Indulgent carrot cake roll perfect any time of year

Julie Falsetti

The Easter bunny has long since come and gone, but I am still fixated on a canonical spring dessert. Like pumpkin roll in the fall, carrot cake roll is a springtime favorite.

I did make a carrot cake roll over the holidays, but I wasn’t happy with the results. The cake part was heavy, with unappealing pieces of semi-cooked carrots. With a month of spring left, I decided to try again.

Because the cake part of the roll basically is a type of sponge cake, on my second attempt, I put some serious time into beating the eggs. I also chopped the carrots much finer to account for the short baking time. The extra care produced a carrot cake roll with a light sponge and a mouth-watering cream cheese filling.

If you’ve never made a cake roll, don’t be intimidated. It’s actually easier than a cake, as no fussy decoration is needed. When sliced, the pinwheel shape is both eye-catching and deliciously indulgent.

One piece of advice is not to skimp on the powdered sugar when dusting the towel. If the cake does have a few cracks when unrolled, don’t panic. A dusting of powdered sugar will hide all flaws on the final product.

Carrot Cake Roll

For the cake

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

3 eggs at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 medium carrots, finely chopped

1 batch cream cheese filling (see below)

1/2 cup powdered sugar for rolling

For the cream cheese filling

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

6 tablespoons butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Lightly grease a 15-inch by 10-inch jellyroll pan (this prevents the paper from slipping), and cover with a piece of parchment paper, leaving an extra 1 inch of parchment sticking up on both 15-inch sides of the pan so that you can easily lift the cake out after baking. Lightly grease the parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. In a larger bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs for 5 minutes. Add the sugar, oil and vanilla, and beat for 2 minutes more.

Slowly fold in the flour mixture by hand, being careful not to overmix. Fold in the carrots.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes, or until the top of cake springs back when touched.

Place a clean dish towel on the counter and lightly dust all over with powdered sugar. While still hot, using the parchment handles, place the cake on top of the towel, parchment side up. Peel off and discard the parchment. Dust the cake lightly with more powdered sugar. Starting at one of the shorter sides, loosely roll up the cake inside the towel. Place on a rack to cool completely.

While the cake is cooling, prepare the cream cheese filling. Using a mixer, beat together the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until it is a spreadable consistency.

When the cake is completely cooled, carefully unroll it and spread the cream cheese filling, leaving a 2-inch space at the edge away from you. Beginning with the edge closest to you, roll up the cake. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for two hours. When ready to serve, dust with powdered sugar.

Tip: To keep your cake roll from slumping into an oval, place it in a large cardboard mailing tube about 3.25 inches in diameter when chilling.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section. Reach her with questions and comments at