By: Eleni Saltas
Some time after the first pilgrim Thanksgiving and the invention of microwavable pies, someone must’ve lost a pumpkin pie tin and created a pumpkin pie roll. This Christmas I wanted to experiment with a favorite Greek cookie, the melomakarona, and do the same. So voila! I present my version of the iconic Greek Christmas cookie made into a roll, with the outside cake layers infused with honey, cinnamon, and orange zest that you’d find in a melomakarona. Topped with a honey syrup and chopped walnuts, this roll is an elegant treat for Greek pilgrim’s everywhere.
3-4 hours (w/downtime)
For the cake:
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
- ¼ cup orange juice (preferably fresh orange juice so it’s not watered down)
- Zest of one orange
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup finely chopped walnuts (reserve ¼ cup for topping)
- ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar, for towel
For the filling:
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 2 teaspoons honey
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
For the syrup:
- ½ cup sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ¼ cup honey
Step by Step Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Using a 15x 10 inch jelly roll pan—this is not a standard size so if you don’t have that use a 11 x17 baking sheet—spray with nonstick spray or grease with butter. Line with parchment paper to the edges (it’s ok if you have some overhang) and then spray again with nonstick spray or grease (this helps the cake come cleanly off the baking sheet).
For the cake: Using an electric hand mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, and applesauce until smooth. Mix in the orange juice, orange zest and honey. Add the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt and gently mix in until combined—don’t overmix!
Spread batter evenly onto the baking sheet, reaching all corners of the pan. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until the top of the cake springs back to touch.
While the cake is baking, lay a thin kitchen towel (don’t use a fuzzy towel) or a flour sack (this is what I prefer) onto your counter. Sprinkle with ½ to ¾ cup of confectioners’ sugar. You need this so the cake doesn’t stick to the towel.
Once the cake is baked and ready, immediately transfer and invert the warm cake onto your towel. Gently peel off the parchment paper. Then, starting with the narrow side of the cake, gently roll the cake up with the towel. Do not tap or press down. Allow the cake to cool completely in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Meanwhile, make your filling and syrup.
For the cream cheese filling: With an electric hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add the butter, vanilla, honey, and confectioners’ sugar and mix beat until smooth. Set aside.
For the honey syrup topping: In a small saucepan, add the sugar, water and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the honey. Set aside and allow the syrup to cool completely.
Once the cake is cooled, gently unroll and flatten the cake. Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly on the cake. Now, gently but tightly reroll the cake (without the towel) and place on a platter or plate and place in the refrigerator again to cool for at least 20 minutes, or until you’re ready to slice and serve.
When ready, place on your serving platter, drizzle the honey syrup and top with chopped walnuts. *
Be sure to read through the instructions thoroughly before starting! I wrote a lot of notes to ensure your success.
*Alternatively, when serving, you can drizzle honey and nuts on individual slices. I’ve found the roll tastes better the next day, so I don’t add the honey until later.