Celebrate Christmas this year with a pretty cake in hues of pink and blue! Layers of fluffy gingerbread cake are covered with silky Swiss meringue buttercream and crowned with a wreath of edible blue holly leaves.
My favorite Christmas décor tends to be nontraditional holiday colors. Red and green are nice (and I will always love red tartan!) but when December rolls around I festoon the workshop with white pine garlands, big pink globe ornaments, glittery turquoise pinecones, and magenta bows. It’s a happy place to be.
I was inspired to make this cake while I was shopping for Christmas china in those nontraditional colors. I happened upon a retired pattern, vintage, and completely sold out. Powder blue holly floated around the rims of the plates. It was so beautiful that I decided right then to bring blue holly to life in one of my confections.
And here is the result! This gingerbread cake is three layers tall, filled and covered with lovely Swiss meringue buttercream, and covered with a white ganache drip.
A set of holly plunger cutters is required to make the wreath on top of the cake. I love these tools so much, because you can vein the fondant as you stamp out the leaves! Make them a day ahead. They’ll need to dry so they become rigid enough to stand upright in the buttercream on top of the cake.
I hope you’re not tired of drip cakes yet! I still love the effect, and I think it looks really pretty against the pink on this cake. A fat rope of piped blue buttercream on the top edge of the cake serves as a wreath base for all those holly leaves!
I couldn’t resist a sprinkle mix with red, blue and pink baubles. I can no longer find the mix I used available for purchase, but you can find some very similar sprinkles right here (just add a few pink Sixlets to get a near match)!
This gingerbread cake is for people who aren’t shy about using ginger! It uses both ground and fresh ginger, and the baked cake has deep brown sugar and molasses notes. It will definitely wake up any sleepy winter taste buds with zingy flavor!
This cake tastes like the holidays – there’s no denying it! Its bold ginger flavor is tempered by the silky, creamy texture of the buttercream. It’s the perfect ending to any holiday feast!
Blue Holly Gingerbread Cake
- Fondant leaf cutter
Blue holly leaves
- 1/2 lb. light blue fondant
- Holly fondant plunger cutters see post for link
Gingerbread cake layers
- 3 cups 360 grams all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup 227 grams butter, softened
- 1 cup 210 grams packed brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup 280 grams blackstrap molasses
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 1/4 cup 296 ml whole milk
Swiss meringue buttercream
- 10 egg whites
- 2 cups/400g sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 lbs. unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 tbsp. clear vanilla extract
- Pink gel food color
- Sky blue gel food color
- Pink blue, and red sprinkle mix
White ganache drip
- 12 oz. bright white candy melting wafers
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Blue Holly Leaves
- Knead fondant until pliable. Roll to 1/4-inch on a countertop lightly dusted with cornstarch. Punch holly leaves out of the fondant using the cutters. Dry the leaves on a parchment-lined baking sheet overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Spray three 8 inch cake pans with flour-based cooking spray (recommend Baker’s Joy) and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt, baking powder and baking soda; set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer using a paddle attachment, beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer running, slowly add molasses, followed by grated ginger. Beat until well mixed.
- Scrape down sides of bowl. Add flour mixture with the milk in 3 additions, scraping down sides of mixing bowl after each addition. Begin and end with flour. Mix until well combined.
- Divide the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans. Bake in preheated oven on the same rack together, about 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean. Check at 25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow the layers to cool in pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes before turning them out. Cool completely.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Set a saucepan filled one-third full of water over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.
- Whisk together the egg whites, sugar, and salt in a large heatproof bowl (I suggest a stainless bowl). Set over the simmering water and whisk until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar has dissolved (120-140 degrees on a candy thermometer, to be sure).
- Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Beat on low speed for 2 minutes. Increase to medium-high until stiff peaks are formed.
- Continue beating at medium-high speed until the mixture is fluffy and has cooled (the mixing bowl should feel cool to the touch).
- Turn the mixer off and switch from the whisk attachment to the paddle. Turn the mixer on medium-low and add the butter, a few cubes at a time, beating until well incorporated before the next addition. The mixture will deflate as the butter is added – don’t worry! Just keep adding all of the butter. When the last of the butter has been added, beat on high speed until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract.
- Remove 1 1/3 cups of the frosting to a bowl; cover with a damp towel. Remove about 2/3 of the remaining frosting to a mixing bowl. Add pink gel food color and mix until consistently pink. Cover with a damp towel until ready to use. Tint the remaining portion of the frosting with a few dabs of blue food color until a light blue color is achieved. Transfer the blue frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large open star pastry tip. Set aside.
- Place a cake layer on a serving plate or stand. Fill cake each cake layer with about 2/3 cup of white frosting. Apply a thin crumb coat of pink frosting to the outside of the cake; refrigerate until firm. Apply a second thicker coat of pink frosting to the outside of the cake as evenly as possible (a cake smoother or bench scraper is recommended.) Refrigerate until firm. Meanwhile make the white ganache drip.
White Ganache Drip
- Place the melting wafers and heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl. Heat the mixture at 100% power for 1 minute. Let stand 1 minute and whisk together until smooth and glossy. Let cool until barely warm but still pourable.
- When the cake is well-chilled, pour the ganache onto the top center of the cake, allowing the excess to drip down the sides of the cake (you may not have to use all of the ganache). Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.
- When the cake is chilled, pipe a thick undulating rope of the blue icing around the top edge of the cake. Immediately top with some of the sprinkle mix. Arrange holly leaves in the frosting around the entire top edge of the cake, creating a wreath of blue holly. Add more sprinkles, if desired.
- Serve slices of cake at room temperature.