This dessert is two in one! First, it’s a rich chocolate cake baked with my signature holiday spice blend, covered in a sumptuous chocolate frosting.  But it is also a fully assembled gingerbread house!  What fun – a gingerbread house that you will actually eat.

Serves
16-20

Preparation

3hr

Cooking

1hr

Skill level

Mid
By
No votes yet
Yum

This cake also uses my signature holiday spice blend – a festive mix of spices that remind me of the holidays. I use it in baking, but also add a pinch to things like coffee, on top of ice cream or eggnog, to add a little festive flare.

If you'd like to use this recipe to make a more traditional layer cake, see notes below. 

 

Ingredients

Signature holiday spice blend

  • 1½ tbsp (30 ml) ground cinnamon
  • 1½ tbsp (30 ml) ground ginger
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) ground cloves
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) ground allspice
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) ground aniseed

Ganache frosting

  • 2 cups (500 ml) whipping cream
  • 420 g  (14 oz) couverture bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • ¾ cup (175 ml) sour cream
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp (2.5 g) salt

Chocolate spice cake

  • 2¼ cups (335 g) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup (90 g) Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp (6 g) Signature holiday spice blend (see below)
  • 1½ tsp (4.5 g) baking powder
  • ½ tsp (2.5 g) baking soda
  • ½ tsp (2.5 g) salt
  • 340 g (1½ cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups (375 ml) sour cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla extract

Gingerbread

  • 175 g (¾ cup) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • ¾ cup (150 g) packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup (125 ml) fancy molasses
  • 3 tsp (15 ml) grated fresh ginger
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 3 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1½ tbsp (30 ml) Signature holiday spice blend
  • ½ tsp (1.5 g) baking powder
  • ½ tsp (2.5 g) baking soda
  • ½ tsp (2.5 g) salt

Royal icing

  • 1tbsp meringue powder (see Note)
  • 2 cups (260 g) icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp + 1 tsp (45 ml) warm water

To decorate

  • White chocolate buttons, for roof tiles
  • Silver or coloured cachous

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Makes one 20cm x 10 cm (8in x 4in) house.

Frosting cooling time: at least 2 hours (it is best prepared a day ahead - see Note).

Cake chilling time: 1 hour. Gingerbread dough chilling time: at least 2 hours.

  1. For the spice blend, mix all of the spices together. Leftover spice blend can be store in an airtight container.
  2. For the frosting, bring the cream up to a full simmer (watch it as it heats, as cream can boil over quickly) and pour this over the chocolate in a bowl. Let this sit for one minute, then use a spatula to gently stir the mixture until it becomes smooth and glossy.  Switch to a whisk and whisk in the sour cream.  Add the vanilla and salt and stir. Allow the frosting to cool and set up on the counter (see Note) – this can take a few hours, which is why you can prepare this before you bake the cake. It can be refrigerated, but it will then need to be heated in a bowl over a water bath a little to soften it to spreadable consistency.
  3. For the cake, preheat the oven to 180°C (350 °F).  Grease two 20 cm (8 in) square pan and one 22 cm x 12 cm (8½ in x 4½ in or 2 L) loaf pan and line the bottoms and sides with parchment paper.
  4. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, spice blend, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large mixing bowl (if using electric beaters) or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cut up the butter into small pieces and add this to the dry mixture, mixing on medium-low speed until the butter breaks down into pieces that are no longer plainly visible. 
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk the sour cream, eggs and vanilla together. Add this all at once to the batter and mix at first on low speed and then for just one minute on medium high speed, until smooth. Divide the batter equally between the pans and spread to level.  Bake the cakes for about 35 minutes; the loaf will take an additional 10 minutes. Cool the cakes on a rack for 30 minutes, then turn them out to cool completely (You can start making the gingerbread, see below, while the cakes cool).
  6. To assemble cakes as a gingerbread house shape, place one square cake layer on a platter or cake wheel, spread an even layer of frosting on overtop and top with the second square cake layer. Cut the cake in half so you have two sections, each 10 x 20 cm (4 x 8 in). Spread a layer of frosting on one of these and stack the second on top – the cake will be about 4-inches (10 cm) tall now. Spread a layer of frosting on the top of the cake.
  7. For the roof, place the loaf cake on top of the base and trim away the sides at a 45° angle, to make the roof shape. (Alternatively, trim the loaf cake before placing on top). Cover the entire cake with frosting. Chill for at least an hour before finishing with gingerbread for décor, or after chilling an hour, wrap loosely in plastic to assemble or decorate as desired later.
  8. For the gingerbread, beat the butter and brown sugar using electric beaters or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth on medium speed, and then beat in the molasses and ginger, followed by the egg.
  9. Sift the flour, spice blend, baking powder and salt over the butter base and then mix on low speed until the dough comes together. Shape the dough into 2 discs, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours before rolling (the dough will not become fully firm once chilled).
  10. Preheat the oven to 160 °C (325 °F) and line 2 baking trays with baking (parchment) paper.
  11. Meanwhile, check the measurements of the side walls, end walls and roof of the cake and use these to cut templates from cardboard.
  12. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to just under 6 mm (¼ in) thick. Use templates to cut out 2 wall pieces, 2 end pieces and 2 roof pieces, plus any additional décor trim, if desired (shutters, chimney, doors, etc) and place the pieces on the baking trays. The large pieces will take 15-18 minutes to bake, until the edges just start to brown. Small pieces, like shutters, will only take 10 minutes to bake. Cool the gingerbread on the trays. Any excess dough can be rolled and cut into festive shapes and baked 10-12 minutes.
  13. To decorate, it’s best to frost much of the house while the pieces are separate and lying flat. For the royal icing, beat the meringue powder, icing sugar and warm water with electric beaters or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until peaks form (approximately 10-12 minutes). You can adjust the consistency by adding a few droplets of water to loosen it, or additional icing sugar, to tighten it up. Use the icing immediately, or to store, cover the surface directly with plastic wrap.
  14. Place the royal icing in a piping bag. Pipe details as desired on the walls and roof of the house: To create a ‘tiled’ roof, use small amounts of royal icing to ‘glue’ white chocolate buttons in rows on each of the roof pieces, and allow to set. Decorate other pieces as desired, piping doors, windows and decorations. Allow to set for at least 2 hours before assembling on the chocolate cake, then simply press the walls onto the sides of the cake and press the roof pieces on top. Using remaining royal icing to adhere or fill in seams.
  15. The house can sit out for a day before serving. 

 

Notes

• If you’d like to use this recipe for a more traditional layer cake, reduce both the cake and frosting proportions by a third and bake and assemble this as an 20 cm (8 inch) round or square 2-layer cake.

• Meringue powder is made mostly of dried egg whites. If you can’t find it, try this royal icing recipe, made with icing sugar and fresh egg whites.

• This rich ganache frosting is best prepared a day ahead and left to sit on the counter to set up to a beautifully spreadable consistency. I recommend not refrigerating it in advance, as this would then require re-heating and then setting up again.