A tender gingerbread spice cake is infused with maple flavor in the form of the maple caramel sauce and maple pecans, and covered in a brown sugar frosting.
maple-gingebread layer cake with salted maple caramel sauce

You’re all like “Where’s the pie?!?!”

But trust me, in a few weeks you will be SO.PIE’D.OUT (mainly because I am going to shove them in your face in full force starting very soon) and then you’ll be all like, “Remember those days when Joanne made cake? That was nice.


Actually, I did make a pie last weekend. You know, the day before I was supposed to run 26.2 miles. Because that’s what normal people do.

Spend their pre-marathon 24 hours mired in butter and flour and apples. (And bourbon!)

But…I gave it to my brother. (Without tasting it or snapping a single photo. #FoodBloggerFail) Because he has been calling me almost every week for the past month not-so-subtly-hinting that he would really like to eat pie for breakfast throughout all of November thankyouverymuch.


So he whisked the pie away with him all the way down to his new apartment in lower lower lower Manhattan.

And that’s, like, a whole subway ride away!!!!

So going there on a whim to stick a fork in his (my?) pie and snag a few photos when I could barely walk until Tuesday and still can’t really figure out this whole walking down stairs thing…seemed excessive. So no pie. (Yet.)


Cake it is.

And not just any cake but THIS cake that is so stuffed up with maple flavor in every nook and cranny and crevice that it can’t fail to make you happy. It’s a little different from most other gingerbread cakes because it uses Chinese five spice powder instead of loads of ginger, leaving it with a very hefty star anise flavor profile. Which I love, but some people do not. So use with caution or change it up if you’re not that into it!

Then it’s smothered in tangy sweet brown sugar creme fraiche whipped cream frosting, the most delicious maple syrup caramel I ever did bathe in taste, and maple pecans which are pretty much heaven.on.earth.

So after all that, I’d pretty much say LONG LIVE CAKE.

And #sorryimnotsorry.


One year ago…Bean Chili with Pecans and Chocolate and Cheesy Beer Bread

Two years ago…Star Anise-Glazed Tempeh with Stir Fried Peppers, Pumpkin Pie Fudge

Three years ago…Jelly Donut Muffins with a Ginger Pomegranate Cranberry Sauce Filling

Four years ago…Baked Apple Pancakes

Maple-Gingerbread Layer Cake with Salted Maple Caramel Sauce
A tender gingerbread spice cake is infused with maple flavor in the form of the maple caramel sauce and maple pecans, and covered in a brown sugar frosting.
Yield: A 9-inch double layer cake
For the maple-coated pecans
  • ¾ cup pecan halves, toasted
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
For the salted maple caramel sauce
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup maple sugar
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ⅛ tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
  • ⅛ tsp maple extract
For the cake
  • 2½ cups flour
  • 1½ tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp coarse kosher salt
  • 2 oz finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1 cup maple sugar
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup hot water
  • ⅔ cup molasses
For the frosting
  • 1 cup chilled creme fraiche
  • 1¼ cup chilled heavy cream
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 6 tbsp confectioner's sugar
  1. To make the pecans, combine the nuts and maple syrup in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Stirring constantly, cook until the syrup starts to thicken and is almost cooked away, about 3 minutes. Scrape nuts onto a sheet of parchment paper and separate them so they are not touching. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Let cool for 1 hour.
  2. For the caramel, melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the sugar until it melts and starts to boil, about 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, slowly add the cream. Bring back to a boil and then allow it to thicken enough to coat a spoon and reduce in volume to a cup, whisking frequently, 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the salt and maple extract. Set aside.
  3. For the cake, preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and line two 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, Chinese five spice, baking soda, salt, and crystallized ginger.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the sugar and butter until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  6. Mix together the hot water and molasses in a separate bowl. Add the flour mixture in four additions, interspersing it with the water/molasses mix. Mix together until just combined. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack.
  7. To make the frosting, combine the creme fraiche, heavy cream, and sugars in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer until stiff peaks form.
  8. To assemble the cake, place one layer top down on a platter. Spread with 1 cup of the frosting. Drizzle 3 tbsp of the caramel over it.
  9. Invert the second layer from it's pan and place it, top-down, on the first layer. Cover the tops and sides with the remaining frosting and drizzle with 3 tbsp of the caramel sauce. Decorate the sides with the pecans. Chill if not serving immediately.
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 slice


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99 Responses to Maple-Gingerbread Layer Cake with Salted Maple Caramel Sauce

  1. So I like pie, but I loooove layer cakes. This cake is calling my name at this moment (despite it being 7:30 am…)

  2. I love cakes more but I’ll take your pies when they come too. This is just delicious. All I need is holiday music 🙂

  3. This is gorgeous! Maple and gingerbread is such a natural flavor combo. So, so perfect for November. Love it!

  4. I dream to bake as well as you do one day! This looks exquisite. Can’t wait to see your pies!

  5. Oooh la la! Love it Joanne! Gingerbread cake..topped with salted maple caramel sauce…WITH pecans. Basically almost all of my favorite fall ingredients combined into one incredible cake.

