Super fluffy Asian-style pumpkin spice cake roll filled with a delicious 4-ingredient cream cheese frosting. So delicious for celebrating Thanksgiving and Halloween!
- Why You'll Love this Recipe
- What is an Asian-Style Pumpkin Swiss Roll?
- What Kind of Pumpkin Filling Should I Use?
- How Sturdy is this Cream Cheese Frosting?
- How to Prepare Ingredients & Substitutions
- Tips For Baking a Great Cake Roll
- Step By Step - Pumpkin Cake Roll
- How to Make Swiss Cake Roll Look Neat and Round
- Can I Bake This Cake in a Different Sized Pan?
- How I Decorated This Cake
This pumpkin spice cake roll recipe has been a year in the making. To add a Fall flavor to my fluffy cake roll collection, I started testing this recipe out as soon as pumpkin puree was available at the local stores last autumn but was ultimately unable to finish it because I was prescribed to be on bedrest for the rest of my pregnancy. This fall season, my now 6-month old twins are finally sleeping through the night, giving me some extra energy to finish it once and for all. This recipe took a year so I had the opportunity to try several different techniques and fillings.
I'm really happy with the results and think you will enjoy the Asian-style take on this traditional North American Thanksgiving dessert. The cake body itself is super fluffy and semi-sweet while the filling is a nice balance between tangy and sweet. Let me know what you think!
Why You'll Love this Recipe
- Easy to follow for beginners
- Flexible cake base prevents cracking
- Asian-style fluffy cake base and semi-sweet taste
- Simple 4-ingredient cream cheese filling is easy to prepare
What is an Asian-Style Pumpkin Swiss Roll?
Growing up in a Chinese family and living life abroad as an exchange student in Japan, I can say I haven't experienced eating Asian-style cakes or desserts featuring pumpkins. Personally, I don't believe it's a very common ingredient in Asian desserts like it is here in North America. Therefore, I wanted to create this recipe and share my own take on what I think an Asian-inspired pumpkin cake roll would taste like. Like most Asian desserts, it's semi-sweet with a light and airy texture. The cake base is a chiffon cake, a type of foam cake similar to a sponge cake. For it's fat, oil is used instead of little or no butter which makes the cake very fluffy, even when it comes out straight from the fridge. An added bonus of it being a chiffon cake is it's flexibility for rolling into a Swiss roll - no more cracks in the cake! I made this recipe this year for two Thanksgiving gatherings with both friends and family and it was a big hit!
What Kind of Pumpkin Filling Should I Use?
Use pumpkin puree in this recipe, it is made from a pumpkin that has been cooked and processed to a smooth consistency. It is usually sold in canned form at the grocery store. The ingredient label will say, "100% pure pumpkin". There's a lot of discussion that the pumpkin puree found in canned pumpkins isn't really pumpkins but different types of squash. This is because of the looser restrictions allowed on labelling this product, read this Epicurious article on What's Really In Canned Pumpkin. I used a simple canned pumpkin and found the pumpkin taste to be just fine with me. I would not recommend using homemade pumpkin puree in this recipe due to the excess moisture that might be left in the puree, it can make the cake too wet. Do not use "pumpkin pie filling" since it contains other ingredients that will alter the taste and texture of this cake roll.
How Sturdy is this Cream Cheese Frosting?
This 4-ingredient cream cheese frosting is one of the easiest fillings to prepare in my cake roll series. It doesn't use gelatin to stabilize the cream and relies on the cream cheese and powdered sugar for structure. As such, it's not the strongest filling but I wanted to provide this option for those who wanted an easier method. The cake roll will sag a little bit but it won't be at an unacceptable level (most other pumpkin cake roll recipes use a similar recipe. I just happen to be a bit picky with the aesthetics sometimes - quite unnecessary really.) Some tips you can follow to make the sturdiest cream cheese frosting: use COLD cream cheese, CHILLED cream and preferably HEAVY cream instead of whipping cream. If you want it to be more sturdy with a similar flavor, try the stabilized cheesecake filling in this Gingerbread Cake Roll recipe (it's more tangy) or Carrot Cake Roll recipe (it's less tangy).
