Moist Gingerbread Cake

This super moist spiced gingerbread cake recipe made with smooth and creamy brown sugar buttercream. The perfect cake for Christmas!
↓ Recipe ↓ Video Never Miss A Cake
Total Time: 40 mins
Serves: 12 servings

This perfectly spiced gingerbread cake is super moist and paired with delicious brown sugar Swiss meringue buttercream. The best wintery cake to make you feel warm and cozy inside and out!

This gingerbread cake recipe is super simple to make and you don’t even need a stand mixer to make it! Decorate yours however you like with your favorite holiday sprinkles, or you can make your very own miniature, gingerbread men cookies to sit on top like I did!

 

Gingerbread Cake Ingredients

gingerbread cake ingredients

The most important ingredient in your gingerbread cake is ginger! We’re using freshly grated ginger and ground ginger for tons of ginger flavor. You can grate your own ginger or buy your own pre-made. But trust me, you don’t want to leave it out. 

One of the reasons this cake is so moist is because it uses dark brown sugar, un-sulfured molasses, buttermilk, and a little bit of oil. I’m using canola oil which has the most neutral oil, but you could also use vegetable oil. 

grandmas sulfured molasses in a jar

Make sure your molasses is un-sulfured and not black-strap molasses which is very bitter and too strong of a flavor for baking. 

Another key ingredient of this recipe is buttermilk! Did you know that buttermilk is often used in baking because the acidity breaks down the gluten protein, resulting in a more tender cake? It’s true. If you find that you do not have or cannot get access to buttermilk, you can make your own buttermilk substitute

How to Make Gingerbread Cake Step-By-Step

  1. Preheat your oven to 335°F (170°C). Bring your buttermilk, eggs, and coffee to room temperature. Measure out all of your ingredients by weight with a food scale. I do not recommend converting this recipe to cups because you can accidentally add too much flour which will make your cake dry. gingerbread cake liquid ingredients in a large glass bowl
  2. In a large bowl, add your molasses, oil, coffee, vanilla, melted butter, eggs, freshly grated ginger, and buttermilk. Whisk everything together to break up the egg yolks and combine, and then set it aside.gingerbread cake dry ingredients in a white stand mixer bowl
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the AP flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, powdered ginger, salt, and baking soda. Add the paddle attachment and mix on low for a few seconds to combine. I’m using my Bosch Universal Plus mixer, you can also use a hand mixer or even a whisk for this cake.adding liquid ingredients to dry ingredients while mixingclose up of gingerbread cake batter in a mixing bowl
  4. While mixing on low, add in your wet ingredient mixture and mix it until it’s just combined (takes about 10-15 seconds). Mix with a spatula to make sure there are no pockets of flour.
  5. Prepare three, 6″x2″ cake pans or two, 8″x2″ cake pans with cake goop or your preferred pan release.pouring gingerbread cake batter into cake pans
  6. Divide the batter into your greased cake pans. I like to weigh my pans with a scale to see if I divided the batter evenly.
  7. Bake at 335°F (170°C) for 35-40 minutes (for 6″ pans, less for 8″ pans).
  8. Remove your cakes from the oven once the tops are set and a toothpick comes out clean. Let your cakes rest in the pans for 10-15 minutes or until the pans are just barely warm.
  9. Flip the cakes out onto a cooling rack. Wrap them in plastic wrap to cool at room temperature until you are ready to stack, or freeze the cakes for 30 minutes. Do NOT stack warm cakes. You can wrap and freeze these cakes for a few days before they lose too much moisture.gingerbread cake on a cooling rackgingerbread cakes on a cooling rack

I made brown sugar Swiss meringue buttercream to go with this cake because I love how silky and smooth it is, but this cake would also go great with cream cheese frosting, whipped cream frosting, ermine buttercream, or my easy buttercream recipe.

