Because I believe that all holiday traditions can be improved upon, and because I've never been a fan of pumpkin pie, a number of years ago, I decided to try the recipe for Pumpkin Roll that is often on the label of the Libby's brand pumpkin. After one trial, this became a necessity, in addition to an old fashioned pumpkin pie, as my Father-in-law felt that it wasn't a proper holiday meal without it.
I must digress for a moment to tell you a bit about how I learned to make a jelly roll style cake.
Years ago, we attended a small country church that, like many churches, had frequent (very, very frequent) covered dish dinners.
Also attending this church was a wonderful woman named Millie...
Millie was a very outgoing, warm and friendly woman with a commanding presence...
and Millie was also the maker of the jelly rolls. She made the most awesome jelly rolls and brought them to covered dish dinners.
I was fascinated.
Like many things in the world of food, I sought to accomplish this for myself...
And I failed,
time after time....
And one day, after listening to my whining about how my 'rolls' always ended up with cracks and collapsed in a pile, if indeed they did not contain an actual dishtowel in the finished product, Millie knocked on my front door, with her arms laden with the necessities for baking jelly rolls and she walked right in.
I had a tiny infant at the time.
For round one, I nursed the baby and watched Millie perform her magic.
For round two, after ASSURING me that it was impossible to follow her directions and mess up, we made jelly rolls side by side.
If you're keeping count, we're up to three jelly rolls.
Then, she made me make a final jelly roll, unassisted, before she left me with the four jelly rolls and went home.
Today, and many days, I've recalled this afternoon as one spent laughing and being given quite the education about all manner of things that came in in the way of conversation. And I've never forgotten the secret to making a roll style cake...
and here it is.... For starters find the simplest recipe... the easiest one with the fewest, most basic ingredients.
Where the recipe calls for beating the eggs and the sugar, you need to beat the eggs and sugar WAY past the time that seems reasonable...and when you do, the texture changes and THAT, dear folks, is what holds the cake roll together.
The whole business of rolling up the hot cake with the prepared (lots and lots and lots of powdered sugar) towel is so much easier when the cake, with properly beaten eggs does not fall to pieces.
So, for Thanksgiving, I'll spend the afternoon before making this pumpkin roll, and I'll sit down and have a cup of tea while it bakes and remember Millie.
If you have never made a rolled cake, I'd really encourage you to make a 'draft' a time or two (or even four) before attempting it for a holiday meal for guests.
But I'd really encourage you to make one... life is too short, not to know how to make a jelly roll!
Pumpkin Roll with Cream Cheese Filling