Last gingerbread recipe for 2014, cross my heart. I know I have gone slightly gingerbread crazy lately but ’tis the season. And gingerbread in cake form is worth both the effort and the calories. This cake was made for my son’s nursery and I was madly scrambling to finish it and photograph it before having to deliver it (with a slice missing – I know, terrible, but they are used to my ways).
It was my son’s last nursery Christmas ‘play’ (I use that term very loosely) and there he was dressed in a crusader costume (not sure why – suspect it was simply available) singing Frosty the Snowman together with other slightly stunned kidlets. They were heartbreakingly cute. I am so proud of Sam – he didn’t burst into tears and run into my arms but stood his ground and took his bows like a pro.
The cake was a big hit – solidifying my ‘cake lady’ status at nursery. And it is actually so easy to make, fluffy, Christmassy and delicious. I couldn’t resist topping it with the gingerbread cookies but I think the meringue kisses are my new favourite cake decor. You can make a large batch and keep them in an airtight tin for decorating emergencies. I have made this cake using fresh ginger (grated) instead of the candied ginger and also stem ginger.
They give slightly different results – the fresh ginger definitely gives a very strong taste which wasn’t terribly popular with my kids. If you can find stem ginger in syrup (try Opies Stem Ginger in Syrup) you can also add a tablespoon of the syrup in the frosting. If you aren’t a big fan of ginger replace with caramel sauce – it goes really well with the flavours of the cake.
- For the gingerbread cake
- Dry ingredients
- 350 g | 12.3oz | 2 3/4 cups plain all purpose flour
- 330 g | 11.6oz | 1 2/3 cups dark brown sugar
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tbsp treacle molasses
- 200 g | 7oz | 3/4 cup + 1 heaped tbsp cold unsalted butter cubed
- 200 ml | 7fl oz | 3/4cup + 2 tbsp whole milk
- 1 tbsp fresh orange or lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- zest of 1 orange
- 3 tbsp very finely diced candied crystallised ginger
- For the frosting
- 300 g | 10.5oz | 1 1/3 cups full-fat cream cheese
- 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon or vanilla paste
- 400 g | 14oz | 1 3/4 cups double heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
- 200 g | 7oz | 2 cups icing powdered sugar, more if you prefer it sweeter
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Grease and line three cake tins - or spray with cake release.
- Sift all the dry ingredients and add them to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed to combine.
- Add the cubed butter and mix for a couple of minutes until the mixture resembles sand.
- Add the eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the treacle.
- Add the milk, orange or lemon juice, vanilla extract and zest and beat together. Stop and scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl. Continue mixing for a couple of minutes until batter is smooth.
- Fold the chopped ginger into the batter and divide between the prepared cake tins.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
- Make the frosting. Whip the double cream and icing sugar (using your stand mixer) till you have soft peaks. Transfer to another bowl.
- Place the cream cheese and ground cinnamon in the bowl of your stand mixer and whip until soft and fluffy. Slowly add the whipped cream and whip together briefly until combined. Don't whip for too long.
- Add a generous amount of frosting on your bottom cake layer and smooth. Top with the second layer and repeat. Add the third layer and then smooth some frosting over the top and sides of the cake. You can leave the cake showing through to achieve the 'naked' cake look or do a crumb coat then chill the cake. Add another layer of frosting and smooth over the cake.
- Top with meringue kisses or gingerbread cookies.
For an alternative frosting/filling, whisk 500g (1lb) mascarpone cheese with 200g (7oz) icing sugar. Gradually add 200g (7oz) double cream and whisk until you have firm peaks. If the frosting is too stiff you can add a bit more cream. Add vanilla extract or cinnamon or any other flavourings you like to customise.