How to Make Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  1. Bring two inches of water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Once it’s simmering, reduce the heat to medium-low.
  2. Place your egg whites and brown sugar together in the metal bowl of your stand mixer and whisk to combine.egg whites and brown sugar in a metal mixing bowl
  3. Place the bowl on top of the simmering water and whisk continuously until the grains of sugar are dissolved. Don’t walk away or you could accidentally cook your eggs. Pro-tip – (or oops I accidentally multi-tasked and got distracted tip) if you do walk away and see some bits of cooked egg, you can strain it out and then continue with your buttercream. It’s not ruined.hand touching egg whites and brown sugar mix
  4. Once you cannot feel any grains of sugar, take the egg mixture off the heat and attach it to your stand mixer with the whisk attachment.
  5. Turn the mixer onto high and let your eggs whip until you reach stiff, STIFF peaks. Stiff peaks is when the meringue stands straight up from the whisk. This can take 5-15 minutes depending on the strength of your mixer.egg and brown sugar mixture whisking on a stand mixer
  6. Because I’m impatient, I like to scoop out my meringue and place it onto a cookie sheet to cool down quickly in the fridge. You can stick the whole bowl in the fridge but it takes much longer. You can’t whip in the butter until the meringue is cool or it will melt the butter and you’ll be left with brown sugar soup!brown sugar meringue on a green sheet pan
  7. After about 10-20 minutes, your meringue shouldn’t feel warm anymore. Scoop it back into the bowl and start mixing on medium speed while adding in your chunks of room temperature butter. Some people have had issues with their buttercream becoming soupy cause the meringue was too warm.
  8. Add in your salt, vanilla, and cinnamon.Close up of brown sugar buttercream on a whisk
  9. Increase the speed to high and whip the buttercream until it’s light and fluffy and doesn’t taste like butter anymore.

Pro-Tip: If your buttercream is too cold and seems like it’s clinging to the sides of the bowl and whisk you can fix it. Remove about 1 cup of the buttercream and place it into a bowl. Microwave it until it’s barely melted. It took me about 30 seconds.

Pour the half-melted buttercream back into the bowl and continue mixing, it should get light and fluffy now. 

How to Make White Chocolate Water Ganache

  1. Combine your chocolate and water together and microwave it for about 1 minute until the chocolate begins to melt. Stir until it’s smooth.
  2. Add in 1 tsp of white food coloring so that the drip is nice and white and not transparent. Set the water ganache aside to cool to about 90ºF. Make sure your cake is cold and your water ganache is cooled, or it will drip too far down the side of the cake.
Click on this image to go to the how to decorate your first cake tutorial

How To Decorate A Gingerbread Cake

If you want to learn more about the fundamentals of decorating a cake, check out my how to decorate your first cake tutorial

  1. Place your first layer of cake onto a 6″ round cake board or directly onto your cake plate. Spread a thin layer of buttercream on top that is about 1/4″ thick. 
  2. Repeat with the second layer of cake. Try to keep your layers of buttercream an even thickness.
  3. Cover the entire cake with a thin layer of buttercream. This is called the crumb coat. Then place the cake into the freezer for about 15 minutes to firm up the crumb coat.
  4. Apply your final coat of buttercream and smooth out the sides and top with a bench scraper and an offset spatula.  
  5. Place your cake back into the fridge to chill while you make your water ganache
  6. Drip the water ganache down the sides of the cake and fill in the center with the leftover ganache. Smooth out any gaps with a spatula or spoon. 
  7. Wait until the ganache sets or put the cake into the fridge for 10 minutes before adding your swirls of buttercream. I was not patient and the buttercream ended up pushing some of the ganache over the edges of the cake and ruined my drip a little.
  8. I added these cute little gingerbread cookies to the top of my cake. The lines are just piped with melted white chocolate. Super easy and tasty!

FAQ

Can gingerbread cake be frozen?

Yes! If you want to freeze your gingerbread cake, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then store it into a freezer-safe storage bag. If you store it properly, gingerbread cake can be stored for up to 2 months in the freezer.

Why is my gingerbread cake dry?

Most likely your gingerbread cake is dry because your oven is too hot. Check your oven with an oven thermometer and reduce the temperature accordingly if it is running hotter than you need it to be.

Can this recipe be made into cupcakes?

Yes!This recipe also makes about 24 cupcakes (depending on your pan size). Fill the liners 2/3 way full and bake for about 20 minutes until the center of the cupcake is set.

