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+ servings

Gingerbread Layer Cake

This gingerbread layer cake with cream cheese buttercream is perfect for the holidays!
This gingerbread layer cake with cream cheese buttercream is perfect for the holidays!
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4.6 from 5 votes


Gingerbread cake layers:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks, 226 grams), softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups light or dark brown sugar (426 grams)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup molasses (255 grams)
  • 3  3/4 cup all-purpose flour (450 grams)
  • 1  1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1  1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1  1/2 cup brewed coffee (375 ml)

Cream cheese buttercream:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese (226 grams), softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks, 226 grams), softened to room temperature
  • 6 cups powdered sugar (681 grams), sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 vanilla bean , split and seeds scraped out (see Notes)

Rum simple syrup (optional):

  • 1/4 cup water (60 ml)
  • 1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar (53 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon spiced rum

Sugared cranberries and herbs (optional):

  • 1/2 cup water (125 ml)
  • 1  1/2 cup granulated sugar (300 grams), divided
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries (200 grams)
  • Sprigs of rosemary and/or sage leaves


To make the cake layers:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two or three 8 or 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper and grease with butter and flour or non-stick baking spray.
  • Beat the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until pale and creamy, about 3-4 minutes on high.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, mixing and scraping the bowl down after each addition. Mix in the vanilla and molasses.
  • In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger and cinnamon. Add to the molasses mixture in 3 additions alternating with the brewed coffee. Scrape down the bowl as needed, and mix only just combined.
  • Divide the cake batter between the prepared cake pans. Bake until edges pull away from the pan and the centers of the cake bounce back when gently pressed, about 25-30 minutes.
  • Let cakes cool in the pan 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Make ahead: Cake layers can be made in advance. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the fridge for 1 month or more.

To make the buttercream:

  • Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  • Add the powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla bean seeds and beat on high speed until light and creamy, 2-3 minutes.

To make the simple syrup (optional):

  • Heat the water, brown sugar, and rum over the stove or in the microwave until sugar is dissolved.

To assemble the cake:

  • Place one cake layer on a cake stand or plate and brush with some simple syrup, if using. Cover with approximately 2/3 cup of the buttercream.
  • Repeat with remaining cake layers.
  • Frost assembled cake completely with buttercream, as desired. Decorate with sugared cranberries and herbs, if desired.
  • Store cake in fridge until ready to serve.

To make the sugared cranberries and herbs (optional):

  • Heat the water and 1/2 cup of the sugar over the stove or microwave until sugar is dissolved.
  • Add cranberries and stir until completely covered with the syrup. Remove cranberries with a slotted spoon and place on a wire rack set over a sheet pan. Repeat with rosemary sprigs and sage leaves.
  • Let dry for at least 1 hour.
  • Toss cranberries and herbs with remaining sugar until completely covered. If making in advance of decorating cake, be sure sugared cranberries and herbs are completely dry before storing.
  • In place of the vanilla bean, you can instead use 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste.
Recipe adapted from Bake from Scratch.


Calories: 1056kcal, Carbohydrates: 175g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 39g, Saturated Fat: 24g, Cholesterol: 143mg, Sodium: 295mg, Potassium: 540mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 141g, Vitamin A: 1269IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 143mg, Iron: 4mg
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