This easy-to-make gingerbread cake, super moist and rich with warm spices, features swirls of cinnamon molasses frosting and mini gingerbread cookies on top. Everyone will love this gingerbread dessert this holiday season!

Slices of gingerbread cake with molasses frosting and mini gingerbread cookies on top.

Whenever I think of top Christmas desserts, gingerbread cake is always on my mind! Well, after sugar cookie bars of course! With warm spices, robust molasses, and a super fluffy texture, this is the best gingerbread cake that is just begging to be served after your Christmas dinner!

If you love this recipe, you must try our super popular cinnamon apple cake, cookie butter cake, or cinnamon bun cake– they’re perfect Christmas desserts!

Why We Love Gingerbread Cake

  • Easy to make, bake, and decorate!
  • All of the flavors of your favorite gingerbread cookies but in cake form.
  • Perfect for holiday gatherings like Christmas, and Thanksgiving, or even as a birthday cake for the ginger molasses lover in your life!

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

Ingredients needed to make ginger molasses cake in bowls with labels.

Molasses: Unsulphured molasses, like Grandma’s Molasses, provides the classic rich and sweet gingerbread flavor. Avoid using stronger and more bitter blackstrap molasses. If you prefer a milder molasses flavor, consider trying our molasses cookies or chocolate pecan cookies!

Spices: Classic gingerbread flavors are added like ground ginger, allspice, nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon. All of these spices contribute to a ginger cake that is warm, cozy, and full of flavor.

Sour cream: Like in our sugar cookie cake, the acidity in sour cream is needed to provide proper leavening and extra moisture, resulting in a super tender and moist cake.

Brown sugar: Both light brown and dark brown sugar can be used.

Hot water: Molasses is very thick, which is fine for recipes like iced oatmeal cookies, but not for cake! Hot water is a key addition to the batter to ease the distribution of thick molasses and achieve a soft, moist cake texture.

Find the full ingredient measurements and instructions in the recipe card below!

Recipe Instructions

A glass mixing bowl with the whisked dry ingredients.

Step 1: Combine the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.

A mixing bowl with the whisked wet ingredients.

Step 2: Combine the wet ingredients. Whisk together the melted butter, vegetable oil, sour cream, eggs, milk, molasses, and vanilla extract.

A mixing bowl with the finished gingerbread cake batter.

Step 3: Whisk together the batter.  Whisk the dries into the wet until just combined- it’s normal for the batter to be clumpy. Then, use a rubber spatula to fold in the hot water until just combined.

A baking pan full of the gingerbread cake batter before baking.

Step 4: Bake! Pour the gingerbread cake batter into the prepared 9×9 baking pan and bake. Let the pan cool completely on a wire rack while you make the frosting.

A mixing bowl with the cinnamon molasses buttercream frosting.

Step 5: Make the molasses frosting. Cream the butter in a stand mixing bowl or with a hand mixer until smooth, then mix in the powdered sugar, molasses, heavy cream, salt, and cinnamon. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Decorated christmas gingerbread cake with mini gingerbread cookies on top.

Step 6: Decorate the gingerbread cake. Spoon the frosting over the top of the cooled cake. Use the back of a spoon to create swoops and swirls in the buttercream. Garnish the top of the cake with mini gingerbread cookies and enjoy!

Frosting Variations

It’s hard to say what frosting goes best with this cake- there are so many options! ​Feel free to skip the molasses buttercream and try these ideas instead:

Christmas Decorating Ideas

We wanted to keep the decorations simple for this gingerbread cake, but you can easily dress it up or down for your next holiday party. Here are some ideas for decorating the top of the cake:

  • Top with sugared cranberries, shredded coconut (to look like snow!), festive sprinkles, chopped candied pecans, or mini gingerbread men cookies.

Expert Tips for a Moist Cake

  • Use a kitchen scale. Baking with a scale is much more accurate than cup measurements. To convert this recipe, click the “metric” button next to the ingredients title on the recipe card. If you do not have a scale, use a spoon to fluff the flour first, then spoon it into your measuring cup.
  • Use room temperature ingredients. This creates a smooth, fully blended batter that will result in a uniform texture and even baking.
  • Dont overmix the batter– mix the batter just until the ingredients are combined. Overmixing can lead to a dense or tough texture.
  • Be mindful of the bake time– overbaking will lead to a dry and crumbly texture.

FAQs

Can I use the cake batter to make gingerbread cupcakes?

I have not tested this batter in cupcake form yet but I’d love to hear how they turn out if you try it!