  6. This looks SO good! And thank you for the permission to sub out the 5 spice – I find star anise a bit much. This is getting pinned for sure.

  7. Jeanette says:

    Awe, what a sweet sister! Love the five spice powder you used for a different twist. Gorgeous Joanne!

  8. Monica says:

    The cake looks so moist and tender! You are unstoppable. The pie sounds great and your brother is one lucky buy (so is the.boy)! I’m looking forward to all your pie creations to come…

  9. bellini says:

    This is definitely a keeper Joanne with all that maple peaking out of every nook an cranny. Thee is something very homey about it.

  10. Aw, you’re a good sister :). And while I’m a pie-girl all the way, I have a weakness for gingerbread. I. Love. It. I. Need. It.

  11. Pie is just eh for me most of the time. Cake on the other hand, cake is my jam. I had my first taste of gingerbread yesterday and I want MORE — this looks like everything perfect I need in my life.

  12. This looks SO incredibly delicious. I made pumpkin pie last week but now all I can think about is CAKE

  13. gloria says:

    I think this look absolutely amazing, and I LOVE your yestarday’s récipe! (I was out all day yesterday)

  14. This gets me so excited for the holidays, you have no idea!

  15. This sounds amazing! Pinning this one! Thanks Joanne!

  16. cquek says:

    Seriously, this is the most tempting

  17. Oh my goodness, Joanne! This looks so delightful and so perfect for the holidays. I Love!!!

  18. Wow, this looks it would be perfect for Thanksgiving!

  19. I’m not anti-pie or anything, but I’m much more of a cake person. So, I’m totally okay with this.

  20. sandra says:

    you are a very good sister.

  21. SallyBR says:

    Haven’t baked a cake in ages. This one has so many flavors I love…. I bet our graduate students would love me if I brought it to work… 😉

  22. sandra says:

    I love the fact that the icing is really whipped cream – so much lighter and fresher than a heavy sweet one – I think that must make the heavy spicy cake sing. Fabulous.

  23. Wowza! It’s been a while since I made cake, but this looks like the ultimate one! Forget about the pie I could eat THIS every morning 😉

  24. Sues says:

    Yummmm. I love that caramel drizzle!!

    ALSO, HUGEEEEE congratulations on your engagement, lady! Just catching up on blogs and am sooo thrilled for you!! 🙂 🙂

  25. I can’t see anything because eyes have been adjusted to only view the beautiful frosting and caramel sauce. Oh it’s gorgeous!

  26. This is like all the best things about Autumn all rolled into one, to say I love this cake would be an understatement!

  27. I’ve been sitting in the waiting room of my doc’s office for two hours, it’s lunchtime, I’m starving, and you show me this? Torture, I tell you. Just torture…

  28. I just want to crawl inside this thing. Maybe eat my way out.

  29. Absolutely love these flavors! This cake is perfect!

  30. Lynn says:

    Love the look and sound of this cake!

  31. Oh my gosh, I think you just found the ultimate cake for the fall season.

  32. Kate says:

    I’ve been all over gingerbread cookies lately, maybe I should pull out the gingerbread cake I have in the freezer!

  33. Oh my! I would take a huge slice of this cake over pie any day.

  34. Emma says:

    That is one hell of a cake! Maple, gingerbread and salted caramel?! With pecans? Too much to handle.
    Looking forward to the pies already!

  35. A wonderful layered cake, Joanne. The spice cake itself already looks so good, let alone when it’s garnished with cream and caramel sauce.

  36. Tracey says:

    Salted maple caramel sauce?! Say what? You saved me a slice, right? 🙂 I prefer cake over pie so you won’t hear a single complaint from me!

  37. Do you sleep?!?! Where do you find the time to make all this deliciousness? Please ship me some of this. pleeeeeeeease!

  38. Eileen says:

    I have to say. I am definitely a pie person–but this cake! CAKE. Gingerbread is definitely the way to my heart. 🙂

  39. Pam says:

    Who needs pie when you can have this cake? Seriously, it looks and sounds AMAZING!

