sliced and served in rounds.
HOW TO MAKE A PUMPKIN ROLL
This recipe has 4 main steps:
- Make the cake
- Make the filling
- Roll the cake and filling together
- Chill, then slice and serve
MAKE THE CAKE
When I decided to come up with my own unique pumpkin roll, I used my yule log recipe (aka: buche de noel) as a starting point. So I knew the cake would bake up moist and light, yet sturdy enough to withstand rolling into a tight cylinder without any cracking.
Start by whipping the eggs and sugar together. This is the most critical step in the whole recipe! You really want to whip them for a long time, on high speed, to get them super light and airy. It will take a minimum of FIVE FULL MINUTES; sometimes I like to go even longer than that, just to be extra.
While the eggs and sugar are whipping, mix up your dry and wet ingredients.
For the dry ingredients, whisk flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and ginger together in a medium bowl.
For the wet ingredients, whisk pumpkin puree (pure pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie filling), sour cream, melted butter, milk, and vanilla together in a medium bowl.
Once your egg mixture is really fluffy, pale, and tripled in volume (it should fall off the whisk in a thick ribbon), gently fold in the dry ingredients.
Fold carefully! You don’t want to knock out all that air you just worked so hard to incorporate!
Once the dry stuff is worked in, fold in the pumpkin mixture.
Transfer this light, airy, mousse-like batter to a 10-inch by 15-inch jelly-roll pan.
The size of the pan is very important! Don’t make the same mistake I made in thinking that a half sheet would work just as well- it doesn’t!
The pan should be lightly greased on the sides and lined with parchment paper. The parchment will help you to roll the cake into a cylinder after it’s baked. It’s especially helpful if you leave a little extra overhang to grab onto, on one of the short sides of the pan.
The cake will bake for anywhere from 22 to 28 minutes, depending on your oven. It should be set in the middle and springy to the touch, but not overly dry or hard.
HOW TO KEEP IT FROM CRACKING
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, dust it generously with powdered sugar (to prevent sticking).
Lay a clean towel on top.
And (starting from that short end with the parchment overhang) roll it into a tight cylinder.
Allowing the cake to cool this way will ensure that your pumpkin roll doesn’t crack.
MAKE THE FILLING
While the cake is cooling, you can make the filling.
This filling is basically just a no-bake cheesecake. I like it better than cream cheese frosting, because it’s so satin-y smooth, the cream cheese flavor isn’t overwhelmingly sweet, and there’s no grittiness whatsoever.
You could also use whipped cream frosting. I’ve tried it that way too and it’s fan-freaking-tastic!
Or if you really love the tradition of cream cheese frosting, go ahead and use this recipe: Cream Cheese Frosting.
ROLL THE CAKE AND FILLING TOGETHER
As soon as the cake has cooled completely, carefully unroll it, remove the towel, and spread a thin, even layer of filling all over. I use an offset spatula for this step; it’s a really great tool!
Then, grab that little parchment tab again, and re-roll. Pull the parchment off as you are rolling. The parchment acts as a tool to get everything rolled up tightly.
CHILL, SLICE, & SERVE
The filling will be a little soft at first, so it’s a good idea to allow everything to chill for a bit in the fridge. I would suggest allowing the pumpkin roll 1 to 2 hours to chill and set before serving.
If your pumpkin roll is looking a little “slumpy,” in other words, more squashed oval than perfectly round cylinder, you can turn it every so often as it chills, to form it into a nicer shape.
Just before serving, dust it with powdered sugar for garnish. Then, slice it into rounds and enjoy!
HOW TO MAKE THIS GLUTEN-FREE
If you’d like to make a gluten-free pumpkin roll cake, look for a gluten-free flour blend that subs 1:1 for regular flour.
CAN IT BE MADE AHEAD?
This dish can definitely be made ahead- in fact, it’s best to do so because it does want to chill for a bit.
Once it’s filled, cover it lightly with plastic wrap and it will keep in the fridge for several days.
Save the powdered sugar garnish for just before serving. Otherwise, it will melt and disappear!
HOW LONG WILL IT KEEP?
This pumpkin roll recipe will keep at room temperature for a few hours, or in the fridge for several days.
If you’d like to freeze it, just wrap it tightly in plastic wrap first, and it should last in the freezer for a month or two.
A FEW MORE OF MY FAVORITE PUMPKIN RECIPES:
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Try this next-level pumpkin roll recipe- it's like none other! Airy-soft pumpkin spice cake spiraled around a whisper-light cream filling.
- 4 eggs (large)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (or a few microplane scratches of whole nutmeg)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/3 cup sour cream (Greek yogurt can be substituted)
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar (approximately)
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar (optional garnish)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, lightly mist the sides of a 10-inch by 15-inch jelly roll pan with non-stick spray, and line it with parchment, allowing a little of the parchment to overhang on one of the short sides.
Place the eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl and whip on high speed for a full 5 minutes (minimum), until very pale and tripled in volume.
Place the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and ginger in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
Place the pumpkin, sour cream, melted butter, milk, and vanilla in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
When the egg/sugar mixture is very pale and tripled in volume, gently fold in the flour mixture.
Gently fold in the pumpkin mixture, and transfer the batter to the prepared pan, smoothing it out into an even layer.
Bake for 22 to 28 minutes, or until set.
While the cake is still hot, dust it generously with powdered sugar, then lay a clean kitchen towel on top.
Starting at the short side with the parchment overhang, carefully roll the cake and the towel together into a tight cylinder, cinnamon-roll style.
Allow the cake to cool completely, then unroll and spread the filling on in an even layer.
Re-roll the cake and filling together and chill in the refrigerator until set.
Dust with powdered sugar for garnish, slice, and serve.
Place the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat together until smooth (about 1 minute on medium speed).
Whisk in the cream on medium speed, a little at a time, stopping frequently to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula.
When all the cream has been added, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula, then whip in the lemon juice and vanilla extract until the mixture looks fluffy and can hold stiff peaks (about 1 minute on high speed).