Pumpkin rolls are a classic fall dessert, with their pumpkin spice flavor and beautiful spiral shape when rolled up. However, it can be frustrating when your carefully prepared pumpkin roll cracks and splits apart when you try rolling it up after baking. There are a few key reasons why pumpkin rolls are prone to cracking, along with some tips to help prevent cracks so you can enjoy perfectly rolled pumpkin roll every time.
The Causes of Cracked Pumpkin Rolls
There are two main causes that can lead to cracked pumpkin rolls:
The most common reason for pumpkin rolls cracking is overbaking. Pumpkin roll batter is very delicate. It needs to be baked just long enough to set the interior while still keeping the exterior soft and flexible enough to roll up. If baked too long, the entire pumpkin roll will become dry and brittle, making it likely to crack when you try to roll it.
Even a couple of extra minutes in the oven can cause the pumpkin roll to overbake. Be sure to watch the baking time closely and test for doneness at the shortest recommended baking time. Underbaked is better than overbaked for getting clean slices.
Not Rolling While Warm
Pumpkin rolls also need to be rolled up as soon as they come out of the oven, while still warm and flexible. If you let the baked pumpkin roll cool completely before rolling, it will firm up and become more likely to crack when you try to shape it.
Rolling while warm allows the pumpkin roll to be shaped smoothly while the cake is still soft and pliable. Be sure to have your kitchen towel or plastic wrap ready to roll up the pumpkin cake right after taking it from the oven.
Tips to Prevent Cracked Pumpkin Rolls
Follow these tips when making your pumpkin rolls to help prevent those frustrating cracks:
Watch Baking Time Closely
Set a timer and be sure to start checking your pumpkin roll at least 2-3 minutes before the minimum baking time. Better to slightly underbake than overbake. The pumpkin roll should spring back when touched lightly but should not be dry or form cracks on the surface. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read around 200°F when done.
Check for Browning
Keep an eye on the pumpkin roll as it bakes. If the top or edges start to get very brown before the interior is baked through, cover loosely with foil to slow additional browning but allow the center to finish cooking.
Have your kitchen towel or plastic wrap ready to go before baking. As soon as the pumpkin roll is done, gently loosen it from the sides of the pan and invert it onto your towel or plastic wrap. Carefully roll it up right away while still hot.
Moisten Towel or Plastic
Lightly dampen your kitchen towel or plastic wrap with water before rolling up the pumpkin cake. This creates steam to help keep the exterior soft and flexible as it cools.
Roll Tightly But Gently
Make sure to roll up the pumpkin roll fairly tightly so it holds its spiral shape, but avoid pulling or pressing too hard which can cause cracking on the surface. Roll evenly and gently.
Cool Completely Before Unrolling
Let the rolled up pumpkin cake cool completely on the counter, about 1-2 hours, before unrolling to prevent cracks. The steam created inside will help keep it flexible as it cools.
Fill Just Before Serving
Even after thoroughly cooling, filling and rerolling a pumpkin roll can lead to cracking. For the best texture, wait to fill and slice the pumpkin roll right before serving.
Tips for Making Pumpkin Roll
Follow these tips for delicious pumpkin rolls that both taste amazing and have an appealing spiral shape:
Grease Pans Thoroughly
Use butter or non-stick cooking spray to generously grease jelly roll pans or rimmed baking sheets before adding batter. This helps the thin cake release cleanly when inverted.
Spread Batter Evenly
Use an offset spatula to spread batter in an even layer in the pan. Spread completely to the edges to help prevent cracking.
Prevent Overmixing Batter
Only mix the batter until just combined and smooth to avoid overworking the gluten. Overmixed batter makes a tougher, more crack-prone pumpkin cake.
Use Correct Pan Size
Make sure to use the size jelly roll or rimmed baking pan specified in a recipe, usually 10×15-inches. Pan size affects baking time.
Check for Doneness
The pumpkin roll is done when the surface springs back lightly when touched, the edges just start to pull away from the sides of the pan, and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Sift Dry Ingredients
Sifting the flour, baking powder, spices, and other dry ingredients helps remove any lumps for a smooth batter and even texture.
Whip Egg Whites
For the lightest texture, whip the egg whites until they reach stiff peaks before gently folding into the batter.
Bake at Proper Temperature
Bake at the temperature specified in the recipe, usually around 375°F, for best results. Proper oven temperature prevents under or overbaking.
How to Fix a Cracked Pumpkin Roll
If your pumpkin roll does crack, don’t despair! You can still fix it up:
Trim Off Cracked Ends
Use a sharp knife to trim away severely cracked ends or edges after unrolling. This allows you to keep the central section intact.
