Gingerbread Cake

Gingerbread Cake

I remember making, to my memory, elaborate gingerbread houses before Christmas when I was a boy. Pre-made gingerbread panels (it was the 80’s), royal icing and lots of colorful gummy candies for decoration. Those were the days… I still love gingerbread but so many of the store-bought offerings are a bit off, some are stale, some are dry, some have toned down flavors etc etc. For my cake I wanted to amp up all the spices and make it very Christmassy but still have a clean, classic look. The cake itself is so packed with flavor, it’s pretty nice. I paired it with a super-zesty lemon buttercream and then encased the whole thing in a spiced Italian buttercream. My secret ingredient? Cardamom, such a good spice and I don’t think it’s used enough, including by me! I was a bit stumped for the decoration, I tried so many things, there are even a few buttercream pine cones in the freezer which did not make the cut… In the end I really love the sparkling cranberries nested on top of the cake, they’re like little balls of Christmas!!

Gingerbread cake

A rich and flavorful gingerbread cake paired with a zesty lemon buttercream and a spiced Italian buttercream all topped by a nest of sparkling cranberries. 

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 8 people
Author jkanell


For the Cake

  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1 1/2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 3 large eggs room temperature

For the Lemon Buttercream

  • 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 5 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tbsp lemon zest
  • 5 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cream plus one more if needed

For the Italian Buttercream

  • 4 egg whites room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar divided
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp all spice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

For the Sparkling Cranberries

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar


For the Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour three 8" cake pans.

  2. Combine boiling water and baking soda in a medium bowl. Sift together the flour, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and 3/4 teaspoon salt into a large bowl.

  3. Using a standing mixer with a whisk attachment beat the butter on high until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for about two minutes. Add the molasses, grated ginger, baking soda mixture, and flour mixture. Beat in the eggs.

  4. Divide the batter evenly between the three pans and bake from about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centers will come out clean. 

  5. Allow cakes to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

For the Lemon Buttercream

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment cream the butter. Add sugar lemon zest, lemon juice and then add cream until desired consistency is reached. 

For the Italian Buttercream

  1. Beat the egg whites and 1/3 cup of sugar until soft peaks form.

    In a medium saucepan add the remaining sugar and 1/3 cup water then place on low heat.

    Stir until sugar melts and becomes clear.

    Maintain at medium high heat until temperature reads 235-240F.

    Drizzle the sugar into the mixer immediately.

    Run mixer until merengue is cool/tepid.

    Add room temperature butter into running mixer one tablespoon piece at a time.

    Add the salt and vanilla if using

    Beat until butter is combined and mixture has reached a silky consistency.

    Add the spices and mix until combined.

For the Cranberries

  1. Heat the sugar and water to a boil and allow to cool to room temperature.

    Toss in the cranberries and allow to soak. Preferably for a few hours or overnight if possible. Move to a wire rack and allow to dry for one hour.

    Toss a few at a time in sugar and set aside.

Recipe Notes

Cake recipe adapted from Martha stewart.


Sparkling cranberries are so easy to make and they’re excellent snacks. As you can tell from the final photo, I made dar too many, but have adjusted the recipe accordingly. 🙂


Just a closeup of my little cranberry nest. I loved how easy it was to make these dollops, all it took was a little wiggle!


Isn’t it crazy how this looks exactly like chocolate???


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