We Made a Copycat Version of the Famous Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf

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Whether you're a novice baker or have a whole holiday repertoire, this Starbucks gingerbread loaf is the perfect winter treat to add to your baking list.

Starbucks Store Sign And Gingerbread LoafGetty Images, Jamie Thrower for Taste of Home

You never have to ask me twice to make a seasonal dessert! I’ll take any excuse to whip up a batch of winter treats, whether it’s sugar cookies for classic holiday decorating or baking mini loaves to share with friends. This year, I created a copycat Starbucks gingerbread loaf recipe that’s the perfect addition to my holiday baking.

This two-bowl recipe has all the holiday vibes you’re looking for. Served in thick slices with a nice layer of frosting, it’s as delicious with your morning coffee as it is after dinner for a sweet treat.

Copycat Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf Recipe

Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf Ingredients Jamie Thrower For Taste Of HomeJamie Thrower for Taste of Home

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Zest from 1/2 orange
  • Optional: Chopped walnuts for topping

For the Frosting:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 – 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • Zest from 1/2 orange

Tools You’ll Need

  • Microplane: This classic kitchen tool is perfect for grating the orange zest and nutmeg in this Starbucks gingerbread loaf, but it will come in handy for all kinds of recipes.
  • Offset Spatula: Use this simple tool to make your frosting look like it came from a bakery.
  • Silicone Spatula: A sturdy spatula is my most-used kitchen item. You’ll need it for scraping the bowl while mixing and evening out the top of the batter in the pan.

Directions

Step 1: Mix the dry ingredients

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×5 loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and fresh grated nutmeg. Set aside.

Step 2: Make the batter

Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf Batter Jamie Thrower For Taste Of HomeJamie Thrower for Taste of Home

Using a stand mixer or an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and egg, and mix well. Blend in the applesauce and orange zest.

Gradually add the flour mixture a third at a time, mixing just until combined each time. Pour the batter into the oiled loaf pan and even out the top with a rubber spatula.

Step 3: Bake off loaf

Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf In Bread Pan Jamie Thrower For Taste Of HomeJamie Thrower for Taste of Home

Bake for 50-55 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when you test the center of the cake. Let it cool slightly in the loaf pan on a cooling rack. Then run a small knife around the edge of the pan to make sure it won’t stick, and turn the loaf over onto the rack to cool completely before frosting.

Step 4: Make the cream cheese frosting

Icing Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf Jamie Thrower For Taste Of HomeJamie Thrower for Taste of Home

Using the stand mixer or electric mixer, beat the cream cheese with the vanilla. Add the remaining orange zest and 1-1/2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar, and beat until smooth and creamy. You can add a bit more sugar if it’s not thick enough.

Spread a heavy layer of frosting over the gingerbread cake, smoothing it out with an offset spatula. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts, if desired.

Here’s What I Thought

Finished Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf Jamie Thrower For Taste Of HomeJamie Thrower for Taste of Home

I can’t wait to make this loaf cake again! It’s easy to make, not overly sweet and delicious.

As with most baked goods, make sure your butter and egg are at room temperature before starting. If you don’t have any room temperature butter, try these tricks to soften butter quickly. And when it comes to mixing the butter and sugar, make sure to whip it long enough that they fully come together and the texture becomes creamy. All of this will help give your loaf the perfect light texture.

This cake smells so good while it’s in the oven that you’ll want to frost it and dig in right away. But you never want to frost a warm cake! The frosting will fall off and melt. While your cake is cooling you can pull out the cream cheese so it has plenty of time to come to room temperature.

This cake is great in slices, and I think it would also be fun to make as mini loaf cakes in a pan like this. You could also get creative with the toppings and try chopped pecans or hazelnuts instead of walnuts, or add in some chopped candied ginger. This recipe is a keeper!

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Risa Lichtman
Risa Lichtman is a chef and writer living in Portland, Oregon. She is the owner/chef of Lepage Food & Drinks, a small food company featuring Jewish seasonal foods, providing takeaway all around Portland. She has previously published poems in Poetica Magazine, the anthology The Art of Bicycling, Maggid: A Journal of Jewish Literature, and The Dos Passos Review. She lives with her wife Jamie, their dog Isaac, and their cat Sylvia. Follow her at @risaexpizza, or find her delicious food offerings on @lepagefoodanddrinks.