Fill the pumpkin roll with a generous amount of cream cheese or whipped cream filling which will glue together any remaining cracks.
Patch with Filling
You can use extra filling to patch over any visible cracks on the exterior of the rerolled pumpkin cake.
Cover in Ganache
Drizzle the entire rerolled pumpkin roll with chocolate ganache which will smooth over the appearance of any cracks.
Decorate with Nuts or Fruit
Chopped nuts or dried fruit can also disguise cracks when sprinkled over the outside of the pumpkin roll.
Slice and Fan Out
For serving, cut the pumpkin roll into individual slices and fan them out attractively on a serving platter instead of presenting it whole in roll form.
Storing Pumpkin Rolls
Pumpkin rolls are best enjoyed fresh the day they are made. However, you can store leftovers:
Tightly wrap cooled pumpkin rolls in plastic wrap then foil and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
For longer storage, wrap rolls airtight and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before serving.
Unfrosted Rolls Last Longer
Plain pumpkin rolls without cream cheese or other fillings and frostings will store better in the freezer.
Toast Before Serving
Leftover refrigerated or frozen pumpkin roll slices can be freshened up by toasting briefly before serving.
Substitutions for Cracked Pumpkin Rolls
If your pumpkin roll is beyond salvaging, don’t fret. You can substitute it with another tasty fall dessert:
Pumpkin Bread or Muffins
Use the pumpkin batter to make loaves of quick bread or muffins instead. They make a delicious breakfast treat.
Bake the batter in cupcake tins for festive autumn cupcakes. Fill and frost them the same as you would a roll.
For a classic dessert, bake the batter into a pie crust for a perfect pumpkin pie.
Pumpkin Brownies or Blondies
Add the pumpkin batter to brownie or blondie ingredients for fudgy, fall-flavored bars.
Turn the baked pumpkin roll and filling ingredients into smooth, spreadable pumpkin butter.
Stir leftovers into pancake batter for fluffy pumpkin pancakes, great for breakfast.
Best Pumpkin Roll Recipe
This classic pumpkin roll recipe yields tender, cake-like pumpkin rolls that roll up beautifully every time. The key is to bake until just set, then immediately roll up in a damp towel to set the shape.
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 10×15-inch jelly roll pan and line with parchment paper. Grease the parchment.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves until well combined. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs and granulated sugar on high speed for about 5 minutes until very thick and pale yellow. Fold in the pumpkin, oil, and vanilla until combined.
- Sift the flour mixture over the batter. Fold together gently just until combined. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 13-15 minutes until surface springs back when touched lightly. Avoid overbaking.
- As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, loosen it from the parchment. Flip onto a damp towel and peel off the parchment. Starting from a short side, roll up cake and towel together. Allow to cool completely.
- Once cooled, unroll cake, spread with filling, then reroll. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.
|Prep Time||15 minutes|
|Cook Time||13-15 minutes|
|Total Time||1 hour|
What causes pumpkin roll to crack?
The main causes of cracked pumpkin rolls are overbaking which causes the cake to become dry and brittle, and not rolling it up immediately after baking while still hot and flexible.
How do I fix a cracked pumpkin roll?
Trim off severely cracked edges, fill generously with cream cheese filling to glue cracks together, then patch with extra filling. Drizzle with ganache or decorate with nuts or fruit to disguise any remaining cracks.
Can I freeze pumpkin roll?
Yes, pumpkin rolls freeze well for up to 3 months. Wrap them airtight in plastic wrap and foil before freezing. Thaw overnight in the fridge before serving.
How do I make sure pumpkin roll doesn’t crack?
Prevent cracks by watching baking time closely, testing for doneness early, rolling immediately while hot, moistening the towel, rolling gently but tightly, and cooling completely before filling.
Can I turn a cracked pumpkin roll into something else?
Absolutely! Use the batter to make pumpkin bread, muffins, cupcakes, or pie instead. Or incorporate it into brownies, blondies, pancakes, or pumpkin butter.
Cracked pumpkin rolls can be frustrating, but are often preventable. Bake carefully without overbaking, test for doneness early, and promptly roll up the pumpkin cake while still hot. This helps the cake retain the flexibility needed to roll smoothly and remain in a spiral shape without cracking. Use damp towels or plastic wrap to roll and steam the cake. Filling generously also helps any minor cracks stay together. With some care, you can enjoy picture-perfect pumpkin rolls!