The Adorable Layer Cake That’s Crazy Easy to Decorate

Baking, Christmas, Cook

Step aside, gingerbread cookie—this easy gingerbread cake takes everything we love about gingerbread (warming spices, rich molasses flavor, and the way it smells when it’s baking in the oven) and transforms it into a showstopping tiered cake with a mini slow globe on top. Bonus: Making it might actually be simplier than cutting out all those gingerbread cookies anyway.


The cake recipe was developed by the Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen cooks for their new book, Favorite Cakes: Showstopping Recipes for Every Occasion. You can read more of their layer cake tips here, or keep scrolling to get the recipe for this gingerbread cake.

Photo from “Favorite Cakes: Showstopping Recipes For Every Occasion”


Gingerbread Cake with Maple-Mascarpone Whipped Cream



For the Cake

  • ¾ cup (180 ml) canola oil, plus more for greasing
  • 2 cups (10 oz) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup (250 ml) Guinness or oatmeal stout
  • ¾ cup (8 ½ oz) molasses
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (8 oz) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (7 oz) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

For the Frosting

  • 2/3 cup (5 oz) mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract

For Decorating

  • 4 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  • Store bought or homemade gingerbread people


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper, then grease the parchment. Dust with flour, then tap out any excess.


2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the Guinness and molasses and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the baking soda. The mixture will bubble; continue to whisk until the bubbling subsides. Let cool completely.


3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, both sugars, and oil. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom over the egg mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold until well combined into a cohesive batter. Add the Guinness mixture and stir until blended. The batter will be thin.


4. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 22 – 26 minutes. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let cool for 10 minutes, then invert the cakes onto the racks and let cool completely.


5. Make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the mascarpone, cream, vanilla, and maple extract on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. Use right away, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.


6. To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread one-third of the mascarpone whipped cream evenly over the cake. Repeat with the remaining cake layers, then spread the remaining whipped cream over the top of the cake. Gently stand the gingerbread cookies on top of the cake. Surround with the rosemary springs to resemble trees and dust the entire cake with confectioners’ sugar to resemble snow. The cake can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.


12 comments about “The Adorable Layer Cake That’s Crazy Easy to Decorate

  1. Laura Forsythe

    I made this and the frosting is wrong. Can someone review the frosting recipe?

  2. Laura Forsythe

    Ok updated to review. Frosting recipe is written wrong. After a lot of research you must whip the cream first then add the marscapone. We fixed the frosting and as a family threw 3/4 cake out. Too much ginger and cake is very, very dense. There wasn’t enough frosting like the picture. I would say you would need to easily triple it to be similar.

  3. Allison Magee

    Why did this cake come out so thin/dense/wet/chewy?! I’m a good baker normally, but I thought these would come out thick, cake-like and moist… they feel so dense and chewy it’s almost like they’re raw but I baked them for 3x longer than the recipe says!

  4. Rhonda

    Does anybody else have a problem with Pinterest blocking this blog bc they think it’s spam?

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