This Gingerbread Cake is rich and moist with layers of tangy cream cheese frosting. Festive and delicious, you’ll want to serve this sweet and spicy cake at your next holiday celebration.
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Gingerbread Cake Recipe Details
I love this Gingerbread Cake during the holidays. Not only does it taste amazing, but it also makes my kitchen smell like Christmas!
- TASTE: A sweet and spiced cake layered with tangy cream cheese frosting gives new meaning to “sugar and spice and everything nice.”
- TEXTURE: Dense and rich, this Gingerbread Cake is perfectly moist. The frosting adds a great balance to the cake texture.
- TIME: This scrumptious cake takes just under an hour to make.
- EASE: With simple ingredients, this easy recipe is perfect for the busy holiday season. You can also make it ahead to save time.
What You’ll Need
- Molasses- Make sure to get unsulphured mollases. The other kind with sulphure added, will have chemical taste to it.
- Butter- Melt your butter. It will result in a softer cake.
- Buttermilk – If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own by combining 2 cups of milk with 2 tabelspoons of white vinegar or lemon juice.
Add-ins and Substitutions
- Substitute homemade buttermilk- If you have none on hand, you can easily make your own buttermilk. 2 cups milk + 2 Tbsp lemon juice/white vinegar = 2 cups buttermilk!
- Add nuts- Try this recipe with a nutty twist by adding chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds, or cashews to the cake batter, or topping the frosted cake with some.
- Make this cake gluten-free- For a gluten-less holiday cake, substitute 1:1 gluten-free baking flour for the all-purpose flour.
- Add fruit- Dried or poached fruit, such as apples, cranberries, raisins, oranges, and pineapples, all pair well with this spiced Gingerbread Cake.
How to Make Gingerbread Cake
- Sift dry ingredients. In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cloves, ground cinnamon, and ground ginger. Set aside.
- Mix the wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix the golden brown sugar and unsalted melted butter using a large whisk. Then mix in the eggs, unsulfured molasses, and buttermilk, and whisk thoroughly.
- Add the dry ingredients. Now whisk in the dry ingredients and mix just until you don’t see any more patches of flour visible.
- Bake. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 3 (9-inch) baking pans with parchment paper and coat them with nonstick spray. Then split the cake batter between the greased pans. Bake them for about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean after being inserting into the center.
- Cool the Gingerbread Cake. Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool for about 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
Pro Tip: For layers that are level, help the cakes rise evenly by wrapping the pans in cake strips, which are just wet cloths that help the sides and centers of the cakes rise at the same speed.
- Make the frosting. While the cake is cooling, add the room temperature cream cheese and unsalted softened butter to a large bowl. Use an electric hand mixer to beat them until they’re whipped and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes).
- Add the vanilla and powdered sugar. Now add the vanilla extract and powdered sugar (the amount will vary depending on how sweet you want your frosting to be). Now mix everything at low speed until it is well incorporated and smooth.
- Assemble the Gingerbread Cake. Once the cakes have fully cooled, stack them with frosting in between each layer, leaving enough to frost the exterior of the cake as well. Serve chilled.
- Use unsulphured molasses- This is the one usually found in the grocery store and is made from ripe sugarcane and is sweeter than blackstrap molasses that contains sulfur.
- Melt the butter before whisking- Melted butter has fewer air bubbles than cold or softened butter, giving the Gingerbread Cake a denser, tighter construction.
- Buttermilk is important- Its acidity gives the cake a slight tang and tenderizes the gluten so there’s more body and a softer texture. Don’t substitute this with regular milk.
- Let the cakes fully cool- With a cream cheese frosting, it can easily melt and lose its fluffiness when stacked with warm cakes. Let them become fully cool so the frosting stays solid.
Sometimes cakes turn out dry because there is too much flour. Spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level it off with a knife for accuracy. Packing it into a measuring cup can often add too much to the batter.
If you only have 2 pans or just want a smaller cake, you can easily make this as a 2-layer. Just divide the ingredients by two-thirds and then split the batter evenly between the 2 cake pans.
This Gingerbread Cake tastes great as a dessert following a savory meal or served alongside other sweet treats and coffee.
- Holiday Entrees: Make this your dessert following Braised Beef, Garlic Herb Crown Roast of Pork, Juicy Turkey, or Mini Chicken Pot Pies (VIDEO).
- Cookies: Serve this cake with Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies, Linzer Cookies with Raspberry Jam, or Chocolate Dipped Almond Biscotti.
- Coffee: Enjoy a slice of this cake with hot coffee, or a homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Make This Gingerbread Cake in Advance
Make ahead: You can make this cake a day in advance and store it in the fridge until you are ready to serve it.
Storing: Store this Gingerbread Cake in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The longer it is stored, the drier the cake will become, however, so keep the wrapping close to the surface to avoid air getting to the cake.
Freeze: You can freeze this cake best in parts. Tightly wrap the cake layers once they are cool, then place them in a ziplock bag. Store the cream cheese frosting in the freezer separately. They will last for up to 6 months. Allow everything to thaw in the fridge or on the counter, then assemble and serve chilled.
More Tasty Cakes!
Full Recipe Instructions
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 3 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 Tbsp ground ginger
- 1 1/2 cup golden brown sugar
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter melted
- 3 eggs
- 1 3/4 cups molasses
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 16 oz cream cheese softened
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- In a separate bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups golden brown sugar and 3/4 cup unsalted melted butter using a large whisk. Then mix in 3 eggs, 1 3/4 cups unsulfured molasses, and 2 cups buttermilk. Whisk Thoroughly.
- Now whisk in the dry ingredients and mix just until you don’t see anymore patches of flour visible.
- Now, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 3 (9-inch) baking pans with parchment paper and coat them with nonstick spray. Then split the cake between the greased baking pans and bake for about 30-35 minutes. Or until a toothpick comes out clean after inserting it in the center.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool for about 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
- In the meantime, make the cream cheese frosting. In a large bowl, add 16 oz of room temperature cream cheese along with 1/2 cup unsalted softened butter. Use an electric hand mixer to beat the cream cheese until whipped and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes).
- Now add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and 5 cups of powdered sugar. You may need a little less or more depending on how sweet you want your frosting to be. Now mix the cream cheese frosting on low speed until everything is well incorporated and smooth.
- Once the cakes have fully cooled, begin assembling the cake by frosting in between each layer leaving enough to frost the exterior of the cake as well. Serve chilled.