Bring out the holiday dessert flavors with this simple and easy gingerbread cake recipe. The cake spices are balanced with a cream cheese cocoa frosting for a Christmas flavor combination.
Growing up with a huge family the holidays were always a little bit extra. I LOVED it. You didn’t have just a dessert you had a plate to put ALL the desserts on.
My absolute favorite part of Christmas was sneaking chocolate candy out of my stocking when my mom wasn’t looking. We live far from family these days. When we don’t travel and its a small Christmas with just us or a few friends I try not to go too overboard. For me, that’s kinda hard so I try to make one big main dessert…just one.
Of course, I throw in candy but one main dessert. So, I wanted to try to make a cake that has most of the flavors of Christmas. Since we love gingerbread cookies in my house I decided to try a gingerbread flavor cake. Gingerbread spices go well with a cream cheese frosting, I added a couple of tablespoons of cocoa to make it taste even more like Christmas. You can’t have Christmas without chocolate…right?!
After a couple of tries, I think I had this recipe down. Or, at least I had my family asking if there was any more. To me the true test of a recipe isn’t if people say it’s good, it’s whether or not they look for more.
GINGERBREAD CAKE RECIPE TIPS
Let the ingredients warm to room temperature before mixing.
Take out the butter, eggs, and milk to sit a room temperature ahead of time before mixing. Usually at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven.
Preheat the oven when you take the cold ingredients out of the refrigerator. You want the oven to reach baking temperature before placing it in the oven.
Properly grease the cake pans.
This is what I do: Cut out a circular parchment paper that fits the bottom of each pan. Spray non-stick spray on the edges and bottom of the pan. Place the circular parchment on the bottom of the greased pan, then spray a quick spray on top of the parchment. This will help you remove the cake with ease and prevent the cake from sticking or breaking.
Once the cake is cool, I slide a butter knife around the edges to loosen. Then, tip upside down with your palm on the cake. You should be able to feel the cake loosen, place it over the desired surface, and lift the cake pan off the cake. The parchment paper should easily peel right off.
I used the reverse mixing method. This is instead of creaming the butter and sugar, then alternating dry and wet ingredients. To reverse mix you add all the dry ingredients to the mixer, then add butter and blend until sand like. Then you add 2/3 of the milk mixture and beat at a medium high speed for 2 minutes. I have been using this method a lot lately since it creates a soft cake.
My first idea was to create a cake that I could top with a variety of Christmas cookies. I kept making mistakes with all my cookies. Nothing came out right, Santa had googly eyes, the gingerbread men fell apart and my snowball cookies look like they were already in a snowball fight.
Basically, I gave up, let my kids eat all the cookies, and concentrated on a small little gingerbread house.
For the cake:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp fresh ground ginger or dry ground ginger
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tp nutmeg
- 2 tbsp molasses
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup light brown sugar packed
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar packed
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 tbsp vanilla
For the frosting:
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 8 oz cream cheese
- dash of salt
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup of heavy cream
- 2-3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 2-3 cups or more confectioners sugar.
- Let milk, eggs, and butter sit out to warm up to room temperature.
- Place milk, eggs, vanilla, fresh ginger, and molasses in a liquid measuring cup or bowl and whisk. Set aside.
- Place all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and spices) to a large with a mixer. Add butter and blend on medium-low until incorporated and the mixture had the appearance of a sand-like texture.
- Add 2/3 of the whisked milk mixture to the mixer bowl. Blend at a medium/ high speed for 2 full minutes. The mixture should lighten in color.
- Add the remaining milk mixture and blend on medium speed until incorporated.
- Pour into two greased 8-inch cake pans.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool completely before icing.
- Place butter and cream cheese in a mixer bowl and blend until smooth. Add milk, vanilla, and cocoa powder and blend.
- Slowly add confectioners sugar in small amounts until the frosting reaches the desired consistency. You may need to add more milk or confectioners sugar to get the consistency right. You want to be able to smooth it on the cake without it being too thick or too runny.
This is the gingerbread recipe I used for the mini gingerbread house topper.