Gingerbread Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

filed under: Cakes · Dessert · Food + Drink on December 11, 2020

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.

Gingerbread Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

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.

Fork with Bite of Gingerbread Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting

Gingerbread Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream Ingredients

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.

Half Frosted Gingerbread Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting

How to Make Gingerbread Cake

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.

Pan with Gingerbread Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting

How to Make the Caramel Topping

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.

How to Make Salted Caramel Buttercream

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.

Fork Taking a Bite of Gingerbread Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting

Looking for More Holiday Treats?

Christmas Ooey-Gooey Butter Cookies

Fancy Christmas Cakes

Sugar Cookie Bars

Christmas Tree Cookies

5 from 3 votes
Gingerbread Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins

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.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Gingerbread Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream
Servings: 9
Calories: 773 kcal
Author: Amanda
Gingerbread Cake
  • 9 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup molasses, unsulphured
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup water
Caramel Sauce
  • 1 bag (11 ounces) caramel bits
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick or 57g) butter
  • 1 tablespoon milk
Salted Caramel Buttercream
  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 227g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups (500g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
Gingerbread Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray a 9x9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

  3. Add the molasses and egg. Beat until smooth.

  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

Caramel Sauce
  1. Melt the caramels, butter, and milk in a microwave-safe glass or ceramic bowl in 30-second intervals, stirring after each melting. Set aside.

Salted Caramel Buttercream
  1. 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.)

  2. 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.

  3. Adjust the consistency with milk as needed.

  4. Spread the buttercream over the cooled gingerbread cake.

  5. 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.

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  • Vicki says:

    How much flour?

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      2 1/4 cups, sorry about that

  • Linda K Welch says:

    The recipe is missing the amount of flour.

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      2 1/4 cups, sorry about that

  • Stephanie says:

    Is this icing super sweet? Seems like a lot of sugar.

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      Yes, it is very sweet

  • Doreen Petersen says:

    Hi. It lookd so delicious. Would like to receive some recipes….appreciated😊🙏.

  • Sandy says:

    Is there a different icing you could recommend?

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      You can search for “buttercream” or “frosting” on my site and see if anything looks appealing to you.

  • Louise Tracy says:

    Can the recipe be doubled and then make a layer cake? I made your peppermint chocolate cake with peppermint icing last Christmas. Truly a hit so now looking for another cake!

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      Yes, you definitely can. 🙂

  • Wendy says:

    Hi, Is the butter for the cake and caramel sauce salted or unsalted. Can’t wait to try it!

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Wendy! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. The cake and caramel sauce calls for salted butter. Use unsalted butter for the buttercream. It is a delicious cake! Have a great day!

  • Tracy says:

    I just made this for my daughter’s birthday. I filled 2 – 8 inch rounds and cooked for only 33 minutes. Everyone loved it! I accidentally added the caramel while it was too warm so I had fun bringing it back to the proper texture. I could have eaten the cake by itself without the icing. The texture was moist. Definitely will make again.

  • Kelly Bowyer says:

    Where can you find caramel bits? I have never seen them with chocolate chips or bags of butter brickle

  • Catherine Reichel says:

    My mom used to make gingerbread cake and served it with a hot lemon sauce and a dollop of whipped cream. Absolutely delicious.

  • Anne says:

    Just wondering if this cake can be made with cake flour? or gluten free flour?

  • Lily says:

    100000% delish!

  • Christina says:

    Can I double the amount and make a 9×13 cake?

  • Stacy Murray says:

    Has anyone adapted this for cupcakes? I’d like to make cupcakes for our quilt guild.

  • I Am Baker Logo

    Brand new recipes that people find kinda acceptable.