This Ginger Cardamom Cake with rose swiss meringue buttercream tastes absolutely divine! Great balance of spices and sweetness, and looks spectacular too!
With a combination of spice and floral flavor, this beautiful ginger cardamom and rose cake is uniquely delicious!
Going through the cold, dreary months of Winter here in Canada, you’re always looking for a sign of Spring. A sign of potential, promise and more living! Like the beautiful Magnolia flowers blooming in my neighbor’s yard come Late April and May. The blooms are gorgeous, and the color cuts right through the grey of Winter.
But did you know that Magnolia flowers are also edible? They can be pickled, but can be used raw in salads as well. I’ve never tried ’em before, so naturally I had to give it a taste. I was pleasantly surprised by the ginger and slight cardamom notes in the flowers. The ginger is definitely stronger, which yields a lovely warm spiciness.
Does this cake use magnolia flowers?
NO it does not! Magnolia flowers are NOT an ingredient in this cake. So you can make this cake any time of the year!
I was simply inspired by the flowers. Inspired by how beautiful and colorful the magnolia flowers were, and their unique flavor profile. A ginger cardamom cake that is perfectly spiced but not too spicy, and brushed with a thin layer of wild blueberry jam. Then filled and frosted with a buttery, creamy, rose flavored swiss meringue buttercream! It tastes absolutely divine, and it’s a fantastic centerpiece cake worthy of any celebratory moment in your life!
The ginger cardamom cake layers
Which cake pans should I use?
This recipe makes a 2 layer 8 inch cake OR a 3 layer 6 inch cake.
This recipe is perfect for 2 layers of 8 inch cakes (2 inches high). However, you will need to use a little less of the batter if you’re making the cake in 6 inch pans.
The area of an 8 inch pan is 50 square inches, so 2 pans = 100 square inches.
The area of 3 x 6 inch pans = 87 square inches.
So if you’re using 6 inch pans, you will only be using 87 – 90% of the cake batter. I ALWAYS like to measure how much batter I have, and then quickly do the math to set aside the batter I will not be using. I may make a cupcake with the extra batter. You know, for taste-testing purposes…
Tips for making the ginger cardamom cake layers
The base of this ginger cardamom cake is my classic vanilla cake. Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature.
If you want to weigh the batter at the end, then make sure to weigh the empty mixing bowl first. Then you can calculate how much batter should go into each pan.
The butter is softened at room temperature (about 74 F / 23 C). Softened butter is much easier to cream, and turn light and fluffy.
If your butter is too cold, you can microwave it slightly to make it a bit softer, or leave it in a warm place in your kitchen/house.
The first step of creaming the butter is crucial! The butter should be light, pale in color, and fluffy.
Use fresh ground spices for the ginger cardamom cake if you can. Older pre-ground spices lose their potency the longer they are stored. A new packet of ground ginger will obviously be more potent than months-old ground ginger sitting in your pantry cupboard. If you do only have old spices, you may need to use a little extra.
Avoid over-whisking the eggs. Whisking eggs for too long can introduce too much air into the cake batter. This can cause the cake to rise too much in the oven and collapse as it cools.
Avoid over-mixing the batter after adding the flour. Flour has gluten, and the more the batter is agitated or mixed, the more gluten strands it will form. This will cause the cake to feel rubbery, and have tunneling.
Allow the ginger cardamom cake layers to cool completely before frosting. Otherwise the frosting will melt and the cake won’t come together.
Tips for making the frosting
If you’re using classic Swiss meringue buttercream to make this rose buttercream, then the butter will need to be cool, but at room temperature (about 70 F). This is because the meringue mix might be quite warm, and the cool butter will help you achieve the proper texture. Here’s all the information you’ll ever need for making classic swiss meringue buttercream.
I’ve also shared a cheat’s method of making swiss meringue buttercream, which is easier and faster. But the volume of buttercream might be less (because less air is whipped into the buttercream). Make sure the butter is soft but not melted at room temperature. That’s because you want as much air to be whipped into the butter to make this frosting airy and delicious!
For a clean, frosted look, make sure to crumb coat the ginger cardamom cake with the rose buttercream first. Let the crumb coat layer set, and then follow it up with the final frosting layer. You can also just have a naked cake look.
When coloring the buttercream, I used americolor gel. Remember that a little goes a long way here, and the color will deepen when the buttercream sits for awhile.
Baking the cake layers
Prep the cake pans before adding the cake batter. And preheat the oven as well. I use a conventional oven.
You can prep the cake pans in a few different ways.
- Butter and flour the pans,
- Butter and line the pan with parchment paper (just the bottom, or bottom and sides),
- Homemade pan release.
I prefer to butter and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
Divide the ginger cardamom cake batter evenly between the cake pans. You can do this in two ways.
- Either by weight – find out how much batter you’ve got by weight (subtract the weight of the empty bowl from the weight of the bowl WITH the batter).
