No-Towel Pumpkin Roll
Use This Skill On Other Jelly Roll Recipes

This no-towel pumpkin roll is very obvious that you don't need a towel or cloth to make a pumpkin roll. No kidding.

No-Towel Pumpkin Roll

Prep Time: 20 Minutes   Cook Time: 15-17 Minutes  
Total Time: 45 Minutes   Serving: 6-8

When I first read about the recipe of making pumpkin roll with a towel, my first reaction was, "Really?  Are you kidding?"

Then, I watched the cooking channel. A celebrity chef did the same thing. So, the first pumpkin roll I made followed the steps by using a towel. It bothered me. Seriously! It bugs me since I heard about it. I just felt so gross of the idea.  Even with a brand new towel, I still can’t get over it.

In fact, I have relatives that they hate the idea so much that they would rather not to make it. So, I guess I am not the only one.

Then, all of a sudden, I remember making a Swiss roll in grade 8 that we had never used a towel and it worked out perfectly. ....ding, ding, ding, ding....So, why didn't I give it a try?

There you go. Tada...I did it in the first trial. I am so thrilled to share this success with you. Once you did it, it will just ingrain in your brain. It is a skill that you
do it and forget it. When you do it again next time, you will just automatically do it.  No instructions needed.

The first time may take you a while to roll it.  Remember…practice makes perfect.  Once you know this skill, you can apply it in any jelly roll and cake roll recipes.

Usually, you will see the ingredient list first. But this time, I put it at the bottom because everybody may have their favorite pumpkin roll recipe.  Please feel free to use your own. 

When you are ready to roll the pumpkin roll, SKIP all the steps involved the towel or cloth.  And follow the steps below to make your no-towel pumpkin roll.

Before moving on, I want to introduce you some major ingredients and tools that may affect the outcome of this delicious pumpkin roll recipe.

All Purpose Flour vs Cake Flour

According Wikipedia, here is the difference between the all purpose flour and cake flour.

"...(cake flour is usually around 6% to 8% protein). According to King Arthur, this flour is a blend of a more finely milled unbleached wheat flour and cornstarch, which makes a better end result than unbleached wheat flour alone (cornstarch blended with all purpose flour commonly substituted for cake flour when the latter is unavailable). The end product, however, is denser than would result from lower-protein, chlorinated cake flour."

I did try using all purpose flour and cake flour on this recipe at different times.

All purpose flour is pretty much a staple in your pantry and convenient.  Cake flour is like a specialty.

Cake flour is definitely lighter.  If I use cake flour for this no-towel pumpkin roll, I add 1 1/3 cups instead of 1 cup all purpose flour.  Still, the batter and the cake come out lighter in weight and softer and airier in texture.

For the rolling part, I would recommend you to use all purpose flour as a beginner.  Once you are perfect in the rolling technique, switch to the cake flour.  The cake is softer to roll and easier to form in a nicer shape.

Roll It Lengthwise vs Width-wise

My husband's family loves pumpkin roll. So, I make it all the time, even it is not during the holiday season.

Every time when I make it, I try something different. I hope I can share all my findings and share my experiences and tips with you in order to save you time and frustration.

I have been telling you to do this no-towel pumpkin roll lengthwise. But I found that there are a lot of pros and bakeries roll it width-wise. So, which way is better? Does it make any difference?

Yes, it does make a big difference. So, let's find out.

First of all, let's get this straight.



  1. Lengthwise - the width faces you. You will roll the pumpkin roll along its length.
  2. Taste - rolling width-wise, you have more cake versus filling for every serving. If I put it into numbers, I would say that the filling is about 1/8, no more than 1/4, of a slice of take.

    If you have been rolling this no-towel pumpkin roll lengthwise, you would realize that each bite of cake has enough filling to give that burst of flavor.

    In my opinion, I am all about doing this lengthwise for the sake of flavor.
  3. Look - we know that we eat with our eyes. If you are a beginner, roll it lengthwise gives you the advantage to cover the flaw.

    The bigger the circle (a.k.a. the outer layer of the roll) as you roll the pumpkin roll, the less pressure the cake gets. That means it doesn't split, crumble or break easily. The more layer, the higher the possibility for it to cover the flaws.

    However, roll it width-wise, it literally only has 2 layers the max. The cake splits most the time.
  4. Ease of Rolling - if you are a beginner of making pumpkin roll, I would highly recommend you to try it lengthwise.

