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It’s not fall without a pumpkin roll! Learn how to make a traditional Pumpkin Roll with step-by-step photos and instructions.
There’s something that’s just quintessentially “fall” about a good old-fashioned Pumpkin Roll. For our family, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it! My sister-in-law, Jamie, makes them every year and it’s always the first thing to go on the dessert table.
I’ve been sharing seasonal and holiday foods for years, but I’ve never posted a recipe for a traditional Pumpkin Roll. With the way 2020 has been going, I figured it would be OK to post early. We all need something special to look forward to right now!
Buckle up, because this is going to be a photo-heavy post. I wanted to be sure to include photos of each step because making cake rolls can be a little bit intimidating. But don’t worry, this recipe is very forgiving and there’s nothing some extra frosting can’t fix! 😉
You probably have all the ingredients necessary for this pumpkin roll in your pantry already. Be sure to use pumpkin puree and NOT pumpkin pie filling! If you have a pressure cooker, it’s really easy to make your own fresh puree! You can see my Crockpot Express Pumpkin Puree here.
The size of the pan matters! A normal jelly roll pan is about 10 x 15, but most home bakers don’t have this size. Using a small cookie sheet makes the cake too thick, and it will most likely crack when you roll it. Use a 17 x 11.5 large baking sheet with a silicone mat inside.
Don’t spread the batter covering the entire mat! It is a thicker consistency batter so spread it, leaving about an ½ inch to 1 inch on all sides. If you don’t have a silicone mat, you can also use wax paper instead.
You can see how the baked “cake” doesn’t spread too much and can be removed from the baking sheet quite easily. If you use wax paper, be sure to have plenty hanging over the edges to make it simple to lift out.
The next step is critical. You want to roll up the cake while it’s still warm so it doesn’t crack. This is just a pre-roll to help it hold the shape after it cools and is filled with frosting.
Sprinkle the warm cake with powdered sugar and then cover with wax paper. Flip it over, and gently peel away the silicone mat (or wax paper) from the other side.
Using the bottom wax paper sheet slowly roll the cake, starting with the narrow end, allowing wax paper to roll between the cake as you roll it.
Set it aside and allow the roll to cool completely.
Once it’s cooled, unroll it completely and spread with 1 cup of buttercream frosting. You can use homemade frosting or store bought. You can also use more than one cup, but it will make it harder to roll back up and there’s more of a risk of cracking your pretty pumpkin roll.
Now, roll it back up (it will be easy because the cake is already shaped that way from cooling) and cover. Chill for at least 2 hours, but overnight is best. You don’t need to worry about getting the filling all the way to the edges, or making the ends perfect. When you’re ready to serve, just slice off the uneven ends so you have a neat roll.
Dust with powdered sugar before serving. Just look at that swirl! It’s fall on a plate, I’m telling you. Each roll makes about 10 servings, depending on how thickly you slice it.
- 1 cup sugar
- ¾ cup all purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- Pinch of salt
- 3 eggs
- ¾ cup pumpkin puree
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 6 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Using a cookie sheet that has edges, line with a silicone mat or wax paper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat together eggs, sugar, and pumpkin puree, until well blended.
- Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices to the pumpkin mixture, and use spatula to scrape sides of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are mixed into batter.
- Pour into a sheet pan and spread evenly.
- Bake about 13-15 minutes, or until the cake springs when touched. Once the cake is removed from the oven, sprinkle a light dusting of powdered sugar and the cover with a sheet of wax paper, flip over.
- Once flipped over, remove top silicone mat or wax paper. Using the bottom wax paper sheet slowly roll the cake, starting with the narrow end, allowing wax paper to roll between the cake as you roll it. Cover with wrap and allow to cool.
- Once the cake is cool, slowly unroll the cake. Gently spread 1 cup of cream cheese frosting over the cake. (Sprinkle with nuts or candied sprinkles before re-rolling, if desired.) Cover roll with wrap and chill for at least two hours, if not overnight.