I’m gonna be honest with you. I’m hesitant to share this recipe. See, it’s my trademark baked good, the recipe which I’ve closely guarded when asked to share it – repeatedly, with great passion and perhaps the hint of an addict’s desperation in their eyes(?) – by many friends. The reality though is that the recipe came from my sister-in-law, who originally jotted it down from the back of a can of Libby’s pumpkin. No locked vault to crack here afterall! But what I’ve really been guarding is my technique and adaptations. C’mon, a girl’s got a right to keep one ace in the hole! Besides, I have an evil plan to take over the world with this pumpkin roll, hooking the masses on its warm spices and creamy filling, before making sweeping demands (for self-cleaning toilets in *all* public restrooms and bike lanes as wide as car lanes throughout the city) when begged for more.
Shhhh, don’t tell anyone! Stop dialing 911!!!
Oh wait, you don’t believe my plan can work? You haven’t tasted my pumpkin roll yet! Oddly enough, I don’t usually bake and puree my own pumpkin though. Libby’s has always stood by me, providing all the canned 100% pumpkin goodness I need. But, now that I’m embracing the “fresh is best” mantra more and more, I had to give making my own pumpkin puree a try. I was more than a bit curious to know if it would substantially enhance the final results. Shall I tell you now or wait until the end like a good mystery novel?
I’m an instant gratification kind of girl so I’ll tell you now. It made a difference, but I honestly can’t really vouch for it being “better”. It was neither better nor worse, just a different texture and color to the cake. The flavor, as always, was more reliant on the spices than it was on the pumpkin so there was no notable change in that department. In the end, canned and fresh pumpkin seems to be equals in this recipe. What tips the balance in favor of fresh though is that it’s still worthwhile to make yourself several batches of puree from locally bought pumpkins so you can freeze it and continue to support local farmers as you bake up pumpkin rolls, pies, and cookies all through the upcoming holidays. Good lord, I just mentioned the holidays! Then again, it is mid-October. Have you started your gift lists yet….? Ha!
Anyway, back to the pumpkin roll and, more importantly, making pumpkin puree. As with any winter squash, you have several options for cooking up the pumpkin prior to processing it. I chose to bake it this time around, but I think next time I might just go head and peel it first before steaming it. Baking takes a long time and limits the amount you can cook to 2 or 3 pumpkins (or however many fit in your oven at once). For my next large batch, I think I can probably get 5 or 6 pumpkins-worth of cubes in my big steaming pot.
Now, about my adaptations and tricks for getting the very best out of this recipe… Oh wow! Would you look at the time?? Gee golly, I guess I’ll just have to tell you later. I really must be going now…
Snicker and grin…I can’t help my snarky-self sometimes! Okay, here’s what it all comes down to:
1) freshly ground nutmeg (I’ve harked on this before for good reason!)
2) extra cinnamon
3) room temperature eggs
4) I can’t prove it, but the rolls I make with “egg beaters/no shells” type eggs always seem to come out better than those made with “real” eggs. This also makes it healthier (less fat and cholesterol), but it also detracts from the “fresh is best” mantra, so pick your poison.
Adapted from Libby’s Pumpkin
3 lb+ pumpkin (baking variety, not decorative)
3 eggs, room temperature
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. (heaping) cinnamon
1/2 t. freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of ground allspice
1/2 c. chopped pecans (optional)
8 oz. block of reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
4 T. butter or margarine, room temperature
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 c. confectioners’ sugar
To begin, bake the pumpkin to make puree. To do this, preheat the oven to 350 F and cut the pumpkin in half, top to bottom. Scoop out the seeds with a sturdy spoon – if desired, save the seeds for munching or salads by toasting them in the oven separately. Once seeds are removed, place pumpkin halves face down in a large baking dish, along with 1 cup of water. Bake for approximately 90 minutes or until pumpkin flesh is very soft.
Allow pumpkin to cool slightly before using the sturdy spoon to scoop out all the pumpkin flesh into a blender. Process on high speed for 2 or 3 minutes until a smooth puree is formed. Measure out a heaping 2/3 cups of pumpkin for this recipe and store the rest in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for up to 6 months. Use puree in pies, cookies, casseroles, etc.
Set the oven temperature for 375 F and prepare a jelly roll pan (or a baking sheet with at least a 1/2 inch “lip” around all sides) by lining it with waxed paper and spraying with nonstick baking spray. In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs and sugar. Add pumpkin and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg before slowly incorporating into the wet ingredients. Mix well and add chopped pecans if desired.
Pour batter onto prepared pan and spread out into an even layer to reach all sides of the pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until a finger pressed lightly on top does not get covered in cake. Be careful not to over bake as you want the cake to be nice and moist. Spread out a kitchen towel and sprinkle with a little confectioners’ sugar. Invert the pan/cake onto the towel and carefully remove the waxed paper, working from each corner towards the center. While the cake is still hot, roll it up in the towel from one narrow end to the other. Cool for at least 20 minutes.
To make the filling, mix butter and cream cheese together. Add the vanilla extract and mix again. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, being sure to beat out any lumps. Once cake is cooled, unroll it from the towel and spread with filling. Roll up again and wrap in a sheet of wax paper and then in foil. Chill for at least an hour before slicing and serving. Roll will keep in the fridge for at least a week and freezes very well for several months. If frozen, allow to thaw in the fridge overnight before serving.
“e” is for dEElicious!