  40. looks soooooooo decadent. love anything with pumpkin, maple, gingerbread. it’s amazing that you live in manhattan and yet there is so much light in your pics.

  41. Beth says:

    What a great sister you are! I’m looking forward to all the pie you can post.

  42. I LOVE the five-spice in here! Complex anise-seed and Asian flavoring FTW. And also the crystallized ginger. I don’t even care that you neglected to share a pie with us. (just don’t do it again, ok?) 🙂

  43. Tahnycooks says:

    This is the best looking food item I came across in the food blogging world today! Wow! I want a slice of this cake right now!

  44. Too funny I spent my 24 hours before my race baking a cake too!
    You should have kept a piece of the pie for yourself, you know! 😉 It would have been perfect to eat it after crossing the finish line, and as a celebration for the proposal!
    Anyway, this one looks awesome, and the maple caramel sauce sounds lovely! It makes me crave cake now 😉

  45. debbie says:

    Nothing to say except that this looks beyond delicious. Absolutely to die for!

  46. Looks utterly divine, and seriously I would rather have this than a piece of pie any day of the week. Congratulations on your engagement by the way – that’s awesome news xo

  47. So this is the cake they all got to nosh on.
    I love that you used salty sauce.
    5 stars on your foodie chart girl!
    Are we taking a break from marathons?
    You’re making me tired. 😉

  48. Giiiiil, this is fabulous! I love the sauce on top…and the frosting…like, whoa.

  49. Danielle says:

    I have to ask you – where do you find the time to make all these yummy recipes?! I can barely manage one decent meal a week : ) This cake looks totally delicious and that sauce has got to be incredible! My sweet tooth is calling you….? I’m thinking this would be a perfect Thanksgiving treat! Another amazing recipe!!! xx

  50. My gosh, this looks delicious. And absolutely perfect for fall!

  51. what a fantastic cake, joanne!! i love all these flavors. wow! and p.s. cake>pie in my book!

  52. Did I hear you are now engaged? If so, congratulations! I see that you really like the ‘salted caramel’ theme- you recently did ‘salted caramel bourbon sauce’ with your tart recipe. I don’t blame you, I could eat that stuff all day and night!

  53. Oh my… I love how you paired all things delicious together — the maple, pecans, and salted caramel? Mmmm! This gingerbread cake is perfection!

  54. Wow that looks fantastic.. i love everything in the cake.. Its perfect for this weather 🙂

  55. I love star anise and this cake sounds delicious 🙂

  56. I’ve been positively obsessed with gingerbread for the past few weeks, and I fear that if I made a cake as amazing looking as this one, it’d all be gone and nobody but me would have a chance to taste it! Maybe I’ll have to go the single serving route… The maple pecans paired with crystallized ginger would be quite a treat on their own, too!

  57. Mmm, you must make cake more often. With that lovely squiggly sauce on top, too, thanks!

  58. that looks…WOW. looks AMAZAING. you take beautiful photos, too!

  59. I love pie but seriously who needs it when you could have this cake!!! WOW is all I can say 🙂

  60. That frosting…I need a spoon! I love spice cakes and am so intrigued by the five spice powder. I’ve used it in savory dishes before, but never in sweet. Will definitely be trying that!

  61. Shannon says:

    i hope you had some of that salted maple caramel sauce leftover to drink after the marathon! holy delicious 🙂

  62. Come on. The maple caramel sauce and the maple pecans and the crystallized ginger in the cake and the crazy awesome and unique frosting! You make the best recipes EVER! Seriously, ever. You are missing your calling as a pastry chef!

  63. Kathryn says:

    Ooh totally intrigued by the use of five spice in this; what a great change! This cake looks totally epic especially that salted maple caramel sauce – so good!

  64. Colleen says:

    I would definitely take this over pie! Love the fall flavors!

  65. Hotly Spiced says:

    Is it pie season? What a gorgeous cake, Joanne and it looks so moist. I love how you’ve used star anise – that’s a favourite ingredient of mine. And the drizzle over the top makes this very tempting. I’ve cooked food then given it away or eaten it before realising I’m actually a food blogger and I should have taken some photos! xx

  66. That looks incredible! I’m getting sugar high from look at it, lol.

  67. Reeni says:

    I love ANISE! This is so unique for using 5-spice powder! And seriously from top to bottom and inside out it is one of the most crazy-delicious sounding cakes I ever laid eyes on! Special-occasion-holiday-worthy!

  68. When the cake is like this, pie doesn’t even enter my mind! In fact, pie is less common in Australia than in the US so cake is far more on my radar. And this one, I can say with certainty, is now very much on my radar! It looks incredible.