Can I use a different-sized cake pan?

Double the recipe and bake it in a 9×13 pan; watch the bake time as it made need a few minutes longer.

Can you freeze gingerbread cake?

Yes! Store any leftover cake slices in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month.

How do I store gingerbread cake?

Store leftover cake slices in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also store it at room temperature but the cake will dry out quicker.

How far in advance can you make it?

You can bake the cake the day before, wrap it in plastic wrap and store it at room temperature. The next day you can add the frosting and decorate it!

Why is my cake dry and crumbly?

This is likely caused by incorrectly measuring the dry ingredients, overmixing the cake batter, or overbaking the cake.

A slice of gingerbread cake with a bite taken out of it on brown parchment paper.

More Holiday Cake Recipes

If you tried this or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how it went in the comments below, I love hearing from you! Also, please leave a star rating while you’re there! You can also tag me on Instagram or Facebook so I can check it out!

A slice of gingerbread cake on brown parchment paper with mini gingerbread cookies on top.

Gingerbread Cake

5 from 7 votes

This easy-to-make gingerbread cake, super moist and rich with warm spices, features swirls of cinnamon molasses frosting and mini gingerbread cookies on top. Everyone will love this gingerbread dessert this holiday season!
Print Recipe Save Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 16 servings
Need Metric Measurements?Use the button options below to toggle between US cups and Metric grams!

Ingredients 
 

Gingerbread Cake Batter

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, *See notes below for measuring*
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 3/4 tsp cloves
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup hot water

Molasses Cinnamon Buttercream

  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp unsulphured molasses
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions

  • Before you start. Line a metal 9×9 baking pan with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C.
  • Combine the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.
    2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour, 1 cup (200 g) light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1 tsp allspice, 1 tbsp ground cinnamon, 2 tsp ground ginger, 3/4 tsp cloves, 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Combine the wet ingredients. Whisk together the melted butter, sour cream, eggs, oil, milk, molasses, and vanilla extract.
    8 tablespoons (113 g) unsalted butter, 1 cup (228 g) sour cream, 2 (100 g) large eggs, 1/4 cup (54 g) vegetable oil, 1/4 cup (56 g) whole milk, 1/3 cup (115 g) unsulphured molasses, 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • Whisk the wet and dry ingredients together. Whisk the dries into the wets until just combined. It’s ok if the batter has some clumps!
  • Fold in the hot water. Then fold in the hot water until just combined.
    1/4 cup (56 g) hot water
  • Bake the gingerbread cake. Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the pan cool on a wire cooling rack for 30 minutes, then carefully lift up the parchment paper to remove it from the pan and let it cool completely on the rack.
  • Make the frosting. Cream the butter until smooth, then mix in the powdered sugar on low speed. Once combined, increase the speed to medium and beat for 2-3 minutes until the buttercream is light and fluffy. Mix in the molasses, heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt and mix until combined.
    12 tbsp (170 g) unsalted butter, 1 1/2 cups (180 g) powdered sugar, 1 tbsp unsulphured molasses, 1 tbsp heavy cream, Pinch fine sea salt, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Decorate the cake. Spoon the frosting on top of the cooled cake, using the back of a spoon to create swoops and swirls in the frosting. Garnish with mini gingerbread men cookies, sprinkles, sugared cranberries, etc. Cut into 16 servings and enjoy!

Video

Notes

*Measure your flour properly. This is my #1 baking tip! Do not ever scoop a measuring cup into your flour as this always leads to using too much flour. Instead, use the spoon-level method. This means fluffing the flour first, then spooning it into your measuring cup/spoon. For the BEST results, use a kitchen scale!*
Serving: 1serving | Calories: 381kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 226mg | Potassium: 202mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 579IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 87mg | Iron: 1mg

The calorie information provided for the recipe is an estimate. The accuracy of the calories listed is not guaranteed.

The calorie information provided for the recipe is an estimate. The accuracy of the calories listed is not guaranteed.

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Recipe Rating




3 Comments

  1. Made this delicous cake for a dinner party last night. I used a 9 inch round (removable bottom) and baked it for 50 min – 325 convection. It came out perfect. It was so moist. Next time, I would add more spice. I also made a coffee cinnamon frosting. It was a favorite by all.5 stars

    1. That’s amazing to hear Pate!! Thank you SO much for coming back to leave a review.

  2. We made this cake to bring to the office for a sweet mid-week treat and everyone went CRAZY over it! They especially loved the little mini gingerbread cookies on top.5 stars