Moist Gingerbread Snack Cake

This deeply spiced and moist gingerbread snack cake is complete with swirls of cream cheese frosting and tart cranberries on top. A low-key gingerbread dessert the whole family will love!

gingerbread snack cake topped with cream cheese frosting

Let me present you with the dessert I’m making for Christmas dinner!

Well, the dessert I’m making for after Christmas dinner. Though during Christmas dinner is perfectly acceptable. Or even Christmas breakfast, Christmas lunch, and Christmas 10pm late night craving. This gingerbread cake has no time-of-day limitations and therefore I call it a gingerbread snack cake.

slice of gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting on a white plate with a fork

I’m also making snickerdoodles, no-bake cookies, and coconut macaroons. I think we all agree that there can never be too much dessert on Christmas!

Before we begin, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. This is a moist cake. I know many of you despise that word but being a baker, I use the word approximately 5327 times a day!! Embrace the moist, since many gingerbread cakes are lacking in the moist department.

overhead image of gingerbread snack cake topped with cream cheese frosting

How to Make Gingerbread Snack Cake

This is a very simple and versatile gingerbread cake recipe. It can be baked a multitude of ways: cupcakes, round cake, square, rectangle, with frosting, without frosting (can’t believe I’m saying that). When testing this recipe, I used a 9-inch springform pan. You can also use a 9-inch square baking pan.

The ingredients: each ingredient is an all-star in this gingerbread snack cake recipe!

  • Butter for a wonderfully buttery flavor.
  • Brown sugar to enhance the molasses flavor.
  • Molasses for, well, flavor. Lots of flavor so far.
  • And, as you know, molasses is an acid. So we are using baking soda to give the cake lots of lift!
  • over 1 Tablespoon of warm spices like ground ginger, ground cinnamon, and ground cloves.
  • Flour, salt, and egg because it’s a cake. 🙂

2 images of molasses in a glass measuring cup and mixture in saucepan with a spatula

Sticky Molasses in Cake

Whisk the molasses with hot water before adding it to the batter. Above, pictured on the left. Why? As you know, molasses is very thick. The thick goop, for lack of better words, doesn’t mix easily into cake batter. It’s fine for cookies and such, but hot water helps loosen the viscous consistency of molasses, which helps incorporate it into the batter. Because of the hot water, the cake batter is a little thin. Don’t worry, that’s normal. Above, pictured on the right.

gingerbread snack cake topped with cream cheese frosting

The resulting cake is dense, yet soft. Buttery and tender. Perfectly spiced, impeccably flavored. This gingerbread snack cake is absolutely fantastic on its own– you don’t even need frosting! But if you want to make it a little more special, add a slather of sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting. Absolute heaven on this not-too-sweet gingerbread spice cake.

And add some cranberries for color! Eaten all together, this cake is irresistible and will surpass all the gingerbread cakes you’ve tasted before. Moist gingerbread snack cake for life!

overhead image of slices of gingerbread snack cake topped with cream cheese frosting on white plates with forks

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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gingerbread snack cake topped with cream cheese frosting

Moist Gingerbread Spice Snack Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 55 minutes
  • Yield: serves 8-10
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This is my flavorfully spiced and moist version of the timeless classic gingerbread. The spice flavor is incredible! For different pan size options, see my recipe notes below.


Ingredients

  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) unsulphured molasses (I use Grandma’s Molasses brand)
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) hot water (about 100°F (38°C))
  • 1/2 cup (115g; 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (67g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting (optional)

  • 8 oz (224g) full-fat brick style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (210g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon (15ml) cream or milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • optional: 1/2 teaspoon maple extract or 2 Tablespoons (30ml) pure maple syrup
  • optional: cranberries for garnish

