Everyday I give thanks. For little and big things, like the butter on my bread. The wet nose of a fat grey cat. The voice of my mom, reassuring and kind. The squeaks and squeals of my wee nieces, when I walk in the room. The fit and feel of a sexy dress. The sky above and the ground below and everything in between. My hands and legs and knees and shoulders, who work so hard and are finally telling me to slow down. Coffee, with cream and honey (I can't quit you). A friend, cancer free. Warmth of wool, wrapped around my feet. Arms of my handsome man, wrapped around me. It's these things that make my life full - though hardly perfect. There are concerns and complaints that bounce around too. Sometimes I don't know how to deal. Sometimes I just bake a cake and do the dishes. Sometimes I just pick up the orange cat and dance.
Thanksgiving was this past weekend - always one of my favourite holidays. Mom's house smells like sage and kids run around and chase cats. We always talk about that time, long ago, when I came home from University for the weekend, and a huge blizzard snowed us in, making it impossible for me to get back on the Greyhound, back to my then miserable life. We had one extra day together, my mom and I, and we still talk about it, fifteen years later. Memories. I'm thankful for those too.
So while Mom made the turkey, and stuffing and gravy and all the other tidbits, I rustled up a little dessert. Last year's Pumpkin Tiramisu, was tempted to repeat, but then I thought about trying a new technique out. I've never ventured into jelly roll or roulade territory, so I gave it a shot and I'm so thankful I did. Once I got over the whole flipping-hot-cake-onto-a-powdered-sugar-splattered-tea towel, I was good to go. The combo of spiced pumpkin cake, plays so well with the maple cream cheese. And I swear it was almost better, three days later, when I licked the last crumb off my plate.
So let's go! The cake is quite simple - just a basic pumpkin sponge. I cooked my own pumpkin - a Cinderella variety I picked up at the farmer's market from my friend Wally, who grows all things awesome. I cut hunks of it, put it in a pan with a little water, covered with foil and baked until it was soft. Let it cool, scraped it from its shell, then mashed it through a mesh sieve to get the pureé. I strained it again, to get rid of the liquid. You want about 2/3 cup of cooked, pumpkin pureé. If you want to go the canned route - that's cool too. Baking the cake doesn't take long - only 13 minutes! Have a clean tea towel, sprinkled with icing sugar, waiting, then carefully flip hot cake onto it. Peel the paper, and roll the cake and towel together. It gets steamy and feels a little freaky, but it's normal. Let it cool on a wire rack while you bust out the Maple Cream Cheese Filling.
When cake is cool, carefully unroll.
Spread the filling, leaving a one-inch border. Let's talk about the filling for a second. I had too much. We all kind of agreed that there could have been more cake and less filling. I would skim off about 1/3 to 1/4 cup filling and save for another use, like bagels. It's maple cream cheese people - I'm sure you'll find a home for it.
Carefully roll the cake back up and wrap in plastic. Let it refrigerate for at least one hour, but the longer it sits in the fridge the better. (You can even freeze the darling thing, just be sure to thaw it before serving). Dust with icing sugar, cut into slices, and give a nod of gratitude to whatever little and big things that make you happy. Dancing with an orange cat, optional.
Pumpkin Roll with Maple Cream Cheese Filling
1/4 cup powdered sugar, to sprinkle on towel
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup pure pumpkin pureé, from scratch, or canned
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 tbsp butter, softened
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/4 cup icing sugar, for garnish
Preheat oven to 375*F. Line a 15x10 inch jelly roll pan, or bake sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. In the bowl of a mixer, beat eggs, vanilla and sugar until thick. Add the pumpkin and mix to combine. Stir in flour mixture until smooth. Spread the batter into your prepared pan, trying to get it as even as possible. Banging it on the counter a few times helps. Bake for 13 minutes. Sprinkle a clean tea towel with the 1/4 cup powdered sugar.
Immediately loosen cake from pan and carefully invert hot cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off parchment and roll cake and tea towel, tightly together, starting with the narrow end. Cool on a wire rack.
Using your mixer, beat together filling ingredients until smooth, but don't fret if there are wee lumps of cream cheese. No one will notice. Carefully unroll cake, remove towel. Spread the filling over cake, leaving a one-inch border so no filling escapes. Carefully re-roll cake, tightly but gingerly and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least one hour before cutting, but the longer it chills the better. Dust with more icing sugar, slice and serve. Serves about 10.