Make Ahead

Gingerbread Beer Bundt Cake with Chocolate Glaze

February 16, 2012
6 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 35 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Serves 12-16
Author Notes

Beer in a gingerbread cake??? Absolutely! Dark brews give a depth to the spicy flavor of the cake. And as always, a little chocolate makes it better; this quick and easy one bowl cake batter has a ribbon of chocolate swirled through it and dark chocolate glaze drizzled over the top. Some may find the use of sorghum unusual but here in the south, we use it in everything. It has a milder flavor than molasses and tends to add less color and is worth the time spent finding it. What beer you bake with is up to you but I suggest one that is dark; an ale or porter will work out nicely.

This recipe is adapted from the gingerbread beer cake featured in my first book Sky High, Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes. For valentine's day, i needed a cake for a class I was attending and decided to turn a triple layer cake into a bundt cake. The recipe has been reworked and adjusted for a bundt pan and to yield a decadent dessert that is quick and easy to make and does not require any cake decorating skills! —janeofmanytrade

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: janeofmanytrade is a devoted gardener, beekeeper, and cook.
WHAT: A deeply spiced chocolate cake with a secret ingredient.
HOW: Make a glaze while a marbled batter bakes in the oven, and try to wait until it cools to eat.
WHY WE LOVE IT: The unusual ingredients in this cake (mustard, sorghum, beer -- we're looking at you), combine to make one of the most complex, nuanced chocolate cakes we know. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 2/3 cup canola oil (or other neutral oil)
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sorghum
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, natural preferred
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard (such as coleman's)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup dark beer (I used yazoo-dos perros ale)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil (to melt with the chocolate)
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 6 tablespoons half and half
  1. Grease and flour a large bundt or tube pan-10 to 12 cup capacity. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, sorghum, eggs and salt.
  3. Place a large mesh strainer over a bowl and place the flour, cocoa, spices, baking powder and baking soda in it. Sift about half of the dry ingredients over the egg mixture and then return the remaining dry ingredients in the strainer to the other bowl while you fold the batter a few times. Add the buttermilk and fold until smooth. Sift the remaining dry ingredients over the batter and dump any that have collected in the bowl into the batter as well. Fold a few times, add the beer, and fold until completely mixed. Remove 2 cups of batter for the ribbon and pour the remaining batter into the prepared pan.
  4. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate with the 1 teaspoon of oil on the lowest setting. Stir until smooth and then stir into the reserved cake batter. Pour this chocolate batter over the top of the batter in the pan and using a spoon, gently stir it in to create a marbled effect in the batter.
  5. Bake until a pick inserted comes out clean, about 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes and then turn it out onto a rack to cool completely.
  6. To glaze, melt the bittersweet chocolate with the half-and-half in the microwave on the lowest setting. Stir until smooth and glossy. Place the cooled cake on a serving platter. Using a spoon, drizzle the glaze all over the top of the cake. Allow the glaze to set in the fridge for 15-20 minutes but serve it at room temperature for the best flavor.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Claire
  • Claire
  • Trees
  • Nancy Charlton
    Nancy Charlton
  • babymustard

