This gingerbread layer cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting is simply perfect for Christmas celebrations! Decorate with gingerbread cookies or meringue kisses.
Recipe posted December 2014 – recipe updated December 2018
When I posted this cake back in 2014, I had no idea it would become one of the most popular cake recipes on Supergolden Bakes! It is not just popular with readers, it remains a holiday favourite with our family and I always bake it every Christmas. I also LOVE seeing your recreations of this cake on Instagram.
To show you just how easy this gingerbread layer cake is to bake, I have partnered with Opies to make a recipe video and finally added step photos too.
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.
I have made this cake using fresh ginger (grated) instead of the crystallised ginger and also stem ginger. They give different results – the fresh ginger definitely gives a very strong taste which wasn’t terribly popular with my kids.
If you are using stem ginger (try Opies Stem Ginger in Syrup) you can also add a tablespoon or two of the syrup in the frosting. Make sure you cut the ginger into really small pieces before adding to the batter
Gingerbread layer cake step-by-step
You can make this cake in a food processor or a stand mixer. I have used a food processor in my video and step photos simply because it is easier to photograph. Both methods yield exactly the same result so go with whatever suits you best.
Step 1.Put all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, raising agents, spices and salt) in the bowl of your food processor fitted with a metal blade. If using a stand mixer use the paddle attachment. Briefly pulse /mix together to combine.
Step 2. Add the cubed butter and pulse /mix together to create a breadcrumb texture. The butter coats the flour grains which will result in a beautiful crumb – this is known as the reverse creaming method.
Step 3. Slowly add the beaten eggs while the processor/mixer is running and mix for 30 seconds. If you are using the stand mixer you might need to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure the batter is evenly mixed.
Step 4. Add the treacle (molasses) and orange zest and milk. Mix until the batter is smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl if you are using a stand mixer. Add the chopped ginger and either fold it in or mix briefly to combine.
Step 5. Divide the batter between the tins and bake for about 25 minutes if you are using 8in tins and 30-35 minutes if using smaller tins. Cool before frosting. The cake can be made up to three days in advance – it keeps beautifully, wrapped in cling film at room temperature.
Making the frosting and assembling the gingerbread layer cake
This is showing the alternative frosting which uses mascarpone. I find mascarpone easier to work with than cream cheese because of the higher fat content. Always use full-fat mascarpone or cream cheese when making frosting! If you have problems with your frosting splitting, follow the cream cheese method in which the cream is whisked first then folded into the cream cheese.
Step 1. Put the mascarpone, icing sugar, cinnamon and a tablespoon of Opies Stem Ginger syrup in a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Start whisking on lowest speed setting to combine.
Step 2. Increase the speed and gradually add the double (heavy) cream. Whisk until the frosting holds peaks then transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large tip (or you can simply add to your cake layers with a palette knife).
Step 3. You might need to level your cake layers before assembling. This is easily done with a cake leveller or you can use a serrated knife. If you are using a leveller, make sure you keep it straight and cut through the cake slowly using a sawing motion.
Step 4. The easiest way to frost the cake is on a small turntable. Add a small dot of frosting to secure the cake on a cake board. Pipe a generous amount of frosting over the bottom cake layer and smooth. Top with the second and repeat. Top with the third layer.
Step 5. Add frosting to the top and sides of the cake and smooth with a palette knife. This is the crumb coating layer and it doesn’t have to be perfect! Chill the cake for 30 minutes then add a clean layer of frosting over the top and sides, smoothing with a side scraper. You can let the cake showing through the frosting for a ‘naked’ cake effect.
Step 6. Remember if decorating with gingerbread cookies and/or meringue kisses to add these to the cake just before serving as the moisture in the frosting will cause them to soften.
Crazy for gingerbread? Try these recipes
Have you made my Gingerbread cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting?
Gingerbread cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting
For the gingerbread cake
- 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
- 200 g | 7oz | 3/4 cup + 1 heaped tbsp cold unsalted butter cubed
- 3 large eggs lightly beaten
- 2 tbsp treacle (molasses) optional
- 1 orange zest only
- 200 ml | 7fl oz | 3/4cup + 2 tbsp whole milk
- 1 tbsp fresh orange or lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp crystallised (candied) ginger or stem ginger very finely diced
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 sugar
- Dry ingredients
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Grease and line three 20cm | 8in layers cake tins - or spray with cake release. You can also use three 15cm | 6in cake tins – your cake layers will be taller.
- 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 breadcrumbs / 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.