Pumpkin Roll Cake

I talked about the emergency pumpkin roll cake I made a few years back in my Yule Log post. Now, I think it’s about time I shared that recipe.

picture of actual pumpkin roll coming soon!

Hello! Do you, once again, want something that’s not pumpkin pie for dessert? Or just something pumpkiny and soft and delightful for *reasons*? Do you want to make something impressive for company that’s so much simpler than it looks? Let’s make a pumpkin roll!

The pumpkin roll, in my opinion, is worlds easier than the Yule Log, mostly because it doesn’t involve a chocolate ganache coating (unless you want it to). I simply dust mine with powdered sugar and call it a day, although I’ve seen others make extra filling and spread it on the outside, or even sprinkle it with chopped toasted nuts. You do you. I’ll be simple.

I also love this recipe because it doesn’t involve the fussy step of separating and beating egg whites away from yolks – there is enough air incorporated in beating the whole eggs, and as long as you don’t mix in the pumpkin super hard as to push out all of the air, you’re gonna be just fine. And, like my yule log recipe, you’ll use a damp tea towel to roll the cake instead of dusting your entire kitchen with powdered sugar. Fabulous.

Ready to roll? Let’s g-g-g-gooooo!

Pumpkin Roll Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Print

You can add chopped nuts to the filling, as well as cover the outside with whipped cream and spices or nuts. I like to be a little plainer and dust mine with powdered sugar.

you will need:

    For the cake:
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 c sugar
  • ⅔ c pumpkin, canned or fresh puree (be sure to strain your puree if it’s fresh!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • powdered sugar, for dusting
  • For the filling (you can double this if you plan to “frost” the cake):
  • 4 oz (½ c) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • ½ c powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½-¾ c finely chopped toasted walnuts or pecans (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a rimmed jelly roll pan (either 12×17 or 15×10 inches) with butter, line with parchment, and grease parchment. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs on high (or with crazy fast hands with a whisk!) until frothy and well-combined, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add sugar, then add pumpkin and vanilla. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Fold the flour mixture to the egg mixture until just combined.
  4. Carefully pour the batter into the prepared pan, gently spreading the cake to the edges with your spatula or by tipping the pan to evenly distribute the batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, just until the cake springs back gently when pressed. (The cake may still feel a little sticky, but should not be raw. Do not overbake, or the cake will crack.) Cool briefly on a wire rack, but make sure your cake is just cool enough to touch for the next step (as in, still kind of hot), or it will not roll.
  5. Carefully invert your still-warm cake onto a clean dish or tea towel. I do this by putting the towel over the cake in the pan, placing a cooling rack over the towel, and carefully flipping the cake so that the cooling rack and towel are on the bottom. Remove the parchment from the cake.
  6. You have a choice here: for ease and for a chubbier cake, I like to roll my cake from one of the short ends. However, if you want a skinner, longer cake, which is the more common look, you’ll want to roll from a long end. Either way, choose an end, and use the towel to tightly (but not enough to crack or break the cake) roll the cake into a spiral. Place the cake seam-side down, and cool for at least 1 hour.
  7. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and beat until well combined. Gradually add the heavy cream, making sure that the mixture is well-combined before adding more (you may need to stop and scrape the bowl), and beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and beat for a few seconds more.
  8. Unroll your cake and remove the towel. Spread the filling on the inside of the cake, leaving a 1-inch border along the edges of the cake. (If using nuts, sprinkle them on top of the filling before rolling.) Carefully roll up your cake in the same direction as before (without the towel), wrap tightly (you can use a towel, but straight up – this is one of the few times I go for plastic wrap, which can be washed!), and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
  9. Remove cake from the fridge. Trim the ends to show off the filling. Dust with powdered sugar, or top with extra cream cheese filling and toasted chopped nuts.

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