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Vegan Pumpkin Roll

Vegan Pumpkin Roll

This vegan pumpkin cake roll is the ultimate fall dessert. A tender, moist pumpkin spice cake is rolled up with silky, whipped brown sugar ermine frosting. Top with a bit more frosting and candied pecans for a pretty crown and easy presentation.

Thank you to Williams-Sonoma Canada for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

pumpkin swiss roll on a white platter with a single slice cut

Cake rolls are a bit like an elevated version of a sheet cake in some ways. They serve a small-to-medium sized gathering of people, are simple to make but have a classic, show stopper look.

Also known as log cakes, cream rolls, and jelly rolls (when they contain jelly, of course!), dessert rolls are versatile. The sky is the limit for mixing and matching the cake and filling flavors. Despite their appearance, rolled cakes aren’t actually difficult to make. Once you get over the initial fear of rolling up a cake, making a cake roll is a really fun way to prepare a simple but showy dessert. This Vegan Pumpkin Cake Roll is perfect for Thanksgiving and other autumn special occasions.

To dress up my Pumpkin Roll, I featured it on a stunning scalloped marble cheeseboard from Williams-Sonoma Canada. It’s a practical piece, too, which is versatile enough to serve round layer cakes, cupcakes and other desserts on. And it goes without saying that it’s perfect for putting together a small vegan cheese or charcuterie board, as it’s intended. I’m a big fan of multi-purpose pieces, especially in our small space!

Slices of pumpkin roll on white plates in the foreground and the sliced pumpkin roll in the background
View looking down over a pumpkin dessert roll piped with ermine frosting and dusted with cinnamon

How to Make a Vegan Pumpkin Roll

I’m going to be a cake rebel here – I know that most cake roll recipes out there say to roll your cake up while it’s hot so that it sets and won’t crack. But I firmly disagree with this process, at least for eggless cakes, for a few reasons. It’s stressful, the beautiful sponge we’ve created compresses on itself (hot cakes don’t like weight on them even if it’s just their own from being rolled up) and they inevitably crack anyway when you unroll them to spread on the filling.

I’ve tested this recipe by rolling it hot out of the oven. I found the cake to be gummy from being compressed hot, and it cracked as I unrolled it to spread the frosting on. The key difference here, perhaps, is that we are venturing into egg-free baking. As equally delicious as it is, eggless baked goods can have structural differences from egg based ones. That said, after my own testing, I’ve spent a lot of time reading cake roll reviews (both vegan and traditional egg based ones), and cracking seems part and parcel of making a cake roll whether you use eggs or not.

The good news? Cracks in cakes don’t make any difference to how they taste, and they can easily be hidden with a bit of frosting or a generous dusting of confectioner’s sugar. Even better news? With the method I use, the cracks that may happen, do so at the inner part of the roll’s spiral which aren’t visible once the cake roll is completely rolled up.

Back when I shared my vegan chocolate yule log, I found success in simply sealing the cake in the jelly roll pan straight out of the oven without any pre-roll. This locked in the cake’s moisture until it cooled so it remained flexible for rolling. Once the cake was at room temperature, I spread on the filling and rolled up the cake without a glitch…or any cracks!

3 slices cut from a pumpkin cake roll resting on a white marble serving platter

Step 1: Make and Bake the Pumpkin Sponge Cake

Vegan pumpkin sponge cake is easy to whip up – two bowls, one for your dry ingredients, one for your wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into your dry ingredients, mix together, then pour into a parchment lined jelly roll pan and bake. A standard jelly roll pan is 15″ x 10″ x 1″, so it’s basically a cookie sheet with higher sides on it. In fact, I use a cookie sheet – its’ sides are about 1/2″ high but the cake ends up being about 1/2″ thick so it’s perfect. I’d avoid using a deeper pan though, like a large sheet cake tray with 2″ sides. It may be difficult to get the sponge cake out without tearing it.

While slightly overbaking most other cakes will yield a drier cake which may be forgiven with a generous smattering of frosting, overbaking can ruin a cake roll. As the cake overbakes and dries, it becomes more rigid and less flexible for rolling later. Start checking the cake at 11 minutes – it will be done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with only a couple of cooked crumbs. Remember that it will continue to cook once it comes out of the oven, as we’ll be sealing in the heat with foil.

