This Lighter Pumpkin Roll is an easier, lighter version of the classic Libby’s pumpkin roll. It’s made with just a few ingredients but your guests will never know how quickly it came together! Includes step by step recipe video.
We are smack dab in the middle of September and Pumpkin Spice Lattes are everywhere.
I love September.
The weather is perfect, usually. It’s warm but the mornings and evenings are cool. The leaves are changing. It’s back to routine. And it’s my birthday month.
Am I making this Pumpkin Roll for my birthday this year?
Most definitely I am not.
I am actually — gasp — not a big pumpkin lover. I’ll try it, and maybe even eat one piece (which is me coming a long ways in the last few years!), but the rest is the husband’s. And he’s not mad about it.
Me? Fall is all about the apples, the cinnamon, and getting back to warm, cozy soups and stews.
But ever since the popularity of my Triple Berry Angel Food Cake Roll, I try to come out with a new variation every now and then.
This pumpkin roll? I’ve been dreaming up for months.
SO yes, you guessed it! This lighter pumpkin roll is made with an angel food cake and I dare you to give it a try! I know that the classic pumpkin roll graces a lot of Thanksgiving tables these days, but why not an easier and lighter version? Because the holidays are crazy enough!
How to roll a cake:
Making a cake roll is really not as hard as it may seem, provided you follow a few simple steps. Go rogue, and I can’t guarantee the same results 😉
- Start with a hot or warm cake. If your cake is cold when you try to roll it, it might crack, which is not the look you’re going for.
- Start with the right cake. Not all cake recipes will roll without cracking and hold their shape — you want to make sure you follow whichever recipe you’re using.
- Let the cake cool completely before unrolling. This is essential because it will help the cake roll to hold its shape when you reroll it.
- Fill, then gently roll the cake back up. You want to go slowly so you don’t have filling spilling everywhere!
- Chill thoroughly. If you want nice, clean slices of this pumpkin roll, you need to let it chill until it is very cold, which makes it perfect for making ahead.
Tips for making this lighter Pumpkin Roll:
- I use an angel food cake mix because making angel food cake from scratch is a little more labor-intensive than making a regular cake. This is the way I like to do it, if you’d like to whip up a homemade pumpkin angel food cake for this recipe, that will work, too.
- You will want to use pure pumpkin puree in this recipe, and not pumpkin pie filling. The cake mix has enough sugar in it without adding pie filling to the mix.
- Be sure your pan is large enough, and has high enough sides — you do not want oven spillage!
- I often get questions on my other angel food cake rolls (this Pineapple Lush Angel Food Cake Roll and this Cherry Cheesecake version) about substituting whipped topping for the filling. Yes, that’s totally fine, but I love me some cream cheese and real whipped cream, so I’m always going to stick with the original. Keep in mind that whipped topping alone is very light and may squish out more as you roll it up.
How to make this Pumpkin Roll ahead:
This Angel Food Cake Pumpkin Roll is easy to make ahead, and in fact, it’s probably better if you do. There are a few ways you can do this:
- Make the cake, roll it while hot, cover completely in a plastic bag or similar, and refrigerate up to 3 days before filling.
- Make the cake, roll it while hot, cover completely in a plastic bag, and freeze up to 3 months. To fill, let thaw completely at room temperature. Unroll and fill, then reroll.
- You can make the cake roll up until completion, cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours.
- You can make the cake roll up until completion, cover completely and freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours before slicing.
Lighter Pumpkin Roll
- 1 angel food cake mix dry
- 1 cup pure pumpkin puree
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 8 oz light cream cheese (1 package)
- 3/4 cup powdered icing sugar plus extra for dusting
- 1 cup heavy cream 35%
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (cooking spray helps to keep the parchment down on the pan).
- In a large bowl, whisk together the angel food cake mix, pumpkin, water, and pumpkin pie spice vigorously, until fluffy.
- Spread batter onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until dry in the middle.
- Dust a clean, lint-free kitchen towel with powdered sugar and turn the hot cake out onto the towel. Remove the parchment from the back of the cake.
- Roll the cake up starting at the short end and let cool completely -- a few hours in the refrigerator works great.
- Prepare the filling: with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, cream and vanilla and beat on high until thickened and fluffy -- it will hold stiff peaks when done.
- Unroll the cooled cake and spread with cream cheese filling. Roll back up carefully (no towel this time!) and place on a serving plate.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours until ready to slice and serve.