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

138 Comments

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  1. I am torn between making this cake and a cardamom cake recipe I found on food.com this weekend. It sounds delicious. 

    I only have whole cloves, and I am a little too cheap to have both ground and whole in my cupboard at the same time. I am currently collecting Indian spices too, so there’s no room in the inn. 🙂  

    I wonder if boiling the cloves in water like I do to make chai will impart enough of the flavor. If I make this, I will try that and let you know how it works. 

    Speaking of that — I bet it would be an interesting addition to the flavor if the water was chai  (without milk or sugar) instead. As in a chai teabag steeps in the water before it is mixed with the molasses. 

    I bought some cardamom, so my mind is CHAI CHAI CHAI CHAI!

  2. Oh, this was posted on my birthday — win!

    1. Haha! Perfect.

  3. This looks wonderful! Unfortunately, we don’t have molasses in the house, and I don’t really want to buy a bottle of an ingredient I don’t really use that much. Will honey work as a molasses substitute? How should I tweak the recipe if I use it?

    1. Hello

      I’ve just copied your gingerbread spice cake and wish to try it. But I don’t have molasses but want to make it moist. Do you have an alternative option such as olive oil or other ?

    2. No. Buy the molasses.

  4. Hi Sally – do you think I could make the Sunday before, freeze, then defrost and serve on Thanksgiving? I would frost the cake on Thanksgiving. Thanks!!

    1. Absolutely! Cover tightly when freezing. And it’s definitely bed too frost the day of serving. Enjoy!

  5. This looks yummy!!! Can it be baked in a loaf pan?

    1. Yes! I did right here: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2016/11/22/spiced-gingerbread-loaf/

  6. omg just made your spiced gingerbread loaf (its in the oven right now!!) and looking at other recipes and i wanna make this too!! i have to questions though: my loaf didnt come out really dark like yours…is that normal? its dark but definitely not almost black. Also for this spice cake is it possible to use a ceramic pie dish? If so, how would i do that?

  7. nope nvm its done and its not dark as yours but its pretty dark. 😀

  8. I discovered that I have the majority of the ingredients to make the Moist Gingerbread Spice Cake in my pantry. I’m looking forward to making this for dessert!!! 🙂

  9. 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 🙂

  10. My guest RAVED about this cake… I topped it with a bourbon butter sauce http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/bourbon-sauce-102164 and they licked the plate clean… and I’m not exaggerating. Thank you!

  11. Marilyn Auman says:

    Best gingerbread I’ve ever made. Moist!

  12. I love to bake and cook and I always, always, did I say always , want my cakes to be moist and flavorful !! Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe 

  13. Hello, I was wondering if there is a different kind of frosting I can use instead of the cream cheese one that comes with the recipe.  I have baked the cake, but just discovered that the tub in the fridge that I thought was cream cheese, was something different.  Any suggestions will be appreciated. Thanks

    1. A whipped cream (homemade recipe in this pie recipe) or vanilla buttercream would be delicious.

  14. It’s in the oven now. I’m a little worried because you said the batter would be thin. I measured all dry ingredients by the weights you specified. I just remember thinking that 250g of flour looked like a lot. Fingers crossed.

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

  17. Hi Sally, I was wondering if this recipe would work in the Nordicware gingerbread kids cakelet pan. There is a recipe for use with this pan on the Nordicware website, but yours looks so much yummier. And moist! I have no problem with that word. In fact, when it comes to cake, it’s my favourite word! 😉

  18. 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!

  19. Hi Sally,
    I couldn’t figure out how to reply to my chain from earlier so Justin had to start a new one. 
    I am planning on using either the 8×2” or  10×2” round cake pans (two to make a layer cake) would this recipe be ok for a layer cake or is it to soft? I’m not familiar with the term “snack cake” so that’s throwing me off! 

    Thanks!!

    1. By snack cake– it’s a little more dense. See my note for a layer cake 🙂

  20. If I want to make this as a layered cake, how many cups of batter in an 8 inch cake pan? I’m going to bake in 2 8 inch pans and freeze the rest of the batter. (I don’t have 9 inch pans and only have 2 8inch!)
    Thinking I should double the frosting recipe too.
    Thank you! I have quite a few of your recipes I am trying for Christmas 🙂

    1. Hi Tanya! I don’t know the amount of cups off of the top of my head, but just fill the 8-inch pans halfway. And these ratios of cream cheese frosting will work best 🙂 https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2016/10/04/favorite-cream-cheese-frosting/

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

  22. Does this work well in a bundt pan?

    1. O.M.G.
      I usually do not use this expression BUT oh my, this recipe, is the best cake recipe! I made it last night for Christmas, in a bundt pan and it turned out PERFECT. I used royal icing on it (my husband is allergic to dairy so no cream cheese frosting for us, sadly)

  23. I had an old ginger bread recipe from a friend from London…after many moves and much use it is not readable! This sounds very close…I use to soak some raisins in spiced rum and add to the batter (we love raisins here) and served it with a warm lemon sauce rather than a frosting, and sometimes a dollop of whipped cream on top of the warm lemon sauce. I only made during the holidays and there was great excitment when the family would catch the first whift of the spices. Looking forward to making this!!

    1. This would be SO good with spiced raisins! I hope you love it!

  24. 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.

  25. Hi Sally, would i be able to make this cake into cupcakes?

    1. Sure can! I also have a gingerbread cupcakes recipe.

      1. Thank you so much. So excited to try

  26. 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!

    1. I bet it’s absolutely wonderful with applesauce. Whipped cream is always a lovely addition too! Thanks for sharing.

  27. hello,
    if i doubled the recipe, (or make it twice and combine the batters as you suggest) would that be enough for a bundt cake? I just love/prefer the bundt pan shape!
    Thanks,

    Abby

    1. Hi Abby! Yes, that is what I recommend. With the 2 batches of cake batter, fill the bundt 3/4 full. I’m unsure of the exact bake time.

  28. 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.

  29. 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?

  30. This sounds great! Sorry for another similar question, but if I want to make in an 11 x 13 inch pan, can I do so, and will 2 batches of batter (made separately) work? Planning to make this for a work holiday lunch – debating making a lemon sauce instead of cream cheese frosting…both sound yummy…hmmm.

    1. Hi Janna! Two batters will be a little too much for an 11×13 pan. You can use any extra batter for muffins though!
      And I absolutely LOVE lemon and gingerbread together. Delicious.

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