Ok, I realize I’ve been hitting the peppermint treats hard in recent weeks here on my blog. And although I’m sure some of you don’t mind (I know I haven’t minded “disposing” of any and all pepperminty leftovers…) there are probably some of you out there thinking “Enough with the peppermint already!” Peppermint may be absolutely A-MAZING, but it’s definitely not the only delicious holiday flavor out there, and I’d be completely amiss to not highlight some of those other wonderful flavors. So today I’m whipping up a new spin on a Christmas classic: it’s gingerbread cake with a boozy coffee frosting (and a cookie garnish, of course!)!
Makes one 3 layer 6″ cake
For the gingerbread cake:
1 stick (113 grams) butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
For the boozy frosting:
5 egg whites
10 oz. granulated sugar
3 3/4 stick (425 grams) butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
3-4 tbsp. Tia Maria or other coffee flavored liqueur
To start, preheat your oven to 350*F (175*C), and line and grease two 6″ cake pans. In a large bowl, melt your butter, and whisk in all your ingredients except the flour. Add the flour and whisk until the ingredients are just combined. Divide the batter evenly between your two cake pans, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely before you try assembling everything.
While the cakes cool, you can save some time by putting together your frosting! In a large bowl over a boiling pot of water (double boiler), whisk together your egg whites and granulated sugar until the sugar has completely dissolved (you can test this by dipping your finger into the mixture and seeing if you feel any granules). Remove the bowl from the pot of boiling water, and whisk it on high until your meringue holds stiff peaks and the mixture has cooled to about room temperature (about 10 minutes). Beat in the butter (on a medium-high speed setting) until a smooth frosting forms (this is a swiss meringue buttercream frosting, which means it’ll go from chunky, to looking curdled, to finally a smooth batter, so don’t worry if it looks over-beat… just keep beating!). Add your cinnamon and coffee liqueur (for an alcohol-free version, simply leave out the liqueur) and beat until everything is just combined.
Once your cakes have cooled, cut off any excess from your layers so that they’re level, and divide them into the number of layers you’d like in your cake (one of my cakes came out a little taller than the other so I went with three layers). To assemble your cake, spread an even layer of frosting (about 1/2″ thick) on top of each layer of cake, and begin stacking. Once your reach the top, give your cake a nice little crumb coat to lock in those crumbs (in other words, a thin layer of frosting to lock in the crumbs before a thicker layer is applied). Spread an even layer around the sides of your cake, and over the top. Smooth out your frosting as much as possible, but don’t worry too much if it’s not perfect because we’re going to create a pattern in it anyway.
To create the ridged pattern around the cake, simply use the handle-end of a small spoon, and holding it gently against the frosting, turn your cake (this works best with a cake table so the spinning motion is fluid). Repeat the same thing for the top.
Obviously a gingerbread cake wouldn’t be complete without some gingerbread cookies, so if you want to make a cookie garnish, it’s pretty easy! Whip up some gingerbread cookies, decorate them with royal icing, and then simply “glue” them to lollipop sticks with your left over royal icing. Easy peasy! No special directions, just have fun and be creative!
Frosting technique adapted from Apt. 2B Baking Co.