Baking triggers something in my brain that loves science and a good challenge. Alton Brown’s show “Good Eats” was a favorite when it was on the air because he would explain why it worked, on the molecular level, if need be, not just how to make something pretty.
As for the challenge part, oh my. I love figuring out how to do something I’ve never tried. This is a theme with me that goes throughout, not just in relation to cooking. But working closely on something in the kitchen is extremely exciting. Full disclosure: I’m a big nerd. I bought a pomegranate when they first appeared in the stores just to see how it came apart. That was a delicious day.
Sometimes the results of a new recipe are scary. (As in, I learned a lesson here and know what not to do next time.) But even when it doesn’t work, it’s worth it. Why? Because you get to eat at the end of the experiment. This could be why I wasn’t very engaged in chemistry class. There was no eating at the end of the experiment.
Long ago, before the Internet really took off, part of the fun in being in print media was the easy access to lots of recipes on the wire services. One day, I saw a recipe that would be a challenge and sounded delicious – pumpkin roll. Weirdly enough, it was from Weight Watchers International. I suppose if you slice the cake thin enough, it’s diet food. But don’t let that put you off.
I made it, it worked and it was an instant hit. The family began requesting it, which is when I knew just how good it was. When my mom developed a cinnamon allergy — bummer — I simply adjusted the warming spices. I suggest doing that with this recipe in particular. Sub the cinnamon back in, if you want.
If it doesn’t come out the pan in one piece, turn it into trifle. Nothing to stress over.
If you make it, I’d love to hear about it. Shoot me a message at The Salt Magazine on Facebook, and we’re always looking for readers to share recipes.
About 1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup self-rising flour
2/3 cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, lower-fat or full-fat variety
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a jelly-roll pan with non-stick spray and sprinkle thoroughly with powdered sugar. Dust a clean flour sack towel with powdered sugar. (Coat it generously the first attempt to be sure it doesn’t stick.)
In a bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar, flour, pumpkin, spices and vanilla. Pour into prepared pan and bake 15 minutes or until it springs back to the touch. Let cool 5 minutes. Loosen edges and invert onto the prepared towel. Sprinkle the cake with more powdered sugar to reduce sticking and roll the cake and towel together to make a jelly roll. Let cool.
For the icing, cream the powdered sugar, cream cheese and vanilla. Unroll the cake, spread the icing on top and reroll the cake without the towel this time. Transfer to serving dish and refrigerate until chilled. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving, if desired.
Adrienne McGee Sterrett, editor of Salt magazine and lifestyle/special sections editor at The Lima News.