Coal Gingerbread Cake
Recipe type: dessert
Serves: 1 3-layer 8-inch cake
For the Coal Gingerbread Cake:
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons activated charcoal powder
  • 2 ½ tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup strong coffee
  • ¾ cup molasses
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Cranberry Concentrate:
  • 32 ounces pure cranberry juice
For the Cranberry Buttercream:
  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks, 12 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 to 9 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons cranberry concentrate
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • red food gel
To make the Coal Gingerbread Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 8-inch cake pans with baking spray, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl whisk flour, cocoa powder, charcoal, ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper, set aside. In another bowl, combine coffee, molasses, baking soda, sugar, oil, eggs, grated ginger, and vanilla until smooth. Pour wet-mixture into dry-mixture whisking until smooth.
  3. Pour batter in prepared pans, tapping against counter to remove bubbles. And bake, rotating halfway, until a toothpick comes out clean with a few moist not wet crumbs, about 18 to 22 minutes. Let cakes rest in pans for 5 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
To make the Cranberry Concentrate:
  1. Bring cranberry juice to a boil in a small saucepan oven medium-high heat. Once boiling, lower heat and let juice simmer until ¾ of liquid evaporates, about 1 to 1 ½ hours. Yields about ⅓ cup.
To make the Cranberry Buttercream:
  1. Beat butter in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed, about 2 minutes. Once pale and fluffy, gradually add powdered sugar and heavy cream, scraping bowl and paddle as needed. Add cranberry concentrate a tablespoon at a time, until a desired tartness is reached. Add in vanilla, salt, and red food gel. Raise speed to medium-high and beat for a final minute. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.
To assemble the Coal Gingerbread Cake:
  1. Apply a bit of frosting to a cake board, securing the first cake layer. Apply an even layer of Cranberry Buttercream, followed by the next later. Repeat processing, topping with the third and final layer. Give cake a crumb coat of buttercream. Chill for 15 minutes. Apply a final, thicker coating of frosting. Decorate as desired.
cake recipe from Cooks Illustrated, frosting recipe by Layer Cake Parade
Recipe by Layer Cake Parade at