Step 2: Wrap the Cake and Let It Cool

As mentioned, the second step for my pumpkin roll is a little less conventional. Most other recipes call for the classic towel method in which you roll the hot cake up with a towel (or parchment paper). Instead, I lightly dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar (to help prevent the cake from sticking to the foil), and then seal it up with foil which holds in the moisture, ensuring a flexible cake ready to be rolled with the lush filling.

Step 3: Make the Ermine Buttercream

You may have heard Ermine called boiled milk frosting, cooked frosting, or flour frosting . It is an old school type of icing which has the texture of a satiny whipped cream. Much less sweet than traditional American buttercream, ermine really is the ultimate frosting. It is perfect for thickly frosted desserts like this vegan pumpkin roll without being achingly sweet.

Vegan ermine frosting is easy to make, but a bit of planning is necessary. While the cake bakes, make the flour paste which is simply boiled plant-based milk, flour and sugar. This creates something like a really thick caramel texture or a thin pudding. Bring the flour paste down to room temperature by placing it in a bowl with piece of plastic wrap directly on top. This prevents a skin from forming. Once the paste has completely cooled, whip the room temperature vegan butter and slowly whip in the cooked flour mixture. This is where the name “Magic Frosting” makes sense – it’s the most lush cloud of silky frosting. It pipes well, too! Check out my Vegan Banana Cupcakes with Cinnamon Ermine for a delicious, pantry friendly dessert.

Step 4: Assemble the Vegan Pumpkin Cake Roll

Once your vegan pumpkin sponge cake has come down to room temperature and your frosting is made, spread about 3/4 of the frosting onto the cake. Roll the cake up starting on a short end, removing the parchment as you go. Wrap the cake roll in plastic wrap. Chill the cake in the fridge for at least a few hours or overnight before serving it. Once it firms up in the fridge, it will be easier to cut nice tidy slices.

Unsliced pumpkin cake roll on a white marble platter

This vegan pumpkin cake roll can be made a few days in advance and kept wrapped in the fridge. Within a couple of hours of serving it, unwrap it, pipe dollops of frosting on top and sprinkle with the candied pecans. Place it back in the fridge until serving time. Unless your home is really hot, the cake is fine left out for an hour or so.

More Vegan Festive Cakes:

A pumpkin dessert roll resting on a white platter with three slices to be served and white plates at the side

If you make this Vegan Pumpkin Roll, please give it a rating in the recipe card and leave a comment below! Follow along on Instagram where you can tag me in your creations using my recipes! You can also follow me on Pinterest for vegan recipe inspiration and on Facebook. Thank you for reading!

pumpkin roll on a white plater beside 2 small white pumpkins

Vegan Pumpkin Roll

This vegan pumpkin cake roll is the ultimate fall dessert. A tender, moist pumpkin spice cake is rolled up with silky, whipped brown sugar ermine frosting, chilled and sliced. Top with a bit more frosting and candied pecans for a pretty crown and easy presentation.
4.8 from 43 votes
Print Pin
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Eggless Cake Roll, Pumpkin Roll, Vegan Pumpkin Cake Roll
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Cooling Time:: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 32 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 546kcal
Author: Bronwyn

Ingredients

For the Pumpkin Sponge Cake:

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup plant-based milk
  • cup canned pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup neutral oil e.g. canola, avocado, etc
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • confectioners' sugar, for dusting

For the Brown Sugar Ermine Frosting:

  • 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cup plant-based milk
  • 1 ⅓ cups brown sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup vegan butter sticks not tub style, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

For the Candied Pecans (optional):

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pumpkin spice
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 cup pecan halves

Instructions

For the Pumpkin Sponge Cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 15" x 10" jelly roll pan with parchment paper leaving an inch or two on the short ends for lifting the cake out later. Lightly oil the sides.
  • In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, pumpkin spice and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the plant-based milk, pumpkin purée, maple syrup, oil and vanilla. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring just until combined.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan, smoothing out the batter to the edges. Bake in the preheated oven for 11-13 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean or with a few cooked crumbs on it.
  • As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, dust lightly with confectioners' sugar and cover the entire tray in aluminum foil, sealing the sides. Let come down to room temperature before frosting.

For the Brown Sugar Ermine Frosting:

  • Sift the flour into a medium bowl. Pour in the cold milk, whisking constantly. Pour through a fine mesh sieve into a small pot and place over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Add the brown sugar. Once the mixture thickens and is bubbling, cook another 2 minutes stirring constantly. Do not under-cook or the frosting will taste like flour and will not thicken enough.
  • Pour into a bowl and place plastic wrap directly over the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool completely to room temperature. You can place it in the fridge, but it needs to be room temperature when it's time to make the frosting.
  • In a stand-mixer with whisk attachment, beat the room temperature vegan butter on high for 5 minutes, scraping down the sides as necessary. Beat in the vanilla extract. Reduce the speed to medium, and add the cooled flour mixture a spoonful at a time. Once it’s all added, beat on high for about 5 minutes or until light, fluffy and silky. It will have the consistency of a thick, satiny whipped cream.

