Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Glaze and Sugared Cranberries
This gingerbread cake is super moist and filled with the flavors of ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and molasses. The tart lemon glaze and sugared cranberries are the perfect compliment to the richness of the cake. If you like gingerbread that’s rich and flavorful, with a potent level of spice that’s also well-balanced, this is your recipe.
If, when you think of gingerbread, you think of something that’s a bit dry and flavorless, and mildly cardboard-like this recipe is here to change your mind.
The secrets to a moist, flavorful, well-balanced gingerbread cake:
#1. Use 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. “Bloom” the spices in the butter and oil. In this recipe, you’ll heat the butter and oil on the stovetop, then add 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. 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, that means adding flavor without creating an overly sweet cake.
#4. Coffee. This recipe calls for 3/4 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.
Baking Gingerbread 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 this pan: The capacity is slightly smaller than traditional bundt pans. In order to make this recipe as versatile as possible, it makes about 7 cups of batter, which is what you’ll need for most standard-size bundt pans. 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 to not fill the pan more than 3/4 full and then use the leftover batter to bake a few cupcakes if you like.
How to make Sugared Cranberries and why they are the perfect accompaniment to Gingerbread cake
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 in the refrigerator for 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.
Used in this recipe:
- Dark Blackstrap Molasses
- Pure vanilla extract
- A Non-stick bundt pan. I used Nordic Ware Pine Forest Bundt Pan
More holiday dessert recipes:
- The Perfect Spice Cake
- Individual Almond Cakes with Cranberry Sauce
- Mini Ginger Snaps with Sorghum and Brown Sugar
- Perfect Profiteroles
- Wine Poached Pear and Almond Tart
- Lemon Ricotta Olive Oil Loaves
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- Cranberry Pineapple Upside Down Cakes
- Mini Cranberry Bundt Cakes with Lemon Glaze
- Mini Chai Latte Cupcakes
This gingerbread cake is moist through and through and filled with the flavors of ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and molasses. The tart lemon glaze and sugared cranberries are the perfect compliment to the richness of the cake. If you like gingerbread that’s richly flavorful, with a potent level of spice that’s also well-balanced, this is your recipe.
For the Sugared Cranberries:
- One 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup + 3/4 cup granulated sugar
For the Gingerbread Cake:
- 12 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp finely ground black pepper (3/4 tsp course ground pepper)
- 3/4 cup dark blackstrap molasses
- 3/4 cup brewed coffee
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp table salt (1 1/2 tsp kosher salt)
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
For the Lemon Glaze:
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar (confectioners sugar)
Make the sugared cranberries:
- Add 1/2 cup of the sugar sugar and 1/2 cup 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 3/4 cup 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 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 3/4 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.
Keywords: gingerbread, cake, Christmas cake, holiday dessert, spice cake, sugared cranberries, festive