My flavorfully spiced and moist version of the timeless classic gingerbread.
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 snack cake.
Cake that you can snack on. All the livelong day while you open presents, sip cocktails, snuggle on the couch, and watch Christmas movies.
I’m also making snickerdoodles, no-bake cookies, and possibly coconut macaroons. I think we all agree that there can never be too much dessert on Christmas. But the main event will be today’s incredibly flavorful spiced gingerbread cake. Which will definitely make it feel like Christmas since the weather outside is frightful. Literally. It will be 75 degrees tomorrow in Philadelphia. 75. In December. On the east coast. Scary. Seasonally appropriate cake to the rescue! ♥ ♥
Before I 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 moist 5327 times a day. Or something like that. This gingerbread spice snack cake is very moist! Embrace the moist, since many gingerbread cakes are lacking in the moist department. Moist.
Ok, I’ll stop now.
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). I’ll let you know the different size pans you can use in the recipe notes below. When testing this recipe, I used my handy 9-inch springform pan each time. Worked like a charm to yield a thick and satisfying cake.
The ingredients: all of them are all-stars 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! But that’s not all. We’ve got over 1 Tablespoon of warm spices like ground ginger, ground cinnamon, and ground cloves. Three of my favorite festive spices this time of year! This is no mildly flavored gingerbread cake. In-your-face gingerbread spice taste.
*About that molasses. You’ll want to whisk the molasses with hot water before adding it to the batter. Above, pictured on the left. Why? That’s easy! As you know, molasses is very thick. This thick “goop” (how appetizing) doesn’t mix quite as easily into batter as we would like to create a soft cake. It’s fine for cookies and such, but hot water helps loosen the viscous consistency of molasses helping it to incorporate easily 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.
And, as you know, molasses is an acid. So we are using baking soda to give the cake lots of lift.
The resulting cake is dense, yet soft. Buttery and tender. Perfectly spiced, impeccably flavored. This cake is absolutely fantastic on its own. You don’t even need frosting! But since I’m serving this for dessert on Christmas day, I wanted to make it a little special. So, a slather of sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting it is. It’s heaven on this not-too-sweet gingerbread spice cake. For even more excitement, flavor the cream cheese frosting with a little maple extract or maple syrup.
And cranberries for color! Eaten all together, this cake is simply irresistible and surpasses any and all gingerbread cakes I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating before. Moist gingerbread spice snack cake for life.
MERRY CHRISTMAS! Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make this holiday weekend.
Moist Gingerbread Spice Snack Cake
My flavorfully spiced and moist version of the timeless classic gingerbread. For different pan size options, see my recipe notes below.
- 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 vanilla extract
- optional: 1/2 teaspoon maple extract or 2 Tablespoons (30ml) pure maple syrup
- optional: cranberries for garnish
- 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.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together until combined. Set aside. In a separate bowl or dish, whisk the molasses and hot water together.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Make ahead tip: 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!
Different size pans: Always bake at 350. I do not suggest baking this cake in anything shorter than a 9-inch or 10-inch springform pan. 9-inch cake pans or square baking pans are too short. Rather, bake in a 10 or 11-inch square bake pan or an 11x7 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 may not be enough batter for a 9x13 cake pan. If you try it, the cake will be a little thin and the bake time will be shorter. (That' s why I suggest an 11x7 pan instead!) For cupcakes, fill liners halfway and bake for 20-22 minutes. This cake doesn't fit into a bundt pan. Prepare two batches of batter and fill the bundt 3/4 full. (I'm unsure of the exact bake time.)
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.
Adapted from Gingerbread Muffins with Sweet Lemon Glaze
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