Where were Pumpkin Rolls when I was growing up? I had to wait until I was an adult before I found out about these slices of deliciousness! But I never attempted to make one until my friend, Paula C., made a Pumpkin Roll for a recent church supper. She not only gave me her recipe, but encouraged me to try to use it. (Like you, I've heard the horror stories!) But I followed her recipe TO THE T and it worked!
Before you start, you need to have TWO or THREE THINGS, besides the ingredients. You need 1 or 2 "non-nubby" dish towels, the smoother ones with the linen-like weave. (The cake will cling to all the little loops of a regular dish towel!) And you also need waxed paper. (I've heard parchment paper also works, but I didn't try it.) See the note after the recipe for why you might need that second dish towel. =^..^=
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a jelly roll pan (15 x 10 x 1"). Cover with waxed paper and grease the waxed paper, too, including the corners & sides. (I used a paper towel soaked in cooking oil.)
Beat the eggs with a mixer for 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for an additional 2 minutes.
Add all the other cake batter ingredients, EXCEPT the walnuts, to the bowl, then beat with a mixer for another 2 minutes or so, until well-blended.
Pour into the prepared pan & spread evenly. Sprinkle with walnuts, if desired.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until toothpick tester comes clean and the cake springs back in the center when lightly touched. (If you have a cranky oven, like mine, you might want to check a little sooner.)
WHILE THE CAKE IS BAKING, spread a dish towel over cooling racks and sprinkle about 1/4 cup of powdered sugar all over the dish towel. (See the note posted above about the kind of dish towel to use.)
When the cake is removed from the oven, quickly sprinkle a little powdered sugar over the top of the hot cake.
Then quickly turn the cake out on the prepared dish towel.
Carefully, but quickly, peel the waxed paper from the cake.
Starting on a short end, roll up the hot cake AND towel together.
Cool the cake (and towel) for an hour on the cooling racks. (In this photo, I've made a second Pumpkin Roll and both are cooling, wrapped in their dish towels.)
Set a timer for 30 minutes. When it goes off, put the cream cheese & butter in a mixing bowl to soften.
When the hour of cooling time is almost up, beat together the filling ingredients.
Gently unroll the dish towel.
Spread the cake with the filling. If the filling is still pretty solid, spread almost to the edges. If the filling is pretty creamy, spread to about 1 inch from the edges since the filling will probably squish to the sides when the cake is rolled.
Carefully roll the cake & filling off the dish towel.
Wrap the Pumpkin Roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before slicing with a serrated knife. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Thinking of making ahead & freezing the Pumpkin Roll? My friend, Lauren, had the following suggestion. "Just a little helpful hint for freezing~~ freeze the Pumpkin Roll unwrapped. When it is frozen completely, take it back out and wrap (in plastic wrap & aluminum foil). Then when thawing, unwrap as soon as you take it out of the freezer. This helps prevent the soggies."
NOTE FOR MAKING YOUR BAKING LIFE EASIER: A 15 oz. can of pumpkin is enough for TWO Pumpkin Rolls, so you might as well make 2. But for an easier time of it, prepare two mixing bowls. Beat the eggs for 3 minutes in one, then beat the eggs in the other. Add the sugar to both, then beat the ingredients in each bowl for 2 more minutes each. After that, all the ingredients are added to the bowls before mixing so it will be so much easier to measure each ingredient twice, once for each bowl. You might want to mix up just the first bowl & get that cake in the oven before mixing up the second bowl, especially if you only have one jelly roll pan. You could double the filling recipe & mix it up in one bowl, but refrigerate in between, if there are two baking times, then beat it with the mixer right before frosting the 2nd Pumpkin Roll.