Instructions

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together until combined. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the molasses and hot water together.
  3. In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat on high speed for 1 minute until creamed together fairly well. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. On medium-high speed, beat in the egg and vanilla until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the hot water/molasses, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Avoid overmixing. Batter will be thin. Whisk out any big lumps.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for around 35 minutes or until the cake is baked through. All ovens are different and your cake could take a little more or less time. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean with only a couple moist (not wet) crumbs, it is done. Allow cake to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack. The cake must be completely cool before frosting.
  5. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium-high speed until creamy and no lumps remain- about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 20 seconds then increase to high speed until everything is completely combined and the frosting is creamy. Taste. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. Spread on top of cake. Spread around the sides if you have extra frosting.
  6. Slice, serve, enjoy! Leftover frosted cake keeps well covered tightly in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The flavor gets even better after a day or two.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: The cake can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. Likewise, the frosting can be prepared then covered and refrigerated overnight. Assemble and frost the cake the next day when you are ready to serve. Frosted or unfrosted cake can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving. Honestly, it tastes much better fresh!
  2. Different Size Pans: No matter what size pan you use, bake the cake at 350°F (177°C). A 9 or 10-inch springform pan is best because this gingerbread cake rises pretty high. 9-inch cake pans are too short. You can also use a 9-inch square pan or 11×7-inch rectangle pan. The bake times will all be relatively 35 minutes. Use a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake to test for doneness. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. There is not enough batter for a 9×13-inch cake pan or a bundt pan.
  3. Cupcakes: For cupcakes, fill liners halfway and bake for 20-22 minutes.
  4. Layer Cake: I suggest making the batter twice. (Don’t double it– make it twice and combine the batters.) This will be a lot of batter and is the perfect amount for a 3 layer cake. Grease and fill three 9-inch cake pans halfway. Use any leftover batter for cupcakes. OR you can make the cake as is and slice in half to turn into a thinner 2 layer cake.
  5. Adapted from Gingerbread Muffins with Sweet Lemon Glaze.

Keywords: gingerbread spice cake, gingerbread cake

slice of gingerbread snack cake topped with cream cheese frosting on a white plate

44 Comments

  1. I had a great gingerbread recipe…where did it go?  Who knows!  I started searching online and trying out recipes.  Thankfully, not too far into my endeavor, I discovered your recipe!  This gingerbread is moist and has a great texture, not too heavy/dense.  I made it exactly as written – absolutely no problems.  It has a wonderful gingerbread flavor.  My sons and husband love it.  I make it and within a short period of time – it’s completely gone.  Sure fire way to know that a recipe is a keeper at my house!  🙂

  2. Made this cake for post-Christmas Eve dinner and everyone enjoyed it!
    Instead of using molasses, I substituted 1/2+ cup honey and about 1/4 cup maple syrup, warmed slightly, as my honey was crystallized anyway. Following the last addition of this mix, but before the final dry addition, I added 3/4 cup milk, slightly warmed. Batter tasted of honey but the final cake did not. Made the cake the day before then made the frosting and decorated day-of. The leftovers were fabulous for breakfast on Christmas morning 🙂

  3. Marilyn Auman says:

    Best gingerbread I’ve ever made. Moist!

  4. Hi Sally! I’m thinking of baking this for my daughter’s 1st birthday, which is Christmas Eve 🙂 Do you think I could double the recipe and do it as a layer cake, or would it be too fragile? (Sometimes gingerbread is so crumbly!) Thanks so much and congrats on your beautiful little girl!

    1. Thank you so much for the congrats, Lucy! I appreciate it so much. This cake can be made into a layer cake for sure. I suggest making the batter twice. (Don’t double it– make it twice and combine them.) This will be a lot of batter and should be the perfect amount for a 3 layer cake. Fill the 9-inch cake pans halfway. Use any leftover batter for cupcakes. 🙂 See recipe note for those. OR you can make the cake as is and slice in half to turn into a thinner layer cake. That might be easier!

      A very happy birthday to your little girl!

  5. Hi Sally!
    I love all of your recipes that I have tried. In fact your blog is my first stop when looking for a new recipe. I made your chocolate chip pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake and the pumpkin pie all within the last month. I took the bread and cake to work and everyone was raving about it and some even asked for the recipe! I make a cake for my neighbor’s holiday open house every year and in the years past I have done a chocolate cake with a peppermint crunch buttercream but last year I changed things up and did a gingerbread cake with a brown sugar bourbon buttercream and it was a hit. However, I didn’t love the cake, I liked it but didn’t love it, so I think I will give this a try for this year! I saw in the comment above that this could be turned into a layer cake. Can I make it a thick layer cake? I have the deeper Wilton performance round pan, I think it’s the 6″x 3″ round . Would this recipe work for that, if I made separate batches of the batter and then combined them in the pan? Regardless, I can’t wait to try.

