Gingerbread Cake with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting

by Lu
Gingerbread Cake with Pumpkin Frosting

It took me a long time to think up this cake. My litany of ideas went something like this:

pumpkin pretzels
pumpkin cream cheese panna cotta
1800s pumpkin pie
pumpkin mac & cheese
mini gingerbread bundt cakes
headless gingerbread men

Most of the above will probably still happen, especially the 1800s pumpkin pie, but I ran each one by Nathan and at most, he raised an eyebrow out of curiosity (I believe that was the pumpkin pretzels). It wasn’t until I said gingerbread cake with pumpkin cream cheese frosting that he finally said “Oh yes,” which is about as excited as he ever gets.

Gingerbread Cake with Pumpkin Frosting
I was a little scared to let Nathan taste test this cake because last time, when I made it as a persimmon upside down cake, his lip swelled up after one bite. At the time, I was convinced he was lying, that he was secretly on a diet and didn’t want to eat any sugar, but I googled persimmon allergy and it is apparently a thing. He did say the texture of that cake was very good. This time, I tentatively offered a slice of cake, and to my surprise, he said he would risk it.

“This is very excellent cake,” he said. Wow! That’s a lot of praise coming from Nathan, owner of four waffle irons.

We waited five minutes. His lip did not swell up. Phew.

Gingerbread Cake with Pumpkin Frosting
This is one deeply spiced, dark molasses gingerbread. Ginger is definitely the star here. I never understand when a gingerbread recipe calls for more cinnamon than ginger. It’s not cinnamonbread, hello. It’s gingerbread. There’s also other good stuff in here, like 3 apples!

On to the pumpkin cream cheese frosting now – it is pumpkin pie spiced, takes only a few minutes to whip up, and is almost healthy, cause I made it with Greek yogurt cream cheese, my newest discovery. It’s got 4 times the protein and half the fat. You can of course use the original, or Neufchâtel cheese, but this Greek yogurt stuff really does taste like cream cheese, so why not give it a try?

Gingerbread Cake with Pumpkin Frosting
I had quite the internal struggle calling this “frosting.” Frosting is my nemesis. I buy things with frosting and then scrape it off. I might as well just flush dollar bills down the toilet. But anyway, I am not a fan. I love whipped cream, ganache, whipped ganache, and syrup, but I hate frosting. So I tried out other words on Nathan. Pumpkin cream cheese whip? Meh. Whipped topping? No, that might be mistaken for Cool Whip. Fluff? Once again, marshmallows took that one. Spread?

“SPREAD?!” Ok, definitely not spread.

In the end, I just have to call it frosting, but of a creamy, light, and luscious variety. It imparts moisture to the gingerbread layers and seeps into the crumb, making this cake even better the next day. In fact, for a more decadent cake, I wholeheartedly encourage doubling the frosting recipe and piling it on, especially if you are like me and swipe several spoonfuls while frosting your cake.

Now I must hurry and finish writing this post because my friend Cindy is shouting “CAKE CAKE CAKE” over the interwebs at me. I think she wants the recipe.

Gingerbread Cake with Pumpkin Frosting

Gingerbread Cake with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting

Rating: 51

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Gingerbread Cake with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting

This cake is better overnight, as the spices will have time to bloom. Keep it refrigerated, then bring it back to room temperature (about 30 minutes) before serving.

If you don't have cake flour, you can use all-purpose flour. Cake flour just makes the crumb extremely tender.

You can also substitute regular, light, or Neufchâtel cream cheese in the frosting.

I tested this recipe with butter, oil, and a butter + oil combo. Oil works best.


2 cups cake flour (measured using spoon-and-sweep method)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened applesauce or fresh apple puree (roughly 3 sweet apples peeled, cored, and pureed in a food processor)
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs
1/2 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap) (try Grandma's Robust Molasses)
1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil (I used extra light olive oil)
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin Puree)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon allspice
Pinch (1/16 teaspoon) cloves
1/4 cup natural cane sugar
1 package (8oz.) Greek Cream Cheese, room temperature


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9-inch round springform pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk flour with baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix applesauce or apple puree with baking soda.
  4. In a third, large bowl, beat eggs, molasses, brown sugar, and oil until smooth. Add to dry ingredients and gently stir to form a smooth batter. Fold in applesauce mixture.
  5. Pour batter into pan and bake in center of oven for 40-45 minutes (a toothpick inserted in middle of gingerbread should come out clean). Cool 5 minutes in pan on wire rack, then unmold to cool completely.
  6. Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting:
  7. Mix pumpkin puree with the spices and sugar, then beat in softened cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Keep refrigerated if not using immediately.
  8. Assembly:
  9. Slice the gingerbread into two layers (I used a wire slicer from IKEA).
  10. Spread or pipe the frosting over both layers, then stack them.
  11. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Bring the cake back to room temperature (for 30 minutes), then serve.


Gingerbread recipe adapted from Classic Gingerbread.
Gingerbread Cake with Pumpkin FrostingGingerbread Cake with Pumpkin Frosting

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Marnie November 27, 2014 - 1:24 pm

Lu! I made this cake for my family and they loved it! The only substitutions I made were 1 c. fresh pureed pumpkin instead of apple, and minced fresh ginger instead of ground ginger. Then we had a power outage when the cake was in the oven, so I was worried it would be underdone, but I just left it in until the oven cooled and the cake came out moist and delicious. The cream cheese icing (I made it with Neufchatel because I couldn’t find the Greek yogurt stuff) was to die for. We ate it by candlelight because the power didn’t come on till this morning! You’re missing all the snow, btw!!!

Lu November 27, 2014 - 8:31 pm

Marnie that is the best story ever! Awesome that you made the cake with pumpkin puree – now I can add that as a substitution in the recipe notes 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving from China!!

Marnie November 27, 2014 - 9:09 pm

Yay! You, too!

Fooodpost November 19, 2014 - 4:40 am

Looks absolutely delicious!

Arpita@ The Gastronomic Bong November 11, 2014 - 11:08 am

Wow!! this gingerbread cake looks brilliant.. and the cream cheese frosting is calling my name.. Yumm!!! 🙂

CakePants November 6, 2014 - 1:06 pm

This looks fantastic!! I have to make a dessert for a potluck this weekend, and this will be perfect – thanks for the recipe! Also, pumpkin mac and cheese is definitely worth making…my boyfriend gobbled it all up so quickly I hardly got any myself.

Lu November 6, 2014 - 6:23 pm

Yay! Let me know how you like it 😛 I’ll definitely be making your pumpkin mac and cheese.


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