Orange Gingerbread with Cream Cheese Frosting
– I sometimes think about working in a furniture store just to observe couples come in and fight over couch seat depth and textiles: a sociological study, you know? Ok… I never actually think about working in a furniture store… I’m really bad at talking about end tables and such.
– Only real adults should have to deal with fabric swatches. Seriously… what is this swatch supposed to tell me about my life? I don’t get it.
– I think that Ikea should have a bar instead of a cafeteria.
… I’m shopping for a couch… can you tell? Please send reinforcements (not fabric swatches).
– Buying a car is easier than buying a couch. I’m pretty sure this is fact.
I made this cake with far too much home decor nonsense in my brain. I came to realize that this cake is totally the best air freshener EVER. Couch shenanigans aside… (almost) all you really need is a house that smells of cake. So much can be forgiven is cake exists on pretty plates with hot coffee.
This is where satisfaction begins… in this arrangement of small bowls and measuring spoons.
I love that this recipe comes together with just two mixing bowls. No fancy stand mixer necessary. Well, no mixer needed until it comes time to make the cream cheese frosting… but even that can be twerked with just a large bowl, wooden spoon, and a good dose of elbow grease.
Welcome to where wet ingredients meet dry.
This cake is flavor PACKED. The ground ginger is bright and spicy. I want to put ginger is just about everything these days.
The molasses is deep, rich, and beautifully alluring. I love the honey sweetness paired with the delicate orange notes. This cake is everything ever.
You want to poke this. I know you do.
It’s cool. I do too.
This is just enough cream cheese frosting to generously frost the square cake aaaannnnddd sneak a few spoonfuls for yourself. Life is short… unless it’s really really long. In both instances, spoonfuls of cream cheese frosting are necessary.
It’s like I turned the lights down low to frost my cake.
That wouldn’t be weird…
Pomegranates are the magical gem equivalent in the food world. While there are no pomegranates in the cake itself, it feels like pomegranates are the only thing you could possibly decorate this cake with. Pretty/Perfect.
Spiced and moist. Decadent and humble. This is that. These are those. I love when a cake feels relevant and joyful. I love when cake makes my house smell better than my awesome pine scented candle. Air freshener meets crazy delicious.
I baked this cake in a square 8×8-inch square pan. The batter came up to fill the pan about three-quarters of the way full. Should you find that your batter fills the pan more than three-quarters of the way full, I would suggest baking this cake in a 9-inch or 10-inch round cake pan. See what works for you.
Orange Gingerbread with Cream Cheese Frosting
makes 9 generous pieces in an 8×8-inch square pan
For the Cake:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup unsulphered molasses (not blackstrap)
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons orange zest
3/4 cup warm water
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese frosting, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
big pinch of salt
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (plus half of a scraped vanilla bean if you’d like)
pomegranate seeds for garnish
Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8-inch square (or 9-inch round) baking pan. Line with parchment paper and grease and flour the parchment paper. The parchment paper isn’t entirely necessary, it just makes the cake easier to remove from the pan. Set pan aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together vegetable oil, sugar, and eggs until thick and pale. Stir in molasses, honey, and orange zest.
Add the dry ingredients, all at once, to the wet ingredients. Stir together until entirely incorporated. Add the warm water and gently stir until entirely incorporated and the mixture is silky smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. If you find that the mixture fills the pan more than three-quarters of the way full, you might consider using a larger pan (a 9 or 10-inch pan may serve your better).
Bake cake for 35-45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
While the cake bakes, make the cream cheese frosting.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, blend the cream cheese (yea… just the cream cheese) on medium speed. The cream cheese should be as soft and smooth as possible. Stop the mixer. Add the softened butter. Scraped down the sides of the bowl and beat the two together over medium speed until smooth and incorporated. Add one cup of powdered sugar. Blend until incorporated. Add vanilla extract (and bean, if using) and remaining cup of powdered sugar. Beat on medium high speed until frosting is smooth and silky.
Allow cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting the cake. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds before serving.
This cake can be stored, well wrapped in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days.