If you’re looking for a pumpkin roll that is not dense, sticky, or too sweet, then this pumpkin roll recipe is your answer!
The secret is simple. This pumpkin roll is made with a genoise cake, resulting in a light and fluffy cake roll that is not too sweet, and still incredibly soft, unlike pretty much every other pumpkin roll recipe out there.
- Why I love this recipe
- Ingredients to make this pumpkin roll recipe
- How to make pumpkin roll
- Step one – Prep all your ingredients
- Step two – Make the pumpkin roll cake
- Step three – Roll the cake (simple tips for best results!)
- Step four – Make the cream cheese filling
- Step five – Fill the pumpkin roll
- Step six – Chill the cake
- Step seven – Dust with powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar) and serve.
- Other variations of this cake
- Storage instructions
- Frequently Asked Questions
Why I love this recipe
- This recipe is slightly different from a classic pumpkin roll recipe in that the base of this pumpkin roll is a pumpkin flavored genoise sponge cake!
- Because this is made with sponge cake, the cake is light, so airy, and not too sweet. Whereas other pumpkin rolls are generally dense, sticky, wet, and heavy.
- Instead of cream cheese frosting, I prefer to fill my pumpkin roll with a whipped cream cheese filling. Which is equally as light, and is perfect with the sponge pumpkin roll.
- This cake has a melt in your mouth texture because the cake and filling are so airy and light.
- Step by step instructions will make sure that this cake is easy to follow for anyone!
- I adapted this pumpkin roll cake from my vanilla swiss roll cake that is loved by so many, so you know the results will be amazing!
This cake does involve some technical steps for making the sponge cake batter, but I provide step by step instructions to walk you through the process. The results are worth the effort because the cake is absolutely delicious, just like all my other roll cakes (vanilla swiss roll, chocolate swiss roll, rainbow swiss roll etc.). This is one of my favorite pumpkin desserts, and I don’t even wait until pumpkin season to make it.
The pumpkin flavor is just perfect, with an extra depth of flavor from the spices. And the filling won’t overpower the pumpkin flavor, and there is no heavy, sweet buttercream either.
Ingredients to make this pumpkin roll recipe
Whole eggs – The base for this pumpkin roll, since this is a genoise sponge swiss roll.
Brown sugar – To give the pumpkin roll cake a sweet, molassey flavor. You can use either dark brown or light brown sugar. If you don’t have either, you can substitute with caster sugar or granulated sugar.
Flour – To give the cake enough structure to hold up against the added pumpkin puree, I use a little more all purpose flour than my vanilla swiss roll. And unlike the basic swiss roll recipe, I don’t add cornstarch here.
Baking powder – Gives lift to the cake to keep it light and fluffy.
Spices & flavoring – A combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves (pumpkin spice) adds a lovely, flavorful warmth to the cake.
Pumpkin puree – You can use canned pumpkin puree or homemade pumpkin puree for this. Warm the puree before mixing it in with the batter. Warm puree mixes easily than stiff, cold puree. When I used to live in the US, I used Libby’s pumpkin puree, but in Canada I use E. D Smith pumpkin puree. Do NOT use canned pumpkin pie filling.
Melted butter – I mix the melted butter with the puree so that they can be mixed into the cake batter together.
How to make pumpkin roll
This recipe for pumpkin roll is easy and involves the following.
Step one – Prep all your ingredients
Make sure to have all the ingredients measured and ready to go before you start. This includes the following.
- Prepare your baking pan – Prep a 15 x 10 inch jelly roll pan by lining it with parchment paper with an overhang, and butter and flour any sides that are exposed. I prefer to butter the pan rather than using cooking spray / non-stick spray.
- Bring a pot of water to a simmer – about 2 to 3 inches of water. The mixing bowl should fit over the pot without touching the water.
- Measure the dry ingredients and sift them together. This includes the flour, baking powder, and spices.
- Melt the butter and warm the pumpkin puree together. Add the vanilla to this mixture too.
- Into a large mixing bowl (or any large bowl), add the eggs, salt, and sugar. Once in the bowl, whisk lightly to combine.
Step two – Make the pumpkin roll cake
The first step is to heat the egg mixture until it’s warm to the touch. Place the mixing bowl over the simmering water and whisk until it’s warm to the touch (110 – 120 F).
Whisk the warmed egg mixture in your stand mixer for 5 – 6 minutes, until tripled in size, and you can form ribbons with the batter.
