The Godfather says I’m in “white girl in yoga pants” mode with all the pumpkin recipes recently, but I don’t exactly see him complaining. All I’m going to say is that it wasn’t me who ordered the pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks the other day. I do love pumpkin recipes though!
Today I want to share a classic pumpkin recipe with a super cute Halloween twist. Pumpkin rolls used to intimidate me as a baby baker, as did all roll cakes, because I was worried about breaking the cake and they looked complicated. They aren’t though! So please don’t be intimidated, especially since this only takes about 20 minutes of active work time and you can make in advance, freeze, and thaw before serving.
Last year I felt like I finally perfected my pumpkin roll recipe, right around the time I perfected my maple bacon bourbon cupcakes. Foggy fall days in California felt like bourbon and spice. I like to use a lot of spices in my fall kitchen – cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, curry… autumn smells heavenly and warms my heart.
I usually make my pumpkin rolls fresh for consumption within a few days, but I did learn from My Baking Addiction that they can be frozen. Just be sure to wrap in aluminum foil and then another layer of cling wrap before doing so to prevent freezer burn. I also tried her recipe and it’s very good. You should make both.
To make the Halloween design, I just removed about 1/3 cup of my batter and used a little black food coloring to create contrast. Then I spooned it into a piping bag and doodled away to my heart’s content. You’ll notice in the “suggested spiderweb design” picture that I piped the design first and then added the cake. Don’t do that, then the design ends up on the inside of the roll. Flipping a hot, thin, cake is very difficult and exponentially increases the chances of breakage, so I definitely recommend waiting until AFTER you’ve added the cake to the pan to pipe.
To make the spiderweb design, I piped a dot to create the center of my web, added spokes, then used concave lines to connect the dots. The spiderweb cake would look adorable on a table with some small plastic spiders nearby. You can also do something a little more freehand like I chose to do with the second roll. Get creative!
This would also be adorable at Thanksgiving or a general “Fall Festival” if you use cocoa powder or brown food coloring and then pipe leaves, scalloped crescents to look like turkey tail feathers, or even a chevron pattern. And if you don’t want to add bourbon, increase the vanilla extract to 1 tbsp and add a 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon – delicious!
- 2 tbsp powdered sugar
- ¾ cup all purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup pumpkin puree
- (optional) black food coloring or unsweetened cocoa powder
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1¾ cup sifted powdered sugar
- 6 tbsp butter, softened
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp bourbon
- Preheat your oven to 375 F and grease a 10"x15" jelly roll pan. Line with a sheet of parchment paper, and then grease the parchment paper. Set aside.
- Take a clean, lint free, kitchen towel and sprinkle with the 2 tbsp of powdered sugar. Set aside.
- Mix your flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until combined. Mix in the pumpkin puree.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring just until combined. Do not over mix.
- Reserve ⅓ cup cake batter for decorations. Spoon the rest of it into your prepared jelly roll pan and smooth with an offset spatula, being sure to get the corners.
- Color your reserved batter with the black food dye or cocoa powder and put into a piping bag. Snip off the tip of the bag and pipe your desired design onto the cake. You will roll starting from one of the short sides, so keep that in mind when you are choosing design direction.
- Bake the cake for 13-15 minutes until it is baked through and springs back when touched.
- Remove from the oven and turn the cake over immediately onto your powdered sugar sprinkled towel. Begin at one of the short ends and roll the cake tightly. Set on a wire rack to cool completely.
- When the cake is completely cool, make the filling.
- Add the softened butter and cream cheese to the bowl of your stand mixer and whip together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- On low speed, add the vanilla extract and bourbon. Slowly add the powdered sugar, incorporating fully after each addition. If the filling is too thick, add a little vanilla extract, milk, or heavy cream to thin. If it is too thin, add powdered sugar.
- To fill the cake, carefully unroll the towel. Add your filling and spread evenly over the cake using a small offset spatula, leaving a ½" border around the cake. Re-roll the cake.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Alternatively, you may wrap in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil, then plastic wrap again, and freeze for up to two months. Remove from the freezer at least 1 hour before serving.