For the Candied Pecans (optional):

  • Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Set aside.
  • In a small skillet, whisk together all of the ingredients except for the pecans over medium heat. Once bubbling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 minute. Add in the pecans, stirring well to coat, cooking for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Spread the pecans out on the prepared baking sheet and let cool completely. Break apart once cool. Roughly chop half of them for sprinkling on the cake.

To Assemble the Pumpkin Roll:

  • Carefully spread 3/4 of the frosting evenly over the cake within 1 inch of the sides. Starting at the short end of the cake, roll the cake over the frosting firmly but gently. Keep rolling, slowly releasing the parchment paper as you go and using it to help roll the log over and down. When you get to the end, roll the log onto its seam and release the parchment paper. Roll in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 2-3 hours or overnight so that the cake and frosting firm up. If desired, place the rest of the frosting into a piping bag with a star tip to pipe a design on the top of the cake just before serving. Garnish with the candied pecans.

Nutrition Info:

Sodium: 390mg | Calcium: 178mg | Vitamin C: 5mg | Vitamin A: 2751IU | Sugar: 51g | Fiber: 1g | Potassium: 326mg | Calories: 546kcal | Saturated Fat: 5g | Fat: 28g | Protein: 4g | Carbohydrates: 70g | Iron: 2mg

Notes:

Ermine Frosting Tips :
If the frosting curdles, your frosting is too cold. Place the bowl over steaming hot water for 15 second increments. Try whipping again for a few minutes. If it does not feel cold to the touch, you’ve been whipping more than 5 minutes and the frosting is a bit steaky/curdled looking, add a couple of tablespoons more of room temperature vegan butter. If the butter is cold, it won’t blend properly and the frosting will split further. 
If your frosting is too soft and slouching, it is too warm either from handling or the temperature of the kitchen. Place the bowl in the fridge for 10-15 minutes at a time until it firms up, rewhip.
Make Ahead Tip:
The cake roll can be made a few days in advance and left rolled up in the plastic wrap in the fridge. When ready to serve, decorate it as suggested in the recipe, or simply dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve with a side of the candied pecans.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @crumbs.and.caramel on Instagram!

The Nutrition Information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the Nutrition Information for any recipe on this site cannot be guaranteed.

Recipe Rating




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Aubrey Morris

Thursday 2nd of December 2021

I have made this recipe 4-5 times now and LOVE the flavor. It is definitely a must-have holiday dessert for our family. Each time I make it though, my frosting curdles. I’ve read your tips for this and agree that my butter (I always use Earth Balance sticks) is probably too cold. This makes me wonder…how do you define room temperature butter? I was taught that room temp butter meant it is just at the point where when you push your finger into the top of it, your finger is just able to set in but the butter is still very firm. This is the basis I’ve used for this recipe but I don’t think that measure is working for me here. So for you, how do you measure if your butter is room temperature? Any tips or tricks? Or rather,roughly how long do you leave your butter out on the counter for before making this recipe? Thanks for your help!

Aubrey

Friday 31st of December 2021

That was very helpful, thank you!! I made it again today with your suggestions in mind and it turned out PERFECT. I used a thermometer to make sure the internals of my butter and flour/brown sugar mixture were both 66-67° F (room temp for my house), then I followed your instructions using a timer and the consistency came put looking just like your pictures. So delicious! The flavor is amazing and I’m glad to have gotten the frosting down now.

Sharing some tips here for others: I’ve had the best success with halving the frosting (personal preference), not covering the sponge with foil, adding the dry ingredients to the wet rather than vice versa (when making the batter), and whisking anytime the instructions call to stir.

