08 November 2009

Thanksgiving 101

Rick Rodgers has done several of these "101" type books. Thanksgiving was such a big thing in my family, that I have a hard time imagining anyone who can't throw together a turkey, dressing and pie. I forget that there are a lot of people who don't know exactly how to get it together. There are several basic cookbooks for this and Rick Rodgers' Thanksgiving 101 is a good choice.

I thought of this book because of a conversation I had with someone who never cooks. She mentioned a pumpkin roll thing (she didn't really have a name for it) but the second she started talking about it I knew exactly what she was talking about.

I don't know where this recipe originated, I think perhaps it is a standard "Libby's Pumpkin" recipe, but it has become a popular Thanksgiving dessert. As with so many things that have become "popular" this dessert had been subjected to many a horrific interpretation. So many times it looks particularly inedible. Rodgers has dressed up the recipe a bit, adding a nice "spiked cream" and some nuts. (As you know I generally have an aversion to nuts, but I do rather like walnuts so I am letting this slide.)

Pumpkin-Walnut Roulade with Spiked Cream

1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup (3 ounces) finely chopped walnuts

Confectioners' sugar, for sifting


Two 3-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger

Spiked Cream

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons dark rum or brandy, optional
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts, for garnish
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger, for garnish

1. To make the cake, position a rack in the top third of the oven and preheat to 375° F. Lightly butter a 10 X 15-inch jelly roll pan. To line the bottom and sides of the pan, cut a 12 X 16-inch piece of parchment or waxed paper. At each of the four corners, cut a diagonal slash about 2 inches long. Fit the paper into the pan, folding the cut ends over each other at the slashed to form neat corners. Lightly butter and flour the paper, tapping out the excess flour.

2. In a large bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer set at high speed, beat the sugar and eggs until light in color and texture, about 3 minutes. (The mixture should form a thick ribbon that falls back on itself when the beaters are lifted about 2 inches from the bowl. It must be stiff enough to support the weight of the dry ingredients.) Stir in the pumpkin and lemon juice.

3. Sift the flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cloves onto a piece of waxed paper. With the mixer on low, gradually beat in the flour mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan, being sure to reach into the corners. Sprinkle the batter with the walnuts.

4. Bake until the center of the cake springs back when lightly pressed with a finger, about 15 minutes. Sift confectioners' over the top of the cake. Place a clean kitchen towel over the cake, then top with a baking sheet. Holding the baking sheet over the cake, turn the cake upside down and invert it onto the towel on the baking sheet. Carefully peel off the paper. Place the paper back on the cake. Using the towel as an aide, roll up the cake and cool completely.

5. To make the filling, in a medium bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer at medium speed, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until combined. Gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar until smooth.

6. Unroll the cake and discard the paper. Spread the filling evenly over the cake and sprinkle with the crystallized ginger. Re-roll the cake (you won't need to use the kitchen towel) and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until the filing is firm, at least 1 hour. (The cake can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

7. To make the spiked cream, in a chilled medium bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer set at high speed, beat the cream, confectioners' sugar, optional rum, and vanilla until stiff. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a large open star tip, such as Ateco Number 5.

8. Transfer the roll to a long serving platter. Garnish the cake with swirls of the whipped cream, and sprinkle with the walnuts and crystallized ginger. To serve, cut the cake diagonally into thick slices.

Now, I know everyone (well, not everyone, but the ONE who gets stuck in the kitchen cooking all this food) gets rushed during this time of the year, but if you are going to the trouble of making a "homemade" dessert, do make it look edible! A last minute dusting of 10X can do wonders for cattywhompus jelly roll!

Check out Rick Rodger's web site.

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