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Stout Gingerbread Cake

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What can be a more comforting Christmas memory than an old-fashioned gingerbread cake?  We have raised the bar on this family favorite with our Stout Gingerbread Cake! 

Stout adds complexity, depth, and richness to a classic recipe. The gooey, sweet molasses, the earthy flavor of ginger plus a few simple ingredients are transformed into a tender, moist cake. 

If you like this recipe, you will love our gingerbread house and our triple ginger almond cookies.

Stout gingerbread cake on pedestal, dusting of sugar 'snow' and holly/berry decorations

Savor the Best loves hearing from our reader and has recently received a ‘Reader Request’ to publish a recipe for gingerbread. There is still time to bake this Stout Gingerbread Cake for your Christmas dessert!

Stout gingerbread cake was developed and made famous by Claudia Fleming, former pastry chef of Gramercy Tavern in New York.  Her original stout gingerbread cake is included in her award-winning cookbook, The Last Course.

Why Bake a Cake With Stout Beer?

There is a wide range of flavor profiles found in beer that when added to baked goods it is a baker’s best friend.  We have added it to chocolate ice cream, Chocolate cake, and even savory food like these beef and stout pies.

The natural carbonation-leavening power in beer adds an extra boost in the rise of cakes and muffins.  The alcohol in beer inhibits gluten formation, resulting in a tender, moist crumb.

Stout’s profile adds a complex, bittersweet flavor to this stout gingerbread cake and compliments the spicy ginger.  Bringing the stout to a boil before combining it with the rest of the ingredients reduces the harshness of the bittersweet, boozy flavor.

For a non-alcoholic cake the stout can be replaced with an equal amount of strong coffee or water although you will miss the unique richness that the beer lends.

A serving of stout gingerbread cake with whipped cream

Ingredients needed to Make a Stout Gingerbread Cake:

You most likely have everything on the following list, with the exception of a Guinness beer and maybe the molasses.  When purchasing molasses be sure to check the label and buy only the unsulphured molasses, such as Grandma’s or Brer Rabbit but make sure it is NOT blackstrap molasses.

  • Guinness beer. The dark stout gives this cake extra depth and notes of roasted malt and hints of caramel.
  • Baking soda. Serves as a rising agent. Adding it to the hot beer helps reduce the chances of the cake sinking in the middle.
  • Molasses. Make sure the label says unsulphured and do not use blackstrap molasses.
  • Brown sugar. Adds an additional layer of caramel-like flavor and contributes to a moist cake.
  • All-purpose flour. This is what gives the cake structure. For the best results, sift the flour before you measure it.
  • Ground ginger and cinnamon.
  • Ground pepper, white or black. Creates complexity and lingering ‘heat’.
  • Baking Powder. A leavening agent that helps the cake rise. Make sure it is fresh and has not expired.
  • Salt. Enhances all the flavors and brings out the sweet, gingery taste.
  • Eggs. Acts as a binder and gives structure and moisture to the cake.
  • Vegetable oil. Creates a tender, moist texture.
Ingredients to make Stout Gingerbread Cake

Let’s Bake This Gingerbread Cake:

This is an easy cake that doesn’t need an electric mixer, just stir it up by hand with a spoon and a whisk then bake it.  We baked our cake in a 9×9-inch square pan. 

If you want to use a 9-inch round pan then only fill the pan 3/4 full and make a couple of cupcakes with the extra batter. Alternatively, you could use a 9-inch springform pan with higher sides but you will need to increase the baking time by 6 to 10 minutes.

A 10-inch bundt pan also works with this recipe but you will need to increase the baking time by 8 to 12 minutes.

Here’s a brief look at the process but be sure to scroll to the recipe at the bottom of the post for the full instructions and important notes:

Processing photos for stout gingerbread cake
  1. Bring the stout beer to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda, it will immediately begin foaming.
  2. Stir in the molasses and brown sugar until dissolved.  Set the mixture aside to cool.
  3. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl. 
  4. Whisk the eggs and oil into the cooled stout mixture until the sugar has dissolved completely.  
  5. With a spoon or mixer, vigorously, stir 1/3 of the flour mixture into the stout mixture.  Give your arm a good workout as this will strengthen the cake for even baking, preventing a center slump. Fold the remaining 2/3 portions of flour mixture into the stout mixture in two additions, until the batter is smooth.
  6. Tip the batter into the prepared pan, rap the pan on the counter to remove any large air bubbles.  Transfer the cake to the oven and bake for 35-38 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before removing from the pan.

