While peppermint gets all the glory as the flavor of the holiday season there is another flavor that is just as popular… Gingerbread. And while you may only think of houses and cookies when it comes to gingerbread, it’s also a great flavor for a holiday themed cake.
So, what exactly is gingerbread flavor? Well, it’s a combination of spices – ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon – and usually sweetened with molasses. I honestly think it’s the molasses that gives gingerbread it’s distinct flavor more so than the spices.
To make things a little easy I used a spice cake mix as the base for my cake and then added in some additional spices, molasses and other ingredients to doctor it up. I got the recipe from fellow blogger Baking with Blondie. She made cupcakes with her recipe whereas I opted to use the recipe to make 2 6-inch cake layers. Once they were cooled, I wrapped them in plastic wrap and refrigerated them overnight before frosting. Frosting cold cakes is a lot easier than frosting cooled, but still room temperature ones.
I left the cakes in the refrigerator overnight and before removing them I made a Spiced Almond Cream Cheese Frosting. This frosting is so good I could eat spoonful’s as dessert!
Once the frosting was ready I torte the cakes and filled and frosted them with the frosting.
And finally, I decorated the cake with gingerbread men (you could bake them or, do as I did and use store-bought ones), fresh rosemary and sugared cranberries.
Gingerbread Cake with Spiced Almond Cream Cheese Frosting
For the Cake:
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup buttermilk*
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 box spiced cake mix
For the Frosting:
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 8oz. block cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Gingerbread Men, Fresh Rosemary Sprigs, Sugared Cranberries for decoration
*I made my own by combining 2/3 cup whole milk with 3 teaspoons of white vinegar. Stir together and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. It will begin to curdle when ready.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray two 6-inch pans with baking spray and set aside.
To make the cake: In a large bowl combine all the ingredients for the cake, except the spiced cake mix, and stir together until well combined. Sift the cake mix into the mixture and stir all the ingredients together until just combined. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean.
Let the cakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing them and transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting: Using a hand mixer, or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and cream cheese on high speed until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon, nutmeg and heavy cream. Continue mixing and gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar until thoroughly combined.
Torte the cooled cakes and then frost about a cup of the frosting on one of the cakes. Stack the other cake on top and crumb coat the cake. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes and then use the remaining frosting to finish frosting the cake. Decorate with gingerbread men, sugared cranberries and fresh rosemary.
Recipe from Baking with Blondie
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
12oz. bag fresh cranberries
Combine 1/2 cup sugar and the water in a medium saucepan over medium heat stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the cranberries until well coated. You will want to work fast as the cranberries may begin to burst.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cranberries to a parchment lined wire rack to dry for at least an hour.
Pour the remaining sugar into a bowl. Once the cranberries are dry work in batches to coat the cranberries in the sugar. Transfer to a clean piece of parchment paper and let the cranberries dry for at least an hour.