  69. Johanna GGG says:

    that caramel drizzle would draw me in – quite frankly I would take cake over pie any day so this looks gorgeous – pie for breakfast doesn’t happen often here but bring it on – if you must bake it, I will be suitable impressed as I am whenever anyone bakes pie or layer cakes or anything else that rarely comes out of my kitchen

  70. Chris says:

    That first shot is top quality, J.

  71. I like how you’ve used chinese five spice instead of ginger. I love star anise and can imagine this cake tastes delicious. I’ll be featuring it on my blog on a feature that I do called baking news.

  72. […] Maple-Gingerbread Layer Cake with Salted Maple Caramel Sauce from Joanne Eats Well – I love love love anything gingerbread-y and combined with maple sounds […]

  73. Melissa says:

    I like cake much better than pie, so keep the cakes coming! This cake screams Thanksgiving dessert.

  74. That is a gorgeous looking cake and what is up with that yummy sauce…ohhh yum.
    I love my cakes, pies are ok, but cake anytime.

  75. So.PIE’D.OUT. ??? I know not of which you speak. I’d like this with pie on the side, please. Or pie with this on the side. Just…both.

  76. Haley L says:

    Mmmmm this looks so good. What a great combination of flavors!

  77. This sounds incredible, would be hard to stop at just one slice!

  78. Talley Tillack says:

    This is the cake I have been looking for. Can’t wait to bake. Mmmm.

  79. Kim Tracy says:

    I absolutely and adore all things maple and the entire cake looks out of this world delicious, but what I really want to do is start by licking off all the maple caramel sauce. It looks so luscious!

  80. patsy says:

    You know how to appeal to my fall sweet tooth! These flavors are perfect as the weather is getting cooler!

  81. Hannah says:

    This is the kind of cake I dream about! So moist, so tender, and warmly spiced throughout… Won’t someone veganize this for my birthday? Ah, I might have to either keep dreaming or just make the darned thing myself. Clearly, there’s only one real option here.

  82. Norma-Platanos, Mangoes & Me! says:

    Sent this over to my daughter in law….she’s the baker and I want some.

  83. I’m not a pie fan, so I say bring on the cake recipes! This sounds fantastic. I love spiced cakes and that sauce…oh my 😉

  84. Wow this cake is awesome. Who cares about the pie when you can have this cake with the frosting, caramel and pecans? I would take this cake any day!!

  85. Wow! This looks amazing, who needs pie,

  86. grace says:

    this is my kind of cake, joanne! those maple-y pecans are fantastic.

  87. This cake sounds so ultimate. Pie schmie!

  88. G’day and HOW YUM does your cake look today Joanne, TRUE!
    I wish I could come through the screen and try a slice right now too!
    Cheers! Joanne

  89. Nutmeg Nanny says:

    Oh goodness, look at that caramel drizzle! I love it 🙂 this cake looks divine!

  90. Annie says:

    Oh. Em. GEEEEEE!!!!! That is all I have to say about this.

  91. […] “Would you like a sensible grown-up cake, a fancy cookbook cake, or the outrageously extravagant best-of-everything cake I dreamed up just now?”* “Dream cake! I want dream cake.” This cake is layer upon layer of Fall — a bit of pumpkin pie, a bit of pecan pie, two cakefuls of graham cracker, a hint of cinnabon about the frosting… It’s the kind of cake you bake for a very special occasion, for someone who really deserves a really splendid cake. Warning: All the components need to be at room temperature or cooler before you can assemble this monster, so you may need to set aside a few nights (or a whole day) for prior preparation. — Graham cracker: based on Kitchen Nostalgia. Graham cracker cake: based on Cookie Monster Cooking. Pumpkin cheesecake: based on Vintage Kitchen Notes. Maple cream-cheese frosting: based on A Spicy Perspective. Maple-coated pecans: from Joanne Eats Well With Others. […]

  92. Joyce says:

    Well……. I made this cake for a friends big 30th Birthday bash, and this friend happens to be a baker and owns a bakery. All the bakery girls made her a cake and I have to say THIS cake was a smash hit. Everyone wanted the recipe. Seriously good cake!!!

  93. […] are always creative and delicious and visually interesting. I’m partial to the desserts (maple-gingerbread layer cake, anyone?), but would “settle” for anything from her […]

  94. Rebecca says:

    Waw! I Always like this cake with ginger and caramel in it 🙂

  95. Joanne!! oh my gawd. . this cake is magical!!! I’m trying to get better at layer cakes. . pinning and trying . . maybe this month!! love the flavor combo here!!

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