Classic Pumpkin Cake Roll with Cream Cheese Filling {Step-by-Step}

November 8, 2011
Classic Pumpkin Cake Roll with Cream Cheese Filling is classic for a reason ~ and one bite is all you need to remember why it's so loved.

Classic Pumpkin Cake Roll with Cream Cheese Filling

If you are a frequent reader of The Kitchen is My Playground, you know I'm cooking my way through my family's cookbook ~ slowly, but surely.  This week I tackled a recipe that scared me ~ the classic Pumpkin Cake Roll with Cream Cheese Filling my Mom used to make when I was growing up.

I'm so happy to say that I can report success with this one!

Because ... truly ... I had concerns.

Alas, I am scared no more.  While this creation is a bit nerve-wracking the first time through, the beautiful and absolutely scrumptious result is worth the tiny bit of wear-and-tear on the nerves.

After my afternoon adventure with this cake, which included three in-process phone calls to my Mom, I can now walk you through its creation step-by-step.  Complete with tips from Mom, of course.  Follow Mom's advice, and you'll be cranking out a gorgeous Pumpkin Cake Roll, too!

Classic Pumpkin Cake Roll with Cream Cheese Filling

Start by lining a jelly roll pan with waxed paper.  To ensure the baked cake slides out of the pan intact, spray the pan with non-stick cooking spray, add the waxed paper, and then spray with non-stick cooking spray again.  MOM TIP #1:  Mom says this is very important.  Do not skip this step.  

Or you'll be sad later.

How to Make Pumpkin Cake Roll

Next whip up the cake batter, being sure to beat the eggs for the full 5 minutes called for in the recipe.  This incorporates air into the batter and creates a light, springy cake.  You'll like it this way, I promise.

Spread the batter into your prepared jelly roll pan, like so ...

How to Make Pumpkin Cake Roll

... and sprinkle evenly with the finely chopped walnuts.

How to Make Pumpkin Cake Roll

Bake up the cake.

And now comes nerve-wracking part #1 ... turning the cake out of the pan.  This part made me sooooooo nervous.  To get ready for this nail-biter step, spread a towel out on your counter and sprinkle it generously with powdered sugar.  Okay, now take about three deep breaths.

Take your cake out of the oven ... take a few more deep breaths ... and immediately flip your pan over onto your powder-sugared towel.  Say a little prayer that when you lift up the pan, you'll have a cake sitting there neatly separated from the pan.

Now, go ahead -- lift up the pan.  Keep saying your prayer ... cross your fingers ... whatever you do ... until you see ...

How to Make Pumpkin Cake Roll
How to Make Pumpkin Cake Roll

... THIS!!  A cake ~ neatly out of the pan in one piece.  I was so excited that mine came out of the pan intact.

Time now to peel off the waxed paper.  I had to do a little coaxing with mine.  I very gently worked on the corners first, loosening them carefully.  Next, I got all the edges loosened ...

How to Make Pumpkin Cake Roll
How to Make Pumpkin Cake Roll

... and after that, the rest of the waxed paper peeled up really easily.

How to Make Pumpkin Cake Roll

Now comes nerve-wracking part #2 ... rolling up the warm cake.  TIP FROM MOM #2:  Roll it up tightly, gently, and slowly.

Towel-and-all, gently roll the cake up into a log, keeping it as tight as you can.  Then set it aside to cool to room temperature.

How to Make Pumpkin Cake Roll

And now we're onto nerve-wracking part #3 ... unrolling the cooled cake.

Once your cake is cooled, very gently unroll it.  TIP FROM MOM #3:  Unroll very slowly!!  To quote Mom, "This thing will crack on you." 

And, yep, mine sure did.  See those three or so big cracks?  Moving slowly helps avoid this.  I moved slowly, but still couldn't avoid a few cracks.  I just gently squished the cake back together, and 'glued' the cracks up with cream cheese filling.

How to Make Pumpkin Cake Roll

Spread the cream cheese filling evenly over the unrolled cake.  And, now, roll your Pumpkin Cake Roll back up!  Just as before, keep it tight and roll slowly.  Oh, and this time, leave the towel out of the cake roll.  :-)

How to Make Pumpkin Cake Roll

Success!  Isn't it gorgeous?

How to Make Pumpkin Cake Roll

Transfer this beauty to a serving platter and chill.  The cake that is.  And you, too.  You deserve a little chillin' after all your hard work.

Classic Pumpkin Cake Roll with Cream Cheese Filling

After the Pumpkin Cake Roll with Cream Cheese Filling has chilled, serve yourself up a big slice and enjoy.  

And, WOW, is this ever good!  Totally worth the frayed nerves.  Thanks for the coaching, Mom!

