Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you've had an amazing day filled with those you care about most. Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday. Not only does it hold so much meaning, being the day we celebrate the birth of Christ, but it's also a great time to get together with family and remember what really matters in life. I wanted to share a post with you all tonight with a very special recipe that helps remind me what matters: family.

Christmas for me is full of traditions. As I've gotten older I've done everything in my power to keep those traditions going with my family. A big part of those traditions involves food and old family recipes. We've hosted Christmas for our family at our place the past few years and it has been beyond fun. Sure, cooking and entertaining can be a lot but we absolutely love it. We both love to cook and it has been so fun to bring family recipe traditions from both our family Christmases together. This year was no different. In fact, we just finished up an amazing meal.

For me, Christmas dishes are made from scratch. Other days of the year I'm (more) OK with storebought and boxed mixes but you'll find that nowhere near my Christmas (or Thanksgiving, for that matter) table. I'm so fortunate to have been handed down a few spectacular recipes that were my great grandmother's. There is one in particular that has become a Christmas staple for me: her gingerbread.

Side note: I obtained this recipe along with many others that were staples for my grandmother and great-grandmother about 10 years ago. My grandmother was in the early stages of Alzheimer's. I remembered so many of her amazing dishes I grew up with and I started to worry those recipes would be lost to time as her sickness progressed. So I spent one summer gathering these precious gems - family traditions from both my mother's and my father's sides of the family - and creating a recipe book. It was quite a process but, looking back years later, I'm so glad I took the time to do it. Because it means all those recipes live on and I can pass them on to my children. I highly recommend everyone do this. Take the time to talk to family members. Get those recipes. Even if you don't cook or bake, you're preserving that history to pass down.

Anyway, I digress. I've been making my great grandmother's gingerbread around Christmas for years. A few years back I decided to try adapting it into a cake recipe, which basically just entailed baking the gingerbread in different pans and developing an icing recipe to go along with it. The results were not only delicious but very photogenic. I love how gorgeous this cake is!



And the best part is, while I've modernized this beauty, it still has its roots in tradition. The gingerbread recipe is exactly the same today as what my great-grandmother used to make. Well...except for her use of lard. I did replace that with butter. Because no one cooks with lard anymore.

This cake now graces my Christmas table every year and is the perfect ending to a delicious and decadent meal.

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~ Ingredients ~

Gingerbread Cake

⅔ c. unsalted butter, melted
1 c. molasses
3 c. flour
1 c. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 Tbsp. baking soda

Spiced Cream Cheese Icing

8 oz. cream cheese brought to room temperature
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

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~ Directions ~

Gingerbread Cake

Preheat over to 350° and grease three 8-inch round baking pans.

In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, ginger, and salt. Slowly beat in butter, molasses, and eggs until well combined.


Bring 1/2 c. water to a boil. Add baking soda to boiling water and stir until completely dissolved. Add the water/baking soda mixture to the gingerbread cake mix and mix well until combined. The batter will be thin but no more flour should be added.


Spread the batter evenly across the three round cake pans. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean.

Spiced Cream Cheese Icing

While the cakes are baking, make the icing. In one bowl whip together the cream cheese, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a separate bowl whip the heavy whipping cream and sugar until soft peaks form (about 3 minutes). Add the cream cheese mixture to the whipped cream mixture and whip together until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Assembling the Cake

Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to completely cool before attempting to ice. Don't even try it. Don't cut corners. The icing will melt and the cake will fall apart if you ice it before cool. You will be sad. I usually make the cakes and icing on Christmas Eve and assemble everything Christmas day before guests arrive. That way the cakes have plenty of time to cool in the refrigerator.

Carefully slice off the very top of each cake, making the tops completely flat and even. This will help with stacking so the cake doesn't fall over once assembled. I like to reserve what I've cut off and crumble it over the top of the cake at the end.

Place the first cake on the dish you wish to serve on (you will not want to deal with transferring this cake to another dish). Scoop a generous serving of icing on top of the first layer and spread across the layer until smooth. Place the second layer on top and repeat the process between the second and third layer.

Ice the top and sides of the cake. I like to ice this cake so it has a naked look but you can be more generous with the icing and completely cover it if you so desire. Since I traditionally serve this cake for Christmas dinner I like to decorate it with a little holly. And, of course, that crumbled gingerbread from the cuttings I saved.

Take many photos and post on Instagram to make all your friends super jealous of your mad baking abilities.


Bella is eyeing it. Ha!

BONUS RECIPE!

If you read this far you get a special bonus recipe. Traditional gingerbread! To make traditional gingerbread, follow the ingredients and instructions above for making the gingerbread cake. Instead of pouring the batter into three cake pans use two bread pans. Bake at 350° for 35 - 40 minutes. Voila!