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Pumpkin Cake Roll with Maple & Orange Buttercream

I’m hosting Thanksgiving this year. As far as family, only my immediate family will be there, and Amanda is coming home from college for the long weekend. I can’t wait to see her! We will be having dinner for 14 people, and included will be my best friend, Cyrena, my ex-husband, my friends the Hiltons, and Lorraine Hilton’s sister. Everyone is bringing something, even Lorraine, who is in the middle of a kitchen renovation and only has a hot plate and a microwave to use!

I am not a fan of pumpkin pie, but felt that some sort of pumpkin dessert should be on the menu. I make a mean pumpkin cheesecake, but just wasn’t in the mood. For some reason I felt like a pumpkin roll cake seemed like the right thing. I searched the internet and found several different recipes. Taking a bit from each one, I changed so much that I really can’t call this anything but an original recipe. However, to use correct blogging etiquette, these are the recipes I primarily referred to: Taste of Home Pumpkin Cake Roll, Wilton Pumpkin Roll Cake, and Cook’s Illustrated Classic Coffee Buttercream Icing.

What I like about this recipe, besides it being really delicious, is that you can make it as simple or as fancy as you want, or have time for. If you’re pressed for time, or don’t want to make it so fancy, you can just make one flavor buttercream and spatula ice the cake simply. If you have the time or interest, make both flavors of the buttercream, pipe a little icing along the bottom edge and put the grated chocolate and edible gold flakes on top.

Note that you really need to roll the cake when it is still very warm. If you wait until it has already cooled you risk cracking the cake.

Don’t be overwhelmed by all the photos. This is not a terribly hard recipe. Even if you don’t want to try the whole recipe, you can make the delicious cake and spread vanilla ice cream in the roll and ice it with Cool Whip. It will still be yummy.

Pumpkin Cake Roll with Maple & Orange Buttercream

Recipe by Crafty Farm Girl, November, 2011.

Makes about 16 servings.


• ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
• ¾ cup all-purpose flour
• ½ teaspoon baking powder
• ½ teaspoon baking soda
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon ground cloves
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 4 eggs, separated
• 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
• 2/3 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• ½ cup ground pecans

Filling & Icing
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
pinch table salt
1 pound unsalted butter (4 sticks), softened, each stick cut into quarters
4 oz. pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon finely minced orange zest
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier (or 1/2 teaspoon orange extract)
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
¼ teaspoon orange extract
Grated bittersweet chocolate (optional for decoration)
Edible gold (optional for decoration)

For the cake, preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease an 11 x 17 in. jelly roll pan, line with parchment paper; grease and flour parchment paper. Set aside. Spread a clean kitchen towel on a wire cooling rack and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Set aside.

In medium bowl, sift together flour, spices and salt.

In large bowl, beat egg yolks until frothy with electric mixer.  Add ½-cup sugar; continue beating 3-5 minutes until thick and light in color. Add pumpkin and flour mixture; mix until well combined.

In separate bowl, beat egg whites until frothy with electric mixer. Add lemon juice; continue beating 2 minutes. Gradually add remaining ½-cup sugar; continue beating until soft peaks form.Add pumpkin and flour mixture; mix until well combined.

Sprinkle ground pecans over egg whites; gently fold in.

Fold about 1 cup of egg white mixture gently into pumpkin mixture to lighten. Add another 2 cups egg white mixture and fold in again.

Add remaining egg white mixture and fold again until no white streaks remain.

Spread evenly into prepared pan. Bake 20-25 minutes (mine took exactly 20 minutes). Remove cake from oven. Gently loosen edges of cake from pan. Carefully turn cake onto prepared confectioner’s sugar-dusted dish towel. Cool cake 3-5 minutes. Carefully remove parchment paper.

Starting at a short edge, roll up cake with kitchen towel. Transfer rolled cake to cooling rack; cool completely.

For icing combine eggs, sugar, and salt in bowl of standing mixer; place bowl over pan of simmering water. Whisking gently but constantly, heat mixture until thin and foamy and registers 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer. Beat egg mixture on medium-high speed with whisk attachment until light, airy, and cooled to room temperature, about 5 minutes. Divide mixture evenly between two bowls (use a kitchen scale if you have one.

Place half of mixture back into mixing bowl and on medium speed, and 2 sticks of butter, one piece at a time. (After adding half the butter, buttercream may look curdled; it will smooth with additional butter.) Once all butter is added, slowly drizzle in maple syrup, increase speed to high and beat 1 minute until light, fluffy, and thoroughly combined. Remove maple icing and place remaining egg mixture back into mixing bowl.

Follow instructions as above, but once you’ve incorporated all of the remaining 2 sticks of butter, drizzle in the extract, liquor and orange juice, and then mix in the orange zest. Increase speed to high and beat 1 minute until light, fluffy, and thoroughly combined. (Buttercream can be covered and refrigerated up to 5 days.)

Cut a piece of cardboard about 2” longer and wider than cake roll. Cover with aluminum foil and tape securely.

On a clean work surface, unroll cake. Using an offset spatula, smooth the orange buttercream to edges of cake. You may have a little icing left over, depending on how thick you want the icing. Carefully re-roll the cake (without the towel this time!), being careful to get a tight roll, but no so tight that you squeeze out the icing. Using a large, sturdy spatula, move the cake roll onto the prepared foil-covered cardboard. If you have a little icing left over, smooth some onto the ends of the roll. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to firm up the cake before you ice the outside.

Remove the cake from the fridge, and using the maple buttercream, spatula-ice the outside of the cake. If you want to get a little fancier you can put some of the remaining icing into a pastry bag with a star tip and pipe a decorative shell border around the base of the cake. If you want to take it another step, grate some bittersweet chocolate with a grater and sprinkle that over the top of the cake. For the last level of fancy, sprinkle the cake with edible gold flakes.

Refrigerate the cake for about 30 minutes to firm up the buttercream, then you can cover it loosely with plastic wrap. Keep refrigerated until about 3 hours before serving, and then remove to room temperature until serving. Buttercream is always best when served at room temperature.


  1. I wonder how far into this log I would get if I kept eating it without stopping before I couldn’t eat anymore. I bet I could finish it.

  2. Cyrena: challenge accepted

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