Gingerbread Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

There are a lot of classic holiday desserts out there, but one of my favorite things to make every year is gingerbread cookies. Even though they can be fun to decorate, I’m all for a really good plain gingerbread cookie. It’s crisp around the edges, yet chewy in the middle, and it makes the whole house smell like ginger and molasses.

This year I decided to take that classic holiday cookie and transform it into this Gingerbread Layer Cake. A spice filled cake is layered with delicious cream cheese frosting, and there are even a few gingerbread men to top it off!

Ginger, cinnamon, molasses, and a little bit of cloves are brought together to give this cake that classic gingerbread taste. The cream cheese frosting’s sweet, yet tangy flavor compliments the cake’s spices, and the gingerbread on top add a fun decoration.

This cake has several different components, but I recommend starting with the cake itself first. You’ll first want to whisk together all of your dry ingredients in one bowl while the butter and sugar blend together in a stand mixer. Add the molasses, followed by the eggs to the batter. Next, gradually spoon the dry mixture into the batter and mix just until it is combined.

I chose to make a three layer 6 inch cake, but this recipe with also work for a two layer 8 inch cake, depending on what size cake pans you have. Just be sure to adjust the baking times accordingly.

While the cake bakes, you can put together the cream cheese frosting. You’ll combine the softened butter and softened cream cheese followed by the sifted powder sugar. Be sure to chill the frosting until you are ready to use it.

Next, it’s time to make the gingerbread men to go on top of the cake! Whisk together the dry ingredients in one bowl while warm melted butter, light brown sugar, and molasses blend together in your mixer. You’ll start by just adding the egg yolk of one egg to the batter, but be sure to set the egg white aside in case you need any of it. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the dough until the consistency of the dough is just right and then let the dough chill before baking.

Now it’s just a matter of assembling the cake. You’ll alternate layers of cake with layers of frosting, apply a thin crumb coat, and chill the cake. Once it is chilled and all the crumbs are sealed in, apply another layer of frosting, pipe some swirls on top, and carefully place a gingerbread man in the center of each swirl. Now you’ve got yourself a delicious and festive holiday dessert!

Gingerbread Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Author: Marisa Guerra

Cake:

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ¾ tsp ginger
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices and set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together on medium speed. Once blended, add in the molasses and mix together.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with your spatula as needed.
  5. Beginning and ending with the flour mixture, alternate between adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the batter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with your spatula.
  6. Coat three 6 inch pans with cooking spray and parchment rounds or butter and flour.
  7. Evenly divide the batter into the pans and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool for 10-15 minutes on a cooling rack before gently running a knife along the edge of each pan, topping the cake with another cooling rack and turning each cake out. Let cakes cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 12 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
  1. Cream together the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes until smooth.
  2. With the mixer on low, slowly add in spoonfuls of confectioners sugar.
  3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix until light and fluffy.
  4. Chill frosting until needed.

Gingerbread Cookie Topping

  • 1 cup and 2 tbsp flour
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ⅛ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1 egg, separated
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices and set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the warm melted butter with the brown sugar and molasses. Let cool.
  4. With the mixer on low, add the egg yolk to the butter mixture.
  5. Slowly add in spoonfuls of the flour mixture until the dough starts to form. 
  6. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and form the dough into a ball with your hands. It should come together, but not be wet or crumbly. If it’s too wet, continue to add a little more of the flour mixture. If it’s too crumbly, add a little of the egg white until you reach the right consistency.
  7. Carefully form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 15 minutes.
  8. Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut out six small gingerbread men.
  9. Place cookies on a parchment covered cookie sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes, or until cookies are firm around the edges.
  10. Let cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before carefully moving to a cooling rack.

Cake Assembly

  1. Once your cake layers have cooled, carefully cut the tops off with a serrated knife so that each layer is level.
  2. Place one layer, top side down, on a cake board and spread with frosting. Repeat this step with the next layer.
  3. Apply a crumb coat, or a thin layer of frosting, around and on top of the cake and chill for 20-25 minutes.
  4. Apply another layer of frosting around the cake and on top, setting some aside to pipe the swirls.
  5. Place a round piping tip into a pastry bag and fill it with the remaining frosting.
  6. Pipe six swirls on top of the cake, and place a gingerbread man in each swirl.
  7. Enjoy!