Soft cake that’s aromatic with warm spices and brown sugar is swirled with a rich, creamy maple cinnamon frosting to make this Gingerbread Cake Roll recipe something truly festive and special.
I’ve always loved those pretty roll cakes, the ones that look like a giant Swiss roll (or Ho Hos or Yodels, whatever you want to call them!). You slice into them and they have beautiful swirls of cake and frosting.
My first experience with a cake like that was back in high school French class. For our holiday classroom party, our teacher let the students choose a recipe to make and bring in for the class.
I chose a Bûche de Noël, also known as a Yule Log, which is not exactly a beginner recipe, but I didn’t know any better, lol! As if the cake and frosting we're enough work, it's also pretty elaborately decorated with things like meringue mushrooms. But it is absolutely beautiful.
Even though my mom was a little frustrated that I chose such a complex recipe, we had a great time making it. Those are some of my fondest childhood Christmas memories.
This Gingerbread Cake Roll with Maple Cinnamon Frosting is festive twist on a classic Christmas cake - and it's much easier to make! The soft cake is richly spiced and laced with brown sugar. And the maple cinnamon-scented frosting is the perfect accompaniment.
You might be surprised that making this gingerbread Swiss roll is a lot easier to make than you might think! It was much easier than making that Bûche de Noël for French class back in high school, lol.
The Role That Blogging Played in this Gingerbread Cake Roll
One of the best things about blogging is the people you meet. I can’t speak for other blogging industries, but food bloggers are some pretty amazing people. They’re creative, inspirational, and community-oriented.
Around the time I first started blogging (back in 2009), I virtually met Evelyne. At that time her blog was called Cheap Ethnic Eats and my blog was called Thought for Food. Her blog is now called CulturEatz!
Back at that time, blogging was a completely different ball game. We shared snippets of our lives, not SEO keywords. Our blogs were a reflection of ourselves, recipes made for and shared with loved ones.
It was all about the backstory.
Eve and I both shared a love of food, culture, travel, and everything related so of course we hit it off. We participated in a couple cooking groups together, but it wasn’t until last spring – just about 10 years later – that we finally met in person!
She lives in Montreal, and last spring (right before the pandemic hit) she came down to Florida to visit me.
We had a great time eating local food (and she brought me Montreal bagels, which I appreciate, but fully admit that I’m ruined for other bagels now, lol!), exploring the local parks, beaches, and natural springs. Eve and I even saw a mom alligator and about 10 of her babies!
It’s made me really happy that Eve and I have remained in touch regularly since last spring. She and I chat over video messenger, remotely watched a bit of a Netflix series together, and spent a four hour Zoom call making homemade Russian dumplings called Pelmeni together!
The Backstory for this Gingerbread Cake Roll Recipe
Mine and Eve’s latest collaboration idea involved holiday desserts. We decided that I would choose a festive American dessert for her to make, and she would select a Canadian holiday treat for me to make.
I took a few days to research it, and I was thrilled when I messaged her with my idea: Pumpkin Cake Roll with Cream Cheese Frosting! The next day she messaged me back with her dessert of choice: Gingerbread Cake Roll with Maple Frosting! Talk about a match made in heaven, lol.
We set up a Zoom call for a Sunday afternoon in November and made our respective cakes. Since we can’t travel now, it was the next best thing to actually being in the kitchen together. Both our cakes turned out beautifully and in years to come when I make it, I’ll think of my dear friend Evelyne.
And not only is Eve a pretty fabulous person, but she’s also a great content creator with her love of food, culture, and travel. Follow her on her social media channels for excitement and inspiration:
What is a Sponge Cake?
The cake used for this Gingerbread Cake Roll is a type of sponge cake.
A sponge cake is a cake that is leavened with beaten eggs and has a light, spongy texture. Traditionally, sponge cake only contains eggs, flour, and sugar. This type of cake doesn’t contain butter or oil.
A cake roll (or Swiss roll) is commonly made with sponge cake because it’s easy to roll and mold. Like the name says, it's spongy!
The Best Gingerbread Cake Roll Recipe
This Gingerbread Roll Cake recipe features a brown sugar-sweetened, gingerbread-spiced sponge cake and a maple cinnamon frosting. It slices up beautifully and you can see the cake and frosting swirl.
The best part is, you won’t believe how easy it is to make it. It really is the best gingerbread cake recipe!
