Winter is in full swing! What have you been up to during this unofficial gingerbread season? I’ve been over here baking up a storm! 👩🍳 And I wanted to surprise my family with an extra special cake for Christmas. This miniature gingerbread house cake is fun, festive and so adorable! It has tiny gingerbread houses on top decorated with royal icing snow and icicles. The layers of cookie butter cake and buttercream frosting are dense and delicious. And candied cranberries add a pop of seasonal tart flavor.
Embracing the Winter Season
Ah, Winter. A season here in Oregon filled with long, dark nights and cold, grey days. But we recently had snow the day after Christmas, which changes the entire scenery! White snow blankets every inch of ground and every tree branch with a sparkling bright light. Snowfall brings wonder and delight, as it transforms the forest into something out of Dr. Seuss’ Whoville. We recently went snowshoeing in the Tillamook State Forest to explore the woods and hike to a waterfall. The cold spray coming off University Falls caused everything nearby to be covered in half an inch of ice! It was breathtaking!
It’s adventures like these that help me embrace the season of Winter. While it is a coveted pleasure to cozy up with a book and a mug of tea inside the warmth of home, it’s just as nice to fully embrace Winter’s cold and be wholly immersed in this season’s unique and natural beauty. ❄
Building a Gingerbread Village Cake
I had initially set out to make a fault line cake, but I quickly realized that this two-layer wouldn’t be tall enough. So I switched plans and created this festive and adorable Miniature Gingerbread House Cake instead!
The cake is made of two 8-inch layers of dense cookie butter cake from Frosting and Fettucine. I searched several stores, but couldn’t find cookie butter, so I just made a healthier version at home. This cookie butter cake is sweet, but it’s not overpowering. There is a nice balance of spices and saltiness from the cookie butter.
You could make this cake with any flavor you like – gingerbread cake or s’mores cake would be equally tasty!
The buttercream frosting is your classic vanilla buttercream. It’s the same one I used for this strawberry Ombre cake, just without any jam added to the frosting.
I made the gingerbread village from the leftover gingerbread dough from Hagrid’s Hut Gingerbread House. First I rolled out the leftover dough. Then I used cute miniature gingerbread house cookie cutters I found online to create the walls and roofs for the homes. And I used royal icing to essentially “glue” all the tiny gingerbread pieces together.
Finally, for extra festive decoration, I used the remaining royal icing to create two rings of candied cranberries around the top and the bottom of the cake. I think it turned out really cute! 😍 Enjoy!
Miniature Gingerbread House Cake
Cake Layers and Buttercream Frosting
- 2 8-inch layers of any cake of your choice. (I made a delicious cookie butter cake with homemade cookie butter.)
- 1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 to 3 Tbsp milk or dairy-free milk, as needed
Miniature Gingerbread Houses & Royal Icing
- Leftover gingerbread house dough, or ½ or ¼ portion of your favorite gingerbread dough recipe. I used the dough recipe from Food52 (see blog post above).
- 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 3 to 5 Tbsp water, as needed
- ½ egg white. (To measure out half an egg white, first measure the weight of a whole egg white, then just use half of that in your royal icing.)
- 1½ cups fresh cranberries
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
Construct the Layer Cake
- Bake the two 8-inch layers of your cake of choice, and let them cool completely. Trim any carnalized edges off the sides. Trim the tops so they are level and even.
- While the cake layers cook, whip up the buttercream frosting. Add the softened butter into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Beat the butter for about 5 minutes, until it is soft, fluffy and pale yellow.
- Add one cup of the sifted powdered sugar and beat it on a low speed until the sugar is fully incorporated. Repeat two more times with remaining powdered sugar.
- Beat the buttercream for another five minutes to become really smooth and fluffy.If you feel like your buttercream is still too stiff, whisk in 1 tablespoons of milk at a time to help loosen your buttercream. It should be stiff enough to stick on the sides of your cake without sliding down.
- Add a small dollop of frosting onto your plate or cake stand, then place the first cake layer on top. Spread the buttercream frosting onto the top of the first cake layer, about ⅓ to ½ inch thick.Place the second cake layer on top and apply a crumb coat of frosting. Add just enough frosting to cover the sides and the top of the cake to lock in all the crumbs. Smooth it out as best as possible. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, until the buttercream has firmed.
- Add the top layer of buttercream frosting on all the sides and the top of the cake and smooth it out. Refrigerate the cake for another 30 minutes, until the buttercream is firm again.
Construct the Miniature Gingerbread Houses
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.Roll out the gingerbread dough to about ⅓-inch thick on a floured work surface. Use cookie cutters or hand-drawn paper templates to cut out miniature houses. You'll need four walls and two roof pieces for each house.
- Transfer the gingerbread pieces to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Bake until the edges are darker brown – my pieces took about 8 to 12 minutes to bake.Let the gingerbread cool completely.
- While the gingerbread cools, prepare the royal icing by sifting 3 cups of powdered sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment along with two tablespoons of water and half an egg white (see note above on how to halve an egg white). Mix on low speed. Add one additional tablespoon of water at a time until your icing is smooth and creamy. You'll want it thin enough to pipe out of a piping bag, but thick enough so it doesn't spread out everywhere.
- Add the royal icing into a piping bag with a small round nozzle/tip. Use the royal icing to secure the walls of each miniature gingerbread house to the cake and to each other. Then use more royal icing to attach the roof pieces to each house. Finally, get creative with your royal icing to decorate each gingerbread house with icicles, windows, etc.
Decorate with Candied Cranberries
- Rinse and dry the cranberries.In a small sauce pan, add ½ cup water and ½ cup of the sugar. Bring to a simmer on medium heat. Stir in the cranberries to fully coat them for about 2 minutes.
- Drain the cranberries from the syrup. Spread out the cranberries on a baking sheet to dry for at least one hour, or overnight. Note: you can reserve the syrup for drizzling on top of other desserts!
- Roll the cranberries in the remaining ½ cup of sugar. Add more sugar as necessary to full coat the cranberries. Use the remaining royal icing to secure the candied cranberries to the top and bottom edges of the cake.Now get ready to wow your friends & family! Enjoy!!
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