- Or by using an ice cream scoop to evenly divide the batter into the pans.
Bake in the preheated oven until the cake is done (toothpick inserted comes out clean). While the cakes are warm, flip them onto a wire rack and let the cakes cool completely.
Rose swiss meringue buttercream
I looooove making swiss meringue buttercream! It’s such a buttery, soft frosting. There are two ways to make swiss meringue buttercream, and you can use either of these recipes.
Classic swiss meringue buttercream with rose flavor – This is a classic recipe, with the traditional method of making SMBC. This uses an egg white and sugar syrup to make a meringue, and then to add the butter.
Easy swiss meringue buttercream with rose flavor – This is an easier cheat’s method of making SMBC. This method uses pasteurized egg whites, confectioner’s sugar, butter, and cream.
The rose flavor can come from rose water or rose extract. If you’re using rose water, substitute some of the cream with rose water. Rose extract is stronger in flavor, so you will only need 1 – 2 tsp.
Make sure not to add too much rose flavor, since that could easily overpower the warm spice flavor of this ginger cardamom cake.
Assembling the cake
Trim off the tops of the cooled ginger cardamom cakes to make them level. You only need to do this if the cakes do not already have a nice, flat surface.
Place one cake layer on a cake board, using a little buttercream to stick the cake onto the board. Make sure the flat side of the cake is on the bottom, and centered.
Spread a layer of blueberry jam on top of your ginger cardamom cake layer. The blueberry jam not only adds a little fruity flavor to complement the rose flavor, but it also adds a pop of color to the cake, once cut.
Spread an even layer of rose buttercream, and top it with another cake layer. Repeat this process to make a 3 layer cake. Make sure the cake layers are even, and the cake is not lopsided.
Apply a thin, crumb coating on your layered cake and let it set. Finish the ginger cardamom cake with the final layer of frosting.
To decorate this ginger cardamom cake, you can either leave it in a simple white color, OR
- Frost the cake with a pink / purple buttercream,
- Decorate the cake with pink / purple buttercream accents on white,
- Instead of a smooth frosting, apply a rustic swirled frosting effect,
- Apply a buttercream border on the top and bottom of the cake,
- Decorate with magnolia flowers (remember to make sure they are safe to eat).
For my cake here, I frosted the cake with white, rose flavored swiss meringue buttercream. Then I colored some buttercream in a pinkish purple color to match the magnolia flowers and added dollops of it to create accents. Then I added some white chocolate ganache drips on ONE half of the cake, along with fresh magnolias on top. Feel free to decorate the ginger cardamom cake as minimally or as extravagantly as you like!
How far in advance can I make this cake?
The different components of the cake can be made in advance.
At room temperature – These cake layers will stay at room temperature for about 24 hours, provided they are individually wrapped with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.
In the fridge – Wrap the cake layers (individually again) with plastic wrap (more than one layer). Keep them in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freezer – First wrap the cake layers in plastic wrap, and then again in a layer of foil, and freeze for up to 3 months. Then just thaw them out in the fridge for 1 – 2 days.
Rose swiss meringue buttercream
You can make this in advance too. The buttercream will keep at room temperature for about 24 hours. Or you can refrigerate it for up to 1 week. Let the buttercream soften at room temperature and re-whip to make it fluffy again.
I bought wild blueberry jam from the market for this recipe here. But you can use any blueberry jam you like.
How to store a frosted cake
If the ginger cardamom cake is fully frosted, it can be stored in the fridge for 1 – 2 days. And overnight at room temperature, IF the weather isn’t too warm. Keep in mind that the longer you keep it in the fridge, the buttercream will absorb flavors and smells of other foods in the fridge.
Just make sure that you return the cake to room temperature before serving.
If the cake has been cut, store it in an airtight cake container in the fridge for up to 5 days (depending on how far in advance the cake was made before being cut).
Why I love this cake
The #1 reason I absolutely adore this cake is the flavors! This cake has an incredibly unique flavor profile! The combination of cardamom and ginger is one-of-a-kind! The rose flavor in the buttercream isn’t overpowering, and perfectly complements the spice in the cake.
This cake is a joy to make, and a joy to eat! And it goes without saying that it’s a gorgeous cake that works well as a centerpiece dessert for any celebrations in your life.
The cake was inspired by Spring weather, and beautiful Magnolia blooms, but it’s a delightful dessert for any time of the year!
