This is the most delicious gingerbread cake I've ever eaten. It's dense, moist, and packed with the rich flavors of ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and molasses.
The cake is topped with a simple tart lemon glaze and sugared cranberries which are the perfect complement to the richness of the cake. If you're looking for a gingerbread Christmas cake that's rich and flavorful, with a potent level of spice that's also well-balanced, this is your recipe.
"Caked turned out gingerbread spicy with a great sweetness from the candied cranberries. Husband said, 'Now this is a proper Christmas cake.'" - Todd
4 Tips for a Moist and Flavorful Gingerbread Cake
If you're someone who thinks gingerbread is dry, flavorless, and mildly cardboard-like, this recipe is here to change your mind. This cake is incredibly moist and packed with deep, complex flavors.
Here's what makes this recipe work:
#1. The recipe uses both butter AND oil.
Butter adds flavor to cakes, while oil adds moisture and helps keep cake moist for longer. While all-butter cakes have their place, they don't keep particularly well because they have a tendency to taste a bit dry after a day or two.
This is because butter is solid at room temperature. It might melt into the batter while it bakes, but it will revert back to its natural state as the cake cools. Because oil is liquid at room temperature, it keeps cakes tasting perfectly moist for days after baking. In this recipe, you get the best of both worlds - butter for flavor and oil for moisture.
#2. Intensify the flavor of the spices by heating them in butter and oil.
This recipe calls for heating butter and oil on the stovetop, then adding the ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and a bit of black pepper to the warm fat.
The heat opens up the flavors in the spices. Immersing them into the fat both intensifies and rounds out the flavor of the spices while distributing them evenly throughout the cake.
#3. Blackstrap Molasses adds flavor without making the cake overly sweet.
Blackstrap molasses is a byproduct of the refining process of turning sugar cane into sugar. To make granulated sugar, sugar cane is smashed to remove the juice, which is clarified, concentrated, and crystalized.
During the process, the liquid is removed and boiled, creating molasses. If the molasses is boiled and concentrated further, it turns into blackstrap molasses.
Blackstrap Molasses is rich, flavorful, and contains the lowest sugar content of any sugar cane product. In this recipe, it's used to add flavor without creating an overly sweet cake.
#4. Coffee adds complexity and intensifies the molasses and spice flavor.
This recipe calls for ¾ cup of brewed coffee, but if you're afraid that might make the cake taste like coffee, don't worry.
The coffee simply deepens the flavors of the molasses and spices, creating complexity and an extra tender crumb. But no one will actually be able to pick coffee out as one of the flavors in the cake.
How to Bake Gingerbread Cake in a Bundt Pan
This Gingerbread cake batter is super wet and rich, giving the baked cake a delicious creamy texture that's somewhat pudding-like. When working with batters that contain a lot of moisture and fat, I've found that bundt pans often deliver the most even bake.
Because bundt cake pans contain a hole in the center, it allows the cake to bake from the inside AND the outside. This means that wet batter cakes bake more evenly, with the outside baking at the same rate as the inside of the cake.
For this cake, I used the Nordic Ware Pine Forest Bundt Pan, one of my all-time favorite bundt pans. Even though it's non-stick, I like to spray it with a bit of non-stick baking spray and have never once had any trouble getting a cake to come out of it perfectly well. And, I just love how the white lemon glaze makes the "tree tops" look as if they are covered in snow.
An important note about the forest bundt pan: The capacity is slightly smaller than traditional bundt pans. This recipe makes about 7 cups of batter, which is what you'll need for a standard 12-cup bundt pan.
That means that if you're using a decorative pan, like the Nordic Ware Pine Forest Bundt Pan, you'll have some batter left over.
Be sure not to fill the pan more than ¾ full. If you have any leftover batter, bake a few cupcakes. Baker's treat.
How to make Sugared Cranberries
Sugared cranberries are seriously simple to make and are the perfect compliment to every single bite of gingerbread cake. Because they are simply coated in sugar, they retain all their tartness even through their sweet sugary exterior. They are a bit like sweetart candies, only much, much better.