Crumbs & Caramel

Friday 3rd of December 2021

Hi Aubrey! I'm sooo happy this recipe has become a part of your family's holiday tradition! As to your question - room temperature for me is leaving the vegan butter out on the counter until it's quite literally the temperature of the room so maybe an hour or two. It sounds like if your vegan butter is still firm, it is still pretty cold in the middle of the block. If your kitchen runs hot, however, room temperature will be pretty warm and the butter may even melt if left out for 2 hours. It should be ready when it's no longer quite firm when you gently squeeze the foil package of the Earth Balance. It will be very easy to beat and the emulsion should come together. The splitting is just the emulsion breaking but it can always be brought back with a bit of steam under the bowl and more beating. I hope this helps? Let me know if you have any other questions! ~Bronwyn

C

Thursday 25th of November 2021

Made the chocolate version and used the foil method, it absolutely disintegrated, but tasted great. Now I try the pumpkin roll but use the traditional roll while hot and it worked with minimal cracking, but after sitting in the fridge for 24 hours the cake completely deflated and turned to gum. Tasted great again but.... big texture problems.

Crumbs & Caramel

Tuesday 30th of November 2021

Hello! I'm sorry to hear you've had some trouble! Without being in the kitchen to see how things went, I would guess that with the chocolate log to fall apart a few different things could be at play - overbaking the sponge, under/over measuring ingredients, releasing the parchment too soon or not using it at all during rolling, the foil not sealing during the 24 hours and the cake dried out, the pan was too large, etc...And yes, I have experienced the exact trouble with rolling vegan cakes the standard jelly roll way with a towel - I think it's because vegan cakes lack the structure that egg heavy roll cakes have and so they simply compress when rolled. Hence my commitment to not using this towel technique at all to ensure a fluffy, tender cake roll. Please let me know if you have any questions, I'm here to help if I can! ~ Bronwyn

Kelly

Sunday 24th of October 2021

This cake tasted great and the ermine frosting tasted like a lightened caramel and was light and fluffy and delicious but it did keep separating/curdling even when I tried the tip to reheat it with steam it helped for a little bit but then would separate again which was annoying. I tried to cover it by dusting the cake with coca powder at the end. It wasn’t a big deal cause everyone still loved the taste of it and raved about the cake overall. I tried the recipe’s recommendation with covering the cake with foil after taking it out of the oven and then rolling it once it’s cooled and I don’t recommend doing that. Covering the hot cake with foil just held in the steam and made the cake super wet and then when I rolled it once it was cooled it still cracked really badly and that was after it had cooled in the fridge for a couple hours. Since I doubled the recipe, for the second cake I carefully rolled the cake with the parchment paper still attached to the bottom of it and then left it rolled up for 10 minutes so that it could hold that shape and then I carefully unrolled it and placed the frosting and this one rolled way better and didn’t have any cracks so I recommend doing it that way or whatever way works for you. Overall the cake itself was very soft and moist and almost mushy since it was a pretty wet cake because of the pumpkin, but despite the consistency of everything everyone loved the cake and the frosting and it got rave reviews. So if you don’t mind it being a little soft and mushy, the taste is really good and it did hold up as a roll cake.

Crumbs & Caramel

Monday 25th of October 2021

Hi Kelly! Thanks for sharing your experience with the cake! I'm glad you were able to make it work for you and roll it! As for the ermine frosting splitting on you, I wonder what brand of vegan butter do you use? I've had excellent results with Earth Balance Buttery Sticks and Becel Vegan Butter Blocks (the latter tasting the best) - these are higher fat than their spreadable tub versions. Ermine frosting is an emulsion of sorts so if it splits at any point and it's not a temperature issue, I would say it would be either a lower fat/higher water content vegan butter, an undermeasurement of vegan butter, or an overmeasurement of the vegan milk. If you make it again and run into the same trouble, I would suggest adding a tablespoon at a time of room temperature vegan butter (or shortening) until the the frosting pulls together (whipping very well between each addition.) I'm happy that you and your guests enjoyed the cake in the end! Thanks again, Bronwyn :)

Sara

Wednesday 2nd of June 2021

Will covering up the cake with foil while it’s cooling cause condensation and make the cake soggy?

Crumbs & Caramel

Wednesday 2nd of June 2021

Hi Sara! It's definitely not a conventional way of making a cake roll but, no, the cake won't be wet. It does lock in moisture so that the cake remains moist and very flexible for rolling. Once the frosting is on, it's a dream to eat! Hope you enjoy it! ~ Bronwyn

Amber

Thursday 4th of February 2021

Hello, is the nutrition information bases on 1 slice?

Crumbs & Caramel

Tuesday 13th of April 2021

Hi Amber, yes the nutrition information is an estimate for one slice if the roll is sliced into 12 pieces. Variance will occur with the actual ingredients you use, how accurately they are measured, etc. Hope you enjoy it! ~ Bronwyn

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