We're right smack dab between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I thought it was high time I posted another recipe for holiday entertaining. These lovely rolls are a lot easier to make than they look. Freezing them is all part of the process, so they're a perfect "make ahead" dish to have on hand this time of year for those last minute gatherings. Just thaw and serve.
You'll want to start by making your filling, so it has time to chill just enough to prevent being squished out entirely when you go to roll the cake.
12 oz. Fresh Cranberries
1 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Orange Juice
1/4 Cup Water
1 Tbsp. Vanilla
1/2 tsp. Salt
Dash of Black Pepper
Wash your cranberries and take out any that have gone bad. Add them to a medium sauce pan along with the orange juice, water, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the berries pop and the sauce begins to thicken just a bit. Add the pepper just before removing from the heat.
Use a strainer to separate out the syrup from the cranberries before it cools and save both in airtight containers in the refrigerator.
Now to make the cream cheese portion of the filling...
Sweet Cream Cheese Filling
2 8 oz. Blocks of Cream Cheese (Softened)
1 Tbsp. Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Confectioners Sugar
Put all ingredients into a large mixing bowl and use a hand mixer to combine them until smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it back into the refrigerator to set up while we bake the cakes.
Pumpkin Spice Cake
1 Box Vanilla Cake Mix
8 oz. Pumpkin Puree
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Milk
2 Large Eggs
1 Tbsp. Vanilla
2 Tbsp. Ground Cinnamon
1 Tbsp. Ground Ginger
1/2 Tbsp. Ground Cloves
1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
Pinch of Salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease jelly roll pans.
In a large mixing bowl, beat pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and salt until well combined. Add milk and stir until combined. Add in cake mix and flour and mix until smooth.
I make a gluten free version of this by using a GF vanilla cake mix and my favorite GF all purpose flour, but it works fine with regular wheat flour too. For a gluten free version, simply up the temperature of the stove to 400 degrees.
Divide batter into jelly roll pans, filling each only 3/4 full, and place into oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the middles test done. Allow to cool for five to ten minutes.
Making the Rolls.
If the edges of your cake turned out crispy, trim them off. Lay one of the still slightly warm cakes on a clean, lint free towel or pillow case. (Make sure it's one you don't mind staining because some of the filling is bound to squish out onto it.)
Spread the cake with a thin layer of the cream cheese filling, leaving about a half an inch around the outer edges. Then use a spoon to drizzle some of the cranberry syrup over it.
Using the towel or pillow case to help you, begin rolling the cake from one end. Go slow, and don't roll super tight. If you rush or try to make the roll too tight, you'll loose all your filling out of the sides and far end, and you don't want that.
Once the cake is all rolled up, wrap it well with a couple layers of plastic wrap and put it into the freezer. Repeat this process with all of your cakes, and allow them to freeze overnight.
After the cake rolls are frozen, you can take them out, unwrap them, and put them onto a cutting board. Use a heavy, sharp knife to cut the frozen roll cakes into 1/2 inch to one inch slices. Serve thawed or wrap them back up, put them into a freezer bag with all the air removed, and keep frozen until you're ready for them.
The leftover cranberry syrup is actually terrific as a pancake syrup. It's still slightly sweet, but tart at the same time. The sauce with the whole berries is great with any kind of poultry, or you can use it like a tart jam or in other baked goods.