This cake is so packed with flavor, it’s pretty outrageous. 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!!
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.
If you find cake decorating to be a bit intimidating then check out my How to Decorate a Cake post, it has lots of helpful tips and a full how to video.
Some Tips And Pointers!
- To get FLAT layers that are moist inside and out try using cake strips! You can buy a set on the shop page or make your own from foil and paper towels at home. I made a whole blog post on it so check it out if you’re interested!
- If you don’t want to make Italian buttercream you can use the American variety. I just prefer the smoothness and taste of the Italian variety. I know it’s a pain to make two different types of frosting though!
- CHeck the below video out for a FULL how to on making Italian meringue Buttercream.
If you’ve tried this cake then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you!
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.
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 butter unsalted, 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 ginger freshly grated
- 3 eggs large, room temperature
For the Lemon Buttercream
- 1 cup butter unsalted, 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
- 16 oz unsalted butter
For the Sparkling Cranberries
- 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
For the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour three 8" cake pans.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Allow cakes to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
For the Lemon Buttercream:
- 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:
- 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:
- 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 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!
For the Assembly:
Transfer lemon buttercream to a piping bag. Pipe buttercream between each layer.
Pipe Italian buttercream around the outside of the cake.
Pipe continous dollops around the skirt of the cake. Pipe a ring of dollops on the top of the cake, add cranberries.
- To get FLAT layers that are moist inside and out try using cake strips! You can buy a set online or make your own from foil and paper towels at home. I made a whole blog post on it so check it out if you’re interested!
- If you don't want to make Italian buttercream you can use the American variety. I just prefer the smoothness and taste of the Italian variety. I know it's a pain to make two different types of frosting though!
- Alter the spice profile as desired use more of your favorites and eliminate the ones you don't like!
IF YOU LOVE THIS RECIPE TRY THESE OUT!