How to Prepare Ingredients & Substitutions
Dry Mix for Cake Batter
- Cake flour - a low protein flour which will help make this cake softer than if using AP flour. It usually has a protein content between 6-8% while pastry flour, also a lower protein flour, has a protein content between 8-9%. Grocery stores usually sell a combination of cake and pastry flour at 7-9% protein. It can be substituted with all-purpose flour but the cake will be a little tougher than if using cake flour.
- Baking powder - it acts as a leavening agent in case there is any weaknesses in the meringue. It can be skipped if you don't have any and you're careful with the meringue preparation.
- Ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger - all the spices together can be substituted with pumpkin pie spice.
- Sea salt - used to highlight the flavors in the cake. Use half the amount if using table salt.
Wet Mix for Cake Batter
- Pumpkin puree - use a canned one as homemade ones can contain too much moisture for use in this recipe. The label should say "100% pure pumpkin", do not use pumpkin pie filling.
- Neutral vegetable oil - neutral tasting canola, grapeseed, avocado oils are all good choices.
- Granulated sugar - this first set of sugar is added into the wet ingredients to help add moisture and to break up the grains in the dry mix.
- Egg yolks - from large sized eggs.
Meringue for Cake Batter
- Egg whites - from large eggs. Room temperature ones will whip to volume better. Soak cold eggs in warm water to bring to room temperature quickly.
- Cream of tartar - is an acid that helps to stabilize the meringue. It can be substituted with double the amount of lemon juice or vinegar. You can skip it if you're careful with the whipping.
- Granulated sugar
4-ingredient Cream Cheese Frosting
- Cream cheese - use the full-fat brick type as cream cheese in a tub is too soft for use in this cake. It must be COLD.
- Powdered sugar - aka icing sugar. For best results, sift before using to prevent sugar lumps in the frosting.
- Heavy cream - is a cream with a minimum milk fat content of 36% and above. Whipping cream has milk fat content of 30-35%. Even with just a small percentage change, heavy cream yields a more stable whipped cream and is preferable in this recipe. Whipping cream can be used but the frosting will have slightly less structure. Cream must be chilled*
- Vanilla extract - use either pure or artificial.
Tips For Baking a Great Cake Roll
- A strong and healthy meringue (whipped egg whites with sugar) is needed to act as one of the leavening agents in this cake. Egg whites should be whipped in a clean and dry non-plastic bowl since plastic tends to trap oil. Egg whites don't whip well in the presence of oil and water. To further remove oils, use a paper towel and wipe down the mixing bowl with lemon or vinegar before you start.
- Carefully separate the egg whites and yolks when the eggs are cold. Make sure no yolks are present in the egg whites. An egg separator can come in handy.
- Bring the egg whites to a stiff peak. This is characterized by egg whites that have a beak that points upwards (instead of slumped over) when the whisk is pulled out.
- Once the liquid is introduced to the flour, do not over mix. This will produce more gluten, making the cake less tender.
- Use a gentle folding movement with a spatula to incorporate the meringue into the wet flour mixture. Do not stir, this will prevent the air in the meringue from deflating.
- After pouring the batter into the cake tray, rap it a few times on the counter to get rid of large air pockets, this will make the design show on a smoother surface.
- Chill the bowl, beaters and whipped cream for optimal whipping volume. They should all be be very cold. Whipping in a stainless steel bowl placed on top of a bed of ice will help keep things nice and cool on a hot day.
- Gelatin is added to the whipped cream to help stabilize it. Many recipes do not include this step but I prefer it when using whipped cream in a cake roll. It prevents the cream from deflating so the roll stays rounder and looks nicer. You can leave this step out if you plan on serving the cake immediately. If you need further guidance on stabilizing the cream, please read my post on How to Stabilize Whipped Cream with Gelatin.
