This impressive cake is actually a lot easier to make than it looks! Caramel gingerbread cake with whipped caramel icing is everything we know and love about the classic Christmas cookie in cake form. With a lazy version of easy homemade caramel sauce, this cake and icing have a light and sweet flavor that is unbelievably delicious and not something you taste everyday!
what makes this caramel gingerbread cake so good?
- tender and moist gingerbread spiced cake
- caramel in the cake and in the icing!
- pillowy and fluffy whipped icing
- beautiful, but surprisingly easy to make!
easy caramel sauce
While I love every single thing about this cake, one of the highlights has got to be the unbelievably simple and quick caramel sauce! Unlike a more traditional caramel sauce, which involves caramelizing granulated sugar and gradually building the sauce off of that burnt sugar base, THIS homemade caramel is a toss everything in the pan and cook kind of thing.
Not only is this caramel sauce more failproof (because it's very difficult to accidentally burn the sugar!) it's also much, much easier and quicker to make!
dark vs light brown sugar
Almost every recipe I craft with brown sugar (unless otherwise stated) can be made with either light or dark, and you'd barely notice a difference, if any. This recipe is totally doable with either light or dark brown sugar, but dark brown will give you a deeper color to your caramel sauce - almost like butterscotch!
I personally used dark brown sugar for my cake components this time around, but feel free to use light brown if that's all you have on hand! Light brown sugar will give you a lighter colored cake with a more mild molasses flavor.
how to make caramel gingerbread cake & whipped caramel icing
1. Make the caramel: Cook caramel ingredients until boiled and thickened, then whisk in vanilla at the very end. Cool the caramel completely to room temperature before using in the cake or icing!
2. Make the cake: Whisk together dry ingredients. Set aside.
3. Cream together butter, oil, and sugar. A few tiny, tiny speckles of butter are fine, but try to work out the larger pieces as best you can.
4. Whisk eggs into the butter mixture one at a time.
5. Add cooled caramel sauce and vanilla. Whisk to combine.
6. Alternate whisking in dry ingredients and buttermilk. Start by mixing in about ½ of the dry ingredients into your caramel mixture. A few streaks are fine at this point. Whisk in all the buttermilk to combine and then add in the remaining dry ingredients. Whisk until just combined and you no longer see any streaks.
7. Pour the cake batter into your greased Bundt pan. Spread into an even layer.
8. Bake until puffed and golden brown.
9. Cool the cake in the pan for no more than 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack. Set aside to cool completely to room temperature.
10. Make the whipped caramel icing: Whisk together icing ingredients until smooth and airy.
11. Decorate your cooled cake! Pour the whipped caramel icing on top of the cake and decorate with some sugared cranberries if desired. Slice and enjoy!
- Cooling. Make sure to cool the caramel completely before using it in the cake or icing - and cool the cake completely before icing it!
- Measuring flour. I always say this but it's so very important: measure your flour either by weight or by spoon and leveling! Scooping your measuring cup straight into your bag of flour can pack in up to 50% more weight worth of flour. This will lead to a dense and dry cake!
- Room temperature. It's important to use room temperature ingredients to make sure everything whips up smoothly, but it's ESPECIALLY important when you're mixing up the butter, oil, and sugar for the cake batter. The butter is going to want to clump up as it is, and if it's not room temperature, it'll be a nightmare trying to break up the pieces of butter !
- Mixing the cake batter. Take care not to overmix the cake batter at any stage. It can overwork the gluten and deflate the air in your batter which (again) leads to a dry cake!
- Whipping up the icing. Speaking of overmixing, take care not to overwhip the icing. If it gets too frothy, it won't pour and drip over your cake.
how to keep cake from sticking to a Bundt pan
- use a good pan: I would say like 80% of sticking problems stem from a poorly designed cake pan. A really good Bundt pan will release the stickiest of cakes with nothing more than a light oiling. Keep in mind that even the best pans will lose their non-stick quality after a lot of use - so if you've had a bad luck spree of cakes sticking to your Bundt pan, odds are it's time to get a new one!
- oiling: Some people swear by using oil to grease their Bundt pans, others will say butter, and some may say a mixture of oil/butter and flour. I've found any one of the methods work as long as you grease the pan GENEROUSLY and make sure to get into every nook and cranny in the pan.
