It started with birthday treats for my son’s senior high class meeting a couple of weeks back. I was making pumpkin bread for the church bazaar and had some left over batter so I made pumpkin mini cupcakes.
The very next evening my son was having his football friends over to celebrate his birthday and asked if I would make a cake with Salted Caramel Frosting. So, I put a dollop of the salted caramel frosting on the cupcakes and they were a hit. One of the teachers said “This reminds me of pumpkin roll!” So, I thought, why not make a pumpkin log like a Yule Log? Hence the Thanksgiving Pumpkin Roll with fall leaves was born.
I used my basic pumpkin bread recipe. You can use your favorite or mine. Makes no difference. It can be loaves, cupcakes or pumpkin filled roll cakes. It’s a very basic recipe. You will need to vary the cooking time based on the pan that you use. It’s all included in my Pumpkin Bread Recipe.
Now to describe the frosting. The salted caramel frosting was made like your classic cream cheese, butter cream with the addition of dulce de leche. I sprinkled salt flakes on the top. The boys loved it; however, my son later told me this was not the Caramel Frosting Recipe of his dreams. I dug into my recipe files and pulled out a recipe I had requested from the Old Town Café in Warrenton, Virginia some years ago after a family trip to DC. This icing is like comfort food and I probably like it because it reminds me of my grandmother’s fudge.
For the leaves:
I thought, since it’s fall, maybe we don’t want chocolate leaves but rather fall colored leaves. Just to let you know, in my pantry there are many different things of the same category. For example chips. I have chocolate morsels, Guittard bittersweet and milk chocolate chips, espresso, butterscotch, cinnamon and white chocolate chips. Baking is never dull when you have these to add to any old muffin. Well, they happen to be all colors of brown –ishness so I melted cinnamon, butterscotch and white chocolate in separate bowls then sprayed some vegetable oil on the backs of some leaves, holly, mint and oak. Next I painted the different color melted chips on them then set them in the fridge while I finished the log.
When the frosting and the cake roll were finished, I spread the icing over the flattened cake, then rolled it up and stuck it in the fridge while I painted the chocolate leaves. After finishing with the leaves, I removed the log from the fridge and removed the tea towel. I set the log on a cutting board and trimmed each end on a bias (diagonal). Then I cut off one end square to be the top of the log and re- cut on the bias. Next I placed the log on the serving platter and frosted it using an offset spatula. I then took the squared off piece and put it top of the log and iced around it. Lastly, I took a fork and drug the tines through the icing to make the look of bark on the log. Finally, I removed the leaves from the fridge and gently pulled the chocolate away from the leaves and placed them on the cake.
The cake can be kept refrigerated for 3-4 days, if it lasts that long. This is a good recipe to make ahead 1 or 2 days. I made mine in 1 afternoon- total time was 3 hours.
You can do the same techniques with plain cream cheese icing or with the cream cheese/caramel frosting.
This year I’m grateful for my children’s friends they have made over the years. I hope that they continue to stay in touch with them and treasure them as much as I treasure my own friendships. Happy Thanksgiving!