Sift the dry ingredients over the surface of the egg foam. Carefully fold them in, rotating the bowl as you go. Be careful not to deflate the batter by over-mixing.
Add some of the batter to the pumpkin mixture and mix to loosen it up. Then add this back to the batter and fold it in. Since the pumpkin mixture is heavy, evenly spoon it over the surface to prevent the pumpkin from sinking to the bottom.
This last step is important because you don’t want to deflate the pumpkin swiss roll batter. Otherwise, you will end up with a dense pumpkin roll.
Spread the cake batter evenly in the prepared pan using an offset spatula and bake in the preheated oven until the cake is baked through. The cake is ready when the cake springs back when touched, or a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Step three – Roll the cake (simple tips for best results!)
Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool only for about a minute. You have to roll up the cake while it’s still warm, because a warm cake sheet is more pliable.
The bottom of the cake is the presentation side. The top surface is where the filling goes, so it should be facing up while rolling, while the bottom side will be facing out once the cake is rolled up.
You can roll the pumpkin swiss roll in the same parchment paper that it was baked in. OR carefully flip the cake over, peel off the parchment paper, and then flip it back over onto a new parchment paper. You could use a tea towel / cloth napkin instead as well, but I prefer parchment paper.
Dust the top surface of the pumpkin cake roll with confectioner’s sugar.
Just like I did for the vanilla swiss roll, I like to make two shallow parallel cuts close to one of the short ends of the cake. This makes rolling up the cake easy. I also make a diagonal cut at the opposite short end which helps create a neat seal once the cake is rolled up. These are both optional steps, but they ensure a neat, perfect pumpkin roll.
Roll up the cake firmly but not too tight. Make sure you’re rolling up the cake with parchment paper as this will prevent the cake from sticking to itself. Wrap the cake with another piece of parchment paper or a cloth napkin and let it cool completely to room temperature. Keep the cake roll with the seam side down.
Step four – Make the cream cheese filling
The cream cheese filling that I use for this easy pumpkin roll recipe is not a buttercream, but a whipped cream. It’s light and has a wonderful tanginess from the cream cheese.
To make this whipped cream and cream cheese filling, first whisk the cream cheese until creamy and fluffy. Make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature so it whips better. Scrape out the cream cheese into a bowl, and whip chilled heavy cream (35% fat) with confectioner’s sugar and vanilla, until you have soft peaks.
Add the cream cheese mixture back into the whipped cream, and whip until you have creamy whipped cream that is at stiff peaks. I prefer to mix the cream cheese back into the whipped cream by hand, but you can use a stand mixer on low speed too.
Step five – Fill the pumpkin roll
When the cake has cooled, unroll the cake. Spread the cream cheese whipped cream filling evenly over the surface, leaving a border at the short side with the diagonal cut.
Roll up the cake again, releasing the parchment paper from the cake as you go. Tighten the cake to keep an even spiral shape, but take care not to squeeze out too much of the frosting.
Step six – Chill the cake
Wrap the cake with parchment paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour to chill the cake. Trim the edges to make the pumpkin roll neat. Make sure to use a warm serrated knife for this.
Step seven – Dust with powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar) and serve.
Other variations of this cake
I don’t like to add any extra flavoring to the cake base because I like to keep the pumpkin flavor prominent here. But you can change up the filling for other variations of this pumpkin swiss roll.
- Use stabilized chantilly cream for an even lighter filling.
- Add 1/2 tsp instant coffee for a light coffee-flavored filling. This will be reminiscent of a pumpkin spice latte!
- Add some cocoa powder to the whipped cream for a chocolate pumpkin roll.
This pumpkin cream cheese roll will taste best within the first few days. It can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 5 days.
An unfilled, rolled cake can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months. Wrap the rolled up cake in plastic wrap (at least 2 layers), and then in a layer of foil. Then place it in a large enough container so that it doesn’t get crushed during storage. This will also help the cake maintain its shape. Thaw it out until it’s at room temperature before unrolling and filling.
If you liked this pumpkin swiss roll, you will also love these pumpkin recipes,
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. As this is a sponge cake made with eggs, and a dairy-based filling, this cake needs to be refrigerated. This will help the cake and the filling firm up, so that it’s easier to cut.
The cake freezes very well, but unfortunately the filling does not. Whipped cream will break down as it thaws out from frozen.
You can freeze the rolled up cake, and then let it thaw out at room temperature. Then unroll it carefully, fill, and serve. However, there is a chance that the cake might be harder to unroll after freezing and thawing.
