14 December 2015

Vanilla Gingerbread Cake with Chai Mascarpone Buttercream

Happy December! There are only 11 days until Christmas and I can barely contain myself. Do I even want to contain my self though, if holiday excitement gets transformed into winter-themed cake? I don't think so. December has already been crazy busy but a good kind of busy - the type of busy that stems from recipe testing, cake baking while listening to Christmas songs, and searching for winter florals and woodland-themed knick knacks for blog photos. Not too bad, right? Despite being super busy with his schedule, Victor was still able to take these photos, edit over 160 of them (!!), and send them to me all within a week. Ugh, Victor is so great.

We did these photos together last weekend while listening to the local radio station that plays exclusively Christmas music during the month of December. We sang along to all the familiar tunes when I wasn't too occupied by stuffing my face with chai mascarpone buttercream. I did have some cake in between the spoonfuls of buttercream but to me, nothing beats mascarpone. 

Before we got started, I had some trouble deciding what kind of cake layers I wanted to make for this winter cake. I knew I wanted something that had a lot of warm spices, something that tastes "winter-y." I was toying around with the idea of a dark molasses cake because I saw a very enticing recipe featured on Food52. Then I thought to myself, I don't really like molasses in large or very potent doses - maybe I don't want to eat an entire cake tasting like that (ha!). I knew I also wanted to have some honey graham flavours in there too. Since I am the most indecisive person, I went with a cake layer that has flavours reminiscent of the classic honey graham cracker with a touch of molasses and gingerbread spices. You still get a prominent molasses flavour but when this cake layer is sandwiched between two layers of a classic vanilla cake, it is rendered more familiar and approachable. The vanilla cake mellows it down and when you get a bit of vanilla cake and a bit of graham-molasses cake in one bite, its quite heavenly. 

Buying all the florals and decorations for the table and the cake was one of the highlights for me. I never really know how the "spread" is going to look, I just grab whatever I think fits the theme of the cake. I have had my eye on this acacia wood serving platter for a while but resisted the urge to buy it over numerous occasions. When Victor said he would be more than excited to do a winter/woodland-themed shoot, I knew I had to get it. The wood serving platter is from Chapters, the pinecones are from a craft store, and all the florals and Christmas tree trimmings (that's what all the greenery is!) are from a local grocer. 

I hope you get a lot of holiday baking done this holiday season. Warmest wishes and eat lots of cake!

Vanilla Gingerbread Cake with Chai Mascarpone Buttercream 

Classic Vanilla Cake
205g unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
200 ml milk
2 teaspoon vanilla

Gingerbread Cake
68g unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup graham crumbs
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
70 ml milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Chai Mascarpone Buttercream
250g mascarpone
227g unsalted butter
3 cups icing sugar
Two chai tea bags
Pinch of salt

Sugared Raspberries + Rosemary
Raspberries (or any berries, really)
Egg white
Granulated sugar

Vanilla Cake
Preheat oven to 350F and grease two cake pans.

In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar together. Gradually add in the eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk to combine flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture and mix on slow to combine. Pour in the milk  and add in the remaining of the dry ingredients.

Divide the mixture evenly among the two prepared cake pans and bake for 33-35 minutes. The baking time really depends on the size of your cake pan. Check for doneness a few minutes before the 33 minute mark by using a toothpick - if the toothpick comes out clean, you're good to go! You can also test for doneness by gently pressing your finger on the cake - it should spring back up.

Gingerbread Graham Cake
Preheat oven to 350F and grease one cake pan.

In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar together. Add molasses. Then add in the egg and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk to combine flour, graham crumbs, spices, baking powder, and salt.

Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture and mix on slow to combine. Pour in the milk  and add in the remaining of the dry ingredients.

Baking time is the same as for the vanilla cake.

Chai Mascarpone Buttercream
In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment combine the mascarpone and butter. Throw in the chai tea leaves and a pinch of salt. Mix on high until mixture is pale in colour and fluffy. Add the icing sugar, one cup at a time and mix until well-combined.

Sugared Berries and Rosemary
In a small bowl, whisk egg white until no longer stringy and gloopy (I know, professional vocabulary usage right there). Using a pastry brush, paint a light coat of egg white on the berries and rosemary sprigs. Make sure there are no large clumps of egg white on your berries or else they won't dry properly. Gently roll them in the sugar and place on parchment paper. Let them dry overnight and they will be ready the next morning.

Photography & Editing || Victor Yuen
Ring & Pretty Things || Foe and Dear


  1. i love this shoot! it's so pretty. xoxo

  2. everything about this is PERFECTION!!! I've been wanting to try a gingerbread cake too, but was totally worried about it being too overpowering...and this seems like such a wonderful solution! also the shot where you're sprinkling those sprinkles? it's killing me. so good!!

  3. This is one of the prettiest shoots I've ever seen! And that cake looks heavenly <3


  4. Wow, such gorgeous photos! I love each one :) The cake sounds delish too, so many layers to love :D

  5. I love this cake!!!! Everything about it is so perfectly cute and whimsical. And that Chai Mascarpone?? I must try it!!

  6. So in love with this cake, Amy! Wishing you the happiest of holidays, lady xx

  7. Amazing cake how to do business with you out side your country

  8. Oh it's just soooooo gorgeous!!!



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