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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


Video Tutorial


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 from my baking powder vs baking soda post, 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 such as iced gingerbread oatmeal cookies and gingerbread cookies, 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 810 1x
  • 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

Scale
  • 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 three 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper rounds, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans. Fill the 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

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. I would love to make this for a large Christmas party we’re having in a few weeks, but I would need to make it in a 9×13 pan. Can I just make the batter twice and put it in a 9×13 or would that be too much batter for the one pan?

  2. Hi there! I plan to bake gingerbread cake and gingerbread cookies according to your recipes. I was wondering why it calls for allspice in the cookies but not in the cake.

  3. Hi Sally! This would be perfect to take to a bake sale, as cupcakes, that I’ve been asked to make a few items for! Do you think I could use some cranberries in the batter? I’m going to need to use sugar on top instead of any sort of frosting because of lack of refrigeration on their part. Unless you can think of something else I could use?
    Thanks! Terry~
    P.S. Have you considered trying to come up with a cake that tastes like gingersnaps?

    1. Hi Terry! You could absolutely add cranberries to this batter– fresh, frozen, or dried would all be fine. No need to thaw if using frozen. A dusting of confectioners’ sugar would be simple and tasty.

  4. This recipe is exactly what I’m looking for! I would love to make this in loaf form. Would the baking time change if baked in a 9×5 loaf pan?

  5. Hi Sally, Thanks for posting such nice recipes. I baked this from start to finish but a couple things didn’t go smoothly (probably my error!). The first issue is that the cake didn’t rise too much – it’s not a tall cake (used 9 inch spring-form with ingredients brought to ripe temperature). My baking soda isn’t old. I did assemble the dry ingredients first about an hour before I started baking and covered it with plastic wrap. I wonder if that somehow affected the baking soda?

    As for the frosting, I also brought everything to the appropriate temperature, but the frosting wasn’t very smooth for me – there were lumps of cream cheese and butter. I did use a standing mixer. It looked smooth initially once I was done, but when I spread it on the cake, it had lumps. I was wondering if I undermixed it or if somehow the room temperature ingredients got too warm. I don’t bake a lot of cakes, so any feedback you have would be great. Thank you!

    1. Hi Amanda, thank you so much for giving this recipe a try! A very common cause of dense cake is over-mixing. Be very careful to just mix until the ingredients are combined. For the frosting, it sounds under-mixed. Make sure to scrape the sides of the mixer down occasionally to make sure everything is incorporating correctly. Here are some tips for baking cakes that may be helpful for you!

  6. Will there be a big difference to this cake if you omit the water? I have been testing gingerbread cakes that also include water and it often leaves me with a baking soda taste in my cakes. I would assume this is because baking soda and powder are typically made double active now?

    I wanted to see if I could do this recipe without water and get the same results. Thank you!

    1. Hi Sara, we don’t recommend leaving out the water. It plays an important role here in thinning out the molasses and overall moisture of the cake. For best results, we recommend sticking with the recipe as written.

  7. The problem with lumpy cream cheese frosting can be fixed by making sure to whip the softened cream cheese a little bit before adding any other ingredients. It will stay smooth as you mix it all together.

  8. Soooo delicious! My grandma used to make gingerbread every year and never used a written recipe. This is the closest thing I’ve tasted to it in years. I added a bit extra of all the spices.

  9. This is the best Gingerbread Cake I have ever tasted or made. Everyone loved it and it is so moist.
    Thanks for sharing. I will now get rid of all the other Gingerbread recipes I have been keeping in my recipe box.

  10. Just my experience regarding creamy frosting: I find using generic cream cheese, or other less expensive brands results in a more lumpy frosting, and you really have to beat it. Now I only use Kraft for my frostings, and cheesecakes – problem solved.

  11. Made in bundle cake round and was great! Decorated with cranberries and rosemary for Christmas party and was big hit

  12. This was delicious and moist. My boyfriend who doesn’t really like ginger gobbled up the cake and left no crumbs. I also made the frosting and it went well with the cake.

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