Operation Pumpkin Roll The Story and Recipe Behind Marchella’s Family Mission to Help Veterans
Growing up in a military family (my grandfather was a Marine, and almost all of my great uncles served as well), I participated in year- round veteran events from a very young age. One of my favorite memories was my family’s annual “Operation Pumpkin Roll,” which began every year after Veterans Day. Operation Pumpkin Roll was a large-scale operation in my family, and every person had their specific task in the process. The little ones were responsible for blending the pumpkin and the eggs, my brothers were responsible for measuring the dry ingredients, and I was responsible for putting the completed dough into the oven and adding the fillings once they were cool. After we completed a batch, we would wrap, press, and seal the rolls before setting them outside to cool — one of the benefits of Ohio weather! With this assembly line in place, we were able to make 10 pumpkin rolls at a time. On Sunday, we would pack up the completed rolls and take them into town to sell at the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Center, senior center, and Fraternal Order of Eagles Center. The proceeds we made went toward buying socks to make “diddy bags” for the veterans at the local nursing homes. Operation Pumpkin Roll was a fun time for the entire family; we all got to participate in giving back. As my daughter, Meila Ann, grows up, I look forward to continuing the family tradition of spending time together while helping veterans who sacrificed so much for us.
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 2/3 cup Libby’s 100 percent pure pumpkin
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
• 3 large eggs
• 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
• 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
• 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make cake:
1. Heat oven to 375 F. Grease a 15 x 10 inch jelly-roll pan and line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar. 2. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and granulated sugar until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts. 3. Bake 13–15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. (If using a dark-colored pan, check for doneness at 11 minutes.) Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. (“My family starts with the wide end for a more even ratio of pumpkin and filling!”) Cool on wire rack.
To make filling:
1. In a small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla extract until smooth.
Marchella and her family during Operation Pumpkin Roll in 2007
2. Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.
Libby’s Pumpkin Rolls (Makes 10 servings)
• Powdered sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
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