Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Holiday Curse

Let me share with you, all both of my dear readers. I have to tell you a secret. Well, two secrets, actually. The first one is that I really do not care for baking. Or cooking. There, I said it. I'll do it, but I can think of about 100 things that I would rather do.

The second secret is this: If you happen to know how to make something really yummy, do not let anyone know about it. Because if you do, you will be stuck making it for every holiday party/gathering/potluck/whatever for the rest of your life.

Since I had to make a couple five pumpkin rolls yesterday morning, and they didn't make themselves no matter how long I sat in front of the computer reading blogs, I thought I would at least try to make it a little more fun for myself by doing a pictorial recipe, P-Dub style. As it turns out, it's not easy to do this. You should probably have either a tripod for your camera, a friend over to take the pictures, or a third hand. I had none of these, so some of the pictures are a bit blurry.

Please forgive me. It will be worth it, I promise.

Now I'm going to show you how to make a pumpkin roll. And I blame the fact that I have to make these every holiday on my mother. She started it.

The cast of characters: Flour, granulated sugar, eggs, canned pumpkin, cinnamon, baking soda, cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, and a 20 oz bottle of liquid crack Diet Coke. The Diet Coke is not actually part of the recipe, but it was vital if I was going to make it through the morning.

Start by getting out your mixer. Thanks to my mother, I am fortunate enough to have a Kitchen Aid. Unfortunately, it's only a 4-quart bowl. You'll find out why this is unfortunate a bit later.

Dump 3/4 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar, three eggs, and 2/3 cup canned pumpkin into the bowl.

Then add one teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.

Mix these ingredients together. I know what you're thinking. Most normal people would use the paddle attachment here, and not the whisk. I would too, except for the fact that my paddle attachment has been missing for a couple of years now. I have no idea where it went. One day, it just vanished.

Mix until this is a nice, yummy pumpkin color. It only takes a minute or so.

Then take a cookie sheet, and line it with tin foil. Make sure your piece of tin foil is big enough that you have overlap on the sides. This will be important later.

Spray the lined cookie sheet with Pam or other cooking spray. My mother used to just rub a stick of butter all over it. That works too, but I've found that the spray is more convenient, not to mention less calorie-laden. Because at this point, we care about calories, right?

Pour your lovely pumpkin mixture into the cookie sheet, and spread it out evenly with a spatula, covering the whole pan.

It will look something like this. Slide this into a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. Yesterday, 13 minutes was just about perfect.

While your pumpkin mixture is baking, take a white linen baking cloth (I've also used clean kitchen towels before, don't tell, ok?) and sprinkle it generously with powdered sugar. I mean really...don't skimp here. There's no such thing as too much powdered sugar.

You can tell it's done because the edges will have started to pull away slightly from the pan, and they will be a nice golden brown. Don't mind the little hole in the middle there...that's where I stuck my finger to see if it was done. It will never show when we're finished.

Now this is the tricky part, and I could have taken a picture of this if I had a tripod, a friend, or a third hand. But I didn't. So grab both edges of the tin foil on either side of the pan, and lift your pumpkin bread out of the pan. You can do this when it's still very warm. Quickly flip the bread over and onto the sugar-coated baking cloth. Act surprised when you and your toaster are now covered with powdered sugar. Because you sprayed the tin foil with cooking spray, it should peel off quite easily.

Now, starting from the bottom edge, roll the bread up in the cloth like a jelly roll. Take your time and be gentle. We're going to let this sit rolled up for exactly 30 minutes. Don't ask why. All I can tell you is that I've tried less than 30 minutes, and I've tried longer, and neither one works out very well. Just trust me.

While our bread is rolled up and cooling, we're going to make the filling. Start with two 8 oz packages of cream cheese. The filling-making goes much easier if the cream cheese is soft.

Add one cup of powdered sugar.

Then two tablespoons of butter...

