The combination of gingerbread and cream cheese frosting is one I discovered a couple years ago.
I fell in love with how the tangy cream cheese complements the rich spiciness of the cake.
This recipe is simple enough to make on a weekday – OR, make the cake a day in advance and frost the day you plan to serve it.
How to Make Easy Gingerbread Sheet Cake
What is Texas-Style Sheet Cake?
This is a super easy method of making sheet cake that will feel totally wrong if you’ve never done it before. You start by melting the butter with water on the stovetop, then add the dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients. It feels so backwards compared to traditional methods, but it all comes together into an ultra-moist, spongey, and soft cake!
What Can I Use Instead of Molasses?
If you cannot get molasses where you live, you can try substituting honey or dark corn syrup – but the flavor and texture of your Gingerbread Sheet Cake will change. Be sure to use regular unsulphured molasses (like Grandma’s or Brer Rabbit brands). Don’t use blackstrap molasses, as it has a harsh and bitter flavor.
The Spices in Gingerbread Sheet Cake
The spices in anything gingerbread or gingerbread-flavored are super important. Check your spices to ensure they’re not expired. Even if they’re not expired, give them a sniff and make sure they’re still very aromatic. Older spices carry less flavor; fresh spices will carry a LOT more flavor. So, just be aware of that and feel free to adjust accordingly.
What if I Don’t Have Buttermilk?
Buttermilk works best in this recipe to provide a rich and tender cake. You can learn more about the science of buttermilk in my Buttermilk 101 article here. I would not recommend using a buttermilk substitute. If you must, use whole milk instead – but note the cake’s final taste and texture will be different.
What Kind of Pan Should I Use for Sheet Cake?
This recipe was developed for a 10 by 15-inch jelly roll baking pan. I highly recommend a light-colored pan, as opposed to one with a dark nonstick coating, as that will dry out the edges more quickly.
Can I Use a 9 by 13-inch Pan Instead?
We haven’t tried making this Gingerbread Sheet Cake in a 9 by 13-inch pan. Feel free to experiment with this as you wish, but the bake time will be much longer, as your cake will be much thicker.
If you do give this a try, be sure to use a light-colored pan, not a glass or ceramic pan. Learn more about that here.
Can This Cake be Made in a Bundt Pan?
This was designed specifically as a sheet cake. Bundt cakes need to be much sturdier in consistency.
Tips For Cream Cheese Frosting
- Make sure your cream cheese is completely softened to room temperature. This will allow you to make a soft and creamy frosting without any lumps.
- Be sure to use full-fat bricks of high-quality cream cheese. Some generic brands are filled with weird gums and stabilizers or are super watery.
- I love to use vanilla paste in my cream cheese icing for extra vanilla flavor but you can also use extract.
- The frosting doesn’t need to be super stiff since it’s just going on a flat sheet cake so we don’t need as much powdered sugar, which I personally prefer!
How Many People Does Gingerbread Sheet Cake Serve?
This Gingerbread Sheet Cake yields 20 servings – perfect for any Christmas or holiday gatherings!
How to Store Gingerbread Sheet Cake
Gingerbread Sheet Cake can be baked, cooled, covered, and stored at room temperature for 2 days. Once frosted, the cake can be covered and stored at room temperature for a few hours before it needs to be refrigerated. Keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.