50 Reviews

Claire January 19, 2020
My family loved this. We served with lots of whipped cream. I skipped the marbling steps to simplify. I used honey instead of sorgham and candied ginger chopped fine for the ground ginger (oops! check your ground ginger before committing to gingerbread, mine was almost empty.) I think this recipe must be pretty fool proof and I would definitely make it again.
Claire April 21, 2019
This is a great cake, but I think the directions about the dry ingredients are weird. Just sift all the dry ingredients together, add to the wet ingredients, and then take out two cups of batter and add the chocolate. We also used a homebrewed porter, and added 1/4 tsp of mace to the spices.
wenz December 1, 2020
Thank you. this is easier to understand :-)
stefi January 19, 2019
made it twice (with high-altitude mods, I live at 7000 ft) and it was amazing both times. Highly recommended.
JD November 18, 2021
I live at 8000+ft. Can you share the high-alt mods you made?
stefi November 19, 2021
I used the corrections from the King Arthur website
JD November 20, 2021
Trees December 31, 2016
I've made a vegan version of this cake three times in the past month and it has been excellent every time! You can replace the eggs with 3 tbs ground flaxseed whisked together with 9 tbs water (let it sit for a bit to get gloppy before adding it in), and I whisk about a teaspoon of vinegar (apple cider or white) into almond milk to replace the buttermilk. I've used a different type of beer every time, and it never makes a huge difference as long as it's dark, so don't fret too much over that. And to make things slightly simpler, I leave out the chocolate marbling step. The cake is already really intense, I don't think the extra bit of chocolate adds much.
Kitchen G. October 2, 2015
Chocolate chile stout?! That sounds amazing. Let us know how it turns out.
Brad October 2, 2015
Ooh I got a chocolate chilie stout from a local brewery that will be awesome with this!
Nancy C. April 1, 2015
At last, I had occasion to make this cake. I took it to a potluck, but there were four cakes, several pies, a pudding, and a fruit compote there too. Three quarters of my huge cake came home with me, and I took it to a much smaller gathering the next day. Two people, one of whom was having her own party, took most of this.
I made it in a rectangular Pyrex, and had planned to put the excess into a square pan, but the gingerbread batter barely covered the Pyrex to a half-inch depth, so I just concentrated on it and scrapped the other pan. I think I took out too much batter for the chocolate, as it seemed to overwhelm the gingerbread. Nevertheless, it baked up nicely to a 2" depth in about 40 minutes. I used Dagoba unsweetened chocolate, and then most of a bag of Ghirardelli 60-40 Chocolate Chips (IMO the best to be had) with some whole milk and cream for the glaze. I used chocolate stout, but a pale IPA might do well; beer and ale so wonders for baked goods. The potluck was vegetarian, so I was fudging a little with eggs and dairy. I used the last of a bottle of grapeseed oil and some coconut oil for the cake, had to substitute maple syrup for sorghum (which I couldn't find). Another time I think I'd whip the eggs separately, as the cake could stand to be a tad lighter in texture. Now I ask, would the sorghum make it lighter in color so that the marbling would stand out better? But all in all, it was a wonderful cake, and next time I'll definitely use a bundt pan. I'm also thinking that two glazes might be spectacular, one with a smaller amount of chocolate chips, the other, white chocolate. Perhaps the top could be studded with nuts and/or dried fruit. Or the center could be filled with whipped cream to spill over the top. And if it's the Fourth of July, I'll plant a small Old Glory in the center!
babymustard December 11, 2014
I made this last night and loved it. The spice is so complex and the cake is dense and perfectly moist.
Adapted it to be dairy-free by using almond milk with a teaspoon of white vinegar (left to stand for a minute or two).
Used 1/4 cup + 3tbs agave, and 3tbs molasses in place of sorghum.
No bundt pan to speak of, so I made two layers in ceramic 9" circle pans, which cooked up fine, and was good-looking even unfrosted. Filled it with an almond milk/semisweet chocolate ganache. Really stellar!
Kitchen G. March 28, 2014
I have a similar recipe, but use molasses instead of sorghum. I use Young's double chocolate stout. The cake actually gets better after sitting for a few days, if you can resist that long. It's based on a cook's illustrated recipe, but I go extreme with the fresh ginger and use only brown sugar.
Laura415 March 13, 2014
This recipe really caught my eye. I can't wait to try this instead of my go to chocolate stout cake. I plan to sub the sorghum syrup with a mix of other liquid sweeteners I have on hand. Probably Molasses and honey because of their spicy taste. I don't use seed oils so will use a combo of melted butter, light tasting olive oil and coconut oil. This will not change the recipe much unless you refrigerate the cake. I always use spelt flour in cakes and it works very well. Thanks for this gem. Looking forward to making it my own.
Cherie March 13, 2014
Over here in South Africa, sorghum is a flour, but I see most comments imply a sort of syrup? What should I use?
cookingcontestjunkie March 12, 2014
If you live near any Amish or Mennonite markets they usually have sorghum.So glad!
Ntailleart December 13, 2013
I just made this for a potluck and it was a hit! I would say it has a very grown up flavor that pairs well with coffee or red wine. The recipe also stood up to some abuse. I made it gluten free (just used my favorite all purpose mix) and with gf stout- the cake didn't suffer for it all. And lastly, I made the cake several days in advance and froze it. Day of, I thawed it out and iced it- it held up great!
Michelle November 30, 2013
I used half molasses and half lyles golden... can't find sorghum here in CT. I think next time I will use golden and agave. The molasses darkened the cake so much that the marbling was invisible and it deepened the flavor too much. Otherwise, great cake, especially on the first day.
henandchicks November 22, 2013
Has anyone tried NOT marbling this cake- just adding the chocolate to all of the batter?
Sharon H. November 13, 2013
Hi - Great recipe - however canola oil (at least in Canada) is almost always genetically engineered. I'd recommend using another type of oil - grapeseed perhaps.
enthous March 13, 2014
Yes! It is in the states too.
Rachel November 13, 2013
I'm in England and don't think sorghum is available here. Would golden syrup be ok? or maybe a mix of molasses or treacle and golden syrup?

ehuckaby April 10, 2013
I was able to find sorghum at a brewing supply store (apparently, it is used to make gluten-free beer). The cake was so lovely; interesting but not heavy or overly rich. Congrats!
PRST February 13, 2013
I just made this cake and it fell- smells delicious though. My batter was on the runny side so I am wondering about the amount of flour I used. I fluffed up the flour in my canister and then spooned it into the measuring cup. Wished the recipe had weights, especially for the flour. Also, I assumed the brown sugar was 2 cups, PACKED.
essabagel February 6, 2013
I rarely bake but couldn't resist the siren song of this cake, and I'm so glad I gave in to the temptation. It turned out beautifully, one of my all-time favorites. I thought I'd find sorghum at my local Whole Foods; when they turned out not to have it, I grabbed a jar of barley malt syrup instead, and that seemed to work well as a substitute. I can't wait to make it again!
Yogamani November 16, 2013
How much barley syrup did you use?