Lemon Gingerbread Cake With Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting


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Memories, memories…

Something about certain flavors just takes you right back to certain memories. Sometimes very specific, and sometimes more general. This lemon gingerbread cake recipe is a riff on something Dear Old Dad used to make when I was young. A super traditional gingerbread (not gingerbread cookies – that’s another pot of deliciousness altogether) with a thin, syrupy lemon sauce that was drizzled over the top before adding a dollop of whipped cream. Simple. Amazing!

For my spin on this favorite, I’ve created a Lemon Gingerbread Cake that combines the flavors of ginger, warm spices, lemon, and cream into a moist gingerbread cake with lemon zest/juice, and sweet candied ginger. In place of lemon drizzle and whipped cream, my lemon gingerbread cake recipe is finished with a tart, creamy lemon cream cheese frosting.

Gingerbread Cake Lemon Icing Recipe Food By Joe

Start with the dry ingredients

When I make cakes – particularly like this Lemon Gingerbread Cake Recipe that requires adding dry ingredients to wet gradually – I find that it really helps to get all of my dry ingredients mixed together in a big bowl before I start.

Gingerbread Cake Lemon Icing Recipe Food By Joe

That butter/sugar thing

Start with soft butter. I like to leave a couple of sticks out when I know I’ll be baking – but you can also soften butter on low power in the microwave.

Pop the butter and sugar into a stand mixer and beat it on medium speed with the whisk attachment for 2 minutes or so. Stop part way through to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Gingerbread Cake Lemon Icing Recipe Food By Joe

What’s gingerbread cake without molasses?

As a confirmed stickiness-hater (I’m told this is referred to as being ‘tactilely defensive’ ?) I used to avoid recipes with molasses or corn syrup – the thought of the mess was a big deterrent. I’ve found, though, that molasses is actually a pretty easy ingredient! Sure, you have to be careful about drips – but molasses actually behaves pretty well, sliding out of measuring cups and blending with room-temperature liquids better than honey! This Lemon Gingerbread Cake recipe has definitely gotten me over my molasses-phobia! ?

TIP: Rinse your measuring cup/spoon in water or wipe a little oil inside before measuring your molasses – it will slip right out!

Time to paddle!

This batter for your Lemon Gingerbread Cake will get pretty thick – so the whisk attachment, while great for creaming the butter & sugar, will likely struggle since the dry ingredients are added. I recommend swapping to the paddle attachment, which is much better for thicker batters. (The paddle is also better when mixing in things like nuts, dried fruits, or chocolate chips!)

Time to put the ‘lemon’ in your Lemon Gingerbread Cake! Place the lemon juice, lemon zest, molasses, and egg into the bowl of the mixer and set to medium-low speed until the mixture is smooth and rich brown. Yummm!!

Gingerbread Cake Lemon Icing Recipe Food By Joe

Add the dry stuff gradually!

Remember that whole ‘tactilely defensive” thing? Yeah, recipes that require adding dry ingredients to a moving mixer have mess written all over them. The best method I have found for adding dry ingredients to a mixer is using a ½ cup measure as a scoop. It’s small enough to pour in without spilling but big enough not to be there all day adding spoonfuls of flour! If you’re one of those nifty “use the parchment paper as a chute” people, well more power to you! This is the simplest and fastest way I’ve found!

For your Lemon Gingerbread Cake, with the mixer on low or medium-low, scoop in the dry ingredients ½ cup at a time, allowing them to fully incorporate before adding more. Scrape down the sides if needed. The mixture will get quite thick!

Gingerbread Cake Lemon Icing Recipe Food By Joe

We’re in hot water now!

One unique step in this lemon gingerbread cake is the use of boiling or very hot water. According to The Luna Cafe, “Hot water loosens the gluten strands in the flour, creating a lighter textured gingerbread“. B’okay!

Set the mixer to low speed (seriously, splattering boiling water all over yourself is not a mistake that gets repeated!) and slowly drizzle the boiling water into the mixer. Once the water is all incorporated, you can turn the mixer up to medium to smooth things out.

Gingerbread Cake Lemon Icing Recipe Food By Joe

This can’t be right…

…Is what I said to myself the first time I tried this method. The water makes for a very thin textured batter – seems too runny to be true. But have faith! This Lemon Gingerbread Cake is moist and rich!

