Gingerbread Cake with Caramel Sauce is the best dessert to satisfy cravings and impress guests. Warm spices and rich caramel create a treat hard to resist.
The winter and holiday favorite gingerbread spices up the season with sweet gingery cookies and cakes. During the cold winter months, nothing beats the chill like a gingerbread cake with caramel sauce.
While we enjoy this seasonal treat in a variety of forms, one of the best and most overlooked options is gingerbread cake. Gingerbread cake is not like ordinary gingerbread.
You will undoubtedly make plenty of cookies and the occasional pie. However, no holiday is complete without gingerbread in some form. Above all, my favorite way to enjoy gingerbread is with this gingerbread cake.
What’s the Difference Between Gingerbread Cake and Gingerbread?
“Gingerbread” is a very broad term. Gingerbread cake, or ginger cake as it is sometimes called, is a version of gingerbread more similar to other “loaf” bread.
While dense, gingerbread cake is fluffier and moister than traditional gingerbread, which is the kind used for houses and cookies. If you made a house out of gingerbread cake, it would be built like a brick house with my (incredible) maple bourbon frosting used as mortar to hold it all together.
Whether you bake it as a loaf or as a cake, gingerbread cake is more robust and more decadent than its flatter and drier counterparts.
This was inspired by my crock pot chocolate lava cake and old fashioned banana pudding cake on this site, and pairs well with this easy Christmas cookie recipes with few ingredients.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- This easy gingerbread cake recipe uses basic pantry staples making it easy to put together possibly without the need for a last-minute trip to the market.
- With the perfect combination spices this cake is full of warm, aromatic flavors that create a festive atmosphere and aroma especially while the cake bakes.
- This classic holiday treat is an irresistibly moist and delicious cake that doesn't require any fancy decorations.
This recipe requires common, basic ingredients that you may already have inside your pantry.
- All-Purpose Flour - The foundation to many cakes.
- Cinnamon - Adds flavor.
- Baking Soda - Adds air and causes cake to rise.
- Ground Ginger, Ground Cloves and Ground Nutmeg (or Star Anise) and Allspice - Add incredible flavor to your cake.
- Salt - Total flavor enhancer.
- Butter, Granulated Sugar and Brown Sugar - Creates a sweet, fluffier, more tender cake.
- Unsulphured Molasses - Use honey, maple syrup, dark corn syrup or golden corn syrup instead.
- Large Eggs - Helps bind everything together.
- Hot Water - Helps to create a light, fluffy cake texture.
- Brown Sugar, Butter, Heavy Whipping Cream and Vanilla Extract - All that's needed to make the best caramel sauce.
- Cool whip or ice cream
See the recipe card below for the exact quantities of each ingredient.
Substitutions and Variations
Don't have the correct ingredients on hand? Or want to change something up? Here are some helpful tips for you to change this gingerbread cake.
- Go Nuts: Add your favorite chopped nuts like peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, or walnuts to give your cake added crunch.
- Add Gingerbread Cookies: Either crumble cookies on top of your cake for added texture, or use them as a decorative border around the cake.
- More Ginger Flavor: To intensify ginger flavor, add candied ginger or crystallized ginger to the batter to impart both a sweet and spicy taste and add texture to your dessert.
- Make it a Bundt Cake: For a more impressive presentation, try making a gingerbread Bundt cake in an elegant shape,
- Add Frosting for Gingerbread Cake - Make maple bourbon frosting instead by blending 8 oz butter or 1 stick, softened, 8 oz cream cheese softened, 2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 4 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 2 tablespoon bourbon or simply a dusting of powdered sugar instead.
This cake could not be easier. Really.
In a bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and salt together.
In a separate bowl, beat the butter, sugar and brown sugar together until creamy. Add the molasses.
Add eggs and beat until combined.
Add the flour and combine. Pour in the hot water and stir well.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, make the caramel sauce. Add the brown sugar, butter, and whipping cream to a pan. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium low until the sauce begins to thicken. Stir in the vanilla. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
Serve the cake with ice cream and caramel sauce.
Hint: To check if your gingerbread cake is done, insert a toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached and the cake starts to pull from the sides your cake is ready.
If you love recipes like this, you may also enjoy our easy cinnamon bundt cake.
If you plan on consuming the cake within three days, simply store cooled cake at room temperature, away from direct sunlight or heat, in an airtight container or wrapped tightly with plastic wrap.
If frosted, make sure to store your cake inside the fridge in an airtight container, for up to four days.
