RECIPES:
Nov 17, 2022

Pumpkin Roll with Cream Cheese Frosting

Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
I love serving this spiced seasonal cake for the holidays as an alternative to pie!

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Like many, I love pumpkin desserts this time of year. This recipe is easy to prepare in advance to bring to parties, simply dust with additional powdered sugar before slicing and serving. This take on a Swiss roll (also called a jelly roll, roll cake or roulade) is made with a spiced pumpkin sponge cake and cream cheese frosting center. The cake is rolled up to create a signature swirl of the frosting on the inside dusted with a coating of powdered sugar just before serving. While making a pumpkin roll can seem intimidating, it’s actually quite easy! I provide step by step photos and tips to make rolling simple. 

Spiced Pumpkin Roll with Cream Cheese Frosting

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Pumpkin purée – The pumpkin puree, helps to both flavor the cake and keep it moist (rather than using milk or buttermilk). Pumpkin purée, also known as canned pumpkin, is made from roasted pumpkin blended to a smooth consistency. It is made with no additional ingredients apart from pumpkin so it is also easy to create your own from roasted, blended pumpkin. To create your own purée, see my instructions below. 
  • Brown sugar – Light brown sugar contains 3.5% in light brown sugar. I find this is the perfect level of molasses to add extra flavor and keep the sponge cake moist. To get an accurate measurement, be sure to tightly pack the brown sugar in a measuring cup. 
  • Flour – I use all purpose flour for this cake. It only takes a little bit to make this thin and moist cake so don’t be surprised that the batter is fairly wet. 
  • Pumpkin pie seasoning – Pumpkin pie seasoning, also known as pumpkin pie spice, is a fragrant combination made with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. While you can make your own I opt to buy a pre-mixed spice blend. 
  • Eggs – Eggs provide structure and moisture to the cake in this recipe. 
  • Cream cheese – Softened cream cheese is blended with a bit of confectioners sugar to create the tangy, creamy frosting spread over the cake and rolled to create a swirl within the sponge cake.
  • Confectioners sugar – The confectioners sugar is used to sweeten the cream cheese frosting filling as well as dusted over the top for the most aesthetically pleasing presentation before serving. 

How to Make a Pumpkin Roll

jelly roll pan with prepared parchment paper
Step 1: Prep the jelly roll pan. 

Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Grease a 15” x 10” (38cm x 25cm) jelly roll pan and line it with parchment paper. Prepare a clean cotton kitchen towel and sprinkle it with ¼ cup (25g) of the confectioner’s sugar.

Step 2: Mix the dry ingredients. 

In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie seasoning and salt, whisking to combine.

dry ingredients pumpkin roll
mix eggs and sugar
Step 3: Mix eggs and sugar. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs and granulated sugar until combined, about 2 minutes. Add the pumpkin and continue to mix until combined. 

Step 4: Add dry ingredients to wet. 

Add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined then spread evenly into the prepared pan.

mixed batter for pumpkin roll in stand mixer with paddle attachment
baked pumpkin sponge cake
Step 5: Bake the cake. 

Bake until the top of the cake springs back when gently pressed, about 13 to 15 minutes. 

Step 6: Roll cake in towel. 

Carefully flip the cake onto the prepared towel, peel off the paper and discard. Roll up the cake and towel together and let cool on a wire rack. This will help the cake to keep its shape without cracking.

pumpkin sponge cake rolled in prepared tea towel
cream cheese frosting ingredients in stand mixer butter and cream cheese block
Step 7: Make cream cheese frosting.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla on medium speed until all ingredients are thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. 

Step 8: Add the sugar. 

Turn the mixer down to low and slowly begin to add the confectioner’s sugar, little by little so that you don’t end up in a cloud of powdered sugar. Once combined, beat on medium for another minute then set aside.

cream cheese frosting on whisk of stand mixer
cream cheese frosting spread over spiced pumpkin sponge cake
Step 9: Roll pumpkin roll. 

Carefully unroll the cake and remove the towel. Evenly spread the cream cheese filling over the cake and re-roll. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to a few days.

