Gingerbread Cake with (the Perfect) Cream Cheese Frosting

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This time last year: Haystack Cookies (2013)

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I made this cake for a Christmas party during the holiday break.

I am now back at school, eyeballs deep in reading and homework, craving this scrumptious cake and holiday memories it brings!  Ug. Why do the holidays always pass so quickly?!

I have made several cakes in my lifetime, however I tend to save my cake-making for my trips home. The rational for that is entirely health focused, and not at all because I’m a generous person that wants to share my dessert. I want to eat dessert every day, but if I make a cake while living on my own, I know that I’ll eat that entire monster by myself. Thus, I tend to wait until I go home, so I can take my family down with me, and allow them to eat some of this cake for me! Thoughtful, I know.

So, this Christmas, as is my tradition, I tried a new cake recipe, and think I found a winner! We ate that cake up in a matter of hours, oohing and aaahing over the moist consistency, the rich flavor, and the perfect icing. I am pleased to say, my family ranked this cake at the top of my cake recipes- competing only with my Carmel Apple Cake with Apple Cider Frosting.

In my mind, this cake is a winner for two reasons. One, the gingerbread cake is a unique flavor that is a perfect winter recipe, standing out at any dinner party or holiday gather.  And two, the icing is PERFECT.

There is no doubt that cream cheese icing is my favorite type of icing.

For some reason, I really hate all icings where I can noticeably taste the powdered sugar (I know, said no sugar-addict ever), and the presence of the cream cheese adds rich flavor, masking the powdered sugar flavor.  However, Even if I did like the taste of powdered sugar, the addition of the cream cheese makes this icing soooooo much richer, thicker, and in general more delicious. Thus, in my mind, there really seems to be no other option! Cream cheese icing is always the way to go.

And as far as cream cheese icings go, this icing is the best recipe I have found to date! That’s right, every cake from here on out will be topped with this perfect icing recipe. Get excited.  The consistency was perfect, making it easy to ice, not too runny, and long lasting without losing it’s form. Win-Win-Win!

Thus, if you’re missing Christmas, or family, or are eyeballs deep in work, I suggest you treat yourself to this cake. I promise, it will make your day better.

Come back soon!

– Sarah

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Cake Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:

  • 6 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ~ 1/2 cup cranberries  and mint leaves (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ and grease a 9-inch springform pan.*

2. In a glass or ceramic bowl, whisk together the boiling water, baking soda, molasses, and granulated sugar. Whisk until he sugar is dissolved, and set aside.

3. As the molasses mixture cools, combine the flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, making powder, and salt in a separate large bowl.

4. Whisk the vegetable oil and eggs into the molasses mixture, and then add to the dry ingredients.

5. Fold the dry and wet ingredients together until evenly mixed, and then pour into the baking pan.

6. Bake for 30-35 minutes, cool for five, and then gently remove from the pan. Allow to cool completely before icing.

7. While the cake cools, make the icing. Using an electric stand mixer, whip together the cream cheese and butter until pale and fluffy. Thoroughly mix in the vanilla extract and powdered sugar, cover, and refrigerate until ready to ice.

8. Optional: Once iced, chop up 1/2 cup of cranberries and arrange around the rim of the cake for decoration. Garnish with a few mint leaves.

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Notes and Tips!

  • Don’t have a 9-inch springform pan? Using an 8-inch square pan, or a 10-inch spring form pan will work as well! However if you use the later option, decrease cooking time slightly.
  • Source: Cooking Classy
  • Yield: 10 servings
  • Like this recipe? Try these other scrumptious treats from A Rented Kitchen as well! (Recipe links found below photos!):

Lemon Iced Raspberry Yogurt Cake

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This time last year: Red Pepper Quiche Cups (2012)

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Sometimes you spend more hours working on a final project than on sleep. Other times, you spend more time giggling with your best friend than you do doing dishes. OTHER times, you have had a food blog for three years, and that feels like a milestone worth celebrating!

