This Gingerbread Latte Cake is your favorite Holiday drink in cake form! Gingerbread spice cake layers with an espresso buttercream.
This Gingerbread Latte Cake is the last cake in my holiday beverage cake trio. It’s also my very favorite holiday drink in cake form. It used to be all about the Pumpkin Spice Latte over here, but I actually don’t think I’ve even had one of those in the past few years.
The Gingerbread Latte is the only holiday drink that has my heart now, so it was only fitting that I turn it into a delicious cake.
I had some time to kill on Wednesday, so I stopped into Starbucks to get my first Gingerbread Latte of the season. We used to go to Starbucks all the time, but we’ve barely gone at all since we got Zelda. I’m not sure why exactly — we could take her with us and sit on the patio — but it’s not as chill and enjoyable as it used to be, and I don’t think it’s exactly fun for her, so we just don’t do it anymore.
So there I am, all excited to dive right into my favorite holiday drink, when I go in and realize that none of their holiday merchandise is out yet. Minor panic set in, I’m not going to lie. Much to my dismay, the holiday drinks were all coming out the NEXT day. Off by a day. Worst.
I remember them busting out their holiday stuff on Nov 1 or 2nd years prior, so I thought for sure they’d have it. I begrudgingly settled on a very sub-par caramel macchiato. Good thing I had some of this Gingerbread Latte Cake at home to satisfy the craving!
Gingerbread Latte Cake
I used my favorite Gingerbread Cake recipe for the cake layers. I could have added espresso powder to it, but I wanted each element to stand on its own.
Do not use Blackstrap molasses in the cake. It is quite a bit stronger than the fancy molasses I’ve used here and will overpower the flavor. If that’s all you can find I recommend using half the amount of molasses and adding an equal part of golden syrup.
The frosting is the same espresso Swiss meringue buttercream that I’ve used numerous times before (I love it). My instant espresso powder is fine enough that I don’t need to dissolve it in hot water first, but I’ve started to do that because I find it gives the frosting a darker more obvious espresso color.
Fault Line Cake Frosting Technique
I first saw this technique from MilkMoonKitchen on Instagram. She has some gorgeous and crazy unique cakes, and this one, in particular, was so stunning, showing the cake layers peeking through the frosting.
I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of the double fault line cakes that are very trendy right now, but I loved the idea of creating some depth to this cake by adding a simple smooth layer of frosting to cover up some of the cake combed detail. I think it turned out pretty well!
This was my process:
- Start with a thick base of espresso buttercream all around the cake, smooth out.
- Run a scalloped cake comb (the left side of the one on the right in this set) around the sides until it’s smooth.
- Fill in patches of buttercream as needed to make sure it’s all even. It took a few passes, but otherwise it was pretty straightforward.
- After smoothing the top, chill the whole cake in the fridge for 30mins to set (or in the freezer for less time if you have the space). This is important, don’t skip this step.
- Once the cake is chilled, use a straight spatula to add the white buttercream around the base of the cake. Allow some of the buttercream to go higher up the cake to create depth.
- Smooth the sides with an icing scraper. Patch as needed and repeat.
It’s important to chill the cake between frosting layers so that the white frosting doesn’t smush into the espresso frosting. This will ruin the scalloped effect, and the frostings can start to blend together.
After that, it was just some simple dollops on top using a Wilton 4B tip, some nopareils and crispearls, and some chopped candied ginger.
If you’re a Gingerbread Latte fan like I am, you will LOVE this cake. It’s the perfect combination of delicious holiday flavors. If you wanted to amp up the flavor even more, you could add some chopped ginger and/or espresso powder right into the cake batter.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I convert this recipe?
- The recipe as-is will also work in two 8″ pans. For three 8″ pans, 1.5x the recipe. Baking time may need to be adjusted.
- To make cupcakes, all you need to do is reduce the baking time — start checking at 15mins or so. The recipe will make 18-24 cupcakes depending on size.
- For other conversions go here.
Can I make it in advance?
- The cooled cake layers can be baked ahead of time, double wrapped in plastic wrap, and frozen for up to 3 months. Take out 2-3 hours before assembly.
- The frosting can be placed in an airtight container and refrigerated for 1 week for frozen for 3 months. Bring to room temp and rewhip before using.
- The finished cake (whole or sliced, stored airtight) can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Can I get the measurements by weight/grams?
- There is a Metric option in the recipe card. If you click it it will convert everything to grams.
- This conversion is done automatically and I cannot guarantee the accuracy but many readers have had success using the metric option on my recipes.
Why can’t I use Blackstrap molasses?
- Blackstrap molasses is too strong and will overpower the flavor. If that’s all you can find I recommend using half the amount of molasses and adding an equal part of golden syrup.
Tips for making this Gingerbread Latte Cake
- See blog post for details on frosting technique and tools used.
- I like to prepare my cake pans using Homemade Cake Release then line with parchment.
- Be sure to check my Swiss Meringue Buttercream post for tips and troubleshooting.
- Learn how to keep your cakes moist using Simple Syrup.
- To help ensure your cake layers bake up nice and flat, check out my Flat Top Cakes post!
Gingerbread Latte Cake
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/4 tsps baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp ground cloves
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar lightly packed
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 3/4 cup fancy molasses do not use blackstrap
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 3/4 cup buttermilk room temperature
- Preheat oven to 350F and grease and flour three 6″ cake rounds, line with parchment.
- In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add sugars and beat on med-high until pale and fluffy (2-3mins).
- Reduce speed and add eggs one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition. Add molasses and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
- Alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour (3 additions of flour and 2 of milk). Fully incorporating after each addition. Do not overmix.
- Spread batter evenly into prepared pans. Smooth the tops with a spatula.
- Bake for approx. 30-35 mins or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.
- Place cakes on wire rack to cool for 10mins then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.
Espresso Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- Place egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk until combined.*
- Place bowl over a pot with 1-2" of simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture is hot and no longer grainy to the touch or reads 160F on a candy thermometer (about 3mins).
- Place bowl on your stand mixer and whip on med-high until the meringue is stiff and cooled (the bowl is no longer warm to the touch (approx. 5-10mins)).
- Switch to paddle attachment. Slowly add cubed butter and mix until smooth.**
- Add vanilla and whip until smooth. Remove 3 cups of buttercream, set aside for white fault line frosting.
- Add espresso to remaining buttercream and whip until smooth.***
- Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving plate. Top with 2/3 cup of frosting. Repeat with next layer.
- Place the final layer on top and do a think crumb coat on the cake. Chill for 30mins.
- Do dollops of the white frosting on top using a Wilton 4B piping tip. Sprinkle small and large white nonpareils on top as well as some chocolate crispearls and candied ginger if desired. Place coffee beans along the bottom.