    1. Hi Meredith! I’m so glad you tried so many of my pumpkin recipes this Fall. The pumpkin bread is, without a doubt, my favorite.

      Regarding this gingerbread cake– are you looking to make the cake in that 6×3 round pan twice? Or slice 1 of those cakes into layers? I was confused by your question, sorry! Regardless, this recipe should work for that, though I would only fill the pan half full. So you’ll definitely have a lot of extra batter.

      1. Thanks for the reply!! I was just going to bake it once since it is the deeper pan and then I would slice it into two layers. It sounds like this would be fine, Ive used cough cough, boxed mix cake, cough cough in the pan before and it’s been fine. I was just thrown off by the name since it’s called a snack cake.

  6. This looks amazing!! Would it be sturdy enough for a two layer cake?

    1. Hey Annie! Yes, absolutely. I suggest making the batter twice. (Don’t double it– make it twice and combine the batters.) This will be a lot of batter and should be the perfect amount for a 3 layer cake. Fill the 9-inch cake pans halfway. Use any leftover batter for cupcakes. OR you can make the cake as is and slice in half to turn into a thinner layer cake. That might be easier!

  7. OMG.. this cake is delicious. My family and I loved the texture and taste. 😀 Thank you and happy holidays!

  8. Hi was wondering if this would work in mini loaf pans or regular sized loaf pans?

    1. Yes, definitely! I’m unsure of the bake time.

  9. Heather Hay Charron says:

    This is a fabulous, easy, and stable cake. I first made it last week, and we ate it warm with my husband’s unsweetened cinnamon applesauce. Today it’s in the oven again; this time in a tin that makes six large cupcakes. Tomorrow we’ll serve it to our son and his wife, with applesauce of course, and whipped cream. Even a novice baker could produce this cake with pride. I’d give this recipe five stars!

  10. Thank you for the great recipe. I was looking for a moist Gingerbread something to make mini-cupcakes for a Christmas Tea Party. This recipe foots the bill.

  11. Hi Sally, I just made this today and followed the recipe exactly. I cooled the cake in the pan as directed, then turned it out onto a wire rack. When I returned an hour later to put it in a container, the whole cake had cracked in half, so I can’t use it. It tastes delicious, and is nice and moist, but why did this happen? Thank you.

    1. That’s so odd! And frustrating. I wonder if it was over-baked? OR even under-baked and extra fragile? Are you confident it was fully cooled?

  12. Whenever I make gingerbread I find I crave the taste of orange. Can I incorporate some orange juice and maybe peel? What about subbing orange extract? I’d like to make it tonight but I also want to wait for your answer.

    1. I would try adding some orange zest to the batter! Let me know how it turns out!

  13. Hi, Can you bake this in loaf pans like banana bread?

    1. Yes, or see my updated gingerbread loaf recipe: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/spiced-gingerbread-loaf/

  14. I made this recipe last night after work as dessert. There is none left. It is a delicious cake and easy to make. I kept the spices exactly as you have in the recipe and we thought the taste was perfect. I did change the icing. I used your brown sugar glaze instead of cream cheese icing. It was wonderful !!
    Thank you for the recipe 🙂

  15. I baked this last year in a 9” springform pan and everyone loved it. This year, I need to bake this two ways: one for a small Thanksgiving want to make a 6” layer cake, and another for a crowd (I bake a cake for a local senior center’s monthly birthday celebrations. Any suggestions on how much to adjust the basic recipe? I’d be glad to make two of your loaf recipes for the second cake, but still want a layer cake (I have 3 6×2”pans and 3 8×3” pans—I can level the top of a cake, but haven’t felt brave enough to tort a cake.)

    1. Hi Laurie! Without testing anything, the best I can say is to make my gingerbread cupcakes. That batter is exactly how much you’ll need for a 3 layer 6 inch cake. (See my 6 inch cakes post for baking instructions.) You could, of course, use this gingerbread snack cake batter, but I’m unsure exactly how much you’ll need. A *little* less than the full recipe for sure.

  16. This was so delicious! I wanted spicy and this cake delivered. It’s also the perfect size. I liked the fact that it wasn’t overloaded with sugar. I found a brown sugar glaze for the icing, and it was terrific. Thank you for a great recipe.

