Pumpkin Roll by Ben Intentional

Pumpkin Roll

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Every year, in countries around the world, sponge cake is filled and rolled. It’s a thing. It could be the Ye Ole Yule Log or it could be a pumpkin roll, but whatever the case, it’s delicious, rolled, and a symbol of the holidays.

But it doesn’t have to be saturated with sugar.

At 1/4th the sugar as a regular one, and using our own pumpkin spice mix, it’s time to ditch hyper-sweet for hyper-flavorful. 

Less Sugar Pumpkin Roll


Dry Ingredients

Wet Ingredients

For the filling

  • cream cheese
  • unsalted butter
  • Canadian maple syrup
  • vanilla extract
  • kosher salt


Start by preheating your oven and setting your cream cheese and butter somewhere to warm. If you’re at all organized, this won’t take long.

Sift your dry ingredients together. Don’t fret if you don’t have a sifter, just toss everything in a bowl and give it a good stir with a fork. We’re just making sure there isn’t a clump of baking powder or something in the mix.

In another bowl, beat together your brown sugar and eggs. Don’t go crazy and make meringue, just get some bubbles going (you’re adding air and stiffness to your “cake”). After the beating, calm everything down and add the rest of your wet ingredients. Give that a good whisking before adding your bowl of dry ingredients.

Combine wet and dry ingredients. Don’t over mix.

Quickly pour into a 15×11 sheet pan.


Place on the middle top rack in the oven and set a timer for 4-minutes.

At 4-minutes, softly jiggle the pan. If the center is still liquid, let it cook for a few more minutes. Check again. If it isn’t liquid, you can (quickly and carefully) poke the top of the sponge. When it bounces back, you’re done. If your finger or whatever utensil you’re using to poke your sponge with gets coated in half-done cake, it’s not done.

When it’s done:

Remove from the oven and set a timer for 2-minutes. Use that tiny break to prep a clean kitchen towel. No, don’t use the crazy googly-eyes chicken towel your mom bought you last Christmas. Use a boring towel with a high ply.

Carefully flip the sponge face first on your boring towel. It’s like a belly flop for your pumpkin roll.

While it’s still hot (don’t burn your fingers, if it’s too hot, obviously wait a few seconds), carefully peel away the parchment paper. Aren’t you glad you didn’t forget to spray the paper with cooking oil?

Now, roll that bad boy. I usually leave a little extra towel on the side I roll so that gets tucked into the tightest part of the roll. Roll lengthwise to maximize the number of rolls you get (it’ll impress your friends).

Let that rolled sponge cool for 3-5 minutes. During that time you can make your filling.

If your butter and cream cheese is at room temp, you’re golden. If not, you can set it in your oven (ON A PLATE [in case you forget it and it melts]) or lightly microwave them. 

I’d highly suggest a hand mixer for the frosting, otherwise your whisking arm might be Popeye status by the time you get it to the right consistency. 

Once at room temp, combine your filling ingredients in a bowl and use a mixer to whip it up. Start slow (especially if you’re using a hand mixer) and then bring it up to speed. Really whip this stuff! Get some air in there! Go for it! Give your mixer a workout!

When you have nice fluffy peaks and no clumps of cream cheese, you’re done

Scoop the filling in a Ziplock bag or piping bag.

Unroll your sponge and squeeze the icing over it in nice, even rows. Embrace your inner pastry chef. 

After that, roll it back up. Cover it in Saran Wrap and put in the fridge

Ready to enjoy? Wait!

Top Tip: DON’T CUT YOUR ROLL UNTIL IT HAS COOLED FOR AT LEAST TWO HOURS IN YOUR REFRIGERATOR. Trust me. These things are soft until they cool. You’ll squish it and it’ll look sad and splatty.

You can decorate it with more filling, chocolate shavings, chocolate ganache… get creative! The world is your oyster… but, you know, like a pumpkin oyster. Whatever, you know what I mean!



Can I make this pumpkin roll gluten-free?

Absolutely. It works well with any 1-to-1 flour substitute.

Do I have to use maple syrup? Can I use agave for the filling?

Totally, actually, it’s a low-glycemic substitute, though I would recommend trying a tablespoon at a time and tasting. It’s quite a bit sweeter than maple syrup.

I LOVE pumpkin, how do I make this with pumpkin puree?

To make a traditional pumpkin pumpkin roll, simply substitute the same amount of butternut squash puree for pumpkin puree (bonus for using this homemade pumpkin puree).

Is butternut squash really better than pumpkin?

Better is subjective. More flavorful? Absolutely. There is a caramel sweetness to butternut squash (when roasted properly) that pumpkin just cannot touch.


Butternut Squash Puree

Pumpkin Puree

Pumpkin Spice Latte

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Pumpkin Roll with NO pumpkin

Pumpkin Roll

  • Author: Ben
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 1 Pumpkin Roll 1x


Pumpkin-less pumpkin roll with 1/4 of the sugar and twice the flavor!



Dry Ingredients

  • ¾ cup (180 ml) AP flour
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
  • 1 ½ TBS (22.5 ml) homemade pumpkin spice mix
  • ½ tsp (2.5 ml) fine-grained salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240 ml) butternut squash puree
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) lemon juice
  • ¼  cup (60 ml) brown sugar

For the filling

  • 8 oz (236 ml) softened cream cheese
  • 6 TBS (95 ml) softened unsalted butter
  • 1/4th cup (60 ml) Canadian maple syrup
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt


The Roll

  1. Preheat your oven to 350*F (176*C) and set out your butter and cream cheese so they have a chance to soften.
  2. Mix your dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, lightly beat your brown sugar and eggs until smooth.
  4. Add in the butternut squash puree and lemon juice and give it a quick whisk.
  5. Add your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients and stir until you can no longer see clumps of flour. It’s less stirring than you think.
  6. Line a 15×11″ jelly roll pan with parchment paper. GREASE THE PARCHMENT PAPER with cooking spray.
  7. Pour your mixture onto the sheet pan and spread evenly. The video goes into some technique on how this is best accomplished. Give it a few short drops on the counter to flatten out the mixture.
  8. Bake for 4-6 minutes until the sponge bounces back when touched. 
  9. Remove from oven and let cool for 2 minutes in the pan.
  10. After 2 minutes, carefully flip the sponge on a kitchen towel and remove the parchment paper.
  11. Roll the sponge with the towel and let cool (while rolled) for 3-5 minutes

The Filling

  1. While your roll is cooling, use a mixer to combine your room-temp butter, cream cheese, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt.
  2. Slowly increase the speed until you have fluffy peaks and smooth cream cheese.
  3. Schlop into a piping bag**

Putting it together

  1. Unroll the sponge.
  2. Pipe the filling onto the sponge (again, the video is a great way to glean some tips!).
  3. Roll it back up, cover it with Saran Wrap and put it in the fridge to cool for at least two hours.
  4. After two hours, cut off the ends and get ready to impress with your beautiful and delicious pumpkin roll 🙂



*Do NOT forget to grease the parchment paper.

**If you don’t have a piping bag, you can use a Ziplock and cut off one of the corners. Same same.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: pumpkin roll, pumpkin spice, butternut squash, thanksgiving, holiday dessert

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