Gingerbread cake layers with lemon curd filling and whipped lemon mascarpone frosting.
The idea for this cake came from my mom. She recently told me that one of her favorite holiday desserts is gingerbread cake with warm lemon sauce. I was actually surprised to find out it’s a very traditional dessert for Christmastime. I had no idea! When I think of gingerbread flavors during this time of year, I usually think of gingerbread cookies. I’ve also never thought of using lemon with gingerbread.
My Take on this Classic Holiday Dessert
This flavor combination intrigued me, so I thought about how I’d recreate it in the form of a layered cake instead of the traditional 9×13 pan. Of course, I didn’t want to use a warm sauce on this cake, as it would create too many structural problems. Instead, I made a batch of homemade lemon curd, which would hold up better within the cake layers.
I then thought about the frosting, which in it’s traditional form, would just be whipped cream dolloped on a square of gingerbread cake and lemon sauce. The idea of a whipped frosting sounded perfect for this rich, flavorful cake, but I didn’t want it to be overly sweet. I thought about using cream cheese, but then remembered mascarpone cheese. I love mascarpone cheese. It has a slight tartness and sourness to it, that I think pairs beautifully with this cake and filling.
There’s a couple reasons I decided to make this cake with six thin layers instead of the typical three layers. The first and most important reason is that I wanted there to be plenty of lemon curd in this cake, but knew that adding too much curd in between the layers would compromise the structure. If I just used three cake layers, I’d have to add about a half cup of curd in between the layers and it would end up making the cake feel wobbly when you frost.
The second reason for using six thin cake layers is purely aesthetic. I just love how it looks when you slice into the cake!
I mean, come on! How gorgeous is that!
Another quick note about decorating this cake – make sure to chill the cake in the freezer after you’ve stacked the layers and before you frost the outside of the cake. This helps the crumbs to stay in place, so that when you go to frost the cake in a semi-naked style, you don’t get crumbs in your way. (The recipe has just enough frosting to add rims of frosting between the cake layers and to get a semi-naked coat of frosting on it. If you want your cake to be completely covered with frosting, and no layers showing, I’d suggest doubling the recipe).
To be honest, I was skeptical about this flavor combination, but decided to try it since it’s one of my mom’s favorite desserts and I trust her opinion about food just as much as my own. Per usual, I made sample bites with cake scraps and leftover filling and frosting. With one bite, I was sold and couldn’t stop snacking! I love this cake, and will likely be making it every Christmas from here on out. It’s so festive and just so delicious.
Hope you love it as much as I do!