Gingerbread Layer Cake is a delicious three-layer cake filled and frosted with a brown sugar cream cheese frosting. It’s the perfect celebration cake to make during the holiday season.
During the holiday season, I love the aroma of gingerbread that fills my kitchen. Traditionally, gingerbread (whether cake, cookies, doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, or some other delicious form) is flavored with a combination of ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon and has the addition of molasses for that distinct dark color and flavor. This cake is just that (minus the nutmeg!). It’s a traditional three-layer gingerbread cake made with a delightful brown sugar cream cheese frosting.
Why this recipe works
- A festive cake to serve during the holidays.
- Cake and frosting can be made ahead of time.
- Made with a brown sugar cream cheese frosting.
- The batter can be made into cupcakes.
Before you begin
Take out the following baking equipment.
Digital kitchen scale
Three 6-inch round cake pans
3 small bowls
Sifter or whisk
Stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment
Wire cooling rack
Allow all your ingredients to come to room temperature.
Read the recipe through from start to finish.
Molasses is a key ingredient in gingerbread. It adds a dark, rich color to the cake, but more importantly, it adds that distinctive gingerbread flavor that pairs well with the spices. Use unsulphured molasses, which will yield the best flavor. Blackstrap molasses has a slightly bitter flavor, which would not be as pleasant in this cake.
Buttermilk adds a lovely tang to the gingerbread cake that complements the other flavors while adding only a minimal amount of fat. It also helps tenderize the cake as an acidic ingredient and produces a softer texture compared to using milk.
For the frosting, use a full-fat block of cream cheese. Do not use the tubs of cream cheese as these are processed to be spreadable (they are whipped and have more air in them) and will produce a runny frosting. The blocks of cream cheese will give you the most stable results. Bring your cream cheese to room temperature to achieve a creamy frosting that has a smooth consistency.
How to make brown sugar cream cheese frosting
Combine cream cheese and butter. Begin with room temperature cream cheese and butter. In a large bowl using a mixer, beat these two ingredients together on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, 2-3 minutes.
Add brown sugar. To the mixture, add the brown sugar and beat on medium speed until evenly incorporated.
Add powdered sugar. Stop the mixer and add the powdered sugar. Mix on low speed until mostly incorporated and then increase to medium-high speed and beat for 3 minutes.
Add vanilla extract. Pour in the vanilla extract and mix on medium speed for 30 seconds or until incorporated.
Can cream cheese frosting be used for piping?
Yes! This brown sugar cream cheese frosting is thick and great for piping. However, if your kitchen is too warm, the cream cheese frosting can become soft. For a quick fix, pop the frosting into the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes to cool down. If you prefer an even thicker consistency, you can add 14 g (2 tablespoons) of powdered sugar at a time until the desired thickness is achieved.
Making gingerbread layer cake ahead of time
For maximum freshness, bake your cake up to 1 day in advance (if not freezing). Keep the layers in their baking pans, cover tightly, and store at room temperature.
The brown sugar cream cheese frosting can also be made ahead of time, up to 1 week in advance. Store it covered in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When ready to use, bring the frosting to room temperature and re-whip for 5 minutes using a mixer.
Tips and takeaways
- For the most accurate and consistent results, measure all your ingredients by weight. Using measuring cups and spoons can vary depending on specific variables, such as using sifted flour vs. unsifted, packing down your ingredients, etc.
- Even when using nonstick pans, grease, flour, and line with parchment paper. This will help prevent your cake from sticking, especially in the corners.
- You can substitute the brown sugar with an additional 120 g (1 cup) of powdered sugar for a traditional cream cheese frosting.
For more layer cakes, try these recipes…
Make sure to tag me @thesweetoccasion on Instagram and leave me a review below if you make this Gingerbread Layer Cake. I’d love to see your creations and read your feedback. And if you would like to make this recipe later, be sure to pin this recipe using the button on any of these images. Let’s make every occasion a sweet occasion!Print