Friday, November 22, 2013

Pumpkin Roll Tips and Tricks

Move over pumpkin pie. See you later pumpkin spiced latte. Don't let the door hit you on the way out pecan pie. Okay, I'm kidding on that second one. I love me some PSL, but I was serious about the pumpkin pie part. 

The go-to fall treat in my household for the past six years has been pumpkin roll. The recipe I use was smuggled from an amazing baker's house in West Virginia and since it is a family recipe I can't share it with the whole wide world. This one is a close second

I feel warranted in providing this advice because my hubs and office mates are pumpkin roll addicts and I've mass produced 4 of these rolls in one weekend in addition to making too many to count over the years.  If you're looking to make this delicious treat for Thanksgiving I offer you the following Tips and Tricks:

1. Use pureed pumpkin and not a can of pumpkin pie mix. There is a MAJOR difference. Trader Joe's has the best canned organic pumpkin.  I hoard these treasured items. Cans of pumpkin pie mix have additional spices added to them and that can throw off the final flavor of your roll. 

2. It is inevitable that when you are assembling dry ingredients the telephone will ring, a massive dog fight will break out, someone will knock on the door, or something else happens and the last thing you want to ask yourself is "did I add enough nutmeg?"  Too much nutmeg can be over powering. I always scoop out my dry ingredients and put them in little separate mounds in my mixing bowl starting at the top and working in clockwise order. That way if something happens I can count the piles and go, "okay, only 2 mounds of cinnamon added that means I need to add another teaspoon." This is not a pumpkin roll isolated tip. 

3. When a recipe says to beat eggs on high for 5 minutes it means it! Yes, you're making a flat cake, but you need that flat cake to be fluffy so you can roll it. Don't get lazy and skimp on the amount of time you beat the eggs. It seems crazy, but little details like this matter when you're making any rolled cake. 

4. Use the very best jelly pan you have. I use this bakers half sheet and I haven't had a pumpkin roll stick to it yet. Nonstick means nothing to me. Butter and flour your pan like your life depends on it. Getting the cake off the pan is the crucial key to a good pumpkin roll. You can't roll it if it sticks to the pan! 

5. Use a much larger pan that you think you need. Again, this half sheet pan is amazing because the pumpkin roll batter doesn't come close to filling up the pan. That means I don't have to fight to make sure the cake sticks to the sides of the pan. 

6. Get that cake off of pan within 60 seconds of taking the cake out of the oven! The faster the better. Your fingers will survive the heat. The cake rolls much better when it is warm and moist. 

7. To roll the cake use a towel that is powdered sugared on only one side. I literally scoop powdered sugar onto a towel and then use a spoon to pack the sugar down. Oh and yes, I have special dish towels that are reserved for pumpkin roll and that's it. Once you flip the cake onto the towel you can powder the one side of the cake and now both sides of the cake are covered in powdery goodness. That cuts down on the mess significantly. 

8. After the cake cools, use a similar method to frost the cake. Just frost part of the cake, slowly roll,  and then add more frosting as you slowly finish the rolling process.  

9. Speaking of frosting. You want the frosting to be firm, but not hard, since it is going to hold the cake up in its roll form. I normally make my frosting the moment the cake is baking in the oven and then chill it in the fridge, but I didn't on this particular occasion and my pumpkin roll didn't hold its shape as well. Word to the wise, if you want a pretty rolled cake use a stiffer frosting or chill your normal cream cheese frosting. 

10. Serve this cake immediately. The photo below shows the amount of powdered sugar on the roll as soon as it is unrolled from the towel. After a few hours all of that powdered sugar will have dissolved into the cake and you might feel tempted to re-dust the cake with additional powdered sugar. Trust me, there's enough sugar on these thing you don't need it! But it sure does look pretty when it's fresh! 

I was nervous as all can be the first time I made a pumpkin roll because my hubs holds these things in such high honor. I was really stressed about the flipping of the pan part, but after a few tries I got the hang of it. I can now bang out one of these without thinking, which my hubs and coworkers always appreciate. My running joke is that as long as someone supplies me with a can of pumpkin I'll make them a pumpkin roll.

Are you team pumpkin pie or team pumpkin roll?  You know where I stand on this issue!


  1. holy moly!!!! can you send me one in the mail??? these look & sound so heavenly!!!!

  2. wow that sounds and looks delicious! I think I would eat them all up before my husband even had a chance to try it haha!

  3. that looks yummy and so unique! I would so want to make one for Thanksgiving!


  4. looks delicious!

    xo brie