These last two weeks have been a little bit of all three for me.  Last week my first year of grad school came to an end. This week, I  celebrated my start to summer by laughing until my sides hurt, and gratefully realizing that this food blog project has been in existence for three years now! There’s a lot to celebrate there, and a lot of sleep catch up to do. Cue- cake and a pillow.

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I actually baked this cake last spring, while living in Richmond. I remember, it had rained for four days straight, and I was stir crazy out of my mind (not abnormal for me. I wiggle a LOT). I looked up cake recipes online, found this cake to look almost as good as sunshine, and got baking.

The YAY topping was a little note of joy left for my roommates. Because sometimes, when it rains for four days straight, “yay,” is not the first word to come to mind. However sometimes, if you bake a cake and eat it with your roommates, rainy days can look much less gloomy.

Thus, whether celebrating the first week of summer, a personal milestone moment, and last week of class, or coping with rain clouds on your doorstep and too little sleep- cake feels like a good answer to me!

If you disagree with that statement, feel free to take it up with Pinterest. For, according to pinterest, Julia Childs once said, “A party without a cake is just a meeting.” It is “always someone’s birthday somewhere,” and “Life is short, eat the cake.

(Thank you Pinterest, for the encouragement!)

Thus, on those positive notes, I bring you the YAY cake. Because sometimes, you just need a little somethin’ sweet in your life. 🙂

Happy eating, and thanks for being a part of my cooking adventures for the last three years!!

Lots of love, A Rented Kitchen

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Cake Ingredients:

  • 9 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen

Buttercream Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Zest & juice of 2 Meyer lemons
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 320˚F. Grease two 8 or 9 inch cake pans, and sprinkle with a thin layer of flour; set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, setting aside the egg whites for later, and thoroughly mix in.
  3. One mixed, add the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda until well combined. Then mix in the yogurt.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the egg whites until light and fluffy with medium peaks. Fold the egg whites into the cake batter, and then gently fold in raspberries.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the two pan rounds and bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Let the cakes cool for ten minutes before removing from the pan. Wait until thoroughly cooled to ice.
  7. Meanwhile- prepare the buttercream by blending the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt. Slowly add the powdered sugar, mixing until combined. Continue to mix on medium speed until the icing is light and fluffy. Chill for twenty minutes before icing.

* To make a four-layer cake, slice each round in half. Spread one cake round with buttercream, top with another cake, and repeat until all four cake rounds are stacked. Spread the top and sides with the remaining buttercream.

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Store the cake in the refrigerator for best icing consistency.
  • Source: Kitchen Trial and Error
  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious desserts from A Rented Kitchen (Recipe links found below!):

Classic Cheesecake with Gluten Free Almond Crust

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            I love cheesecake- who doesn’t really? My mom and I made this cheesecake together for our family’s Thanksgiving. We had gluten free guests over, and thus wanted to find a gluten free dessert that all would like. Therefore, I give you this scrumptious Cheesecake with Gluten Free Almond Crust! It was a hit.

            As my mom and I scuttled around the kitchen that week, preparing our family’s favorite traditional dishes for the holiday, my mom shared with me how she found this recipe. I thought that in return, I would do the same for you.

            When my mom was thirteen year old, her mom was having a birthday. My mom asked her mother what she wanted for a gift, and the only response she got was a “classic, New York style cheesecake.” As my mom looked back on that, she imagines that her mother was kidding, that she never expected her 13 year old to prepare a cheesecake for her. However, that’s exactly what my mom did.

My mom found this recipe in a cookbook, a cookbook the family no longer has. Today, all that is left of this recipe is a very faded index card with my grandmothers slanted cursive handwriting, and my mother’s penciled in notes.

Upon deciding on this recipe, my mother said she biked to the store and bought all the ingredients and a spring form pan. Then, that Sunday, my mom said she went to the early church service and biked herself home, skipping Sunday School and the second worship service, to bake her cheesecake. That was quite the task as the preacher’s daughter! However, by the time her mother cake home, the cheesecake was cooling and ready to be consumed in a birthday celebration.

