Gingerbread Cake with (the Perfect) Cream Cheese Frosting


This time last year: Haystack Cookies (2013)



I made this cake for a Christmas party during the holiday break.

I am now back at school, eyeballs deep in reading and homework, craving this scrumptious cake and holiday memories it brings!  Ug. Why do the holidays always pass so quickly?!

I have made several cakes in my lifetime, however I tend to save my cake-making for my trips home. The rational for that is entirely health focused, and not at all because I’m a generous person that wants to share my dessert. I want to eat dessert every day, but if I make a cake while living on my own, I know that I’ll eat that entire monster by myself. Thus, I tend to wait until I go home, so I can take my family down with me, and allow them to eat some of this cake for me! Thoughtful, I know.

So, this Christmas, as is my tradition, I tried a new cake recipe, and think I found a winner! We ate that cake up in a matter of hours, oohing and aaahing over the moist consistency, the rich flavor, and the perfect icing. I am pleased to say, my family ranked this cake at the top of my cake recipes- competing only with my Carmel Apple Cake with Apple Cider Frosting.

In my mind, this cake is a winner for two reasons. One, the gingerbread cake is a unique flavor that is a perfect winter recipe, standing out at any dinner party or holiday gather.  And two, the icing is PERFECT.

There is no doubt that cream cheese icing is my favorite type of icing.

For some reason, I really hate all icings where I can noticeably taste the powdered sugar (I know, said no sugar-addict ever), and the presence of the cream cheese adds rich flavor, masking the powdered sugar flavor.  However, Even if I did like the taste of powdered sugar, the addition of the cream cheese makes this icing soooooo much richer, thicker, and in general more delicious. Thus, in my mind, there really seems to be no other option! Cream cheese icing is always the way to go.

And as far as cream cheese icings go, this icing is the best recipe I have found to date! That’s right, every cake from here on out will be topped with this perfect icing recipe. Get excited.  The consistency was perfect, making it easy to ice, not too runny, and long lasting without losing it’s form. Win-Win-Win!

Thus, if you’re missing Christmas, or family, or are eyeballs deep in work, I suggest you treat yourself to this cake. I promise, it will make your day better.

Come back soon!

– Sarah



Cake Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:

  • 6 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ~ 1/2 cup cranberries  and mint leaves (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ and grease a 9-inch springform pan.*

2. In a glass or ceramic bowl, whisk together the boiling water, baking soda, molasses, and granulated sugar. Whisk until he sugar is dissolved, and set aside.

3. As the molasses mixture cools, combine the flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, making powder, and salt in a separate large bowl.

4. Whisk the vegetable oil and eggs into the molasses mixture, and then add to the dry ingredients.

5. Fold the dry and wet ingredients together until evenly mixed, and then pour into the baking pan.

6. Bake for 30-35 minutes, cool for five, and then gently remove from the pan. Allow to cool completely before icing.

7. While the cake cools, make the icing. Using an electric stand mixer, whip together the cream cheese and butter until pale and fluffy. Thoroughly mix in the vanilla extract and powdered sugar, cover, and refrigerate until ready to ice.

8. Optional: Once iced, chop up 1/2 cup of cranberries and arrange around the rim of the cake for decoration. Garnish with a few mint leaves.


Notes and Tips!

  • Don’t have a 9-inch springform pan? Using an 8-inch square pan, or a 10-inch spring form pan will work as well! However if you use the later option, decrease cooking time slightly.
  • Source: Cooking Classy
  • Yield: 10 servings
  • Like this recipe? Try these other scrumptious treats from A Rented Kitchen as well! (Recipe links found below photos!):

Iced Coffee Cocktail


This time last year: Sweet Potato Thai Soup (2012)



Friends! It is officially 2016. The weather has started leaning towards snow, which for a second, made the world slow down again. However, the wind has blown, the snow has settled, and it is back to the grind.

If I learned anything this last year, I think it would be that time moves too fast, and I don’t do enough to help it slow down.

2015 rushed by with a slew of coffee cups, occasional laughter with family, hundreds of late night phone chats, and thousands of hours with my face pressed into textbooks. It was a beautiful year, and yet I still hope 2016 is better. I hope that 2016 brings new adventure- moments that take my breath away and make me realize how much living we are truly capable of. I hope 2016 brings reconciliation. I hope that ones I love find peace, and I hope that I can continue to love them and support them throughout the upcoming year. And I hope 2016 is saturated with moments of simple joy and deep laughter, the kind of laughter that echoes in your bones.

I don’t usually have New Years resolutions, but this year, I do. This year, my resolution is to read more than 12 pleasure books (a feat not easy when in grad school), because I believe they make my life better. My resolution, and hope, is to continue cooking a lot, and to share those fun edible adventures with you. And my resolution, and hope, is to do an even better job connecting with the people I love, most of whom live far away.

It’s my younger brother’s birthday today. He has been my best friend my whole life, and is honestly one of the most incredible human beings I have ever know.

I hope 2016 is good for him, and I hope 2016 is good for you.

Thus, I post this drink recipe in honor of my brother- this is my toast. But while we’re at it, feel free to consider this drink my toast to you as well. This is my toast to adventure, to reconciliation, and to laughter that resonates in your bones. This is my toast to my favorite younger brother and to you, most likely a stranger.

I hope your 2016 is off to a beautiful start. Thanks for being a part of mine, and cheers to you.






