Buttermilk Gingerbread Cake With Spiced Citrus Buttercream

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So, my KitchenAid mixer broke on Saturday. Devastated. Just wanted to get that out of the way because it’s pretty much all I can think about. And my computer start-up disc is full and Photoshop keeps telling me my ‘scratch disc’ is full. Which I’m now pretty sure are the same thing. I think. I’ve spent the entire day transferring things to various clouds (I’ve got three and I have no idea what is where) and yet the damn disc is still full. It’s a miracle I’m getting this recipe out to you. But it’s December. The month of miracles. We expect this.

Even though life appears to want to send me some obstacles (I’m thinking of YOU, deer that leapt in front of my car and started this string of shat). As I type this my stomach is satisfied because I made, NO JOKE, the best mac and cheese of my life today, Elf is on the telly (it NEVER gets old), Stella is having a holiday gift exchange with her friends (PS teens are loud) and there are twinkle lights thrown around the house like the remnants of an Auntie Mame after party…so all in all, life is good. I’m good. My kids are good. My family is good. Are you good? I hope. I really do.

Things can feel stressful this time of year. I know you know what I’m talking about. I mean, when the heck did it become December?! Sometimes we have to work hard to keep that cheer parade on display during the holiday season. Dig deep. You can do it. January is about balance, December is about chaos, exhaustion and I swear pants that got shrunk in the dryer. Because I just know in the weeks preceding Thanksgiving none of them were this tight.

In the interest of spreading cheer, I’m going to be doing lots of Instagram giveaways this month. If you aren’t on Instagram yet, I hope this will give you some incentive. I gave away a beautiful box of Godiva chocolates last week. I love having a box of chocolates in my house at all times. It makes me feel like the retro, martini-drinking, granny-in-training that I am.

On Saturday I did the last test of this gingerbread cake recipe and decided I would give away this gingerbread cake on Instagram to the first local follower that sent me a private message. I was super excited that it was Molly as I swear she was one of the first local people to follow me. So I hope you enjoyed it, Molly!! I will do this sporadically throughout the rest of the month. Spreading cheer. We need this.

I will also be giving away a bunch of fun stuff including my favorite Henckels chef knife, a subscription to Bake From Scratch magazine + some très cool swag, a Ballarini pan that I’m in love with, a gift certificate to Heritage Distilling (holla) and some other exciting surprises.

I really think this ramble has gone on long enough. It’s time to talk gingerbread cake.

Before We Get Started:

  • True Life Confession: I am the world’s WORST cake decorator. Frosting is my nemesis. She’s a beast. Never behaves. Has been known to make me cry. BUT, if I can make this gingerbread cake look good, you can too. Truth. Follow my tips + instructions. You got this.
  • Mix your batter on low. Don’t get impatient and turn up your mixer. When you whip too much air into your batter you run the risk of your gingerbread cake dipping in the middle once out of the oven. It’s annoying. Just avoid it altogether.
  • I have you make a lot of frosting because nothing peeves me more then running out of frosting. If you have leftover (and you will) smear it on graham crackers and call it a day. This pairs really well with any alcoholic beverage.
  • When you’re putting your batter into the prepared cake tins, measure out the batter…about 2 cups of batter per 6-inch tin. That way your layers will be roughly the same size. This matters.
  • Make Ahead Tip: You can bake the cakes and let cool completely in the cake tins. Once cooled, wrap the tins tightly in plastic wrap + foil and store at room temperature. Every time I made this gingerbread cake I baked the cakes one day and then frosted the next.
  • Some cake tools that aren’t necessary but I find for someone cake-challenged like myself, are extremely helpful: 6-inch cake circles (I don’t know how I ever lived without these…they’ll take your cake mobile; btw, in these photos I used a larger-sized circle as I was out of the 6-inch), offset spatula (I use this big one), bench scraper (for getting those sides oh-so-smooth) and a revolving cake stand (a revelation).
  • This gingerbread cake has only been tested with three, 6-inch pans. If you cook with different sized pans you will need to adjust the bake time accordingly.
  • I don’t have you trim the cakes or put one upside down or any of that. Let’s just keep it simple.

Let’s bake gingerbread cake, betches!

Gingerbread Cake With Spiced Citrus Buttercream Recipe | Displaced Housewife

Gingerbread Cake With Spiced Citrus Buttercream Recipe | Displaced Housewife

Gingerbread Cake With Spiced Citrus Buttercream Recipe | Displaced Housewife

Gingerbread Cake With Spiced Citrus Buttercream Recipe | Displaced Housewife

Buttermilk Gingerbread Cake + Spiced Citrus Buttercream

Makes One 6-inch, 3-layer Cake


For The Cake

  • 3/4 cup sunflower seed oil or other light veggie oil
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar or muscovado, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup shaken buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 3 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon all spice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cardamom

For The Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoon shortening
  • 1 tablespoon tangerine or orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar*

*You may need more powdered sugar to get the correct consistency. Add in 1 tablespoon increments until it’s easy to smooth on the cake, yet firm enough to hold the layers in place. 