And a teaspoon of vanilla. If you are trying to make five pumpkin rolls in one morning, you may be tempted to double the recipe and make two batches of filling at once. While this might seem like a great idea, if you only have a 4-quart bowl, it is not a great idea.

This is why. I'll bet this never happens to Martha Stewart. Because she has the industrial Kitchen Aid mixer with the 6-quart bowl and the automatic lifter thing. Also, she's Martha Stewart. And I'm not.

If you make just one batch of filling at a time with your 4-quart bowl, it works much better. It also works better if you have the paddle attachment, instead of the whisk. Have I mentioned that my paddle thing went missing? If you want to know what to get me for Christmas...a replacement paddle would be great. For the mixer, I mean.

When the 30 minutes is up, unroll your pumpkin bread and spread the yummy cream cheese/powdered sugar mixture evenly all over it.

Then carefully roll it back up again, this time without the cloth. If you're lucky, the bread will not stick to the cloth, and it won't crack. But even if it does, the cream cheese makes a pretty good glue. It took some practice before I got to the point where my bread didn't burn, stick to the cloth, and rip in places. If you get it right the first time, more power to you. You can be Martha Stewart.

If you want the truth, this has taken me years to perfect. I'm a slow learner. And I don't like baking. When you're finished, your roll should look something like this. At this point, you should immediately cut a small piece off each end, just to make it look even and pretty. I only do this for aesthetic reasons. I certainly don't eat those ends that I've just cut off. No ma'am. Well, maybe just a little.

At this point, place your roll in a sheet of tin foil and wrap it up, placing it in the fridge for a couple of hours. They're much easier to cut when they've been chilled.

Hello, my precious.

For my office potluck, I sliced two rolls into about 3/4" pieces and brought them in that way. For Thanksgiving at my mother-in-law's, I just took the roll whole. Three of them. I am not allowed in their house unless I am bearing pumpkin rolls. That's how it's always been. On the bright side, that's the only part of Thanksgiving dinner I'm required to make.

Yum, yum, and more yum. Doesn't that look delicious? I brought these to my office yesterday, and the most frequent comment was, "Oh my gosh, these are awesome! You really made these?" Because apparently, I don't look like someone who can make...something. So here, pictorial proof, that yes, I actually do make these myself. But only when I'm forced to.

And when you're finished, I would recommend hiring a four-person cleaning crew to deal with the layer of powdered sugar that has taken up residence in your kitchen.


Anonymous said...

For someone who doesnt like to cook or bake, you did a very nice job, Shelly. For Christmas, you can make everyone a chocolate roll. It's basically the same thing, but will give you a little variety.

rideap8nt said...

I think you did a great job! I also have the 4 qt bowl and it just isn't big enough, and I wish I had a 2nd one sitting around. Sometimes I make a cheesecake that requires creaming cream cheese and then whipping whipping cream. Have to wash bowl in between.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

It looks totally delish. My Christmas Buche de Noel is also a roll-up cake and it does require a deft touch.

Lish said...


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for you lovely comment---PO-TA-TOES!---it's going to be forever stuck in your head. And I keep on hearing the same thoughts on Twilight, so I suppose I'll have to rent it when I need a good laugh next year. :)

Also, truer words were never said: "The second secret is this: If you happen to know how to make something really yummy, do not let anyone know about it."
I used to make my grandmother's english toffee and sell it to earn money for my HS choir trips, and around this time of year people STILL ask my mom "Is Christine making toffee this year?!" Yes I am, but not for you, haha.

Fannie said...

For a half a second I actually considered doing these myself. But as good as they look, I am much too lazy!

Czarniecki said...

Looks really yummy...not sure I have the patience for "baking" to that extent. Too many steps for me! I love to cook (and love cooking using P-Dub's pictorials), but baking is not my bag. I am going to forward this blog post to my sister--she likes to bake. Maybe I can get her to make it for me!!! hehe ;-)

Liz said...

Oh my goodness. That looks SO wonderful.