This moist gingerbread cake with brown butter cream cheese frosting is super simple to make. Decorated with a few sparkling sugared cranberries, it is a festive holiday cake that the whole family will love.
For the last few years, my in-laws, Phil, and I have had an early-December tradition of picking up a Christmas tree at a nearby stand and bringing it home on foot. This is no small feat, since we are talking about an 8-foot tree and a couple of long blocks, on a busy city sidewalk.
After we get the tree home, we spend the rest of the day decorating it, sharing a meal and generally enjoying being together.
The other thing that makes this tradition extra-special is that we celebrate my father-in-law’s birthday right after the tree-trimming. Every year I make a cake, and this year’s was this beautiful gingerbread cake with brown butter cream cheese frosting. The cake is moist and perfectly spiced with all the warm flavors of the holidays. The frosting is really something special though. If you’ve never had brown butter, it is one food trend that is not overrated at all. It adds a delicious, rich, nutty flavor to tangy cream cheese frosting.
Having kids is great for building traditions. Now that Jack is here, I have no doubt that we’ll be doing this for many more years to come. This Christmas is also extra-special since this is Jack’s third, and he is just starting to participate in the holiday fun. Like a typical two-year-old, he likes Santa in theory – and from a distance – but not so much in real life. Still, he’s got the holiday spirit and he’s bringing it out in all of us too!
It was my first time frosting a cake in this trendy “naked” style. I was impressed with how pretty it turned out (and how easy it was!). I followed these tips from Tessa Huff of Style Sweet CA, which I found super helpful. Her beautiful book, Layered, is on my Christmas list :).
The most important step, I’d say, is to use a “frosting dam” by piping a border between the layers. This prevents gaps between the layers when you frost the sides. Of course the style is meant to be rustic, so some gaps and unevenness are fine.
After frosting, I decorated the gingerbread cake with a few sugared cranberries. These turned out to be a delicious crunchy, sweet-and-tart addition. I followed these instructions from Everyday Annie and they were perfect.
If you are called upon to make a celebration cake, in between all your other holiday baking, give this easy, beautiful gingerbread cake a try. (OH, and if you’re called upon to make a birthday cake at any other time of year, it should be this unbelievable Chocolate Caramel Cake :))