To Decorate

  • About 30 fresh cranberries
  • About 14 small sprigs of fresh rosemary


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, place a rack in the center of your oven. Butter + flour three, 6-inch pans. Don’t skip this step.
  2. In an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add the sunflower seed oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar and molasses. Mix on low until completely combined.
  3. Add in the eggs and mix on low until completely incorporated.
  4. Lastly, add in the buttermilk + vanilla and blend on low until combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure everything is mixed together.
  5. In a small bowl whisk together the flour, ground ginger, baking powder, cloves, nutmeg, all spice, sea salt and cardamom.
  6. Take the bowl out of the mixer stand and pour your flour mixture into the molasses mixture. Blend with a spatula until just combined. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl and get any molasses that has settled down there. Batter will be thick and lumpy, like muffin batter.
  7. Pour the cake batter into your prepared pans; each will take about 2 cups of batter. Divide any remaining batter equally amongst the three pans. Tap each pan on the counter several times to release any air bubbles. Set them on a baking sheet and place in the oven, on the middle rack, for 30 minutes.
  8. Once done, let them cool for about an hour in their pans. Once cool, run a knife around the edges of the cake tin to make sure the cake isn’t sticking. Flip the tin over, with one hand holding the top of the cake and the other hand gently tapping the bottom of the tin to get the cake out. This is a sticky cake, so move slowly and don’t get impatient. Make sure they are cooled completely before frosting.
  9. In an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add the cream cheese, butter and shortening and beat on medium for about 3-4 minutes until completely blended. Add in the zest, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom and 2 cups of the powdered sugar. Blend completely on low for about 2 minutes more. Add the last 2 cups and mix until fully incorporated, about 3 more minutes.
  10. Set the first layer flat side down. Glob about 1 cup of frosting on the top and gently smooth over. Get down to eye level and make sure it’s level. It doesn’t need to look perfect, just level. Set the second layer, flat side down, on top of the frosting. Glob 1 cup of frosting on top and smooth until it’s covered and even. Set the third layer on top, flat side down, making sure all of the sides are even and your cake isn’t leaning. Gently adjust if necessary. Put at least 1 cup of frosting on top and smooth until level. For the sides of the cake, I like to start by filling the area between the layers with big spoonfuls of frosting. Once those cracks are filled, start patching globs of frosting around the cake. Once it is mostly covered in frosting, grab something with a straight edge (such as a bench scraper) and run it around the outside edge of the cake to smooth the frosting and show some of the cake beneath. Continue until you get that rustic, naked-cake vibe we’re going for. Periodically clean your bench scraper and continue until smooth. I think the best tip for frosting a cake is to chill…don’t stress…and pretend that every naked spot, curve and dip is exactly where it should be. That’s pretty much how I leave the house every day.
  11. To Decorate: Place one cranberry in the middle of the cake, then along the outside edges and then evenly in-between. Jam the ends of the rosemary sprigs into the base of the cake at an angle…so they sort of fan around in a wreath-like fashion.
  12. This is such a moist cake that if she’s well frosted and well covered, she’ll still taste fabulous several days from now. She’s a giver.
  13. Thanks for making this gingerbread cake!! Tag me @displacedhousewife #displacedhousewife so I can see your gorgeous cakes!!

*Adapted from this beautiful recipe!

On My Mind

–Rebecca xoxo


Leave a Comment


  • Jenny December 12, 2016 at 8:55 PM

    I love the smear extra frosting on graham crackers bit! Great tip that I shall remember forever :-) This cake looks so good I followed it from Instagram to here. Loving your blog. Thanks for sharing. Happy holidays!

    • DisplacedHousewife December 15, 2016 at 4:17 AM

      Jenny — THANK YOU!!! You made my evening. I hope you love the graham crackers + frosting. It’s one of my dad’s favorite treats!! xoxo

  • Cathy | whatshouldimakefor.com December 12, 2016 at 6:15 PM

    My Kitchen Aid is on it’s last legs too. You’re making me think I should ask Santa for one before it’s a goner. And your decorating skills look great to me – that’s the beauty of the naked cake, very forgiving. I’m on such a ginger kick right now…I’m drooling over this!

    • DisplacedHousewife December 15, 2016 at 4:20 AM

      Cathy — It’s pretty much been torture over here. I finally had to move it out of the kitchen because I couldn’t bare looking at it another second. Thank you on the decorating skills props…I’ve learned three very important things…a naked cake is mandatory, you have to decorate with stuff on top to cover unintentional smears and shove stuff around the base to camouflage boo boos.