You can also switch the filling for a buttercream filling, and freeze the buttercream filled pumpkin roll. THIS cake will freeze beautifully, and you can easily thaw and serve.
The beauty of this sponge cake is that it’s very soft and pliable! Other pumpkin roll cakes are more dense, which can easily crack when unrolling. Not with this cake!
Sponge cakes are easier to roll and unroll than other roll cakes. If you do find that your sponge cake is cracking when unrolling, that’s because the cake is too dry – usually because it was over-baked (even by 1 – 2 minutes!).
This is another advantage of this great recipe! Sponge cakes do not get soggy. This cake will only become soggy if you added too much liquid. This pumpkin sponge cake makes for the best pumpkin roll recipe, because it’s so light, airy, and perfectly sweet.
Fresh pumpkin can be delicious, but there is so much variability when using fresh pumpkin. The pumpkin may not have as much flavor, depending on the season or the type of squash or pumpkin you use. Plus, the water content can also differ which can have an impact on the final outcome.
Canned pumpkin yields more consistent results, just because canned pumpkin is more consistent in quality.
You can make the cake portion ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for about 24 – 48 hours. It’s best eaten within 24 hours, since it will go stale the longer it’s stored. However, wrap it well with plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge for up to 48 hours.
Let it thaw to room temperature BEFORE unrolling and filling it with the whipped cream cheese filling.
Pumpkin Roll Recipe
Pumpkin swiss roll cake
- 4 large eggs
- 100 g brown sugar ½ cup
- Generous ¼ tsp salt
- 80 g AP flour about ⅔ cup, measured by spoon and level method
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp cloves
- 30 g warm melted butter 2 tbsp, substitute with same amount of warm olive oil, vegetable oil, or vegan butter
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 180 g pumpkin puree ¾ cup
Cream cheese whipped cream filling (whipped cream)
- 4 oz cream cheese ½ a block
- 240 ml chilled whipping cream 35% fat, 1 cup
- 30 g confectioner's sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
Pumpkin swiss roll cake
- Lightly grease a 10 x 15 inch jelly roll pan. Line the pan with parchment paper, with an overhang along the short edges of the pan (to make it easy to remove the cake from the pan). Butter and dust the exposed edges with flour. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C.
- Melt the butter, and add the pumpkin puree. Heat over medium heat until the pumpkin is warm as well. Add the vanilla extract and stir to combine. Set aside in a medium bowl.30 g warm melted butter, 180 g pumpkin puree, 2 tsp vanilla
- Sift the dry ingredients (flour, spices, and baking powder) into a separate small bowl.80 g AP flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, ½ tsp ground ginger, ½ tsp nutmeg, ¼ tsp cloves
- Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan.
- Place the eggs in a metal mixing bowl that can fit over the saucepan. Add the sugar and salt, and whisk to combine.4 large eggs, 100 g brown sugar, Generous ¼ tsp salt
- Place the bowl over simmering water (not touching the water) and whisk continuously for about 2 – 4 minutes until the egg mixture is warm to the touch or until the eggs reach a temperature of about 110 – 120°F.
- Remove the egg mixture from the heat. And remove the saucepan from the heat.
- Place the mixing bowl in your stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed for about 5 – 6 minutes. The eggs should at least triple in size.
- To check if the egg mixture is at the right consistency, take some of the egg mixture with your whisk attachment and create some ribbons on the surface. The ribbons should remain on the surface for a few seconds and not immediately disappear.
- Sift the dry ingredients evenly over the surface of the egg mixture. Make sure it's sifted evenly, so that the flour doesn't collect at one spot and sink to the bottom.
- Using a wide spatula (or the largest spatula you own), fold the flour into the egg mixture. Rotate the bowl after every fold to make sure all the flour is well incorporated, and there are no dry spots in the batter or the bottom of the bowl. Be careful not to deflate the mixture by overmixing – this should not take more than 15 – 20 folds.
- Now it's time to mix in the pumpkin butter mixture, which should be warm before being mixed in. If it’s not, microwave for a few seconds to warm it up.
- Add roughly 1 cup of the cake batter (using your spatula) to the pumpkin butter mix. Mix well to incorporate the butter and cake batter until emulsified.
- Gently spoon the pumpkin butter batter mix evenly over the surface of the rest of the cake batter in the mixing bowl. I use the flat side of my spatula to break the flow of the butter mixture as I do this, so that it doesn’t sink to the bottom of the bowl.
- Fold the butter mixture into the rest of the cake batter. Do this gently with as fewer folds as possible so as not to deflate the cake batter. No more than 8 – 12 folds. The cake batter can easily deflate at this point, so be careful.
