Nothing says fall quite like pumpkin. When late September hits, so does the flood of pumpkin-flavored goodies, and we just can’t get enough!
I was inspired by an image I saw on Pinterest (of course) for a Valentine’s Day chocolate cake roll. I’ve made dozens of pumpkin rolls for the fall, and I’ve had chocolate cake rolls before, but this one definitely stood out. Or should I say, stood up!
A cake roll is baked on a jelly roll pan so that it’s very thin and flat. Immediately after it comes out of the oven, the cake is rolled and chilled to create a curved layer. That layer is later iced and re-rolled, and it stays together like a little log.
They’re very traditional, especially around the winter holidays (think yule log), and besides the amazing flavor of the pumpkin with the sweet cream cheese frosting, they’re pretty straight-forward. At least, that’s what I thought.
The big difference between a traditional log cake and this log cake is that the cake is cut in half after it has chilled. This creates two small logs that will be rolled into one another. It makes the shape of a layered cake but with a funky and fun spiral inside!
You don’t have to ice the entire cake. In fact, the inspiration cake for this recipe was only iced around the sides so you could see the spiral top. I decided to ice the top because I wanted to drizzle a caramel sauce down the sides, but the sauce would soak into the crumb on top and not be able to trickle down.
This recipe I’ve used is a little more involved; it calls for egg whites to be whipped and folded into the batter. There are simpler recipes for pumpkin rolls that do not call for this step, but this is important in a standing cake roll. The whipped egg whites allow the cake to rise a bit more, giving it more girth and creating that classic layered cake shape.
For the Cake
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons ginger
3/4 teaspoon allspice
6 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1/8 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a jelly roll baking sheet (a baking sheet with a lip) with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray.
In a medium sized bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat together egg yolks, brown sugar and butter until very thick. Add the pumpkin and beat on low speed until fully incorporated. Add the dry ingredients a little bit at a time, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
In a separate bowl, beat together egg whites and salt until stiff but not dry, much like the consistency of pudding. Depending on if using a mixer or doing this by hand, this can take 5-10 minutes. When done, fold the egg whites into the pumpkin mixture using a rubber spatula until most of the white is incorporated, but make sure not to crush the height of the egg whites.
Spread the batter on the jelly roll pan and smooth the top over. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. While the cake is hot, dust a clean tea towel with powdered sugar and turn the cake onto the towel. Peel off the parchment paper and roll the cake into the towel, starting from one long side and going to the other. Chill in the fridge, seam-side down to maintain shape, until completely cooled, about 1 hour.
For the Filling
1 cup powdered sugar
2 3-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla and beat on high speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Carefully unroll the cooled cake, and using a knife or pizza cutter, cut the cake in half through the middle to create two little logs.
Spread the cream cheese filling onto the inside of one of the cake strips, making sure not to get too close to the edges. Layer the second strip of cake on top of the filling-coated cake strip, and apply more filling onto the now top layer.
Gently re-roll the cake up and refrigerate for about an hour. Remove from the fridge, stand the cake upright, and use the remaining filling to cover the cake (either just the sides or the sides and the top).
Optional step, drizzle caramel sauce over the top of the cake.
That’s all it takes, guys! It’s so easy to make, decorate and serve. A little warning, though–this cake definitely won’t last long.