Gingerbread Cake

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This slightly spiced deeply flavored gingerbread cake has a delicious cream cheese frosting. It will be a delightful addition to your holiday table.

Overhead of sliced gingerbread cake topped with cream cheese frosting.

Ok so let me start by saying, I know plenty of you are NOT gingerbread fans. We won’t ever see eye to eye on this – I love gingerbread and all the holiday nostalgia that goes along with it. But if gingerbread is not your thing, I’m not here to force you.

I still think you should try this cake – something about the richly spiced cake with the creamy and decadent cream cheese frosting that works so well together. But if you have more of a chocolate cake, vanilla cake, or glazed lemon loaf kind of palate, then please, just jump over to one of those recipes.

For those of you who are not afraid of the gingerbread man, stick with me. This gingerbread cake is the kind of cake I really love. It’s richly flavored, not too sweet, and can be served any time of day. This spice cake is a treat for breakfast with coffee, for afternoon tea, or as an after-dinner dessert.

Have you tried my gingerbread cupcakes? With that scrumptious orange frosting? They’re so good. Here’s a tip – serve those cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting in this recipe. It’ll be delicious.

This recipe is a little unusual from a typical gingerbread cake recipe because it calls for the addition of freshly brewed coffee. It can be full octane or decaf, doesn’t really matter, but coffee adds a depth of flavor and richness to baked goods, particularly chocolate or deeply flavored ones (see my chocolate coffee bundt cake as an example).

The coffee coupled with molasses make this cake so flavorful, moist and delicious that it almost doesn’t need the icing. But, come on? A luscious cream cheese icing spread over the top of the deeply spiced cake. It’s just so good you guys. Don’t wait for the holidays to make it!


Recipe Snapshot

  • TASTE: Like the holidays!
  • TEXTURE: Dense and moist.
  • EASE: Easy
  • TIME: Under an hour

What You’ll Need

Ingredients

  • Sugar – Granulated sugar is called for in this recipe.
  • Eggs – It’s important to ensure the egg is at room temperature.
  • Vanilla extract – try making your own using this recipe.
  • All-purpose flour – Cake flour will also work with this recipe if you don’t have all-purpose. Use the same amount in weight measurements.
  • Cocoa Powder – Unsweetened cocoa powder, from the baking aisle, not the hot chocolate aisle, gives this cake a bit of flavor and its dark color.
  • Spices & salt – A cozy combination of ground ginger and cinnamon along with freshly grated ginger give this cake the spiced gingerbread flavor.
  • Baking powder and baking soda – Both are called for in this recipe to help the cake rise during baking.
  • Molasses – Molasses gives this cake flavor and moist texture.
  • Oil – To keep the cake extra moist this recipe uses vegetable or canola oil.
  • Brewed coffee  – Adds depth of flavor and moisture to the cake.
  • Confectioners’ sugar – Makes this cream cheese frosting sweet and creamy.
  • Cream cheese – Gives the frosting a thick and luscious texture and a tangy taste.
  • Unsalted butter – I don’t recommend using salted butter. Butter is used in the frosting. This must be at room temperature.
  • Heavy cream – Just a touch, to thin out the frosting.

Recommended Tools

Slice of gingerbread cake with a fork taking a bite out.

How to Make Gingerbread Cake

This gingerbread cake is easy to make, and will be ready to enjoy about an hour after baking it. To start with, preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour one 9-inch round pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Be sure to check out the full recipe and ingredient list below

  1. Mix the dry ingredients. Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, ground ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.
  2. Mix the wet ingredients. Whisk the coffee and molasses in a second large bowl until combined. Add the sugar, oil, eggs, and fresh ginger and whisk until smooth.
  3. Combine and bake. Whisk the coffee mixture into the flour mixture until smooth. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.
  4. Cool. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
  5. Start the Frosting. In a large bowl using a mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium-high speed until creamy and no lumps remain, about 2 minutes.
  6. Finish the frosting. Add the confectioners’ sugar, cream, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 20 seconds then increase to high speed until everything is thoroughly combined.
  7. Ice the cake. Spread over the top of the cake once it is completely cooled.
Dry ingredients combined in glass bowl.
Wet ingredients combined in glass bowl.
Gingerbread cake batter in glass bowl.
Gingerbread cake in cake pan on wire rack.
Cream cheese frosting in a glass bowl.

Handy tip:

This is a perfect holiday cake to serve at a brunch, luncheon or as a part of a dessert buffet. This cake can be frozen for up to two months. If you have the storage space in your freezer, make a couple of these cakes, wrap them in plastic wrap after they have cooled completely, then throw them in the freezer. Pull out to thaw the night before you are going to use them and make the frosting right before serving. No one will ever know.

Tips For Success

  • Coffee: You can use caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee. You can also use hot water in place of coffee if you wish to avoid it.
  • Cream cheese: Use full-fat brick-style cream cheese – the whipped kind won’t yield the same texture and the low fat won’t yield the same flavor.
  • Ginger: To grate fresh ginger, try peeling the ginger root with the back of a spoon. I don’t know why it works so well, but it does. Grate using a microplane grater for maximum flavor without a chunky texture.
Overhead of gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting

Storage & Freezing

  1. To store: Keep frosted cake covered tightly in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  2. To freeze: Frosted or unfrosted cake can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bring to room temperature before serving.

Gingerbread Cake

5 from 2 votes
Slice of gingerbread cake with a fork taking a bite out.
Deeply flavored Gingerbread Cake with cream cheese frosting is an easy gingerbread recipe that's a holiday favorite!
Jen Sobjack
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Serving Size 10

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 1 cup (130 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (120 ml) brewed coffee, at room temperature
  • cup (108 g) unsulphured molasses
  • ¾ cups (150 g) granulated sugar
  • cup (80 ml) vegetable oil, or canola oil
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon finely ground fresh ginger

For the Frosting

  • 8 ounces (226 g) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • ¼ cup (57 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 ¾ cups (210 g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Make the Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour one 9-inch round pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  • Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, ground ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.
  • Whisk the coffee and molasses in a second large bowl until combined. Add the sugar, oil, eggs, and fresh ginger and whisk until smooth.
  • Whisk the coffee mixture into the flour mixture until smooth. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.
  • Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Make the Frosting

  • In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium-high speed until creamy and no lumps remain, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the confectioners’ sugar, cream, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 20 seconds then increase to high speed until everything is thoroughly combined.
  • Spread over the top of the cake.

Notes

  • Coffee: You can use caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee. You can also use hot water in place of coffee if you wish to avoid it.
  • Cream cheese: Use full-fat brick-style cream cheese.
Make ahead tips
  1. To store: Keep frosted cake covered tightly in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  2. To freeze: Frosted or unfrosted cake can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bring to room temperature before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 356kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 55mg | Sodium: 256mg | Potassium: 280mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 45g | Vitamin A: 496IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 69mg | Iron: 2mg

The nutrition information provided is for convenience and as a courtesy only. It is not guaranteed to be accurate because nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator and input the exact ingredients and brands you used in the recipe.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

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One Comment

  1. I love gingerbread cake and looking forward to baking this one!