Step 10: Garnish and serve. 

Prior to serving, dust the pumpkin roll with powdered sugar. Slice into 1-inch (2.5cm) pieces and serve.

pumpkin roll with cream cheese frosting sprinkled with powdered sugar

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe 

Tips to Roll the Cake 

Swiss rolls can easily crack (nothing a bit of powdered sugar can’t cover) but to prevent this I’m sharing my tips to prevent rolling anxiety: 

  • Prepare a tea towel. Preparing a towel or parchment paper with powdered sugar then inverting the cake on the towel makes it easy to roll up to cool. Plus baking the cake on parchment paper makes it easy to flip over. 
  • It’s important that the cake cools in the rolled up shape. The cake has more flexibility when it is warm! This prevents cracking after it’s filled. 
  • Make sure the sponge cake is completely cooled. This prevents the frosting from melting as it’s spread over the cake and rolled up. You don’t want the frosting spilling out of the sides. 
  • Don’t overdo the filling! Too much filling will make it hard to get the signature roll on the inside. 
closeup photo of pumpkin roll with cream cheese frosting garnished with powdered sugar
Can I Make This In A Half Sheet Pan?

Instead of a jelly roll pan you can make this in a half sheet pan but since the dimensions are slightly different, 9” x 12” (28cm x 30cm) vs. 15” x 10” (38cm x 25cm) you will need to slightly adjust the ingredients and cook time.

Use only 3 eggs in the batter and ¾ cup (96g) flour. Start checking the cake for doneness at 13 minutes. Since the cake is still slightly thicker it will not spiral as well but will still taste amazing! 

How to Store Leftovers

This dessert can easily be made in advance for holidays like Thanksgiving! Wrap the pumpkin roll tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. Dust with additional powdered sugar just before serving. The pumpkin roll can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Purée

Heat oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Cut one sugar pie pumpkin in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and discard. Arrange cut side down on a baking sheet and roast until fork tender, about 40 to 60 minutes. Let cool completely then peel away the skin and place the flesh in a food processor or blender. Purée until completely smooth. If your mixture is watery, strain it through a fine mesh strainer. Use as needed in place of canned pumpkin purée. 

how to make pumpkin roll with cream cheese frosting

Other Recipes To Try

If you enjoy this pumpkin roll recipe, give these a try: 

Pumpkin Roll with Cream Cheese Frosting

Print Pin
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Serves 8

Equipment:

Ingredients:

For the spiced pumpkin cake:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus additional for the pan
  • cup confectioner’s sugar, plus additional for serving
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • teaspoons pumpkin pie seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • cup pumpkin purée

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package of cream cheese
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cups confectioner’s sugar

Instructions:

For the spiced pumpkin cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Grease a 15” x 10” (38cm x 25cm) jelly roll pan and line it with parchment paper. Grease and flour the parchment paper. 
  • Prepare a clean cotton kitchen towel and sprinkle it with the confectioner's sugar.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie seasoning and salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs and granulated sugar until combined, about 2 minutes. Add the pumpkin and mix until combined.
  • Add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined then spread evenly into the prepared jelly roll pan.
  • Bake until the top of the cake springs back when gently pressed, about 15 minutes.
  • Carefully flip the cake onto the prepared towel, peel off the paper and discard. Roll up the cake and towel together and let cool completely on a wire rack, about 20 minutes. This will help the cake to keep its shape without cracking.

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla on medium speed until all ingredients are thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.
  • Turn the mixer down to low and slowly begin to add the confectioner’s sugar, little by little so that you don’t end up in a cloud of powdered sugar. Once combined, beat on medium for another minute then set aside.

For assembly:

  • Carefully unroll the cake and remove the towel. Evenly spread the cream cheese frosting over the cake and carefully re-roll. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to 3 days.
  • Prior to serving, dust the pumpkin roll with powdered sugar. Slice into 1" (2.5cm) pieces and serve.

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Pumpkin sponge cake recipe adapted from Libby.

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