For me, I want enough sugared cranberries on my plate to eat one with every single bite of cake. Because, I'm telling you, the tart burst of cranberry flavor along with the rich, spicy cake is positively divine.
To make sugared cranberries, simply melt some sugar in water, then add some fresh cranberries, coating them in the sugar syrup.
Spread them out onto some parchment paper and let them dry out a bit. They will stay sticky on the outside even after drying. But, if you try to coat them with sugar too soon, you'll get globs of sugar instead of a lovely even coating.
TIP: Save the leftover sugar syrup and a few of the sugared cranberries and make a couple cranberry moscow mule cocktails!
Then simply toss them around in a bowl of sugar until they are all sparkly and beautiful.
The cranberries will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for at least a week. If, after a couple of days, you notice some liquid forming on the outside of the cranberries, simply toss them around in a bit more sugar.
More Favorite Holiday Dessert Recipes
My favorite way to eat this cake is with a glass of Puerto Rican coquito, a type of eggnog made with coconut milk that's the perfect compliment to the rich spices in this cake.
For the Sugared Cranberries:
- One 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries (about 3 ½ cups)
- ½ cup (100 grams) + ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar, divided
For the Gingerbread Cake:
- 12 tablespoons (6 ounces/ 170 grams) unsalted butter
- ¼ cup (50 grams) vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- ¾ cup dark (9 ounces/ 255 grams) blackstrap molasses
- ¾ cup (173 grams) brewed coffee
- 2 ½ cups (300 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon table salt, OR 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 ½ cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
For the Lemon Glaze:
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups (227 grams) powdered sugar (confectioners sugar)
Make the sugared cranberries:
- Add ½ cup (100g) of the sugar sugar and ½ cup (118ml) water to a medium size saucepan and set it over over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the water is just beginning to boil. Remove from the heat and add the cranberries, stirring until well coated.
- Spread a piece of parchment paper out onto a work surface. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cranberries to the parchment paper, spreading them out into one layer. Let dry for 1 hour.
- Put the remaining ¾ cup (150g) sugar in a bowl and add the cranberries. Stir to coat. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Make the Gingerbread Cake:
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and spray a non-stick bundt pan with non-stick baking spray. (See note.)
- Add the butter and vegetable oil to a small saucepan and set it over medium-high heat. Cook stirring frequently, until the butter melts and the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and ground pepper. Stir to combine.
- Pour the butter-oil-spice mixture into a medium size bowl and stir in the molasses and coffee. Set aside.
- Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a bowl and stir with a wire whisk to combine.
- Add the eggs, sugar, and fresh ginger to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Increase the speed to high and beat until the mixture is light and frothy, about 2 minutes.
- Add the molasses-coffee-butter mixture to the eggs, letting the mixer beat on low speed while you pour it in. Beat until combined. Stir in the flour mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, filling it only to about ¾ full. (*See note.) Bake for 45 minutes, until a toothpick stuck in the center of the cake comes out without any sign of raw batter. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then gently turn it out onto a wire rack. Let cool completely before covering with the lemon glaze.
Make the Lemon Glaze and decorate the cake:
- Add all the ingredients to a bowl and stir with a wire whisk until completely combined.
- Drizzle over the top of a completely cooled gingerbread cake. Pile the sugared cranberries inside the center of the bundt cake and arrange them around the base of the cake if you like.
- Serve slices of cake with extra sugared cranberries.
- If using a pan that's not non-stick, coat the pan with a thin layer of shortening or butter and then shake flour around in the pan to coat.
- This recipe makes 7 cups of batter. Depending on how big the batter capacity of the pan you are using is, you might have some batter left over. You can make a few cupcakes with the leftover batter; bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 523Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 93mgSodium: 373mgCarbohydrates: 88gFiber: 2gSugar: 64gProtein: 5g