Do not open the oven door during baking as the cake is subject to fall. To check for doneness, wait until the cake has baked for at least 35 minutes.

Tips for success:

  • Bringing the beer to a boil will reduce the alcohol content and concentrate the malty flavors.
  • Make sure your pan has plenty of room in it before adding the baking soda to the hot stout. The baking soda will make the beer foam up ferociously. If the pot isn’t big enough it will overflow.
  • Do not use blackstrap molasses or the cake will be very bitter and dry.
  • Stir the first addition of flour into the wet mixture pretty vigorously. It will give the cake more structure and prevent slumping. Don’t worry about over-developing the gluten structure, the next two additions will be more gentle.

Frosting the Cake:

This cake is delicious served naked or with a light dusting of confectioners’ sugar. There are several options to choose to frost this delicious spicy cake: Try a vanilla cream cheese frosting, or this light-as-a-cloud ermine frosting.

You can also try a cream cheese frosting like the one on our famous chocolate cake.

We served warm cake squares with a slightly sweetened dollop of soft-whipped cream and a sprinkle of grated nutmeg.

A portion of stout gingerbread cake with fork and napkin in background

How To Store This Stout Gingerbread Cake :

Cover the cake with plastic wrap and keep the cake at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.  To freeze the cake, wrap in plastic wrap, place in an airtight container and freeze for up to 2 months.  

SOME OTHER RECIPES WE ARE SURE YOU WILL LOVE:

Eggnog Tart: This holiday eggnog tart is a rich, silky smooth custard tart made with your favorite eggnog flavors. Finish it with a light dusting of grated nutmeg on top.

Soft and Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies: Stir up a batch of these awesome cookies! They are crisp and crinkly on the outside while the inside is soft and moist.

These apple ginger muffins are loaded with chunks of sweet apples and candied ginger. The finishing touch is a ginger glaze that gets drizzled on top.

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Stout gingerbread cake on pedestal, dusting of sugar 'snow' and holly/berry decorations

Stout Gingerbread Cake

Yield: 9 Servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Our Stout Gingerbread Cake has the complex flavors from the dark brown stout beer and the intense spicy ground ginger. The classic, old-fashioned gingerbread cake gets a do-over!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup stout beer, such as Guinness's or Porter
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup (200 grams) dark brown sugar
  • 2-1/3 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white or black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 9x9-inch baking pan with parchment paper with extended ends. Coat the parchment paper with non-stick oil spray.
  2. Pour the beer into a medium saucepan set over medium heat and bring to a boil.  
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda, it will begin foaming vigorously. When the foaming subsides, stir in the molasses and brown sugar stirring until dissolved.  Set the mixture aside.
  4. In a large bowl, add the flour, ginger, pepper, cinnamon, baking powder and salt.  Whisk together to combine thoroughly; set aside.  
  5. Whisk the eggs and oil into the cooled stout/molasses mixture until thick and well combined and the sugar has dissolved completely.  
  6. With a spoon, vigorously, stir 1/3 of the flour mixture into the stout mixture.  This will strengthen the cake.
  7. Using a rubber spatula, fold the remaining 2/3 portions of stout/molasses mixture into the flour mixture in two additions, blending well after each addition until the batter is smooth.

Bake the Cake: 

  1. Tip the batter into the prepared pan, rap the pan on the counter 3-4 times to remove any large air bubbles.  Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 35-38 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  
  2. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.  Serve warm with whipped cream, ice cream or a light ginger cream sauce.

Notes

  • Use parchment paper with extended ends to facilitate lifting the cooled cake from the baking pan.
  • This cake can be made entirely with a whisk, spoon and a rubber spatula. 
  • Adding the baking soda to the beer helps prevent a slump in the center of the baked cake.
  • Stir the flour mixture into the stout mixture in 3 additions.  
  • Stirring the first batch of stout/molasses mixture vigorously into the flour mixture will strengthen the cake for an even rise; gently mixing the remaining two batches will keep the cake from being tough. 
  • Do not over-mix the batter.
  • Most of the alcohol in the stout will evaporate during the boiling process but the bitter/sweet, malty flavor will remain to add depth to the spicy gingerbread flavors.
  • To make this cake without beer, we suggest using an equal amount of black coffee or non-alcoholic beer.
  • To store, cover the cake with plastic wrap and keep the cake at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.  To freeze, wrap in plastic wrap, place in an airtight container and freeze for up to 2 months.  

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 9 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 512Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 332mgCarbohydrates: 77gFiber: 2gSugar: 43gProtein: 6g

Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third-party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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