This gingerbread cake with orange buttercream & bourbon caramel is lightly spiced, super fluffy, and perfect for a Christmas party!

A side image of a naked gingerbread cake drizzled with caramel and decorated with a snowflake gingerbread cookie on a wood cake stand, placed on a marble counter with garland in the background.
A side image of a woman's hand drizzling caramel over a gingerbread cake on a wood cake stand, placed on a marble counter with garland in the background.

Hey guys, I have a personal question.  Is it meta to decorate a gingerbread cake with gingerbread cookies?  Because I may or may not have spent three days between baking a cake, making gingerbread cookies, and decorating said cookies.  It didn’t need to take three days.  I just made it take three days.  Something about winter makes me slow af.  But I also kind of like that about winter, because I think it gives me time to appreciate the season.  It’s the perfect opportunity to be a burrito-human wrapped up in a million sweaters and blankets drinking hot chocolate and watching Elf.  (Again).  If that takes me away from my cake duties, then I guess it’s totally worth it, because I love watching Elf a million times every December.  Like, I relate to Elf.

In other personal news, I have gotten really into Bojack Horseman lately.  I have easily blown through a few seasons, because I watch it every day while I force myself to work out.  It’s the weirdest show in the best way.  Plus, I feel like I have a *personal connection* to the show, because one of the side character’s names is Sarah Lynn, which is different from me in two ways. 1. I am Sara Lynn, not Sarah Lynn.  And, 2. I am actually nothing like Sarah Lynn at all (which trust me, I’m totally fine with).  So anyways, that’s all that’s happening in my life.  Shall we talk more about cake??

A closeup of a snowflake cookie on a naked cake drizzled with caramel on a marble cake stand with a white wall in the background.

Gingerbread Cookies with Royal Icing
I am a firm believer that one does not need a reason to make a cake.  You can simply just make one for shits and giggs, a.k.a. me about 80% of the time that I make cake.  It’s not that I necessarily need an entire cake sitting around my house on the weekends, but at the same time, I do. Plus, I need an excuse to keep practicing my cake skillz. When I was in culinary school, I got pretty excellent at making beautiful cakes.  But, over the years, my skillz have declined. Not that anyone in my life is necessarily complaining, because they essentially have an endless supply of cake.  This past weekend, my parents came over for dinner, and I made this gingerbread cake for dessert.  And then we diiiied.  It was seriously good but so rich that we could only manage to eat about half a slice each.

The benefit of this “issue” is that you can feed twice as many people with one cake.  The other benefit is that, if you don’t have very many people to feed cake to, there’s more gingerbread cake for you!  You can’t lose.  Also, I can’t even explain how delicious orange + gingerbread tastes together.  You really just need to experience it for yourself.  Plus, when it’s coated with bourbon caramel, omgggg.  It tasted like a Bath & Body Christmas candle, and I mean that in the best way possible.

A side image of a slice of cake on a white plate placed on a marble counter, with a full gingerbread cake in the background.

Anyways, the moral of the story is I made too much cake.  I sent half of it to work with Marc, and apparently, it was gone within a couple of hours.  Problem solved ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

*Please note: I bake high-altitude cakes , because I live juuuust high enough that it’s necessary.  However, I have lots of experience in baking at sea-level, so I have included those measurements in the intro of the recipe below.  Let me know if you have questions!*

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Gingerbread Cake with Orange Buttercream & Bourbon Caramel

Yield: 12 big slices
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
This gingerbread cake with orange buttercream & bourbon caramel is lightly spiced, insanely fluffy, and perfect for a holoiday party!


Gingerbread Cake

  • 2 1/4 cup AP flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup molasses

Orange Buttercream

  • 1 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Bourbon Caramel Sauce

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp bourbon


Gingerbread Cake

  • Preheat oven to 375* F. Butter and flour either two 8-inch or three 6-inch cake pans. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. Set aside.
  • Whisk together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla extract and buttermilk. Add half of the flour mixture until just mixed, then the molasses, and then the remaining flour mixture. Do not over-mix.
  • Divide the cake batter evenly between the cake pans. Bake, checking for doneness around 20 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely.

Orange Buttercream

  • Using a stand (or hand) mixer, whip the butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, and mix on high for about five minutes, or until the buttercream is whipped. Add the orange zest, a pinch of salt, and the vanilla. Add orange juice 1 Tablespoon at a time until desired consistency. Set aside.

Bourbon Caramel

  • In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter, cream, milk, and a pinch of salt. Cook, bringing to a boil, until the sugar is dissolved and the caramel begins to thicken, about five minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the vanilla extract and bourbon. Set aside and cool.

Assemble the Cake

  • To assemble the cake, begin by leveling the tops (if desired). Spread some of the frosting on top of one layer, and then top with the other cake layer. (Repeat if you have a third layer). Lightly frost the outside of the cake, leaving some spots unfrosted if you want a semi-naked cake.
  • Drizzle the cooled caramel over the cake (you may need to stir the caramel to reincorporate). Drizzle it from the top to get the “drippy” effect. Decorate with gingerbread cookies, or other decorations, as desired.


*Please note!* This is a high-altitude cake. For sea-level, use 1 Tablespoon of baking powder and 1 1/4 cups buttermilk. Bake at 350* F, checking for doneness at 20 minutes.
This cake can be made in two 8-inch pans or three 6-inch pans. This buttercream is the perfect amount for a “semi-naked” style cake, but if you want a fully frosted cake, double the frosting recipe.
You can leave the bourbon out of the caramel and replace it with more vanilla extract if you’d prefer!
Cuisine: English
Course: Dessert
Serving: 1slice, Calories: 749kcal, Carbohydrates: 97.8g, Protein: 2.8g, Fat: 39.8g, Saturated Fat: 24.9g, Cholesterol: 131mg, Sodium: 427mg, Potassium: 443mg, Fiber: 0.4g, Sugar: 88g, Calcium: 133mg, Iron: 2mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag on Instagram!

xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Berlin by Bear’s Den