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The Great and Elusive Pumpkin Roll Recipe Rediscovered

It is the Great and Elusive Pumpkin Roll that is bold and bursting with Fall flavors, and I am so happy that I have rediscovered the recipe.

Fall is my favorite season. It is when all of my taste buds start to come to life because all of the delicious holiday foods are here to feast on. Fall represents the start of an eating marathon beginning with Thanksgiving and ending New Year’s Day! 

That one elusive dessert that many people love but are scared to make is the Pumpkin Roll – mmm, that beautiful rolled up cake with cream cheese filling.

I would see it in magazines and say to myself, “How do they roll cake?” I was always too scared to make it thinking, “there is no way I could get it to roll up like that.”

While I loved to cook, especially in my early years, baking was never my forte – and it wouldn’t be for quite some time until I finally just did it.

Being Italian, the holiday desserts never really consisted of cakes. Okay, well, grandma’s cheesecake, and if we were lucky, Aunt Jo’s rice pudding – but mostly desserts consisted of cookies and pastries. That was, until one year many moons ago, I went to my boyfriend’s house to celebrate Thanksgiving.

I did not think Thanksgiving dinner would be much different. Turkey, mashed potatoes, and the usual side dishes, however, when dessert came out, it was a game changer. 

I think I brought cannoli’s (because that’s what Italians bring) but his mom brought out this rolled up cake. I thought, “Oh my God that’s it! That is the cake I am always seeing in the magazines!”

The elusive Pumpkin Roll! 

Not being a huge pumpkin fan (I actually hate pumpkin pie), I tried to contain my excitement. I thought, “I don’t care if it is pumpkin, or how many calories it is, I am having it.”

And it was delicious!

I loved it so much she made one for my family that Christmas!  

I eventually lost touch with Eric, and I never got a chance to get his mom’s recipe but then a few years back, one of us came across the other’s social media profile. I do not remember who found whom; actually, I think we found each other again through his cousin whom I’d graduated high school with, but that is not important. What was important at that time was that I was able to ask him for his mom’s recipe – and here it is!

Old Fashioned Pumpkin Roll with Cream Cheese Filling

Recipe by Margaret Grunwald

You will need:

10×15″ Jelly roll pan or same size cookie sheet

Tea towel or cheese cloth


  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin
  • 1 tsp of lemon juice
  • 3 /4 cup of flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of ground ginger
  • ½ tsp of nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt


  • 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar – you will need additional for the Tea towel
  • ½ tsp of vanilla extract


In a large bowl combine sugar, eggs and until thick and blended.  Beat in pumpkin and lemon juice.

In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Blend well.

Add the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture to form a batter.

Grease the 10×15″ Jelly roll pan or same size cookie sheet, then line the pan with either parchment or wax paper. The grease on the pan will help make the parchment/wax paper stay in place.

Spread evenly into pan. Bake at 350° F for 15 minutes.

Remover from oven and allow to cool for an additional 15 minutes. Sprinkle a generous amount of powdered sugar onto your teal towel or cheese cloth. Place cake onto a clean tea towel or cheese cloth make sure you have enough powdered sugar to cover the entire towel. Roll cake up in the tea towel from the 10-inch side. Set aside to cool completely.

For the filling: Beat together the cream cheese butter and vanilla. Stir in powdered sugar, blending until creamy.

Unroll cooled cake, evenly spread the filling over the cake.  Roll up cake and filling again from the 10 inch side, this time do not use the tea towel but have plastic wrap ready to roll it on to, wrap and chill for at least one hour.

Dust with powdered sugar and slice just before you serve.

Makes about 10 servings. Keep leftover slices refrigerated or you can freeze for another time.


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