Gingerbread Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream is a moist cake full of flavors from molasses, ginger, and cinnamon and topped with a salted caramel buttercream frosting. Try my Soft Ginger Cookie for another treat full of ginger and cinnamon spice.
Yes, gingerbread desserts and treats are usually reserved for the holidays, but why limit yourself to enjoying this moist and flavorful cake? The frosting compliments the spice cake perfectly and is enough to pile plenty high on this cake. Or, use some of it on these Chocolate Cupcakes.
Molasses: The molasses in the cake is unsulphured molasses. Unsulphured molasses (regular molasses) is richer, thicker, and sweeter than sulphured. It is made with fewer preservatives because it is made with more mature sugarcane. Sulphured molasses has added sulfur dioxide to the younger sugarcane, so that can alter the flavor of the recipe.
There is also a variety of molasses called blackstrap. Do not substitute molasses in a recipe (including this one) for blackstrap unless the recipe is very specific about using it.
Room Temperature Ingredients: For best results, have all ingredients (especially butter, eggs, and milk) at room temperature. To be specific, room temperature ingredients should be 65-70°F.
This spice cake is as easy to make as it is delicious. To get started, cream the butter and sugar. This is where room temperature butter (65°F) is so important. If you use it right out of the refrigerator, it’s too cold. If you forgot to take it out, do not warm it in the microwave. Instead, cut it into little pieces to let it come to room temperature a little faster.
After the butter and sugar are mixed until light and fluffy, add the molasses and room temperature egg. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Whisking will ensure that the baking soda and salt are evenly distributed.
When adding the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternate between adding the flour mixture and the water. Start by adding about 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by half the water. Add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients, followed by the other half of water. End with adding the rest of the flour mixture. Mix until combined.
Pour the cake batter into a 9×9-inch baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 325°F for 45-50 minutes. Check the cake after 30 minutes. If you notice the edges getting too dark, cover with aluminum foil. The cake is done when an inserted toothpick comes out with a few dry crumbs on it (but not wet batter). As the cake cools, make the Salted Caramel Buttercream.
In a microwave-safe bowl, add the caramels, the butter, and the milk. Heat it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Remove the bowl and stir, and then pop it back in. Repeat the 30-second intervals between 1-3 minutes total until it is all melted together. You will use this caramel topping in the salted buttercream recipe. You can use all of it in the buttercream, or just use 1/2 cup and reserve the rest for drizzle.
Having your butter and milk at room temperature helps greatly. Substituting whipping cream for milk is a great idea, but not necessary if you get the butter whipped up nicely. (I do not recommend skim milk in this recipe.)
In a stand mixture, combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar, salt, and caramel sauce. Start mixing on low until every ingredient is combined. Then, mix it on high for a couple of minutes, or until the buttercream is smooth and fluffy.
The milk is added for your desired consistency, so start with just a little bit, and continue to add more milk to make it smoother. Buttercream can be made in advance, so to save some time, make it ahead of time!
When ready, cover the cooled gingerbread cake with the frosting. This makes A LOT of frosting, so you may have extra. (Or, if you love a thick layer of frosting, use it all!) But, it’s easy to save. Store it in the refrigerator for up to a week or the freezer for up to 3 months.
Gingerbread Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream is a moist cake full of flavors from molasses, ginger, and cinnamon and topped with a salted caramel buttercream frosting.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray a 9×9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the molasses and egg. Beat until smooth.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt.
Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture, mixing until just combined (don’t overmix). Add half the water, followed by another third of the dry ingredients. Pour in the remaining water and add the final third of the dry ingredients. Mix until combined.
Pour batter into prepared baking dish. Bake 45-50 minutes. (Check the cake after about 30 minutes; cover with aluminum foil if the edges are getting too dark.) The cake is done when an inserted toothpick comes out with a few crumbs, but no wet batter. Remove from the oven and let cool as you make the Salted Caramel Buttercream.
Melt the caramels, butter, and milk in a microwave-safe glass or ceramic bowl in 30-second intervals, stirring after each melting. Set aside.
Combine the butter, sugar, salt, and caramel sauce in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. (You can reserve some of the caramel sauce to use as a caramel drizzle.)
Start mixing on low speed until the sugar is incorporated with the butter. Increase the mixing speed to high and beat until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Adjust the consistency with milk as needed.
Spread the buttercream over the cooled gingerbread cake.
Store unused buttercream in the refrigerator in an airtight container and bring it back to room temperature before using it to pipe or frost.
The Gingerbread Cake was inspired by Taste of Home’s Granny’s Gingerbread Cake.