Apparently, ever since that birthday, whenever anyone in the family wanted a cheesecake, this was the recipe they used. The original version came with a classic Cheesecake crust, which you could still prepare if you have a nut allergy or would simply prefer a flour crust. However, to be gluten friendly, my mom and I tweaked her classic recipe to use the same delicious cake filling, but incorporating a gluten free crust, and it was delicious!

All week my mom and I were sneaking slivers of this delicious cake. Despite the very limited addition of vanilla and lemon, both flavors are prominent and balanced in this recipe- making it a refreshing and delicious dessert option. Hope your family loves it as much as mine has over the years!

Love, A Rented Kitchen

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Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups finely ground blanched almonds
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup 

Cheesecake Ingredients:

  • 5- 8 ounce packages cream cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons flour (gluten free or all-purpose)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 5 whole eggs + 2 additional egg yolks
  • ¼ cup whipping cream

Crust Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.
  2. Thoroughly mix all of the crust ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Using your fingers, press the nut mixture onto the bottom of a round spring form pan. (Do not yet cook the sides!)
  4. Bake the crust, without the circular spring-form attachment, for 8 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat, cool for 2 minutes, and then attach the sides of the spring-form pan.
  6. Press the nut mixture up the sides of the spring form pan. The crust is now ready to be filled with the cream cheese filling and baked again.

Filling Directions:

  1. Let cream cheese soften 1- 1 ½ hours, or unwrap, and briefly microwave each package.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450˚F.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until creamy. Add the vanilla and lemon peel and continue mixing until blended.
  4. Slowly blend in the sugar, flour, and salt.
  5. One at a time, add the 5 eggs and 2 additional egg yolks to the mix, beating after each just until blended.
  6. Gently stir in the cream.
  7. Pour the mixture into the crust and bake at 450˚F for 12 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300˚ and bake for an additional 55 minutes.
  8. Allow the cake to cool. After half an hour, loosen the sides with a spatula or knife. Remove the spring form pan after one hour, and allow cake to cool and additional two before cutting.
  9. Optional: Glaze with strawberry or pineapple, or sprinkle with additional lemon zest.

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious cakes from A Rented Kitchen! (Recipe links found below):

Homemade Funfetti Cake

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There are moments in your life where everything changes. We all know that. Sometimes the change is slow, and sometimes it comes out of nowhere and takes your breath away like cold wind. As a 22 year old, I know I have many of those life-changing moments still ahead of me- kids, marriage, loss of a job, I can only imagine what may come. However, in my short 22 years, I do believe I experienced one of those life changing moments just last week, and I won’t lie, it was hard and beautiful.

Yesterday I said goodbye to a life I have lived for the last three years. In the week leading up to this moment, I graduated college, I moved out of my house, I hugged my roommates, I laughed a lot, and I grieved saying goodbye to a certain man.

Many of the moments sift through my mind like photos- slow and frozen. Then there are others still that I know I have already let go of, as I prepare to move forward.

Life is a funny river.

What I have realized in this week of transition is that grieving hurts, and is exhausting. It is important to keep your head up and to be grateful for what lies ahead. And goodness gracious, it is such a blessing to have people worth missing in your life. I am so very grateful.

On that note (the more positive one), I wanted to share a cake recipe with you all, because this is no ordinary cake. This cake was made at the very special request of a very special person in my life. This is a celebratory cake!

Life is going to change and shift, the river will keep moving. It is important that in that swim, we remember to celebrate, because it is those moments, with those that we love, that will get us through. Also, sprinkles are probably important.