    It is because both of your hands stay close enough to manage of the rolling process. If you do it the other way round, you may risk of breaking the cake into half during the process.
  1. Width-wise - the length faces you and you will roll it along its width.
  2. Serving - I have been rolling the pumpkin roll lengthwise. When I tried to do it width-wise, I was shocked how much the difference it makes. With everything the same, rolling the pumpkin roll width-wise gives you almost double quantity of servings.

    If you need to feed a big crowd, go for it.
Gingerbread RollThis is the Gingerbread Roll I made by rolling it width-wise. Compare the picture on top of the page, you can see the difference,

Overall, I still love to roll this no-towel pumpkin roll lengthwise mainly because of its taste. But please feel free to pick the best way to fulfill your needs.

I would love to hear from you which is your preferred way to roll the pumpkin roll and the reasons behind it.  Please share with me.

Wax Paper vs Parchment Paper

I have been using wax paper to make this no-towel pumpkin roll since I gave up that "stinking" towel.  Until one day, when I needed to make another one again, I realized that I ran out of wax paper.

Instead of going to the supermarket late in the evening, I decided to use parchment paper. are my discoveries:

Wax Paper

  1. Very flexible that as soon as you pour the batter, it forms the shape of the baking sheet.
  2. When you open the oven door to get the cake out, you can smell the wax which is not a good smell either.
  3. After the cake is cooked, the paper feels much softer.  If you are not careful enough, you can break the paper and mess up the whole rolling process.
  4. Lower in price

Parchment Paper

  1. Very sturdy that a stubborn corner could mold your sheet cake into a different shape.  But it usually happens at the edges where you will trim them off after rolling the no-towel pumpkin roll.
  2. Unlike wax paper, no smell at all.
  3. Since it is very sturdy, it gives you a big advantage to roll the cake.  The pressure leverages from the parchment paper is incredible.
  4. If you are going to roll this cake roll width-wise, you definitely need parchment paper to leverage its sturdiness.

In conclusion, you can either use wax paper or parchment paper.  It depends on your comfortable level.  Each has its own disadvantages and advantages.

Now, we covered the flour and the baking paper.  Are you ready?  Let's make this delicious no-towel pumpkin roll.  ENJOY!

Line Baking Sheet with Wax / Parchment Paper For No-Towel Pumpkin Roll

Line half of a baking sheet width wise with a piece of wax or parchment paperLine half of a baking sheet width wise with a piece of wax or parchment paper
Overlapping another piece of wax or parchment paper on the other half of the baking sheet width wiseOverlapping another piece of wax or parchment paper on the other half of the baking sheet width wise
Line the 3rd piece of wax or parchment paper lengthwise on the baking sheet which is on top of the previous 2 pieces of paperLine the 3rd piece of wax or parchment paper lengthwise on the baking sheet which is on top of the previous 2 pieces of paper
Make sure there is at least 2Make sure there is at least 2" extra overhang on either side of the wax or parchment paper lengthwise
When you coat the cooking spray on top of the wax paper, it will form the shape of the baking sheet (Parchment paper needs a bit of finger tugging though)When you coat the cooking spray on top of the wax paper, it will form the shape of the baking sheet (Parchment paper needs a bit of finger tugging though)

How To Roll A No-Towel Pumpkin Roll?

