The Pumpkin Roll :: A Pandemic-Proof Holiday Tradition

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holiday baking pumpkin roll - Boston Moms

This holiday season seems to be the latest thing we can add to the “pivot” column. When I learned that Thanksgiving was no longer a safe social gathering, I heard Jo March from “Little Women” saying, “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents!”

The holiday season holds a number of family traditions that have been adjusted due to COVID-19. Most years, our holiday elves deliver family pajamas after we attend the Rockland town Christmas stroll together. This year, the event is canceled, so we’ll be venturing to the White Mountains to kick off the season.

Santa BabyLast year, we took an epic Santa photo with my less than enthused toddler at an annual Christmas brunch. That’s also canceled this year.

But on November 1, I turned on my NSYNC Christmas album and let my son Jackson listen to some holiday music. Today, we listened to “Jingle Bell Rock” half a dozen times in the car (lesson learned). It’s going to be a long two months, but he knows most of the words now!

My husband and I are also especially excited to start our own family tradition of watching “The Santa Clause” on Christmas eve, which he used to watch with his sister growing up, and “The Muppet Christmas Carol” while we open presents, which is a tradition in my family.

Despite the cancellations and virtual calls to come, one tradition that cannot be held back due to the pandemic is my family’s love of the pumpkin roll. This holiday dessert graces every holiday table, from Thanksgiving to holiday potlucks to brunch. The pumpkin roll is not only delicious but also travels (and freezes) well. My mother started making the recipe after a fellow Navy wife shared it at a party, and the rest is history.

Anyone who knows me knows I am definitely not a baker and tend to bake out of a box more than anything, but I can make this! It takes some practice (and I’ve had friends share their horror roll stories) but in the end, once you get it, you might just add it to your own holiday tradition list. Give it a try this year!

Pumpkin Roll

2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
2/3 cup pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling!)
1 tsp. cinnamon

8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
4 tsp. softened butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla

1. Beat eggs. Add sugar and pumpkin and beat until combined.
2. Add flour, baking powder, and cinnamon.
3. Mix until blended.
4. Spray a jelly roll (cookie sheet) pan with nonstick spray, line with parchment, and spray with nonstick spray
5. Pour mix into pan.
6. Bake for 10 minutes or until the middle springs back when touched.
7. Take out, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
8. Invert onto a tea towel sprinkled with powdered sugar, and roll! (Some videos online show scoring the end when rolling, which appears to make a tighter role.)

While the cake is cooling, make the filling!

1. Beat cream cheese with butter.
2. Add powdered sugar and vanilla.
3. Mix until creamy.

To fill:

1. Unroll the cake.
2. Spread the filling.
3. Re-roll, and dust with powdered sugar.

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