The Thrifted Kitchen :: Spiced Pumpkin Roll

This week I ventured into unknown territory by tackling the classic "roll" cake. It's one of those things that my scientifically challenged brain just couldn't understand (like when I finally made a baked Alaska just to see how the ice cream in the middle doesn't melt in the oven). In this case, what I wasn't quite buying was how the cake didn't break apart when you rolled it. But I went ahead, per the instructions, trusting that the author wasn't about to make a fool of me.

What it stressed was that immediately after removing the cake from the oven, you invert it onto a kitchen towel (I have flour sack ones that worked quite nicely) sprinkled with powdered sugar, then roll it up and let it sit until it's completely cooled, which, from what I've read since, helps "train" the cake to be in that rolled position so that, after you unroll it and fill it with frosting or, in this case, ice cream, it will tuck back into its log form nice and neat.

My other theory was that when I thin cake like that is still hot, its elasticity (for lack of a better word) is greater, thus allowing it to be rolled without breaking. I was hoping Alton Brown had had a show that included the science of jelly rolls, since he is our household's go-to food science dude, but I couldn't find anything online. So I'll just pretend that my theory makes sense...at least to me. :)

Some other notes about the recipe:

> Make sure and cut the waxed paper to fit inside just the bottom of the pan. If you have it creeping up the sides, then the ends of your roll will look wonky.

> Make you life easier by letting the ice cream thaw for about 15 minutes before trying to spread it onto the cake. I actually removed it all from the carton and put it into a bowl for easy stirring to help it soften a bit. The original recipe calls for almond or vanilla ice cream, but I'm obsessed with Serendipity's swirled caramel flavor at the moment, so that's what I used.

> I wanted to make some whipped cream and pipe a design along the top of the roll, but life got in the way. So maybe you will do it instead and make yours much, much prettier.

And then won't you look fancy when you serve this to friends and family this fall?! :)

Spiced Pumpkin Roll
Courtesy of the Sunset Cook Book of Desserts, 1968
Yields 8-10 servings

3/4 cup all-purpose flour, unsifted
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon each baking powder and ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and salt
3 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
Powdered sugar
1 quart ice cream, slightly softened

Mix flour, cinnamon, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, beat eggs at high speed for 5 minutes or until thick; gradually beat in granulated sugar. Using low speed, mix in pumpkin and flour mixture.

Line a 10- by 15-inch greased jelly roll pan with waxed paper; grease paper. Spread batter in pan. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 15 minutes, or until top springs back when touched. Immediately invert cake onto a towel sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Removed paper; roll cake and towel into a cylinder and cool completely. Unroll cake, spread with ice cream and reroll. Wrap and freeze. Before serving, let stand at room temperature 10 to 15 minutes; dust with powdered sugar.


  1. I've always been scared to make these as well, but this looks amazing. Perhaps you have inspired me to give it a try.

    1. You should! I was completely intimidated by it at first, but just think: If it goes wrong, it may not be pretty to look at, but it's still edible! :)


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