Sometimes I have a recipe idea pop up in my head whole, and I know exactly what it will look and taste like from the start. Other times, it’s more of a feeling that turns into a recipe as I go along. This Gingerbread Layer Cake was the latter, a half-idea that I pieced together as I went. I’m so happy with the (delicious) result!
This Gingerbread Layer Cake is sweet, spiced gingerbread cake with a not-too-sweet cinnamon mascarpone frosting. <3 I knew that I wanted to incorporate gingerbread cookies somehow. The idea started with just placing some gingerbread cookies on top, but then found myself measuring the dough from my Soft Gingerbread Cookies recipe into tiles for the outside of the cake. I love, love how it turned out!
Making the Gingerbread Tiles
I haven’t splurged on an upgraded recipe maker (that allows for links) for my blog *sorry,* so you’ll have to first go to my Soft Gingerbread Cookies recipe (also linked in the recipe notes). This cake uses a half recipe of the dough for the gingerbread tiles. You can half the recipe, or make all the dough and make cookies or freeze to use another time! The dough should rest in the refrigerator overnight for the flavors of all those spices to marry, so make the dough the day before!
Once the dough is made and chilled, you can follow the rolling/baking instructions in this recipe. 🙂 I wanted some way to make the gingerbread tiles ornate (it IS for the holidays, after all). Then there it was: the embossed rolling pin I had purchased this past summer and never used. I am in love with this pin! What an easy way to make dough extra special! Embossed pins can be pricey, but the one that I purchased is a very cost-effective pin here. Just note that this pin is seasonal, as it has snowflakes on it. I didn’t realize that when I bought it, but I guess it worked out!
A pizza cutter is hands-down the best tool for cutting out the gingerbread tiles! If you’re in need of one, you can find one here.
I baked the cookies on silpats because they’re reusable, nothing sticks to them, and the bottoms of the gingerbread browns more slowly. If you’d like to get some silpats for yourself, you can find them here.
*If you’d like, the gingerbread tiles can be made in advance and frozen until you need them!
Making Gingerbread Cake
The cake recipe is for a 6″ triple-layer cake. I prefer cake pans that are lighter in color, because I find that the cakes bake up moister (sorry not sorry). You can find 6″ cake pans here. It’s a small cake in diameter, but this baby is tall! I sliced it on the outsides of each tiles and got 13 *large* slices!
To ensure I have the same amount of batter in each pan, I use my kitchen scale (link here) and weigh the pans. It’s hard to eyeball the amount when you’re using three pans, especially if you don’t have three and you’re baking the cake layers individually. Weighing the batter ensures even baking and cake layers that are uniform in size.
*If you’d like to prepare them in advance, the cakes can be made a day ahead, or wrapped and frozen until you need them!
Making Cinnamon-Mascarpone Frosting
Your gingerbread tiles and cake are made–onto the cinnamon-mascarpone frosting! I really love the addition of mascarpone cheese to this frosting. The flavor is amazing, and the frosting (with lots of cinnamon!) isn’t overly sweet. It’s an excellent complement to the cake.
You know me, I have to put vanilla bean paste in everything, so of course it’s in the frosting! It’s is my go-to for an extra punch of flavor. You can find it online here. If you prefer to substitute, you can use an equal measure of vanilla extract.
Assembling your Gingerbread Cake
Assembling the cake is the absolute best part–other than eating it, of course! After frosting the cake, you just place the gingerbread tiles around the outside, gently pressing each tile to adhere it to the frosting. If you follow the measurements in the recipe for the gingerbread tiles, 13 of them fit perfectly around the cake. Ta-da!! Instant gorgeousness!
The frosting recipe made enough for me to pipe a border around the top of the cake (I did this before placing the gingerbread tiles). I also added some sparkling sugar for an extra festive look!
I just love that it turned out like what I had pictured in my head–and the fact that it tastes fantastic didn’t hurt one bit! 😀 I think this one will be a new regular feature at the holidays!
Other posts you may like:
Gingerbread Layer Cake
- ½ recipe Soft Gingerbread Cookies (See recipe notes for link. Make these the day before!)
- 2¼ cups flour
- 2¼ tsp baking powder
- 1½ tsp ground ginger
- 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¾ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (1½ sticks)
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- ¾ cup unsulphured molasses (NOT blackstrap)
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ cup buttermilk, at room temperature (see note)
- 1½ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 16 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (see note)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 8 oz mascarpone cheese (take out of the fridge ~30 minutes before you need it)
- Make half batch of my Soft Gingerbread Cookies (see recipe notes for link). The dough should rest in the refrigerator overnight for all those spicy flavors to marry, so make the dough the day before!
- Roll dough to about ¼" thickness into a long rectangle at least 6" wide. I then used an embossed rolling pin (see note) to carefully press a pattern into the dough.
- Trim the dough into long rectangles about 1.5"x6" in size. A pizza cutter (see note) is an excellent tool for this job. You may gather the scraps and re-roll as necessary. You will need about 13 gingerbread tiles to cover the outside of the cake. It never hurts to make a few extra just in case!
- Place the gingerbread tiles about an inch apart on cookie sheets lined with silpats (see note) or parchment paper. Place the cookie sheets in the freezer while the oven preheats to 350° F.
- Bake the gingerbread tiles for 7-8 minutes, or until slightly golden. While warm, clean up the edges of any tiles that have baked up larger than 1.5"x6" or aren't straight. Allow the tiles to cool completely on the pan.
- Preheat oven to 350° F (if not already preheated from the gingerbread cookies). Grease three 6" cake pans (see note) and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt) and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Add sugar and brown sugar, then beat until light and fluffy. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary throughout mixing.
- Add the eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to incorporate before adding the next. Add the molasses and vanilla and mix to combine.
- Add ⅓ of the flour mixture and mix until not quite combined. Add half the buttermilk (see note) and mix to incorporate. Repeat alternating additions of the remaining flour and buttermilk, mixing just until combined.
- Divide the batter equally between the three prepared cake pans (see note). If you don't have three, you can hold the dough at room temperature while you bake the cake in batches. Be sure to wash, dry, and re-grease the pans between uses. A kitchen scale (see note) is helpful in ensuring you have divided the batter equally, which will ensure even baking and uniform cake layers.
- Bake the cakes for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool cakes in the pans for at least 10 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Add the cream cheese and beat until pale and fluffy.
- Sift in the powdered sugar and add the vanilla bean paste (see note) and cinnamon. Beat to combine.
- Add the mascarpone cheese and beat thoroughly to combine.
- Frost the cake with the frosting. I found it helpful to chill the cake with a crumbcoat before completing it. This is a tall cake, and the chilled cake holds up much better this way. Once chilled, complete frosting the cake. Reserve some of the frosting to pipe on top, if desired.
- Apply the gingerbread tiles to the outside of the cake. I finished the cake with a sprinkle of sparkling sugar.Enjoy!