- Add more cream along the short edge of the cake which is to be rolled first. This will prevent the cake from cracking due to large gaps in between the folds. These angled spatulas will come in handy for even frosting any time of cake. Instead of putting your hands directly onto the cake, use the parchment paper to push the cake onto itself as you roll.
- Fold gently and do not worry too much about rolling the cake very tightly. As long as the cream is spread out evenly (with a bit more along the short edge as per above), the amount of cream in this recipe will allow the sheet cake to hold up without cracking due to large gaps.
- If you find rolling the cake and stabilizing the whipped cream is too time-consuming, try this easy Japanese Peach Cake in a Cup, it has the same great chiffon base but doesn't require rolling or whipped cream stabilization and can be baked in a pan of any size.
Step By Step - Pumpkin Cake Roll
Line a 8 X 12" rectangular cake pan with parchment paper or silicone mat. Preheat oven to 325 F. In a small bowl, combine all the "wet" ingredients together with a whisk and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, sift in dry mix. Stir to combine. Create a well in the center. Inside it, add all the "wet" ingredients.
Combine until just incorporated, do not over mix as it will result in a tough cake. Set this pumpkin-flour mixture aside. In a clean and dry, non-plastic mixing bowl, whip egg whites on slow speed until frothy, add cream of tartar.
Increase speed to medium, once the whites become opaque and bubble size have tightened up, add the second portion of sugar a little bit at a time. Increase speed to med-high, whip until stiff peaks (when the whisk is pulled out the tips of the egg whites will point upwards without drooping on itself.) This is now called the meringue.
Gently fold ⅓ of the meringue into the pumpkin-flour mixture to get it moving. Once incorporated, fold in the rest of the meringue. Do not stir. Use batter immediately.
Pour batter into lined cake pan from one spot, spread out the batter evenly with an angled spatula. Tap the pan on the counter to release large air pockets. Bake for 10-12 min. at 325 F until a skewer pulls out clean and cake springs back in the center. Let cool in pan for 5 min. Place cooling rack over cake pan.
Flip cake over onto the rack, gently remove paper/mat. The side facing up will eventually become the top of the cake roll. Let it sit on cooling rack for 5 min. Flip the cake over and remove rack, let it cool while making the cream cheese frosting.
In case you were wondering... my toddler loves to help me bake and she has become quite a boss in the kitchen. She literally would not let me appear in these process shots so here she is in her hand modelling debut 🙂
How to Make Swiss Cake Roll Look Neat and Round
To prevent the cake roll from sagging, stabilization of the cream filling is key. As discussed above, this cream cheese filling is not the sturdiest filling in my cake roll collection so employing an extra rolling technique with plastic wrap will further guide the cake towards a round shape. After assembling the cake with the cream, wrap the assembled cake roll in plastic wrap. Once it's secured inside the first piece of plastic, place it on a new piece of plastic and start wrapping it again while gently rolling it away from you, making sure you are creating a log shape at the same time. Just use gentle pressure, we don't want to squish the fluffy cake base! Allow the assembled cake to firm up in the fridge for several hours before serving. Doing the above steps will give you a beautiful round cake log at home. Alternative Tip: I also like the taste of Mascarpone Whipped Cream filling for use in this pumpkin roll, it's similar in taste to cream cheese with less tang and made sturdier with stabilization.
Can I Bake This Cake in a Different Sized Pan?
The cake pan used in this recipe has been tested to provide the optimal amount of cake to cream ratio. The height of the cake is just high enough that it's light and fluffy but not so much that it needs to be folded into itself many times. If you don't have the proper pan size, you can use aluminum foil to make one or roll it up to create a dam inside your larger-sized cake pan. This post will show you how to bake this chiffon cake in any sized cake pan.
How I Decorated This Cake
This pumpkin cake roll tastes very delicious on its own so you don't really need to add extra frosting or decorations but it can really make your cake look extra attractive for a special occasion. For the frosting, you'll need to multiply the ingredients for the cream cheese frosting by 1.5X. To get the same look as my cake, pipe the frosting with a large French star piping tip (I used Atecco 867). For the pumpkins, the easiest way is to sculpt them out of pre-made fondant or marzipan colored with gel colors.