Gilding the ginger lily

Just to really drive home the ginger factor, I like to include a handful of crystallized ginger at the very end before pouring the Lemon Gingerbread Cake batter into the greased/floured pan. I recommend tossing the crystallized ginger in a teaspoon or so of flour before adding them – this will help them stay suspended in the thin batter, and not all go to the bottom.

Gingerbread Cake Lemon Icing Recipe Food By Joe

Bake!

Pour the batter into your prepared pan and pop it into the 350-degree oven for 45-50 minutes. You want a toothpick or skewer inserted in the center of the cake to come out very nearly clean (a tiny bit of crumb is A-OK).

When you take the Lemon Gingerbread Cake out of the oven, run a thin knife along the inside of the pan, and set in a wire rack to cool for at least 30 minutes.

YOU CAN ALSO LEAVE THIS CAKE IN THE PAN AND FROST IT THERE!

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Yes, you read that correctly. Just calm down, we’re almost ready to eat this amazing gingerbread cake with lemon cream cheese frosting!

Technically, this is a combo of buttercream and cream cheese frosting. Butter or cream cheese? How about Butter AND cream cheese?

Gingerbread Cake Lemon Icing Recipe Food By Joe

While the cake bakes, combine the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and lemon zest to the mixer and mix on medium-low speed with the whisk attachment until smooth and combined.

Before you add the lemon juice, add a few tablespoons of powdered sugar and mix it through. This will help prevent the lemon juice from making the cream cheese grainy.

Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar and mix on medium until smooth. If frosting is too runny, add more powdered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. If frosting is too thick, add lemon juice 1 teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.

Gingerbread Cake Lemon Icing Recipe Food By Joe

Set your frosting aside until the Lemon Gingerbread Cake is cool enough to frost. If you plan to leave the cake in the pan, simply spread the frosting evenly over the top and spread it out. Boom! Ready to serve!

If you choose to turn the cake out onto a platter, scoop the frosting in the center of the top of the cake, and spread it out toward the edges. I like to leave the sides bare, but you can certainly frost them too if you like!

Gingerbread Cake Lemon Icing Recipe Food By Joe
Gingerbread Cake Lemon Icing Recipe Food By Joe
Gingerbread Cake Lemon Icing Recipe Food By Joe

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Lemon Gingerbread Cake

Gingerbread Cake Lemon Icing Recipe Food By Joe

Quick prep and simple steps make this delicious cake a winner! Spicy ginger and tart lemon balance this rich cake with creamy lemon frosting.

Ingredients

Scale

For the cake:

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1 cup molasses (unsulphured)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons crystallized ginger, tossed in 1 teaspoon flour

For the frosting:

  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more as needed for texture
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, plus more as needed for texture

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Generously grease and flour a 9” round cake pan (or two 8” rounds, or 9” square)
  3. In a large bowl add flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Whisk to combine, set aside
  4. Place softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add brown sugar and use the whisk attachment to cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 1-2 minutes. If necessary, scrape down the sides of the bowl halfway through
  5. Shake off the whisk attachment and replace with paddle attachment
  6. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, egg & molasses and stir on medium-low speed to combine
  7. With mixer on medium-low speed, gradually add dry ingredients using a ½ cup measure to add ½ cup at a time until fully combined
  8. With mixer on low speed, gradually add the boiling water. Once combined, turn mixer to medium to fully incorporate for 1 minute. Remove bowl from the mixer
  9. Toss the crystallized ginger in a teaspoon of flour
  10. Add the crystallized ginger to the mixer bowl and use a spatula to fold in
  11. Pour batter into prepared pan
  12. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick or sharp knife poked in center of cake comes out clean or with a very few crumbs
  13. Remove cake from oven and cool in the pan – on a baking rack – for 60 minutes
  14. For the frosting – place softened butter and cream cheese in mixer bowl. Add vanilla and lemon juice and mix with whisk attachment on medium-low to fully combine
  15. Add powdered sugar in 3-4 batches, allowing the frosting to fully combine before adding more
  16. If frosting is too runny, add more powdered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached
  17. If frosting is too thick, add lemon juice 1 teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached
  18. Cooled cake can be frosted in the pan or turned out to a serving platter
  19. If using a platter, run a sharp knife around the edges of the pan and carefully turn out onto a platter
  20. Place frosting on top of the cake, starting in the center and using a spatula to spread just to the edges Leave the sides un-frosted, or continue to spread over the sides

 

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