Disaster Roulade!

Well, Thanksgiving has passed but it’s still the holiday season, so I’m going to (belatedly) share the dessert I made for my family’s own makeshift, last minute, let’s throw Alya in the kitchen and see what blossoms Thanksgiving.  And yes, that is precisely how our thanksgivings always go.  Planning for this auspicious feast never crosses anyone’s mind, we simply debate for weeks if we will do anything, then hit the grocery store the day of and whip up some simple magic. Nothing extraordinary (didn’t make a turkey either, nuh uh.  Just bought one)… but at the end of the day, it always turns out good. And fun, if a little bit stressful.

That said, I – being addicted to the Food Network – stumbled on a pumpkin roulade that wrapped its warm fluffy self all around my heart.  Lately I’ve been keen on challenging myself a bit more in the kitchen too, so this seemed like the most awesome thing to attempt.  Plus, it would be a variety to the typical (yet quintessential!) Pumpkin Pie dessert.  **thankfully my sister made that too, because I admit, I ADORE Pumpkin Pie.  ADORE!**

Rock n' Roulade!

Anyhoo, so this is a rolled cake with a cream filling – I was surprised how easy the rolling turned out to be.  I thought I would break it apart massively… though I did have some little mishaps here and there, for which this earned the label of disaster.  Always make sure the ENTIRE cake is cooked before you flip it off the tray… kinda important.  But it tasted amazing, and the ginger-pumpkin combination is a beautiful beautiful thing. Makes your insides join in the melodious singing of a heavenly choir… or something.

(as taken from the Food Network, courtesy of Ina Garten)


For the cake:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour – always the health freak, I used whole wheat flour. Worked like a charm.
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling!!)
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar

For the filling:

  • 12 ounces Italian mascarpone cheese – couldn’t find it that day, so I settled for light cream cheese.  I think the whipped kind would be an especially nice texture.
  • 1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup minced dried crystallized ginger – ‘twas too expensive for my little wallet, so I settled for more ginger powder, and simply added a little bit more sugar for taste.
  • Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 13 by 18 by 1-inch sheet pan. Or use any pan you can find, as long as it’s fairly large, and you make sure to spread the batter in it thinly.  I used a slightly smaller one, but only just.  And they say to always line the pan with parchment paper… I never have that, so I guess aluminum worked for me – simply grease and flour it.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt and stir to combine. I always take liberties with spices and flavors, so if you want it stronger then go for it, live on the edge! Add that extra smidge of cinnamon!  I won’t tell… J

Mix the eggs and granulated sugar in a bowl at mid-high speed for about 5 minutes, until light yellow and thickened. Set the mixer to low, add the pumpkin, then slowly add the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Do not overwork it!  From here on out, lightly mix by hand until you feel it’s smooth and just perfectly in unison. Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly (remember, thin!!). Bake the cake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the top springs back when gently touched. Quite important, always make sure the entire stupid cake is done… oy.  More on that in a moment.

While the cake is baking, lay out a clean, thin cotton dish towel on a flat surface and sift the entire 1/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar evenly over it. (This will prevent the cake from sticking to the towel.) As soon as you remove the cake from the oven, loosen it around the edges and invert it squarely onto the prepared towel. If you’re like me, you will be overexcited about this and flip it with so much zest that it goes VHOOMP! And a big cloud of sugar filled the kitchen… I won’t deny it, that was awesome.

Peel away the parchment (aluminum) paper. This is when I noticed that one small section was still kinda mushy… and I wanted to cry, because I couldn’t put it back in the pan now… so after a few moments of whimpering, I trudged on, hoping for the best.  Because now the fun begins..

Very gently, roll the warm cake and the towel together (don’t press!) starting at the short end of the cake. Fold the edge of the towel over the cake and then begin to roll it loosely but not too big – it should make a good couple of revolutions.  Set aside and allow it to cool.

Now for the filling. Beat the mascarpone, confectioners’ sugar, and cream together for about a minute, until light and fluffy. Stir in the crystallized ginger (or ginger powder and sugar), and salt.

To assemble, carefully unroll the cake onto a board with the towel underneath. Spread the cake evenly with the filling. Reroll the cake in a spiral using the towel as a guide – this time obviously do not roll the towel with the cake, but simply nudge the cake along into a log-shape with the towel.  Remove the towel and trim the ends to make a neat edge. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and admire.

Unfortunately I wasn’t quite done, because part of it was still slightly mushy, but miraculously didn’t stick egregiously to the towel.  I simply laid the rolled cake back in the pan and baked it a little bit longer, until the portion seemed to stiffen up some.  Then I hoped for the best. I think because of the weakened soft area, my cake did break a bit in areas, but mostly it held together just fine, and I was massively impressed that I survived this experiment.

And thankfully the taste tests proved that it was a hit as well. It’s great to have a family so willing to be my guinea pigs.


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