Gingerbread cake with caramel biscuit icing

Gingerbread cake with caramel biscuit icing

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(26 ratings)

Prep: 1 hr, 20 mins Cook: 30 mins plus cooling

More effort

Serves 20

This sumptuous Christmas bake is covered in a decadent icing, finished with gingerbread biscuits and dusted with desiccated coconut 'snow'

Nutrition and extra info

  • un-iced

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal626
  • fat35g
  • saturates15g
  • carbs70g
  • sugars54g
  • fibre1g
  • protein5g
  • salt0.8g
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  • 150ml full-fat milk



    One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a 'complete' food…

  • 3 tbsp black treacle
  • 225ml vegetable oil, plus a little for greasing
  • 375g plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
    Baking powder

    Baking powder

    bay-king pow-dah

    Baking powder is a raising agent that is commonly used in cake-making. It is made from an alkali…

  • 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
    Bicarbonate of soda

    Bicarbonate of soda

    Bicarbonate of soda, or baking soda, is an alkali which is used to raise soda breads and full-…

  • 375g light brown soft sugar
  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1½ tsp ground ginger
  • 3 good pinches of ground cloves
  • 300ml buttermilk
    Buttermilk pancake mixture in bowl with whisk



    There are two types of buttermilk. Traditional buttermilk is a thin, cloudy, slightly tart but…

  • 3 large eggs



    The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition packed with protein and a…

  • 3 tbsp dark rum (optional – replace with extra milk, if you like)
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract

For the caramel biscuit icing

  • 250g pack slightly salted butter, very soft
  • 600g icing sugar, plus a little extra for dusting
  • 300g full-fat cream cheese
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean extract
  • 200g smooth caramelised biscuit spread (I used Lotus Biscoff biscuit spread)
  • 50g desiccated coconut, to decorate
  • silver edible glitter (optional)
  • gingerbread shapes (see tip)


  1. Measure the milk and treacle into a saucepan (grease the measuring spoon with a little oil first and the treacle will easily slide off). Bring to a gentle simmer and stir until combined, then set aside to cool. Meanwhile, grease 3 x 20cm loose-bottomed cake tins with a little oil and line the bases with baking parchment (if you don’t have enough cake tins, see tip). If the tins are any shallower than 4cm, line the sides with a deep collar too. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

  2. Measure the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, sugar and spices into a large bowl, then add 1/2 tsp fine salt. Mix the dry ingredients together with a large whisk; if there are any large lumps of sugar, squeeze these through your fingers until you have an even, sandy-textured mixture.

  3. In a jug, whisk the oil, buttermilk, eggs, rum and vanilla. Add the milk and treacle mixture, and mix well. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and whisk into a smooth batter. Divide between the tins and bake for 25-30 mins until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean. You may have to swap the cakes over to cook evenly, but don’t do this until they’ve had at least 20 mins cooking. Cool the cakes in their tins for 10 mins, then transfer to a wire rack, peel off the parchment and leave to cool completely. Once cooled, you can wrap the sponges in cling film and store in a cool place for 4 days, or freeze for up to 2 months – the texture and flavour will be all the better for it.

  4. To make the icing, put the butter and half the icing sugar in a large bowl. Mash together roughly with a spatula, then whizz with an electric hand whisk until smooth. Add the remaining icing sugar, the cream cheese, vanilla bean extract and biscuit spread. Mix again until smooth and evenly mixed. Transfer half the icing to another bowl and set aside. Use the remaining icing to stack the cakes and cover the entire outside in a thin layer – don’t worry about making the cake look too neat at this stage, as any crumbs trapped in the icing will be covered in the final coat. Chill the cake for 30 mins and the remaining icing for 20 mins (remove the icing from the fridge 10 mins before the cake to soften a little).

  5. When the icing on the cake is firm, remove it from the fridge and use the remaining icing to cover the cake. Smooth the sides using a palette knife, but leave peaks and dips on top for your snow scene. Top the cake generously with desiccated coconut, a dusting of sieved icing sugar and some edible glitter, if you like, then decorate the top and sides with gingerbread shapes (see tip). If you’re not eating the cake within a few hours, store it in the fridge, but bring back to room temperature before serving. Wlll keep for 2 days.

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Comments, questions and tips

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28th Aug, 2019
Made this last christmas and it was amazing. I did the recipe quantities just as stated and with my cake tins it made a 4 layer cake with a generous amount of icing throughout the layers and covering the cake. It was huge! It was our table centrepiece as it wouldn't fit in our fridge! I made gingerbread men the day earlier, so made a few gingerbread trees when doing these and sprayed a bit of gold glitter on them and they looked really nice on top of the cake. I also couldn't find buttermilk anywhere so I used whole milk with lemon juice as advised in previous comments. Will most likely be making again this Christmas
27th Jan, 2019
Wow. This cake is so moist. Everyone has said how delicious it is. I also only did 2/3if the icing and there was plenty. I first tasted it while on holiday in Cumbria. I asked the chef about it and was told it was a good food recipe so I dug it out and saved untill I got round to making it. It's going into work tomorrow for the girls to try. Give it a go. You won't be disappointed :)
Richard Layzell's picture
Richard Layzell
20th Dec, 2018
Made this recipe for friends and to take into work, added more ginger, halved the icing recipe and froze the cakes for about a week before decorating. It tastes amazing and looked fantastic (if I do say so myself!) Would definitely make it again.
Ally Stan
12th Dec, 2016
Amazing, unique recipe. I've made this twice now and both times were perfect and received a lot of lovely comments. Great alternative to Christmas cake. I used half the icing amounts on one cake and the other I just used a small amount to sandwich the cakes together as this is a fairly rich recipe already. Rapidly becoming my favourite cake recipe!
24th Jan, 2016
Lovely cake, great texture, but just not ginger-y enough. Would at least double the amount next time and check the mixture tasted of it before baking. Halved the icing ingredients which was plenty. Looking forward to making again.
23rd Dec, 2015
What can I use in place of buttermilk? I couldn't find any in the supermarket :(
10th Mar, 2016
I know its bit late but whoke milk with a tsp of lemon juice or white wine vinegar will rplace buttermilk S
21st Dec, 2015
A lovely cake with a delicate texture and flavour. However the icing is very generous - in fact it made double what I needed which seems extravagant and wasteful!
18th Dec, 2015
Gorgeous cake!! I only did two layers (because the third one stuck to the tin) but it didnt matter at all, it still made a generous sized cake. Heat the treacle & milk slowly and keep an eye on it, mine curdled the first time. I made the sponge in advance and froze for about a week and it still came out moist and delicious. Decorated with some shop brought cake decorations and didn't bother with the coconut. I'm going to make this again for work colleagues but use the mixture to make cupcakes instead which I think will work equally well.
10th Dec, 2015
I made this cake and brought it into work where it is a massive hit. the cake is lovely soft and moist, I froze it for a few days so I could make it in stages, with just the right gingery hit and the little biscuits are worthwhile making as they provide a lovely crunch.


20th Nov, 2015
Just made this and the cake seems very spongy, is this right? Tastes lovely but just wondered if I should change anything for next time. Dave
goodfoodteam's picture
10th Dec, 2015
Thanks for getting in touch. It is quite a light cake so it sounds like you've made it exactly right. 
30th Dec, 2015
My 17 year old daughter made this for me, she's a fab baker and has made some great cakes, this was by far the best. Moist and full of flavour, she missed out the ground cloves and rum but it was still delicious. Agree with other comments on the frosting, half would have been sufficient.
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