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I first learned about pumpkin rolls from a former employee at my bakery. She was from Pennsylvania, where she said that pumpkin rolls took her town by storm every fall. She said that if I sold them in my bakery, everyone would love them. So I did, and she was right.
There's nothing that out of the ordinary about pumpkin rolls. They're a simple roll cake, or jelly roll. And the flavors are pretty simple and homey, just a spiced pumpkin sponge cake with a creamy lemon cream cheese filling. But I guess that's the point—there's just something delicious about the combination of pumpkin and cream cheese. Take one bite and you'll be demanding several slices.
As simple as they are, jelly roll cakes (because they're often filled with jelly), scare me. When you roll them up there's always the fear of them cracking, and for me they usually do. Instructions often say to roll up your cake in a towel as it cools, so as to shape the cake into the "roll" before filling. To be honest, I've never found that to work (because you've gotta unroll it to fill it, right?) Especially with this version, with moist pumpkin added to the batter, I know that the cake won't be incredibly pliable. If handled gently though, you should get through it crack free.
I have a weakness for cream cheese and white chocolate, and it goes particularly well in this cake. When folded into the fluffy whipped cream cheese, melted white chocolate gives this roll a decadent spin, making it a perfect fit for the holiday table. A bit of lemon juice and zest balances the richness. And if you end up with some imperfections after it's rolled? A dusting of confectioners' sugar and a sprinkle of white chocolate shavings will come to the rescue.
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