Why did my gingerbread cake set in the center?

Make sure to position your oven rack in the center and place the pans side-by-side on the middle rack. Do not open the oven door for at least 30 minutes and make sure to bake until a toothpick comes out of the center clean. Weighing your ingredients instead of converting to cups will also ensure you have the right ratios for ingredients.

More Recipes You’ll Love

Gingerbread House Recipe

Gingerbread Cookies

Water Ganache

Brown Butter Buttercream


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Moist Gingerbread Cake

This super moist spiced gingerbread cake recipe made with smooth and creamy brown sugar buttercream. The perfect cake for Christmas!
5 from 11 votes
Print Rate Never Miss A Cake
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Serves: 12 servings
Calories: 870kcal

Ingredients

Gingerbread Cake

  • 15 ounces (425 g) all-purpose flour
  • 10 ounces (284 g) dark brown sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger powdered
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons grated ginger fresh, or from a tube
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 8 ounces (227 g) buttermilk room temperature
  • 4 ounces (113 g) unsalted butter melted, not hot
  • 4 ounces (113 g) canola oil or vegetable
  • 2 ounces (57 g) coffee room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces (114 g) un-sulfured molasses I used Grandma's brand
  • 2 large eggs room temperature

Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 8 ounces (227 g) egg whites  fresh is better, you can use boxed if needed
  • 14 ounces (397 g) light brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 18 ounces (510 g) unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

White Chocolate Water Ganache

  • 6 ounces (170 g) white chocolate I prefer guittard white chocolate wafers
  • 1 ounce (28 g) warm water

Equipment

  • Three 6"x2" cake pans
  • Stand mixer with whisk attachment

Instructions

Gingerbread Cake

  • Preheat your oven to 335°F (170°C). Bring your buttermilk, eggs, and coffee to room temperature. Measure out all of your ingredients by weight with a food scaleI do not recommend converting this recipe to cups because you can accidentally add too much flour which will make your cake dry. 
  • In a large bowl, add your molasses, oil, coffee, vanilla, melted butter, eggs, freshly grated ginger, and buttermilk. Whisk everything together to break up the egg yolks and combine, and then set it aside.
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the AP flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, powdered ginger, salt, and baking soda. Add the paddle attachment and mix on low for a few seconds to combine. I’m using my Bosch Universal Plus mixer, you can also use a hand mixer or even a whisk for this cake.
  • While mixing on low, add in your wet ingredient mixture and mix it until it’s just combined (takes about 10-15 seconds). Mix with a spatula to make sure there are no pockets of flour.
  • Prepare three, 6″x2″ cake pans or two, 8″x2″ cake pans with cake goop or your preferred pan release.
  • Divide the batter into your greased cake pans. I like to weigh my pans with a scale to see if I divided the batter evenly.
  • Bake at 335°F (170°C) for 35-40 minutes (for 6″ pans, less for 8″ pans).
  • Remove your cakes from the oven once the tops are set and a toothpick comes out clean. Let your cakes rest in the pans for 10-15 minutes or until the pans are just barely warm.
  • Flip the cakes out onto a cooling rack. Wrap them in plastic wrap to cool at room temperature until you are ready to stack, or freeze the cakes for 30 minutes. Do NOT stack warm cakes. You can wrap and freeze these cakes for a few days before they lose too much moisture.

Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • Bring two inches of water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Once it’s simmering, reduce the heat to medium-low.
  • Place your egg whites and brown sugar together in the metal bowl of your stand mixer and whisk to combine.
  • Place the bowl on top of the simmering water and whisk continuously until the grains of sugar are dissolved. Don’t walk away or you could accidentally cook your eggs. Pro-tip – (or oops I accidentally multi-tasked and got distracted tip) if you do walk away and see some bits of cooked egg, you can strain it out and then continue with your buttercream. It’s not ruined.
  • Once you cannot feel any grains of sugar, take the egg mixture off the heat and attach it to your stand mixer with the whisk attachment.
  • Turn the mixer onto high and let your eggs whip until you reach stiff, STIFF peaks. Stiff peaks is when the meringue stands straight up from the whisk. This can take 5-15 minutes depending on the strength of your mixer.
  • Because I’m impatient, I like to scoop out my meringue and place it onto a cookie sheet to cool down quickly in the fridge. You can stick the whole bowl in the fridge but it takes much longer. You can’t whip in the butter until the meringue is cool or it will melt the butter and you’ll be left with brown sugar soup!
  • After about 10-20 minutes, your meringue shouldn’t feel warm anymore. Scoop it back into the bowl and start mixing on medium speed while adding in your chunks of room temperature butter. Some people have had issues with their buttercream becoming soupy cause the meringue was too warm.
  • Add in your salt, vanilla, and cinnamon.
  • Increase the speed to high and whip the buttercream until it’s light and fluffy and doesn’t taste like butter anymore.

White Chocolate Water Ganache

  • Combine your chocolate and water together and microwave it for about 1 minute until the chocolate begins to melt. Stir until it’s smooth.
  • Add in 1 tsp of white food coloring so that the drip is nice and white and not transparent. Set the water ganache aside to cool to about 90ºF. Make sure your cake is cold and your water ganache is cooled, or it will drip too far down the side of the cake.

Notes

Important Things To Note Before You Start
1. Bring all your ingredients to room temperature or even a little warm (eggs, buttermilk, butter, etc) to ensure your batter does not break or curdle. 
2. Use a scale to weigh your ingredients (including liquids) unless otherwise instructed (Tablespoons, teaspoons, pinch etc). Metric measurements are available in the recipe card. Scaled ingredients are much more accurate than using cups and help ensure the success of your recipe. 
3. Practice Mise en Place (everything in it’s place). Measure out your ingredients ahead of time and have them ready before you start mixing to reduce the chances of accidentally leaving something out.
4. Chill your cakes before frosting and filling. You can cover a frosted and chilled cake in fondant if you wish. This cake is also great for stacking. I always keep my cakes chilled in the refrigerator before delivery for easy transporting. Learn more about decorating your first cake. 
5. If the recipe calls for specific ingredients like cake flour, replacing it with all purpose flour and cornstarch is not recommended unless specified in the recipe that it’s ok. Substituting ingredients may cause this recipe to fail. 
All purpose flour is a plain flour with no rising agents. It has a protein level of 10%-12%
Cake flour is a soft, low protein flour of 9% or less. 
Cake flour sources: UK – Shipton Mills Cake & Pastry Flour
6. If your buttercream is too cold and seems like it’s clinging to the sides of the bowl and whisk you can fix it. Remove about 1 cup of the buttercream and place it into a bowl. Microwave it until it’s barely melted. It took me about 30 seconds.
Pour the half-melted buttercream back into the bowl and continue mixing, it should get light and fluffy now. 
7. If you do not have buttermilk to make the cake, you can use one of my buttermilk substitutes.
8. Almost any frosting will pair nicely with this gingerbread cake including the SMBC I’ve included in this recipe, easy buttercream, ermine, whipped cream, or cream cheese.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 870kcal (44%) | Carbohydrates: 92g (31%) | Protein: 8g (16%) | Fat: 53g (82%) | Saturated Fat: 28g (140%) | Cholesterol: 145mg (48%) | Sodium: 662mg (28%) | Potassium: 336mg (10%) | Fiber: 2g (8%) | Sugar: 64g (71%) | Vitamin A: 1375IU (28%) | Calcium: 124mg (12%) | Iron: 3mg (17%)
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2 comments on “Moist Gingerbread Cake

  1. 5 stars
    I brought this cake to my sisters for Christmas and three people asked me for the recipe. I ran out of brown sugar after the cake so I replaced the topping with a cinnamon whipped cream cream cheese frosting. The cake was perfectly spicy and not too sweet. It is definitely a keeper!

  2. 5 stars
    Hi, there, Liz, greetings from Spain. Just wanted to let you know that thanks to your recipe I made the most deliciously and richly flavoured cupcakes ever. Thank you so much!!! I am learning a lot from you!!!

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