Go Back
+ servings
4.5 from 2 votes
Easy, One Bowl Gingerbread Cake - this might just be the easiest, moistest, most delicious cake you've ever made!
Easy Gingerbread Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hr

This Easy Gingerbread Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing might just be the easiest, moistest, most delicious cake you've ever made! Just one bowl!

Course: Dessert
Keyword: Easy Gingerbread Cake
Servings: 16
Calories: 452 kcal
Author: Chris Scheuer - adapted from Once Upon a Chef
  • For the cake:
  • 8 tablespoons butter 4 ounces 113g cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 1 ⅓ cup water
  • 1 ⅓ cup dark brown sugar 260g
  • 1 ⅓ cup molasses maple syrup or golden syrup
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour 375g
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • For the icing:
  • 1 stick cold butter 4 ounces 113g
  • 2 ounces cream cheese or Neufchâtel cheese 55g
  • 5-6 tablespoons half & half or whole milk
  • seeds scraped from ½ vanilla bean*
  • 5 cups powdered sugar 625g
  1. Preheat oven to 325˚F**. degrees. Grease a 13x 9-inch pan with nonstick baking spray. Don’t use cooking spray as it’s not the same. Baking spray is actually shortening and flour mixed together. If you don’t have baking spray, you can get the same results by greasing your pan with softened butter. Then add a tablespoon of flour and rotate pan till it’s completely coated with flour. Discard excess flour and proceed with next step.
  2. Place butter pieces and water in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Cook on high power for 1- 1 ½ minutes or until butter is mostly melted (It’s fine if a few little pieces remain.) Remove from microwave, add brown sugar and maple syrup. Stir well.
  3. Sprinkle flour over the top of the butter mixture. Sprinkle baking soda, salt and spices on top of flour. Whisk slowly until all dry ingredients have been incorporated then whisk vigorously till mixture is lump-free.
  4. Add eggs and whisk well again until eggs are completely incorporated.
  5. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until cake is puffed and feels firm when lightly touched in the center. You can also test the cake for doneness with the sharp end of a toothpick. Insert toothpick into the center of the cake, then remove it. If there is wet batter on the toothpick, the cake needs a bit more time in the oven. If it comes out clean or with just a few crumbs, the cake is done.
  6. When cake is done, remove it from oven to a cooling rack to cool completely before icing***.
  7. While the cake is baking, wash the bowl so it will be ready to make the icing. For the icing, combine butter and cream cheese in the large microwave safe bowl. Cook on high power for 45-55 seconds or until butter is about half melted. Watch it carefully, checking every 10 seconds as every microwave is different.
  8. Whisk until smooth and creamy then add half and half and vanilla bean seeds and whisk again.
  9. Add 2 cups powdered sugar and whisk until smooth. Continue adding powdered sugar, 1 cups at a time, whisking after each addition until lump free.
  10. Icing should be thick but creamy and spreadable. If too thick add a little more half and half. If too thin add a bit more powdered sugar.
  11. Spread icing over cooled cake. Icing will set up if you let it sit for an hour or two but cake can be enjoyed at any time.
Recipe Notes

* My vanilla beans were quite large, so I only used a half. Use a whole bean if yours are small. To get to the seeds, place the pod on a cutting board and use a small, sharp knife to cut down the length of the pod, trying not to cut all the way through. Once the pod has been sliced open, flatten it and scrape out the seeds with the side of the knife. Discard the empty pod or bury it in your sugar jar to flavor the sugar.

Sometimes vanilla beans can be hard to find, as many regular grocery stores only
carry vanilla extract. You can find them at specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods and also online. You could also use vanilla bean paste or just regular vanilla, though you won’t see all the fun little vanilla bean specks in the icing.
** Most cakes are baked at 350˚F. However when you’re baking a cake you’d like to have a flat, even top surface, it’s better to bake at 325˚F. At the higher temperature, the sides bake much quicker than the center, therefore the center has a chance to rise more. At 325˚F, you’ll find this type of cake will bake more evenly. It’s much nicer if you plan to ice it, as the layer of frosting will be nice and even.
One other trick for a flat topped cake: tear a long strip from an old terry cloth towel. It should be long enough to wrap around your cake pan (plus a little extra) and almost as wide as the height of the pan. Wet the strip with cold water and wring it out tightly. Wrap the wet strip around the outside of the pan and tie the extra in a knot. Bake as directed (the towel will not burn, I promise!). The wet towel will keep the outer edges of the pan from baking too quickly which is what will cause cakes to rise more in the center.

*** If you don't cool the cake completely, the icing will "melt" and become very thin. The cake can also end up soggy as the icing will seal in the moisture from the heat. That works well for some cakes but not this one. Can you tell I've learned this from experience?

Adapted from Once Upon a Chef

Nutrition Facts
Easy Gingerbread Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing
Amount Per Serving
Calories 452 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Fat 7g11%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Cholesterol 38mg13%
Sodium 304mg13%
Potassium 487mg14%
Carbohydrates 95g32%
Fiber 0g0%
Sugar 75g83%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 230IU5%
Calcium 94mg9%
Iron 2.7mg15%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.