Wrap cooled cake in one piece or cut into individual servings, with plastic wrap and foil before placing in an airtight container or resealable bag for up to three months. When serving, you can thaw it in the refrigerator and serve chilled, or warm it up to room temperature without removing wrapping, after a few hours on the counter.
Start by placing your cake on a foil-lined baking tray. It's essential to begin with a cold oven, as this helps the cake to warm up evenly.
Next, set your oven to 250 degrees F and let it heat gradually. Keep an eye on your cake while it's in the oven to make sure it warms up without becoming too hot. An overcooked gingerbread cake can turn dry and lose its tender, moist texture. Moreover, it's important to remember that the key is to have the cake pleasantly warm, not hot.
If you plan to serve your gingerbread cake with icing, sauces, or other toppings, make sure to add them only after the cake has been reheated. This keeps them from melting or spreading too thinly over the warm cake.
What to Serve with Gingerbread Cake
- A dollop of whipped cream adds lightness and freshness to the rich flavors of gingerbread cake. A scoop of classic vanilla ice cream or a festive flavor, like cinnamon or caramel, can be wonderful.
- Cover with a cream cheese frosting to add a tangy, creamy element that complements the warm spices of the cake.
- Serve with a warm caramel sauce, which adds richness and decadence to the dessert. Simply heat caramel sauce in a saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until warm and slightly thickened.
- Gingerbread pairs exceptionally well with fruit, including tart, pan-seared apple wedges and baked pineapple.
Follow these tips and you'll be well on your way to creating a delicious and memorable gingerbread cake.
- After incorporating the wet and dry ingredients, mix them just until combined as overmixing can result in a dense, tough cake.
- To check if your gingerbread cake is done, insert a toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached and the cake starts to pull from the sides your cake is ready.
- To achieve the best flavor, make sure your spices like ginger, cinnamon, and cloves are fresh as they can lose their potency over time, so it's essential to replace them regularly.
- Position your cake on the middle rack of the oven to ensure even distribution of heat and prevent the top from burning or the bottom from being undercooked.
- Allow your cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely. This will prevent it from breaking or becoming too moist as it cools.
Do you have questions about gingerbread cake? Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about it.
German gingerbread cake, also known as Lebkuchen, has a slightly different ingredient profile from other gingerbread cakes. Its spices may include ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, anise, or cardamom. This traditional German treat is typically sweeter, often containing honey, and may be made with ground nuts, such as almonds or hazelnuts, in place of some of the flour. The texture of Lebkuchen is softer and more cake-like compared to traditional gingerbread cookies.
Golden syrup is a thick, amber-colored sugar syrup with a rich, sweet flavor. When added to a gingerbread cake recipe, it can help retain moisture and create a fine, tender crumb. To use golden syrup in your gingerbread cake, you can simply replace some or all of the molasses with an equal amount of golden syrup in your recipe.
Yes, you can easily adapt a gingerbread cake recipe into cupcakes or individual-sized portions. Just make sure to adjust the baking time accordingly, as smaller servings will typically bake faster than a full-sized cake.
Yes, you can substitute molasses with an equal amount of honey, dark corn syrup, or maple syrup. However, keep in mind that each substitute will give your cake a slightly different flavor profile.
Other Gingerbread Recipes You'll Love
Do you like gingerbread? Try our gingerbread snowflakes or here are some other gingerbread recipes you may also like to try.
Ready to get cooking? Remember that you can print this recipe if you would like.
Gingerbread Cake With Caramel Sauce
- 2 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg or star anise
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter room temp
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup unsulphured molasses
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 1 cup hot water
- Cool whip or ice cream
- Heat the oven to 350°, and spray a 9x13-inch pan with cooking spray.
- In a bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and salt together.
- In a separate bowl, beat the butter, sugar and brown sugar together until creamy. Add the molasses and eggs and beat to combine.
- Add the flour and combine. Pour in the hot water and stir well.
- Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake starts to pull from the sides.
- While the cake is baking, make the caramel sauce. Add the brown sugar, butter, and whipping cream to a pan. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium low until the sauce begins to thicken. Stir in the vanilla. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Serve the cake with ice cream and caramel sauce.
This cake can be served without the caramel sauce. You can use cool whip or ice cream instead.
Watch the caramel sauce carefully while cooking. It can burn easily, so don’t walk away from it while it cooks. Storage:
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 7 days.
The caramel sauce should refrigerated and will keep up to 1 month.
May be frozen for up to 3 months.
This post was originally published December 2020. It has been updated with new images and content.