- Pour all the cake batter into the prepared cake tray. Using an offset spatula, spread the batter into the corners of the tray and make sure it's distributed as evenly as possible.
- Knock the tray on a firm surface (kitchen counter) about 3 – 4 times to get rid of any large air bubbles trapped in the batter. Give the tray a little shake to evenly distribute the batter again.
- Bake the cake in the preheated oven for about 10 – 15 minutes (12 minutes in my conventional oven), rotating halfway through the baking process if needed.
- The cake is done when the surface is springy to the touch, or when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven. Let it cool for about 1 minute.
Rolling up the pumpkin swiss roll cake
- The bottom side of the cake will be the presentation side for the swiss roll (see pictures in the post for reference). You can use the parchment paper you baked the cake in to roll up the swiss roll for convenience. If you prefer to use a new parchment paper, you can do that too. See recipe notes for directions.
- Run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake in the cake pan to loosen it from the pan. Gently lift the cake from the baking tray and place it on your work surface (slip a cake lifter or flexible cutting board underneath for support if needed).
- Sift confectioner's sugar over the surface of the cake.
- OPTIONAL STEP ONE – Along one of the short ends of the cake, make a diagonal cut as shown in the pictures in the post. This helps create a neat seal when the cake is rolled up, as described below.
- OPTIONAL STEP TWO – On the opposite short end of the cake, make two shallow cuts (2 mm deep), parallel to the short edge. The first cut is 1 inch from the edge, and the second is 1 inch from the first cut. DO NOT cut all the way through! See pictures in the post for reference. This step helps maintain an even thickness as the cake is rolled up.
- Fold about 1 inch of parchment paper overhang over the short edge with the shallow cuts, and start rolling up the cake into a spiral. Make sure the spiral is tight, but not too tight that it crushes the cake. Keep rolling until the cake is completely wrapped in parchment paper. Use another parchment paper or cloth napkin to wrap the swiss roll further to help keep its shape. This will prevent unravelling. Make sure the cake is stored with the seam side down. Let it cool completely to room temperature.
Filling the cake
- Once the cake is cooled, gently unravel the cake.
- Spread a thin layer of cream cheese whipped cream, about ½ – 1 cm (¼ – ½ inch) thick over the surface. Leave about a 2 – 2.5 cm (1 inch) margin at the short edge with the diagonal cut.
- Now roll up the cake again, but make sure to loosen the parchment paper from the cake as you go. Make sure the cake is firmly rolled up, while maintaining its shape, and the filling isn't squeezed out much. Wrap the cake well with parchment paper and/or a cloth napkin so that the cake doesn't lose its shape. You can use the parchment paper to shape the cake if the roll seems loose.
- Refrigerate for a few hours until the cake and filling have firmed up.
- Slice off the ends of the cake with a warm serrated knife so that the swiss roll cake looks neat.
- Serve with a dusting of confectioner's sugar on top.
Whipped cream cheese filling
- Make this while the cake is cooling to room temperature.
- Place the cream cheese in a large bowl and whisk until creamy and fluffy. Scrape out the cream cheese into a separate small bowl.4 oz cream cheese
- In the same large bowl, place the chilled whipping cream, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla.240 ml chilled whipping cream, 30 g confectioner's sugar, 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Whisk on low speed to combine. Then increase the speed to medium and whisk until you have soft peaks.
- Add the creamed cream cheese back into the large bowl and whisk until it’s all mixed through. Keep whisking until you have stiff peaks. Take care not to over-whisk, as this could lead to the whipped cream splitting.
- The whipped cream cheese filling is now ready to be used.
Tips & Tricks
Other variationsVanilla swiss roll cake Chocolate swiss roll cake Rainbow swiss roll cake Yule log cake
How to switch the cake over to a new parchment paper for rolling upWhile the cake is in the baking tray, dust the surface with confectioner’s sugar. Place a piece of parchment paper or cloth napkin on top (so that the cake doesn’t stick), followed by a cutting board. Now carefully flip the cake over onto the cutting board. Peel off the parchment paper on the bottom of the cake. Now take another piece of parchment paper that is longer than the length of the swiss roll. You can also use a clean kitchen towel / cloth napkin as well. Place this on the cake surface. Now carefully flip the cake back over onto the new parchment paper (or cloth napkin). Remove the parchment paper and cutting board on top. The cake is now ready to be rolled up with the new parchment paper on the bottom.
“This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.”