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


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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


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.


  • 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


  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.


  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


  1. I plan on making this cake and your “best pumpkin” cake over the holidays. Do you think they are cakes that would actually be better and more moist on Day 2?
    Or would making ahead just be a nice convenience?

    1. Both are wonderful fresh! You can certainly make them one day in advance, cover tightly and frost before serving (you can prepare the frosting the day before and store it covered in the refrigerator until you are ready to frost the cakes).

      1. Great – thank you!

  2. Could you swap out the molasses with golden syrup? Would you still mix with water?
    Thanks 🙂

    1. I recommend using molasses here. Golden syrup is much lighter and you would miss out on the iconic gingerbread flavor that the molasses adds!

  3. 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!

  4. I remember having a gingerbread snack cake with lemon curd as a child in the 70’s and it was delicious! I tried to recreate but all of the recipes I tried, while food, were too light and fluffy…not the texture I remember as a child. I’m looking for something more dense and moist. I sure hope this is THE recipe. I’m printing this recipe for my binder and December 1st I’ll be baking it!

    1. For a more dense cake I sub 1/3 cup buckwheat flour for 1/2 cup of regular flour called for here. Buckwheat absorbs more liquid, fyi. I do this in most recipes.

      1. Alan Newstater says:

        would the ratio be 0.66 buckwheat to all purpose?

  5. nobear1959 says:

    The 9 inch springform pan was perfect. I was a little disappointed in the icing as it was pretty thin. My other half said it was a keeper. I liked it but I felt it need a little mmmmph. Maybe a little less cloves and a little more cinnamon. Maybe more ginger. Will make again but with changes.

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

    1. Yes, or see my updated gingerbread loaf recipe:

  7. I’m thinking of trying out this recipe using a mini bundt pan (similar to this one — any advice? Love this blog by the way!!

    1. Hi Emma! You’ll get quite a few mini bundts– my guess is around 10 (but that’s just a guess!). I’m unsure of the exact bake time but you can use a toothpick for doneness. Really grease those mini bundts well. Nonstick cooking spray is easiest for mini bundt pans.

  8. 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 🙂

    1. I’m so happy you enjoyed this recipe, Lee! It’s one of my favorites 🙂 I bet it was wonderful with a brown sugar glaze!

  9. 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.

  10. Thank you Sally! Could this recipe be used to make a Gingerbread Roll? Or would you need more batter/filling?

    1. Hi Chris! I wish I could give a straight answer, but I’m not really sure. You could try this recipe, as written, in a 10×15 inch cake pan and roll it as I do with my pumpkin roll.

  11. 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.

  12. How did you prepare the cranberries for the garnish ?

    1. Hi Jeanell! These are just regular fresh cranberries. I believe a couple were still a little frozen in the photos.

  13. 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!

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

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. HI,
    I just came across this recipe and I will be testing it out soon. I do want to thank you for stating where to put the oven rack as I find a lot of recipes overlook this and I am not a seasoned baker by-any-means! Wish me luck and I will post the feedback of my results.

    1. Let me know what you think when you try the cake, Shell!

  18. Evening
    I just tried this recipe & made it 2 different size, I forgot I had no clove but found I’ve allspice the batter smelled real yummy also added an extra tsp of salted butter instead of no salt oh n extra quarter tsp vanilla, hope it turns out tasting as yummy as it did before cooked, thank you for the recipe is what I wanted to let you know.

  19. 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.

  20. ~ I made this recipe this morning for breakfast. Yeah, baby .. breakfast. Covid restrictions bite with 3 little girls in the house and so I think Saturday brekkie should be cake now and forever.
    ~ Lovely texture. Perfect molasses overtone. Winner.
    ~ I made in one 9″ round cake pan (we’re out of town and that’s all I have in beach rental). Rose right up to the edge but no mess. Put buttered parchment in bottom of pan. **Needed 10 extra minutes in the oven.

    You rock, Sally. Thanks for another well-tested recipe.

  21. My 9″ springform pan leaks water when filled but never when filled with regular cake batter. However, this recipe indicates a thin batter. Have you ever experienced the batter leaking from your springform pan?

  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. I’m not big on cream cheese frosting, so I’m thinking of making this with either vanilla chantilly or a buttercream. Any advice on which might go better?

  24. 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,

  25. 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!

  26. 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.

  27. 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


    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!

  29. 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?

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