  • Line wax paper or parchment paper on 15 x 10" baking sheet ( I use the 17 x 12")
  • Line 2 wax paper on the baking sheet width wise overlapping with each other. Allow about 1-1/2" extra on the edges
  • Line another piece of wax paper on top lengthwise. Allow about 2" on either end
Line the wax or parchment paper
  • Coat the paper with cooking spray and lightly dust with flour.
  • Pour the pumpkin roll batter into the paper lined baking sheet and spread it evenly with a butter knife
Pour the batter into the paper lined baking sheet
  • Bake the cake as instructed in the recipe
  • After the cake came out of the oven, leave it cool in room temperature. Do NOT do anything other than preparing the filling
  • After the cake is completely cool (about 30-60 minutes), spread the filling evenly with a butter knife on the cake
  • Make sure to leave about half an inch around the cake without filling
Spread the cream cheese evenly on the cake
  • Put the sheet of cake with the filling in front of you lengthwise and nothing around the baking sheet and you to block your movement of rolling this no-towel pumpkin roll
  • Put a kitchen towel, a wet paper towel or a couple pot holders under the baking sheet.  (This will stop the sheet sliding on the counter while you are rolling the pumpkin roll)
  • Hold the edge of the wax paper in front of you
  • Before doing anything, try to have a grasp of your hold of the paper that you won't slip
  • As you roll, the paper will start peeling off. So, don't worry about peeling the paper at this time
  • When you start rolling up the first 2 inches or so, use the paper to help you to apply the pressure on the roll to fold it
    This is the most IMPORTANT step to make the pumpkin roll forms
The first 2 inches roll-up is the most important step.  Press it hard to make it stick.
  • Once that little section of the roll folded and sticks together, hold on to the edge of the paper and keep rolling by using the paper and your hand movement to push it forward
Hold on to the paper and start rolling this no-towel pumpkin roll
The paper will continue to peel off with the forward movement
  • The paper will continue to peel off with the forward movement
The paper will continue to peel off with the forward movement
The paper will continue to peel off with the forward movement
  • Once the pumpkin roll is formed, apply the pressure and squeeze the roll lightly to help its shape forming
Once the pumpkin roll is formed, apply the pressure and squeeze the roll lightly to help its shape forming
  • Trim both ends where there is no filling
  • Cover the roll with the plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 4 hours
  • Dust with powder sugar (optional) and serve

Once you have the grasp of these steps, you not only can discard the towel, but also it will become your instinct of making pumpkin roll or other cake rolls.

The recipe below is a twisted one from the Libby's pumpkin roll. Unlike the original recipe, you will use the whole can of pumpkin. You don't need to worry about what you are going to do with the leftover.

A raw video clip that I made last year to roll a pumpkin roll with wax paper. For more step by step instructions of how...

Posted by Easy Dinner Ideas on Wednesday, November 25, 2015

No-Towel Pumpkin Roll Recipe

No-Towel Pumpkin Roll

For Cake Only

1 Cup All-Purpose Flour or 1 1/3 Cups Cake Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1-15 ounces can pumpkin purée

For Filling Only

1-8 ounces cream cheese in room temperature
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
6 tablespoons butter in room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar

  1. Preheat oven at 375F
  2. Line wax paper on 15 x 10" baking sheet ( I use the 17 x 12") as above
  3. Grease and flour the wax paper
  4. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a small bowl
  5. Beat eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl until thick
  6. Beat in pumpkin
  7. Stir in flour mixture
  8. Spread evenly into prepared baking pan lined with wax paper or parchment paper
  9. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched
  10. Let it cool completely in room temperature before putting the filling on top
  11. For filling, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixing bowl until smooth
  12. Spread evenly on the cake and leave about 1/2" around the edge without the filling
  13. Follow the instructions to roll the no-towel pumpkin roll
  14. Wrap in plastics wrap and refrigerate at least one hour
  15. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired before serving

A Recipe Keepsake Plate
A Recipe Keepsake Plate
by MyTwist

Use this plate to serve this delicious pumpkin roll.  Let everybody to find out your recipe at the bottom of this plate.  Yes, you can customize it.

My Amazon Picks

Baking Sheet, 12-inch by 17-inch
4", 6" & 8" Stainless Steel Cake Spatula Variety Set

3 Mains Reasons Why Your Pumpkin Roll Cracks

These are the main 3 reasons why your pumpkin roll cracks.

Inner Roll Foundation Is Missing

When you first roll the cake, press it a little bit harder to let the very first section of the cake and filling stick together tightly.  That’s your foundation as you keep rolling.  The tighter the core, the better the shape of your pumpkin roll will come out and lower probability to split or crack on you.

Cake Was Too Dry To Roll

I don't roll my cake when it is warm.  I tried that method like many recipes out there and it never worked.  The cake cracked.  And when I unrolled it, it kept rolling back on me while I tried to put the filling on the cake.

I only roll my cake after it cools down.  I leave it in room temperature for about an hour after coming out of the oven.  Room temperature inside my house is around 68F.  Adjust the time accordingly.  Leave it too long will be too dry.

Baking Soda and/or Baking Powder Expired

Are both your baking soda and baking powder expired?  These 2 play a very significant roles in your pumpkin roll.  Little do you expect that these 2 ingredients will affect the cake texture which result to your success of a perfect cake roll.

You May Also Be Interested In:

Dessert Recipes

One-Pot Pumpkin Turkey Pasta

Pumpkin Spice Bread

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