I’m on a Roll with Pumpkin Roll

Pumpkin roll

We’re segueing nicely into the holiday season, and that means lots of food, family and friends gathering around the table. 

How about a seasonal, yummy, easy to serve dessert that’s do ahead, keeps refrigerated 

more than a few days or freezes up to several months?

I’m talking about pumpkin roll, that vintage dessert that can stand alone or included in your dessert buffet.

My first taste of this lightly spiced roll was at my kids’ grade school, St. Louis in Owensville, Ohio many years ago. 
The special dessert for our annual luncheon fundraiser was Nan Galvin and her mom, Kathleen Keenan’s pumpkin roll. The recipe was included in our school’s cookbook and I’ve used it so many times the page is all splotched up.

I chatted with Nan who told me how she and her mom would spend “a wonderful day” in the kitchen making dozens of pumpkin rolls to freeze for church and school events.

Nan said even today there’s always one in her freezer. “You never know when someone may stop by,” she said.

Here’s the recipe to give you a jump start on holiday baking. It’s a bit different from Libby’s traditional pumpkin roll. If you want that recipe, check out the Libby site.

Nan and Kathleen’s pumpkin roll

Ingredients cake

3 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

3/4 cup all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting pan

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup very finely chopped nuts (optional)

Ingredients filling 

8 oz regular cream cheese, room temperature

4 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened

1 cup confectioners’ sugar plus extra for dusting towel and garnishing cake

1/2-1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions cake

Preheat oven to 375. 

Spread thin cotton towel with a good sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar. (This keeps cake from sticking.) 

Grease or spray 15×10” jelly roll pan, line with wax or parchment paper, then grease or spray paper. Dust with flour. 

Beat eggs on high speed 5 minutes, gradually beating in sugar during this time.

Stir in pumpkin and lemon juice. 

Stir in remaining ingredients. 

Spread into prepared pan.

Bake 13-15 minutes, or until top of cake springs back when touched. Don’t overbake or cake will be hard to roll. (If using dark colored pan, check after 11 minutes since they bake quicker.)

Immediately loosen edges, then turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper.

Roll up cake and towel together, starting at narrow/shorter end. Cool on wire rack.

Instructions filling and re-rolling

Beat filling ingredients together until smooth. 

Unroll cake and spread filling on. Re-roll cake.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate one hour, or several days, or freeze up to 3 months. 

To serve

Cut ends to neaten up. 

Sprinkle cake with confectioners’ sugar — if cake is a bit cracked, sprinkle on extra sugar, then slice. 


If toting cake, sprinkle on confectioner’s sugar right before serving.

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