Therefore, from my kitchen to yours, I hope you are rooted, grateful, and periodically enjoying some cake. Add this one to your list. Happy Baking 🙂

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Cake Ingredients:

  • 3 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, careful not to overmeasure
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large egg
  • ½ cup yogurt  (plain or vanilla; or greek yogurt; or sour cream)
  • 1 ½ cup milk
  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups sprinkles (not nonpareils)

Vanilla Buttercream Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • ½ cup cream cheese
  • About 6 cups powdered (confectioners’) sugar
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • salt, as needed

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Grease two 9-inch baking pans (round or square) and set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until blended and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, melt the butter in the microwave. Add the sugars to the butter bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the egg, yogurt, milk, and vanilla- whisking until combined.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring until smooth and combined.
  5. Fold in the sprinkles, being careful not to overmix to avoid the colors from bleeding.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 30 minutes. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.
  7. Allow to cool for five minutes, and then transfer to a cooling rack. In the meantime, prepare the icing.
  8. To prepare the icing, beat the softened butter in a medium sized bowl with an electric mixer. Slowly add the powdered sugar, cream, and vanilla extract. Stir in the cream cheese. Beat until smooth, and feel free to add either more cream or more sugar as needed to adjust the consistency.
  9. Put the icing in the refrigerator until the cake is cooled enough to ice.

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Notes and Tips!:

  • I found this cake to be too rich in butter, so for a healthier alternative, I would suggest replacing some of the butter in the cake recipe with either Greek yogurt or applesauce! Feel free to experiment as you desire. The butter creates a very moist and rich cake, but could be made healthier with slight adjustments.
  • Source: Sallys Baking Addiction
  • In the mood for cake? Try these other fun recipes from ‘a rented kitchen’ (Recipe links found below photos):

The World’s Most Delicious (and EASY!) Chocolate Cake

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No one has ever accused me of being picky when it comes to chocolate- ya, no. That’s never happened. However, despite my all-inclusive love for chocolate, I can still appreciate when a certain chocolate recipe or a dessert is better than another.

In my humble opinion, chocolate cakes often risk being too rich or too dense.  There’s nothing worse than ordering a chocolate cake at a restaurant, and being overwhelmed with it by bite three. As a result of that exact circumstance, society has learned to love the combination of ice cream and cake, so that the ice cream can balance out the rich chocolate flavor.

Well, for those of you out there who aren’t huge chocolate cake fans, or have suffered through an overwhelming chocolate cake experience, hold on, and bake this.

I literally do not have enough words for how delicious this cake is.  The combination of yellow cake mix and chocolate pudding creates a perfect- not too rich- chocolate flavor, that is enhanced by the moisture form the sour cream, and the soft melt of the chocolate chips.

I’m drooling right now, if you were wondering.

As a college student, and as a lady with chocolate cravings (honesty hour), this recipe is sooo dangerous. With only eight ingredients, it takes all of five minutes to prepare this cake, and is not going to break the bank! (Can I get an Amen from the college section?!)

No icing, no hassle. Just stir, bake, eat, repeat. You don’t even need ice cream to compliment this cake, it’s that good all on its own.

Eat up. And share some with me! please.

Love, a rented kitchen

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Ingredients:

  • One (18.25 oz) Pillsbury moist supreme cake mix- classic yellow
  • One (3.9 oz) box instant Jello pudding- chocolate
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup water
  • 4 eggs
  • One (8 oz.) sour cream
  • One bag mini chocolate chips (about 2 cups)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350˚ F. Thoroughly grease and flour a Bundt pan, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix ingredients the dry ingredients.  Add the wet ingredients, and stir thoroughly.  Fold in the chocolate chips.
  3. Pour the batter evenly into the bundt pan and bake for one hour.
  4. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes, and then flip.
  5. Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar, and serve with ice cream and milk, as desired

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Notes and Tips!:

  • This cake, in my cooking experience, really takes the full hour of baking, maybe a few minutes extra. If the top begins looking too burnt, but the center is still not cooked through, cover with aluminum foil and continue baking, checking regularly.
  • This delicious recipe is a highly prized and coveted recipe from two dear family friends- Margret and Meg Peery. If you ever have the pleasure of knowing them, thank them dearly for this contribution to your life.
  • If you like this recipe, try these other delicious desserts from ‘A Rented Kitchen’!: (Recipe links found below!)