- don't cool in the pan for too long: Unless your recipe states otherwise, it's best to invert Bundt cakes out of the pan within 10 minutes after baking. The fat and sugar in the cake will still be soft and will allow the cake to easily slide out. If the cake firms up in the pan, it'll be VEEERRRYY difficult to get it out in one piece.
If you follow those 3 simple tips, you should never have a sticky Bundt cake again! Buuuuut....
if all else fails...
Don't throw out a cake if it stuck to your Bundt pan! Make cake pops! They're fun, cute, and a great way to use up a failed batch of stuck on cake.
check out these other gingerbread recipes!
Caramel Gingerbread Cake Recipe
for the homemade caramel sauce:
- ½ cup (1 stick / 115g) unsalted butter
- 1 cup (200g) packed brown sugar, light or dark
- ½ cup (120mL) heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
for the gingerbread spiced cake:
- 2 & ½ cups (300g) all-purpose flour, spoon and leveled
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick / 115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- ⅓ cup (80mL) vegetable oil, or any neutral flavored oil
- ¾ cup (150g) packed brown sugar, light or dark
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup (180mL) cooled caramel sauce
- ¾ cup (180mL) buttermilk, at room temperature
for the whipped caramel icing:
- ½ cup (120mL) cooled caramel sauce
- 1 & ½ cups (195g) powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (120mL) cold heavy cream
- sugared cranberries (optional - for decorating)
make the caramel sauce:
- In a medium sized saucepot, combine butter, sugar, heavy cream, and salt. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth. Once melted, bring the mixture up to a boil, and boil for 2 minutes - again while stirring constantly.½ cup (1 stick / 115g) unsalted butter, 1 cup (200g) packed brown sugar,, ½ cup (120mL) heavy cream, ¼ teaspoon salt
- Take off the heat and whisk in your vanilla. Pour the caramel sauce into a medium sized heat safe bowl, and set aside (uncovered) to cool completely to room temperature before using.1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
make the gingerbread spiced Bundt cake:
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 9 inch Bundt pan with vegetable oil or softened butter, and lightly dust with flour and tap out any excess. Set aside.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and salt to combine. Set aside.2 & ½ cups (300g) all-purpose flour,, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground allspice, 1 teaspoon ground cloves, ½ teaspoon salt
- In a large bowl, combine butter, oil, and sugar. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a whisk by hand, cream together until smooth and well combined. You may have a few tiny speckles of butter - that's fine! Just try to work out the clumps as best you can.½ cup (1 stick / 115g) unsalted butter,, ⅓ cup (80mL) vegetable oil,, ¾ cup (150g) packed brown sugar,
- Whisk eggs into the butter mixture one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Whisk in ¾ cup of your cooled caramel sauce and vanilla.2 large eggs,, ¾ cup (180mL) cooled caramel sauce, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Alternate whisking in your dry ingredients and buttermilk. Start by whisking in about half of the dry mixture, then all of the buttermilk. Finish off by whisking in the remaining dry ingredients until just combined. Take care not to overmix!¾ cup (180mL) buttermilk,
- Pour the cake batter into your prepared Bundt pan and spread into an even layer. Bake the cake in the center of your preheated 350°F oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. If you notice your cake browning too quickly, loosely tent the top with aluminum foil to finish baking through.
- Cool your cake for 10 minutes in the Bundt pan, then carefully flip onto a wire rack. Don't let the cake cool for too long in the pan or it'll be more prone to sticking! Cool completely to room temperature before icing.
make the whipped caramel icing:
- In a medium sized bowl, combine ½ a cup of your cooled caramel sauce and powdered sugar. Mix together until the sugar is dissolved.½ cup (120mL) cooled caramel sauce, 1 & ½ cups (195g) powdered sugar
- Add salt and heavy cream, and whisk together until thick and fluffy. Take care not to overwhip the icing or it won't pour nicely over the cake. You can do this by hand with a whisk or with an electric mixer. It took me about 3 minutes of whisking by hand.½ teaspoon salt, ½ cup (120mL) cold heavy cream
- Drizzle the icing over your cooled cake and decorate the top with sugared cranberries if desired. Slice and enjoy!