The holidays are upon us, and it’s time to get dressed up. The silver needs polishing, the shoes need shining and the kids need scrubbing. Even our food gets dressed up, with stuffings and dressings, garnishes and twists. Nothing escapes scrutiny, including dessert where dustings and dollops are par for the course. And, in the spirit of fancifying, what is known as the ordinary cake roll becomes an elegant roulade at the Thanksgiving table.
What is the difference between a cake roll and roulade? you may ask. Well, nothing. Both terms describe a light cake which is rolled in a spiral with a creamy filling. Yet the blandly descriptive cake roll is what I might consider an afternoon dalliance. For my Thanksgiving dinner, I am inviting the roulade, a French term which elegantly and aptly sums up the nature of the dessert as the word itself rolls off the tongue. I want that dessert at our dressed up holiday table.
Language aside, there are other reasons to include a roulade on your menu. It’s elegant yet uncomplicated, remarkably easy to prepare with stunning results. It’s a no-fail recipe, which is a welcome relief during the holidays and frees up more time to dress ourselves up for the guests.
Pumpkin Pecan Roulade with Orange Mascarpone Cream
Inspired by a recipe from Ina Garten. Serves 8 to 10.
For the cake:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin or butternut squash puree
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus extra for dusting
For the filling:
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Preheat oven to 375 F. (190 C.) Butter a 12 by 9 by 1-inch sheet pan. Line with parchment paper. Butter paper and dust with flour.
Sift flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together in a medium bowl and set aside. Whisk eggs and sugar in a bowl of an electric mixer until light and thick, 2 minutes. Add pumpkin and vanilla; mix until smooth. Stir in dry ingredients until combined without over-mixing. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle pecans over batter. Bake in oven until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 12-14 minutes. Remove and cool on wire rack 5 minutes. While the cake is cooling, lay a clean kitchen towel on the work surface. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup sifted confectioners sugar. Invert cake onto the sugared towel. Carefully peel away the parchment paper and discard. Starting at the long end, carefully roll up the cake, jelly-roll style, in the towel. Cool completely on the wire rack.
While the cake is cooling, combine mascarpone, confectioners’ sugar, cream and vanilla in bowl of electric mixer. Beat until light and fluffy. Stir in orange zest.
Gently unroll cake on work surface. Spread filling evenly over cake with a spatula. Carefully roll the cake back up in the same direction, using the towel. Arrange seam-side down on a platter. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Cut in 3/4 inch slices to serve.