      Let me know if Santa gets you your KitchenAid!! xoxo

  • Fatimah December 12, 2016 at 2:03 PM

    Omg it’s so beautiful and I lovee the flavors! But oh no about your kitchen aid hopefully you’ll get to replace it soon!

    • DisplacedHousewife December 12, 2016 at 5:19 PM

      Fatimah — Oh no is right!! I’m still working on that!! But, this cake. Is SO good!! I’ve made it several times since and I’m just in love with it!! xo

  • traci | Vanilla And Bean December 6, 2016 at 12:49 PM

    All the feels with this beautiful cake, Rebecca! You managed to make my lips smack with buttermilk AND gingerbread, thank you very much! Stressful, yes. Manageable, yes. Some years ago I decided to do Cmas different. Instead of tangible gifts, I give experiences or I just bake em’ cookies or cake! This makes gift giving so much easier, less stress, less junk. Last month I was stressing over my hard drive being full – OMG. I got a 3 TB external and it’s resolved everything, although I was a scared pup transferring files/images because I’m so tech adverse – not knowing how/where exactly my RAW files are stored when compared to JPEG. OMGggg. I’d die if my KA or VitaMix gave out! I hear good things about repaired KAs! xo

  • Karen @ Seasonal Cravings December 5, 2016 at 11:22 AM

    Ha, your posts always make me laugh. Although I am not laughing about your mixer. That’s the worst. Luckily Christmas is near and you can put that on your list. I am a terrible cake decorator too, but if you promise I can’t mess this up, I might have to try it. Hope you have a better week!

    • DisplacedHousewife December 6, 2016 at 1:21 AM

      Hi Karen — I’m glad I make you laugh!! My mom was nice enough to let me borrow her’s…maybe Santa will be nice this year!! It’s the holidays…I can’t be in a bad mood for too long. ;) …and I promise you won’t mess up this cake!! xo

  • Laura | Tutti Dolci December 5, 2016 at 6:27 AM

    I can’t believe your KitchenAid broke! What an absolute travesty! But in the meantime, there’s cake to help us cope (and don’t we all need it!). She’s such a beauty, and I’m totally smitten with the spiced citrus buttercream. I mean, totally dreaming of that tonight! xo

    • DisplacedHousewife December 5, 2016 at 11:20 AM

      Hi Laura!! Ugh, it’s totally bumming me out!! Thank you so much for your sweet words!! She’a a fun cake to make + eat!!! xox

  • Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen December 4, 2016 at 8:01 PM

    Wow, so sorry to hear about your KAid mixer Rebecca! Yikes!! Hopefully Santa will be bringing you another! I have been dying to make a naked cake. I am not very talented at all at cake frosting. I have like zero patience when it comes to that. I wish I did, but I just go with the, “I have other talents” excuse! Honestly, I wish I could just grab that slice right off my screen. I’m snuggled with my favorite furry friend Tuck by the fire with my hot cup of coffee, listening to holiday music (while my husband is out raking leaves….whoops!) and a piece of that cake would totally complete the picture! That frosting sounds unbelievable. I LOVE the cardamon and the refreshing orange zest!

    • DisplacedHousewife December 4, 2016 at 8:14 PM

      Mary Ann — you are so talented and everything you make is so beautiful…I know you could do it!!! Your day sounds magical. Enjoy every minute of it!! xoxo

  • kate | tasty seasons December 4, 2016 at 4:23 PM

    1) i can’t wait to make this delicious sounding cake! 2) so sorry to hear about the kitchenaid. :-( mine snapped at me last year but i took it to a repair place i found on the kitchenaid site and he’s been behaving well ever since. here’s hoping yours makes a full recovery! 3) i hear you on the filled-to-the-brim computer. i’m currently in the middle of a ‘fling photos at an external hard drive’ project too. 4) eh, happy holidays?!

    • DisplacedHousewife December 4, 2016 at 7:31 PM

      Kate — YES!!! Happy holidays indeed!! We can’t let the rubbish get us down. I’m feeling very wise at the moment…but it will never stop and stressing NEVER makes it better. It’s a battle to look at the bright side sometimes but it always makes things better!!! I hope your photo project goes well!! xoxo

  • heather (delicious not gorgeous) December 4, 2016 at 8:47 AM

    would just like to put this out there: frosting on buttered (if it’s that kind of a day) toast. maybe not so great for when you need protein in the morning, but delicious afternoon snack.

    • DisplacedHousewife December 4, 2016 at 2:03 PM

      Heather — So you’re using the frosting like jam…totally makes sense. Why haven’t I thought of that?!?