Is Gingerbread Cake a new dessert for you? You’re in for a treat! This pillowy, moist, soulful dessert is softened and sweetened with sticky molasses and brown sugar, seasoned with ginger, cinnamon, and cloves, and topped with a thick, creamy, just-sweet-enough cream cheese frosting! My gingerbread cake recipe indulges all of your cold weather cravings!
These little squares are the perfect portion for potluck desserts — though, I won’t blame you if you want to keep the whole pan to yourself!
Anytime between September and January, they’re my go-to, pick-me-up treats that let me enjoy the season!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Light Brown Sugar – Dark brown sugar works, too, but try to avoid regular white sugar. Brown sugar is the key to a really moist, soft dessert.
- Sour Cream – You might be tempted to find some alternative, but sour cream is crucial for achieving super moist, tantalizingly tangy cakes.
- Unsulphured Molasses – “Unsulphured” just means that there has been no sulfur dioxide used to preserve it.
What molasses should you use? You can’t go wrong with Grandma’s Unsulphured Molasses!
- Ground Cloves – There are plenty of substitutes already in your spice cabinet!
Allspice, nutmeg, and even just a little more cinnamon give a similar effect. Don’t buy this spice if you’ll only use it once!
- Cream Cheese – Do yourself (and your wrists) a favor by letting the cream cheese soften at room temperature for an hour or so to make it easier to mix.
- Powdered Sugar – This is the number one best sweetener for icings. Granulated sugar is, well, grainy and really, really hard to mix into frostings.
Avoid liquid sweeteners, too — we don’t want to introduce new moisture that’ll thin out the mix.
Secrets for a Scrumptious Gingerbread Snack Cake
- Use the “spoon and level” method.
Baking is all about precision — getting just the right amount of every ingredient.
That’s why you should use the “spoon and level” method. Use a spoon to scoop the flour into the measuring cup, overfilling it by a bit.
And instead of packing it down, use a knife to carefully level the flour by gently swiping it across the top of the cup.
This is the best method for accurate measurements.
- Tips for mastering molasses in your baked goods.
Don’t be intimidated if you’re using molasses for the first time! It’s thick, it’s sticky, and it’s just what we need.
What you can do to make it easier is mix it with hot water (just a bit!). This will thin it out and make it a whole lot easier to mix into the batter.
- Other options for toppings.
I can’t advocate for serving gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting enough. It’s creamy and dreamy, and so so rich.
But not everyone likes it, and that’s okay! The best alternative is a light whipped cream (psst… it’s really easy to make this at home!).
Then, there are more seasonal options: pumpkin buttercream and caramel drizzle are tasty and great for this gingerbread cake recipe!
But you know what? It’s great on its own too — perhaps in the morning with a cup of coffee!
Storing and Freezing Gingerbread Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Because of the frosting, this cake needs to be kept in the refrigerator. Store it tightly covered or in an airtight container so it doesn’t dry out.
If you leave the gingerbread cake unfrosted, then it’s safe at room temperature for up to a week. Super convenient!
You can also wrap up this dessert in plastic wrap (with another wrapping of aluminum foil for good measure) and freeze for up to 3 months.
Thaw it overnight, and you’re ready to snack!
Kitchen Tools You Will Need
- Stand mixer or large mixing bowl with hand mixer for whipping up your frosting.
- 8×8 Pan – This recipe makes just enough icing for an 8×8 gingerbread snack cake!
- Measuring Cups and Spoons – You may be tempted to eyeball the amounts, but I recommend using the proper tools so it comes out just right.
Gingerbread Cake Recipe FAQ
There could be several culprits — overbaking or overmixing are the most common.
When mixing the batter, stir slowly and mix just until there are no more streaks of flour. You don’t want to overwork the gluten!
Then, use the toothpick test to check if your cake is done baking. Insert a toothpick into the very center and pull it back out. It should have a few moist crumbs on the surface, at most.
If you see wet batter, it needs more time. If it’s completely clean and dry, then get it out immediately and know that it might not be as moist.
Not exactly! Gingerbread refers to a range of baked goods — from cakes to cookies — that are flavored with ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Molasses is the most common sweetener, but honey can be used as well.
So while ginger cake (or gingerbread cake) are considered a type of gingerbread, they are just one of several concoctions featuring this combination of flavors!
So there are a bunch of kinds of cakes, right? Snack cakes are just one type!
Snack cakes are usually really simple sheet cakes with decadent frosting. Just one layer, just a few flavors, and just what you need for a quick bite of something sweet!
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
Other Fabulous Cake Recipes
For the Gingerbread Cake
- 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, spoon and level method
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- 4 tablespoons salted butter, softened
- 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8×8 inch pan with nonstick baking spray.
- In a bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar for 2 minutes.
- Mix in the egg and sour cream.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the molasses and hot water until mixed together completely. Set aside.
- In another bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, and ground cloves. Set aside.
- Alternate mixing half of the molasses into the batter, with half of the dry ingredients until all is incorporated together. Do not overmix the batter.
- Pour batter into the prepared 8×8 pan.
- Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake and let cool while you make the frosting.
- Make the frosting: In a bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla extract. Slowly, add in the powdered sugar on low speed until all is combined. Switch to high speed and beat the frosting for 2 minutes.
- Once the cake has cooled, frost with the cream cheese frosting. Slice and serve.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published November 2023
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