Classic Pumpkin Cake Roll with Cream Cheese Filling

Pumpkin Cake Roll with Cream Cheese Filling
Source:  My Mom - and I'd bet she got the recipe from Libby's years ago!
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 2/3 c. pumpkin puree (100% pure pumpkin)
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. finely chopped walnuts
  • Powdered sugar
Cream Cheese Filling:
  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 4 T. butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. For the Cake: Grease a 15x10x1" jellyroll pan; line with waxed paper or parchment paper (this is very important!). Lightly spray waxed paper with cooking spray.
  2. Beat eggs on high speed for 5 minutes; then gradually beat in granulated sugar. Stir in pumpkin and lemon juice.
  3. Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Fold into pumpkin mixture. Spread batter into prepared pan. Top with finely chopped walnuts.
  4. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Immediately turn out onto a towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Carefully remove waxed paper. Starting at the narrow end of the cake, roll towel and cake up together. Cool. Once cool, slowly and gently unroll cake.
  5. For the Cream Cheese Filling: Combine powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla; beat until smooth. Spread evenly over cooled cake.
  6. Roll cake back up. Chill.

Please enjoy these other pumpkin treats from The Kitchen is My Playground ...


  1. That looks so good, not sure if I am brave enough, but it looks worth it.

  2. I made the Libby's one last year for the first time and it was ALL kinds of good! Your pictures are making me want to make another one!!!!

  3. Oh Tracey, I could have written this post the first time I made one! I didn't have my mother's coaching but it was totally a nerve wracking experience. So thrilled...and surprised...when it turned out great. :-)

    Thanks so much for this reminder...I must make another for this Thanksgiving season.


  4. Wonderful! Thank you for the step-by-step tutorial. My mother-in-law makes a pumpkin roll I've been dying to try, and this makes it look a (little) easier. :)

  5. Good job....I'll get you roasting the turkey next!

  6. I haven't made this for years-I'll have to get going again. It'll be a hit at home.

  7. This looks so delicious and beautiful! Great photos too! Thanks for your comment on
    I'm following your darling blog now! Yay! Have a great weekend!

  8. There is something about flipping it out and rolling it up that can be a little scary. I've pulled it off before but I do feel a little dread. Your roll looks delicious - perfect for Thanksgiving. Thanks for sharing on Sweet Indulgences Sunday.

  9. Goodness, you made that look easy!! I've never made a roll of any kind. This recipe sure makes me want to try!

  10. I've always wanted to know how to make a pumpkin roll and you show us how so very well. Thanks for the pictures of your delicious pumpkin roll.

  11. This looks and sounds so incredible and we wanted you to know that we will be featuring it tomorrow at our Inspiration Friday party! Thank you so much for linking it up last weekend! :-)

  12. I saw you on Inspiration Friday and just had to come over and find out more about this cake! It looks and sounds SO GOOD! I'm planning on making it as soon as possible! Thank you for sharing - I'm now a follower! Hugs, Leena

  13. I make these for friends and family every Christmas and I still hold my breath when I flip it out of the pan--but I've never had a problem and they are devine! Nice to see your post on something you wonder if others know about. Merry Christmas, a little early, but these are part of our Christmas tradition.

  14. This really looks yummy! I would love for you to link this post to my Thanksgiving link up!

  15. Thank you for sharing this fantastic recipe! My mother had always made pumpkin rolls for Thanksgiving,but this year she decided not too! I was heartbroken,to say the least! I searched the net and found this site and was ticked pink!! To my mothers surprise I showed up Thanksgiving day with a perfect and absolutely delicious pumpkin roll! I was especially thankful for the pictures,they helped tremendously! :)

  16. Oh, Kara! I'm so glad the pumpkin roll worked for you, and that the pictures helped out!! I'm sure your mother was so pleased with your surprise! Thanks for dropping by my little blog.

  17. Use parchment paper instead of wax paper and grease it or spray with non-stick cooking spray. It takes the hassle of having to peel off the wax paper. :)

    1. Yes! I tried recently tried it with parchment paper, and it does come away from the cake more easily.

  18. I've never made a roll cake let alone a pumpkin one. This looks delish though and I look forward to giving it a try. Pinned!

  19. I am with Sarah!! I love pumpkin cake rolls but have never made one myself. I can't wait to try your recipe!

  20. My husband LOVES Pumpkin Roll but the one time I made it for him I failed miserably. I'm going to try again with your recipe and tips. *fingers crossed*

  21. Any idea? IF I baked the 'cake' in a normal cake pan (to stuff in a fido jar as a gift) would I get 2 'layers'? ...i need 2 layers for 3 fido jars. TMI i know. Xx

  22. I've made these for years, and am freaked out very time! Rolling it by the short end is great for dessert...rolling it long ways is great for appetizers.


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