The College Housewife ยป Recipes ยป holiday ยป Gingerbread Layer Cake with Espresso Cardamom Buttercream

Gingerbread Layer Cake with Espresso Cardamom Buttercream

Hey there! How’s your week going?! My kitchen is covered in fake snow, millennial pink holiday serving ware and a ton of cranberries. The best part of the week so far was our impromptu date night last night at a trampoline park. Hooray for alternative exercise! I absolutely hate going to the gym, blech. We have been walking/exercising a lot less outside because of these insane winds this week! We are in Orange County so we aren’t facing the fires like we did in October but the video coverage I have seen is insane and heart breaking. Be sure to stay safe out their LA people and leave buckets of water out for animals in need that are passing through. 

With that said I’m going to try and bring the mood up a little bit! I’ve got a really fun holiday post for you today! 

I think a holiday cake can seriously be such a show stopper. Like when you walk through the door with any layer cake, people are instantly like ‘whooooa how did you do that?!’ Today I’m going to show ya how ๐Ÿ™‚  

Let’s chat about cake! Each holiday season I love to bring a ‘wow’ dessert that looks super show-stopping but doesn’t take all day to make! One of my favorites was this Cranberry Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream and this season we are doing a fluffy gingerbread layer cake with an espresso cardamom buttercream. This flavor combo is seriously a home run and so wholesome for the holidays!

This year I have been really into gingerbread and spiced baked goods! Especially incorporating cardamom. You could say it’s the spice of my season right now. The cake mix has a blend of four different spices and the molasses really sets the flavor off! It’s just enough for flavoring without having that hefty BBQ feeling that molasses can give off. I teamed up with Florida Crystals® Sugar for this recipe because their Demerara Cane Sugar was the perfect key ingredient for this cake! Florida Crystals’ Demerara Cane Sugar has just a hint of molasses in every crystal. My favorite part of their products is that they are all 100% vegan and vegetarian, which I know is so important to make cooking for crowds easy around the holidays!

This was my first time using instant espresso in a buttercream, and I’m seriously in love! It cuts the sweetness of standard buttercreams so it doesn’t taste like you’re just eating whipped sugar. Sort of like that same great taste from coffee ice cream! 

I topped everything off with my favorite caramel topping! I seriously don’t know anyone who would turn down homemade caramel! I garnished off this beauty with some fresh rosemary sprigs, but you could also add glittered cranberries or even maybe a few pinecones for a really festive touch. When it comes to cakes, I love to keep the frosting simple and top with natural garnishes like florals, herbs, and fruit slices. 

Gingerbread Layer Cake with Espresso Cardamom Buttercream

3 Cups of cake flour
2 Teaspoons of baking powder
1 Teaspoon of salt
2 Teaspoons of cinnamon
2 Teaspoons of ginger
1/2 Teaspoon of nutmeg
1/4 Teaspoon of cardamom
1 Cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened
1 Cup of Florida Crystals® Demerara Cane Sugar
2 Large eggs
1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract
3/4 Cup of molasses
1 1/4 Cups of milk

1 Cup (2 sticks) of butter, softened
6 Tablespoons of milk
4 Teaspoons of instant espresso powder
1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 Teaspoon of kosher salt
1-2 Teaspoons of cardamom
3 1/2 Cups of powdered sugar

caramel drizzle (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake tins and set aside.

In a large bowl combine cake flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cardamom and whisk well. 

In a separate large bowl fitted with a hand or stand mixer beat butter and Demarara Cane Sugar for 5 minutes. Add in eggs one at a time, vanilla extract and molasses until combined. In 3 separate increments add flour mixture and milk mixture, alternating and finishing with the last flour addition. Pour batter evenly into two cake tins and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out cleanly. Cool for thirty minutes and remove from cake tins to finish cooling on a wire baking rack. 

In a large bowl fitted with a stand or hand mixer beat butter for buttercream until light and fluffy. Whisk milk and espresso powder until dissolved in a separate bowl. Add vanilla extract, salt, espresso mixture, and cardamom and 1/3 of powdered sugar to butter mixture until fluffy. Continue to add powdered sugar in two separate increments and mix until light and fluffy. Ice cake in between layers and on top for a ‘naked’ cake finish. Top with caramel drizzle and rosemary sprigs for garnish. 

+Bonus Recipe: Easy & Classic Hot Chocolate!
1/2 Cup of Florida Crystals® Liquid Organic Raw Cane Sugar
1/3 Cup of cocoa powder
1/2 Cup of heavy whipping cream
4 Cups of milk
1/4 Teaspoon of salt
1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract
+whip cream & cardamom for topping

In a medium saucepan, combine liquid sugar, cocoa, and cream. Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Add milk and heat—do not boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt. Top with whip cream and ground cardamom before serving.



  1. Jared
    December 10, 2017 / 2:02 am

    The addition of the espresso was the perfect touch for this cake! Not too overpowering to make it taste only like coffee, but just enough to give it that kick it deserves. Plus, if the sugar high doesn’t get you, the espresso sure will!!!

    • Elizabeth Van Lierde
      December 12, 2017 / 3:25 am

      Thank you lovely! So happy you loved the frosting. I made it with the strong button ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. December 7, 2017 / 10:06 pm

    oh my gosh this cake looks insanely good! looks gorgeous and so festive! adore your photos and vibe over here!

    • Elizabeth Van Lierde
      December 12, 2017 / 3:25 am

      Hi Georgie! Thank you so much, always trying to keep a cohesive look going ๐Ÿ™‚ I can’t wait for you to see the new site. Stay tuned!

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