The holidays aren't complete until you've made this amazing gingerbread cake topped with cinnamon buttercream and a mini gingerbread scene. This recipe also comes with a bonus recipe for a small batch of gingerbread cookies and a template!
Why You'll Love It
This is a delightful, fluffy cake that is packed with flavor. It is simple to bake and is a typical holiday showstopper. The cake is great for making well ahead of time, and it a lot of fun to assemble. You can make your own tiny little gingerbread village and spread the frosting so it resembles fresh snow on the ground.
It is packed full of gingerbread flavor and mostly uses ingredients you can easily find at your local grocery store. Both the cake and the cookies are great for making in advance and storing until you are ready to assemble, making your holiday plans that much easier.
What is Gingerbread Cake
Gingerbread cake is a delightful spiced cake that tastes just like those classic gingerbread cookies but in cake form.
We use a variety of flavors including molasses, cinnamon, and of course, a healthy dose of ginger. The spices are wonderfully warm and cozy, making it perfect for the holidays. You can pair the cake with many other flavors - a popular one being citrus fruit which are in-season during the holidays.
Many people will use cream cheese frosting, lemon frosting, or just plain vanilla frosting. If you are a fan of coffee, you can also try using a coffee-infused or mocha frosting (the frosting from my coffee cupcakes is really delicious here paired with the cake)
Personally, I love using cinnamon frosting because I prefer how the spice continues with every part of this beautiful holiday cake.
Decorating Your Cake
As you may see from the photos and the recipe, I am a big fan of turning this into a showstopping little Christmas cake. I think a cute little gingerbread scene is an adorable way to top the cake. If it is too much for you to make your own cookies, the cake is sturdy enough to hold a small gingerbread house you make with a kit. You can also choose to top your cake with decorative herbs or ornaments.
Let your imagination be your guide. Go as minimal or creative as you want!
How Long Will The Cake Keep?
This cake will keep for a considerable amount of time.
- The cake will last up to 3 days in an airtight container at room temperature.
- It will last up to 7 - 9 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- In the freezer, it will last up to 1 month in an airtight container.
Freezing Your Cake
It is possible to freeze your cake, but there are some things you should know before putting it in the freezer.
First, my preference is to freeze each component of the cake separately before you even assemble it. The cake itself freezes very well, and it is how I store my cake before I am ready to frost it. Simply wrap it tightly in plastic wrap before storing in an airtight container.
The frosting will do well in a freezer bag - what is great is once thawed, you can snip one corner of the bag to use it to pipe - who doesn't love multi-functionality?
The cookies also freeze well - but again, the mini houses do better frozen before you try to assemble them.
If you want to freeze the assembled cake, you can do so, but you will need to remove the cookies and store them separately. The frosting on the cake will also need to be spread better than what is in the photos I have here. My intention was to have the frosting resemble snow along the sides of the cakes, but if you want to freeze the layered cake you must spread the frosting like a typical naked cake, or frost it completely.
No matter how you freeze the cake and its components, you need to thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before bringing to room temperature.
How to Make Mini Gingerbread Cookies
The recipe makes more than enough to decorate the top of your cake, but with how cute these houses and gingerbread men are, it is impossible to say no to a few extras for your mugs!
While the gingerbread cake is fairly easy to make, if you are doing the cookies, I recommend doing them a day ahead, especially if you are doing the houses and are like me and aren't that good at putting them together!
How to Make Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cake
I made the cake originally with gluten-free baking mix. What is great about the mix is that it is a 1:1 conversion with all-purpose flour which means you can make this cake gluten-filled or gluten-free, depending on your particular needs! The same goes for the cookies. I recommend using Bob's Red Mill or Cup 4 Cup
If you want more holiday cake inspiration, try my Sugar Plum Spice Cake. If you need more gingerbread in your life (who can blame you), then try my spiced gingerbread men. My gingerbread scones and gingerbread bundt cake or other delicious options to check out too! If you're thirsty, you need to try this gingerbread hot chocolate.
Gingerbread Cake and Cookies
- 3 cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free baking mix
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup unsalted butter [room temperature]
- 1 cup brown sugar packed
- 1 cup molasses
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 1 ¼ cups milk room temperature
- 1 cup unsalted butter [room temperature]
- 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free baking mix
- ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup unsalted butter [room temperature]
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1 tablespoon egg I whisked an egg, then measured out
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
- icing for decorating optional
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and lightly flour two 9 inch round cake pans.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, spices, baking powder, and baking soda together and lightly whisk. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth, then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
- Add the molasses, then the eggs and beat well. Add in the ginger.
- Alternate between adding the flour and the milk to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Do not over mix, but keep the lumps to a minimum.
- Evenly distribute the batter to the cake pans and bake for 35 - 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it when inserted in the middle of one of the cakes.
- Remove the pans and allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- While the cakes cool, make the buttercream. Beat the butter until completely smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar and salt slowly, one cup at a time. Add the ground cinnamon and extract. (Note: You can use a tablespoon of ground cinnamon if you cannot find extract, but keep in mind, the buttercream will be darker in color. I wanted to only use a little ground cinnamon so the buttercream looks snowier.
- Frost the cake as desired. I simply placed half the buttercream on top of each cake for a classic naked cake look.
- Mix together the flour and spices in a small bowl and lightly whisk. Set aside.
- Beat together the butter, brown sugar, molasses, egg and vanilla together until smooth.
- Slowly add the flour to the wet ingredients and mix well. Turn out the dough onto plastic wrap. Shape into a ball and tightly wrap. Flatten the dough into a disc and chill for at least four hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll into ¼ inch in thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. If you want to make the little house I made, use this template I found online. Re-roll and scraps and keep cutting out cookies until the dough is used up. Work quickly as the dough gets soft very quickly.
- Bake for about 8 - 10 minutes and cool on a wire rack. Once cool, decorate with icing.