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!
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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!
Moist Gingerbread Spice Snack Cake
This is 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, 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: 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 11x7-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 9x13-inch cake pan or a bundt pan.
Gingerbread Cupcakes: For cupcakes, fill liners halfway and bake for 20-22 minutes.
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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