Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Rolling Out the Holiday Cakes

November, December, January; three months full of holidays that bulge the waistline and begin a new year of promises to get back into shape.  Thanksgiving is the first holiday; we give thanks for our lives full of family, friends, good times and what else…food!  Of course, since October we have seen in the stores displays for, not just Halloween, but Thanksgiving and Christmas as well.  Sorry retailers, I am still one of those consumers who deals with one event at a time.  So, back to the Thanksgiving feast featuring, what was almost America’s national bird, the turkey.

Prices on turkeys seem to have sky rocketed in the 20-teens; with all the turkeys in the frozen section of supermarkets, this doesn’t seem to make sense with supply and demand.  According to the USDA National Retail Report on turkeys, whereas the retailer buys the turkeys at 47 cents per pound, consumers pay an average of $1.62 per pound.  Hold on, while I get the calculator and figure out this markup…Wow, almost a 250% markup!  Now add in the cost for stuffing, vegetable side dishes, biscuits and desserts; you would almost need a part-time job to pay for all of it. 

Honestly though, do we care about the cost?  When it comes to the holiday season, whether it is out of one pocket, or the cost shared by many, it doesn’t matter.  What matters is the coming together to celebrate, not just a Hallmark card moment, but the joy and love of being together.  Not everyone is so lucky to be able to do this; it is not unusual to hear about people inviting strangers into their home to share the feast.  Food banks and shelters hopefully get the donations and volunteers they so desperately need to help the unfortunate.  Yes, this is certainly a time to give thanks, “There, but for the grace of God, go I” might come to mind.  Then again, this isn’t mid-16th century England, you’re not sitting in the Tower of London and watching prisoners being sent to the chopping block.

Now that I’ve given your conscience a little nudge in the generosity department, let me liven up this article with a bit of sweetness.  Most typical Thanksgiving desserts revolve around the pumpkin, its delectable flesh obtained the canned goods in a store, or Halloween jack o’ lanterns cooked down.  Pumpkin puree is pure pumpkin, while pumpkin pie filling is presweetened pumpkin plus measured out spices.  The former is denser, while the latter is smoother and contains a higher liquid content.  If a recipe calls for puree, best to use it, or you’ll have to adjust for the extra liquid in pumpkin filling.  By the way, if a recipe simply states “canned pumpkin”, it requires puree.

No, not giving a pumpkin pie recipe, I’m rolling out Pumpkin Roll.  Making a rolled cake takes patience, and a batter that produces a cake which is not too firm, but not crumbly either; you need it to be pliable without falling apart.  You also need a jellyroll pan (a 15"x10"x1"); it sort of looks like a rectangular baking sheet, but with an edge around it. The name comes from the original cake that was made in it; a thin yellow cake with a fruit jelly spread onto it, then rolled...the jellyroll cake.   Another popular jellyroll style cake is made with a dark chocolate cake and a white cream filling, or what is typically called the Swiss Roll cake.  With this cake, there is the option of giving it a coating of chocolate or not.  For Christmas, a Yule Log cake is a Swiss Roll cake, covered in a dark chocolate ganache and decorated with a wintery theme.

Definitely use wax paper with this cake, not parchment paper, as it will peel off much more easily.  Also, use a lint free linen towel to help with the rolling; nothing is more unappetizing than to find cloth fibers in your cake or filling.  Thirdly, make sure you give yourself room to work like a large area of counter space, or even a table.  So let’s get to it....

Pumpkin Roll


1 tsp. each ground nutmeg and cinnamon
½ tsp. each ground cloves and ginger
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
3 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar to sprinkle over finished cake


Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking pan (jellyroll pan) with nonstick baking spray; line pan with wax paper and spray paper. In a small bowl, mix together spices. Mix sugar, flour, baking powder, 2 and ½ teaspoons of spice mixture and salt in large bowl. Beat in eggs and pumpkin until well blended and smooth; spread evenly into pan.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Place clean linen towel on kitchen counter or table; dust with 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar. Loosen cake around sides of pan with sharp knife. Turn out onto towel, wax paper-side up (do not remove wax paper); fold side of towel over one short side of cake, and then roll up cake jelly-roll style. Cool cake completely.

Beat cream cheese, 1 cup confectioners' sugar, butter, vanilla and remaining half teaspoon of spice mixture in medium bowl until well blended and smooth. Unroll cake onto towel; peel off wax paper and spread cream cheese mixture evenly over cake. Using towel, roll up cake and place seam-side down on serving platter. Trim ends of cake. Refrigerate 1 hour or until ready to serve. Sprinkle cake with additional confectioners' sugar just before serving.

Makes 12 servings.

Mary Cokenour

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