  17. SARA M BRESETTE says:

    Would you double the batter for a standard sizes Bundt pan?

    1. Hi Sara, I haven’t tested this recipe in a Bundt pan but I do have this Chocolate Gingerbread Bundt that you might like!

  18. Made this and it was perfect. I substituted hot coffee for hot water for an extra flavor kick.

  19. We tried your gingerbread muffins and they were GREAT! So great that my son asked for a gingerbread CAKE for his birthday next week, and thankfully, you have a recipe for that, too! I love and trust your recipes.
    I’m going to make 2 9-inch cakes for his birthday. I notice you recommend making the batter twice and combining them, rather than doubling the recipe. Why is that? (Pretend I’m lazy.)

    1. Hi Erin! Doubling cake, quick bread, muffin, or cupcake recipes risks over or under-mixing since you’re working with a higher volume of batter. For absolute best results, I always recommend making the batter twice.

  20. This was really an amazing cake. I baked 3 of them to make a gingerbread themed layer cake that turned out amazing! My girlfriends grandson said he lived it so much that he wants this cake fir his birthday in September. I frosted with your cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Huge hit!

  21. Hi Sally, can i use treacle instead of molasses ?
    Thank you in advance…Jodie

    1. Hi Jodie! Black treacle has a generally slightly burnt, more bitter flavor than molasses. You can use it, but the final taste of the cake will be a bit different.

  22. Hey Sally! I love your recipes! Can I use fresh ginger anywhere in this recipe?

    1. Hi Paula, thank you so much. You can definitely use fresh ginger here. Feel free to skip the ground ginger and replace with 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger.

  23. hi Sally
    Happy holidays to you and your family. Question, I only have an 8″ springform pan, would it be ok? Or too much batter?
    thanks in advance!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sandy, You can use your 8 inch pan. Your cake will be thicker so it may take a few minutes longer to bake, just keep an eye on it and use a toothpick to test for doneness,

  24. I made this and cut the sugar in half as well as doubled the spice (we like bold flavor). The batter was as thick as….molasses. So I had to add more hot water to get it to pour. I’m at high altitude, which could be why it was a very thick batter.. I enjoyed it. Thanks Sally!

  25. This cake turned out amazing! I only had blackstrap molasses, which resulted in a very powerful molasses flavor. It wasn’t bad, but next time I might try 1/2 cup blackstrap & 1/4 cup honey to allow the other spices to shine a bit more. I also added 1 oz fresh ginger to this recipe and it turned out great! FYI I made this recipe in a 9-inch round cake pan because it is all I had and it was fine! It didn’t even come to the top of the pan. Same bake time.

  26. maria ellingsworth says:

    I would rate this recipe a 5 star because it is wonderful! However, every time I have tried baking it in a springform pan as directed …it leaks through! I even bought a brand new very well made one and tested it again…same thing…batter is just too thin for a pan like this in my opinion. Anyway, it comes out beautifully in a greased and lined 9” regular round cake pan

  27. PREMILA VADIVELOO says:

    Molasses, unsulphured or otherwise, are not available where I live. What’s the closest substitute you’d suggest?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Premila, unfortunately, there’s no equal substitute that will give the cake the signature gingerbread taste. Are you able to order some online? Hope you can find some soon!

  28. I followed the instructions to the letter but the cake was extremely dry, even though I baked it for slightly less time than the instructions. The flavor was wonderful, though, so do you have any suggestions for making it less dry?

  29. This cake has a beautiful flavor and I love the texture. I had a few fails but was able to salvage it somewhat. The cake looked perfect when I first pulled it out…but started to sink in the middle as it cooled, even though my toothpick came out clean after 35 min. I checked with a knife and it was indeed raw in the middle. I put it back in the oven on the cake/bread setting at 350 (after it had mostly cooled, no less!) for another 20 and tested again and the center had firmed up. The outside was a little cracked but better than eating raw batter. I did sub fresh ginger juice for ginger powder. That extra 1.5 tbsp must have made the cake too wet to cook in the time frame? Also some, maybe a tbsp, of the dry mixture fell out as I was mixing, so that certainly didn’t help. Lol. The smooth top had broken from all my transferring back and forth from pan to cooling rack, but all in all, it isnt anything cream cheese frosting can’t fix! I’ll definitely try this one again. Hopefully with less errors!

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