Gingerbread Cake

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

Ingredients:

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.

Directions:

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

Sugared Cranberries

Ingredients:

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 cups sugar

12oz. bag fresh cranberries

Directions:

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.

Rum-Raisin Apple Bundt Cake

For today’s holiday cake I bring you a Rum Cake. Rum cakes are a traditional holiday treat in the Caribbean. And yes, they have a decent amount of rum in them which normally burns off as you bake them so you don’t have to worry about a strong alcohol taste or getting a little tipsy from your dessert. Although, you can add more rum to the cake once it’s done and the cake will gladly soak it in. It’s completely up to you. One of my favorite types of rum cake is a Black Cake, it contains rum soaked fruit which help to give this cake it’s dark chocolate cake appearance. If you’re thinking it’s similar to the traditional fruit cake most people want to avoid during the holidays you are way off. It’s nothing like that. The cake I am sharing with you today has some rum soaked raisins in it, a grated apple and a nice cardamom glaze to top it off… it’s not your traditional rum cake, but delicious nonetheless.

While there was rum baked into the cake, once it was out of the oven I pierced the cake with a fork and drizzled it with a glaze consisting of more rum, confectioners’ sugar and cardamom and let it sit for twenty minutes. Per the directions after the twenty minutes I was supposed to invert the cake on a platter so it could cool completely. Unfortunately when I attempted to invert the cake it didn’t sit flat and almost broke in half because my cake didn’t end up with a flat bottom as you can see from the picture below. This was partly due to the fact that my cake baked a lot quicker than the time on the directions and I left it in the oven too long. The directions  said 65 – 75 minutes and I set my oven for 60 minutes and it was probably done in about 45 – 50 minutes.

After letting the cake cool completely,  I made a glaze using the remaining cardamom glaze and added whole milk and more powdered sugar and whisked it until it was smooth and then drizzled it over the cake and let it set.

And then finally enjoyed a slice and it was delicious. I normally skip adding glazes to my cakes but I am so happy I didn’t skip this one. The taste of cardamom really adds a nice layer of flavor to this cake. And in case you do need more rum, this cake is dense enough that you could pour more rum over it and it won’t fall apart.

Rum-Raisin Apple Bundt Cake

Ingredients:

1 cup raisins

3/4 cup plus 6 tablespoons spiced rum, divided

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 cups flour, divided

1 medium Golden Delicious Apple, peeled and grated (1cup)

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup dark brown sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

2 cups confectioners’ sugar, divided

1 tablespoon whole milk

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a Bundt pan with baking spray (or grease and flour). Combine the raisins and 3/4 cup of the rum in a small bowl and microwave for a minute. Drain the raisins and reserve the rum.

Whisk the baking powder, salt and 3 1/2 cups of the flour in a medium bowl. In another bowl, toss together the drained raisins, grated apple and remaining 1/2 cup of flour.

Beat the butter and sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the reserved rum, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Fold in the raisin mixture.

Spoon the batter in the prepared Bundt pan and bake until a cake tester inserted comes out clean, about 60 to 75 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the cardamom, 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar and the remaining 6 tablespoons on rum in a small bowl.

After removing the cake from the oven pierce the bottom all over with a form and drizzle 1/2 cup of the cardamom glaze over the cake. Let the cake stand for 20 minutes and then invert onto a plate and let cool completely.

Whisk milk, remaining confectioners’ sugar and cardamom glaze and then drizzle over the cooled cake.

Recipe from Real Simple