Ginger Cardamom Cake with Rose Buttercream
Ginger Cardamom Cake
- 226 g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature 2 sticks
- ½ tsp salt
- 300 g white sugar 1 ½ cups
- ¾ tbsp ground ginger see recipe notes
- ¾ tsp ground cardamom see recipe notes
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- ½ cup sour cream 120 g
- ¼ cup milk 60 g
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 300 g AP flour approximately 2 ½ cups (measured by spoon and level method)
- 2 ½ tsp baking powder
Easy Rose Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 240 g pasteurized egg whites 1 cup
- 450 g confectioner’s sugar about 4 cups
- 450 g unsalted butter very soft, but not melted
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- ¼ cup rose water or 1 – 2 tsp rose extract, see recipe notes
- ¼ cup whipping cream 35% fat, room temperature
- ½ cup blueberry jam
- Your choice of food coloring I used a combination of purple, fuchsia, and pink
Ginger Cardamom Cake
- Preheat the oven to 325°F / 162°C. Line the bottom of two 8 inch pans (or three 6 inch pans) with parchment paper, and butter and flour the sides. Set aside.
- Cream the butter, salt, and sugar until the mix is creamy and fluffy. This can take about 3- 7 minutes, depending on the temperature of the butter.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Mix in the milk, sour cream, and vanilla into the batter. If the ingredients are at different temperatures, you may notice that the batter might look curdled. This is OK. It'll be fixed when the flour is added.
- In a separate bowl, sift the flour, spices, and baking powder together and whisk to combine.
- Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in 2 – 3 additions, and mix until just combined.
- Divide the batter between the cake pans. You will only be using about 90% of the cake batter if you’re using 6 inch cake pans.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 – 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. The cake is baked through when it feels springy to the touch (when you gently touch the middle of the cake, it should spring back). Or when a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool slightly in the pan. While still warm, turn the cake out onto a wire rack and let it cool down completely.
- Once the cake is cooled, wrap each layer with plastic wrap if you’re not using it right away.
Easy Rose Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Make the buttercream while the cake layers are cooling.
- Place the egg whites and confectioner’s sugar in a mixing bowl, and whisk for about 5 – 6 minutes on high speed. The mixture should look thick, glossy, and white.
- Scrape this mixture into a separate bowl and set aside.
- Add the butter and salt into the same mixing bowl. With the whisk attachment, whip the butter until light, fluffy, and creamy. This can take up to 10 minutes depending on the temperature of the butter, the mixer, as well as the ambient temperature.
- When the butter is fluffy, add the rose water and all of the vanilla, and whip for a further couple of minutes to make the butter fluffier.
- While running the mixer on medium high, stream the egg white mixture into the butter mixture.
- Keep whipping the buttercream until you have a creamy consistency (a few minutes). While whisking, add the cream (as much as you like), to make the buttercream creamier.
- If you’d like the buttercream to be sweeter, add more sifted confectioner’s sugar and mix until well incorporated.
- The faux swiss meringue buttercream is now ready to be used. If you want to create colors, use about ½ cup of the buttercream and color it with gel food color to get whatever color you like.
Assembling the cake
- Trim off the tops of the cake layers to level them. This is only required if the cake layers are not already flat and level on top.
- Place a cake layer on a cake board, with the flat bottom facing down. Use a little buttercream to stick the cake layer onto the cake board and keep it secure.
- Spread a layer of blueberry jam on top of the cake layer. I only spread a thin layer, allowing some of the jam to be absorbed by the cake layer.
- Spread an even layer of rose buttercream on top.
- Place another layer of cake on top, again making sure it's even and level. Repeat the layers if you're making a 6 inch cake. The final cake layer should be placed with the flat bottom side facing up.
- Make sure the sides of the cake are even and the top is level.
- Apply a thin layer of rose buttercream on the cakes as the crumb coat. This crumb coating should give your cake nice and straight sides and top.
- Refrigerate the cake for about 30 minutes, just long enough to make the crumb coat firm. You can also just leave the cake at room temperature (if it’s not too hot) to allow the crumb coat to set.
- Apply another even layer of buttercream on the cake, on the sides and top.
Decorating the cake
- After the final frosting layer has been spread on the cake, you can decide how to further decorate the cake.
- For a rustic look, you can create swirls in your buttercream.
- For a more refined look, use a bench scraper to get smooth sides. If the cake and crumb coating are chilled, the frosting will harden on the cake fairly quickly, so you may need to work fast to get smooth sides.
- Use the colored buttercream to create strokes, then smooth them out to create a blended look.
- Pipe a border on top with leftover frosting, or create a white chocolate drip on the cake (as pictured in the photos here).
Tips & Tricks
Note about the spicesI used ground ginger from a fresh spice packet, and made cardamom powder from the seeds of cardamom pods. So both spices were fresh and quite potent. If your spices are old, you may need to use a little extra to get a more prominent flavor.
Note about rose waterIf you’re using rose water extract, substitute the rose water with room temperature heavy cream, and add 1 – 2 tsp of rose water extract along with the vanilla.
Note about swiss meringue buttercreamIf you want to make classic swiss meringue buttercream, you can use the recipe HERE (just one quantity). Add about 1/4 cup of rose water or 1 – 2 tsp rose extract.
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