Dry Mix for Cake Batter
- 45 grams cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
Wet Ingredients for Cake Batter
- 70 grams pumpkin puree*
- 30 ml neutral vegetable oil*
- 25 grams granulated sugar
- 3 egg yolks
Meringue for Cake Batter
- 4 egg whites, room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar*
- 50 grams granulated sugar
4-ingredient Cream Cheese Frosting
- 95 grams cream cheese, cold*
- 55 grams powdered sugar, sifted
- 250 ml heavy cream, chilled*
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Asian-style Pumpkin Spice Cake Roll
- Line a 8 X 12" rectangular cake pan with parchment paper/silicone mat.
- Preheat oven to 325 F.
- In a small bowl, combine all the "wet" ingredients together with a whisk and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift in dry mix. Stir to combine.
- Create a well in the center. Inside it, add all the "wet" ingredients.
- Combine until just incorporated, do not over mix as it will result in a tough cake. Set this pumpkin-flour mixture aside.
- In a clean and dry, non-plastic mixing bowl, whip egg whites on slow speed until frothy, add cream of tartar.
- Increase speed to medium, once the whites become opaque and bubble size have tightened up, add the second portion of sugar a little bit at a time.
- Increase speed to med-high, whip until stiff peaks (when the whisk is pulled out the tips of the egg whites will point upwards without drooping on itself.) This is now called the meringue.
- Gently fold ⅓ of the meringue into the pumpkin-flour mixture to get it moving. Once incorporated, fold in the rest of the meringue. Do not stir. Use batter immediately.
- Pour batter into lined cake pan from one spot, spread out the batter evenly with an angled spatula.
- Tap the pan on the counter to release large air pockets.
- Bake for 10-12 min. at 325 F until a skewer pulls out clean and cake springs back in the center.
- Let cool in pan for 5 min.
- Place cooling rack over cake pan. Flip cake over onto the rack, gently remove paper/mat.
- The side facing up will eventually become the top of the cake roll. Let it cool while making the cream cheese frosting.
4-ingredient Cream Cheese Frosting
- Whip the cold cream cheese until fluffy.
- Add powdered sugar and stir on lowest setting until it's just blended enough to keep the powder dust down.
- Add vanilla and increase speed to medium.
- Pour in chilled heavy cream and increase speed to high. Whip until stiff. Do not over whip.
- Use immediately to assemble cake roll.
- Lay plastic wrap on the counter, flip cake onto it.
- Spread the cream onto the cake with a bit of extra on the side that is to be rolled first.
- Carefully roll up the cake from the short edge using the plastic wrap to help push the cake onto itself.
- For a rounder cake, wrap one more time with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to set before cutting (see post for details).
- Before serving, cut off sides for a cleaner presentation. Pumpkin cake roll can be kept in the fridge in an air tight container for 2-3 days.
- To decorate cake with more cream like in the photo, multiply the ingredients for cream cheese frosting by 1.5X.
- Some ingredients are repeated, use them in the same order as outlined in instructions.
- Use canned "100% pure pumpkin", not pumpkin pie filling.
- Cake flour is preferable for a soft fluffy texture. It can be substituted with All-Purpose Flour.
- Neutral oil choices: canola, grapeseed, avocado
- Cream of tartar is an acid that helps to stabilize the egg whites, it can be replaced with double the amount of lemon juice or vinegar.
- Heavy cream is cream with milk fat content of 35%+ (also labelled as 35% M.F.) It can be substituted with whipping cream which has milk fat of 30%+. Heavy cream is preferred for it's stability, especially in this recipe.
- Cream and cream cheese must be COLD otherwise the frosting will be soupy.
- Stiff peaks are characterized by egg whites that have a pointed peak when the whisk is pulled out. It points upwards and doesn't droop on itself.
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Amount Per Serving Calories 297Total Fat 21gSaturated Fat 11gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 117mgSodium 173mgCarbohydrates 24gFiber 0gSugar 18gProtein 5g
This information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although indulgewithmimi.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.