- Flour - all-purpose flour is the base of our cake roll
- Cornstarch - here we use a mixture of all-purpose flour and cornstarch for a softer texture that's similar to cake made with cake flour
- Ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and black pepper - this is the spice mix that gives our gingerbread its signature spicy flavor; don't skip the black pepper, it's a traditional ingredient in classic gingerbread
- Baking soda - our leavening agent
- Salt - salt is a natural flavor enhancer that ensures our cake isn't bland
- Eggs - the star of the show when it comes to sponge cake; make sure they're at room temperature so they whip up faster
- Light brown sugar - the molasses in brown sugar helps create the perfect gingerbread flavor for this cake
Maple Cinnamon Frosting:
- Unsalted butter - adds rich flavor and creamy texture
- Maple syrup - this adds a hint of sweet and smoky complexity to our frosting; go for the good stuff, no "maple flavored syrup" here!
- Vanilla - for flavor and aroma
- Cinnamon - this warm spice pairs well with maple and ties together the buttercream's flavor with the flavor of the gingerbread cake
- Salt - we even need a little touch of salt in sweet recipes for balance and to elevate the flavor
- Powdered sugar - adds sweetness and structure to American-style buttercreams
- Milk - use whole milk or any type of milk you have on hand; this is to make the frosting creamy and spreadable
Tips for Making a Gingerbread Cake Roll
- Prepare your pan properly. I know it might seem like overkill to butter and flour the pan, and then line it with parchment paper, and then spray the parchment with cooking spray, but I promise you’ll thank me when your cake is baked!
- Make sure your eggs are whipped enough. They're ready when they are tripled in volume.
- Don't over-mix the batter. When you mix the dry ingredients into the egg/sugar mixture, be careful not to over-mix and deflate the eggs.
- Use the right test for doneness. When it’s done baking, this cake will spring back when you touch the center of it.
- Don't wait to roll it up. Your cake needs to be hot when you roll it up in a tea towel. And don’t forget to dust your tea towel with powdered sugar before rolling up the cake.
- Which end you roll from matters. Roll the cake from one of the short ends. You’ll get a better swirl that way.
- Let it cool before you frost it. Make sure your cake is completely cool before you unroll it and frost the inside.
- Give it time to set after you roll up the cake with the frosting. To get the cleanest cuts, wrap your cake in plastic wrap, refrigerate overnight, and then slice it. Let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving.
- Dust it with snow. Cover up any blemishes on the outside with a generous dusting of powdered sugar!
More Festive Gingerbread Recipes to Make for the Holidays
Gingerbread Cake Roll Recipe
Maple Cinnamon Frosting:
For the Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Butter the inside of a half sheet pan (18″ x 13″ x 1″ high), and flour the sides, tapping out the excess flour. Line it with a piece of parchment paper on the bottom, and spray cooking spray on the parchment. Set aside.
- Lay a clean tea towel out on the counter and evenly sprinkle the top with powdered sugar.
- Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, black pepper, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
- Beat the eggs in a large bowl until tripled in volume. Add the brown sugar and beat until thick, about 2 minutes.
- Add the dry ingredients to the egg/sugar mixture and stir just until combined, being careful not to over-mix.
- Pour the batter out onto the prepared pan and spread it out evenly.
- Bake until the cake springs back when you touch it, about 10 to 12 minutes.
- Turn the cake out onto the prepared tea towel and peel off the parchment paper. Starting at one of the short ends, roll the cake up in the tea towel into a log shape.
- Transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely, about 2 hours.
For the Frosting:
- Use a handheld electric beater to cream together the butter, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.
- Alternate between beating in the powdered sugar and the milk until all the powdered sugar is added and the buttercream is smooth and creamy.
To Assemble the Cake Roll:
- Carefully unroll the cake and spread the frosting on the interior, leaving a 1-inch gap around the edges.
- Roll the cake back up.
- If desired, dust the top with powdered sugar before slicing.
- You can slice it now, but I like to wrap the cake in plastic wrap and chill it before slicing to get clean cuts. When you slice it, cut it horizontally into 12 slices.
- Recipe Inspiration: Recipe adapted from Allison Day’s recipe for Maple Gingerbread Bûche de Noël with Salted Praline Topping on Food Network Canada.
- Storage: Store this cake wrapped in the fridge for up to 5 days. After it's been chilled, let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.
This post was first published on An Edible Mosaic on December 1, 2020. I updated it with more information on December 3, 2023.