  • 6 coffee ice cubes
  • 1 oz. Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • 1 oz. Kahlua
  • 2 oz. half and half
  • 2 oz. skim milk (or any type of milk)
  1. In advance, fill an ice tray with coffee and freeze until the coffee has formed into ice cubes.
  2. Fill a glass with several coffee cubes (I used 6 in my wine glass).
  3. Pour the Bailey’s and Kahlua over the ice cubes. Then add the cream and milk, until the liquids have reached a desired proportion.
  4. Stir gently, and enjoy!
Notes and Tips!:
  • Source: A Rented Kitchen!
  • Recommended Serving: This drink makes for an excellent after dinner/ dessert drink.
  • Don’t miss these other delicious drinks, from this week’s “6 Holiday drinks that aren’t Eggnog” series!

Dairy-Free Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer


This time last year: Coconut Hot Chocolate (2013)



I woke up this morning to snow on the ground. It wasn’t a lot of snow, and honestly it’s probably more a mixture of ice than anything, however it is white, and beautiful and I love it.

All winter, across the country, we have been experiencing abnormally warm temperatures. My brother goes to college in Saint Paul and they still have yet to receive snow. That’s crazy! Not a good sign for global warning.

As much as I have loved wearing shorts in December and going on long runs without freezing to death, it feels weird to go a whole winter without snow. Snow, like christmas lights and fire places, is one of those few things that make winter and the holidays feel real!

Thus, when I woke up this morning to a thin white layer of snow on the ground, I thought the recipe of the day needed to be a warm winter treat- something you could put in a cup, wrap cold fingers around, and enjoy the comfort of that warmth.

Thus, for my third holiday drink that’s not egg nog, in this mini holiday drink series, I present you with this Dair Free Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer.

It’s good y’all. It’s winter in a cup, and it will warm your soul.

Come back for another holiday drink that isn’t eggnog!

XO Sarah




  • 1 and 1/2 cups almond milk*
  • 2 Tablespoons pumpkin puree (not pumpking pie filling!)
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 – 2 cinnamon sticks


  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the heavy cream, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and pumpkin pie spice. Whisk together until fully combined.
  2. Add the cinnamon sticks.
  3. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Whisk while boiling for one minute, then remove the pot from the heat.
  4. Allow the creamer to cool for five minutes before adding to your coffee.
  5. Dress your coffee as you like- adding sugar, whip cream, and/or a sprinkle of cinnamon as you like!



Notes and Tips!:

  • I chose to make this coffee creamer dairy free, because I often get requests for dairy free recipes! Although almond milk is not as creamy as whole milk or half an half, it is definitely healthier, and still has a nice creamy flavor to it! However, if you prefer to go the traditional route, feel free to substitute the almond milk out for whole milk or half and half!
  • Store leftovers in a covered container for up to a week. Shake well before each use.
  • Source: Sally’s Baking Addiction 
  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious recipes from A Rented Kitchen! (Recipe links below photos):

Cranberry Whiskey Cocktail


This time last year: Pumpkin Hot Chocolate (2013)


Well, Christmas has passed, but this holiday season is far from over- at least that’s the case in my house. Why let such a good thing end so soon?!

In celebration of the 12 days of Christmas, and a continued season of festivities, I am going to bring you six drink options for this holiday season that are NOT eggnog- starting today!

I will admit, I really don’t have anything against eggnog. Eggnog and I don’t go way back, but I don’t hate it.

However, I like getting a little more creative with my cooking choices than eggnog. It just makes life more fun! Thus, this week, from Christmas to New Years, I am going to bring you a handful of new drink recipes that you can use for a variety of occasions- from happy hour to early morning coffee.

Cheers to you!

And cheers to the holiday!

Love, Sarah


  • 1 oz. Crown Royal Whiskey
  • 1 oz. Ginger ale
  • 1 oz. Cranberry Juice
  • Fresh Cranberries and ice for garnish
  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour the liquids into the shaker and mix (shake or stir to your desire).
  2. Strain the liquids into a glass full with fresh ice.
  3. Garnish with cranberries and enjoy!
Notes and Tips!:
  • Yield: 1 drink
  • Source: Your Southern Peach 
  • Like this recipe? Try these other beverages from A Rented kitchen (Recipe links below photos!):

Christmas Morning Scones (AKA Vanilla Bean, Cranberry and Rosemary Scones)


This time last year: Baked Apple Cider Donuts with Cinnamon-Sugar Glaze (2012)


YOU GUYS! It’s Christmas EVE!

I love this day.

Every Christmas Eve my mom, brother, and I spend all night together. We would spend it with my dad as well, but as a preacher, Christmas Eve is not vacation.

The night starts with the 5 o’clock children’s Christmas Eve service. Then we will come home and share a bowl of soup together- or something created with love and designed to keep us warm.

After dinner, without fail, I will watch Holiday Inn (the original White Christmas!), by myself, because my Mom will be busy cooking and my brother will be busy avoiding musicals. Then we will throw our coats back on, push back any sleepy thoughts, crawl into the car, and head to church for the 11 o’clock Christmas Eve service.

There we will sit in the pew together. We will sing our favorite hymns- Still, Still, Still, Away in a Manger, Joy to the World. We will light candles, and at the end of the service, as the clock strikes 12, we will raise our candles up. We will lift them above our heads, and my father- standing at the front with his candle mirroring ours- will whisper “It is Christmas,” and in my gut, I will feel that wave of hope, peace, love, and joy that we have been talking about all month, in one fell swoop.

There will be light, and then there will be joy, and it will be contagious.

When we were young, we would come home from the 11 o’clock service and  my mom would usher my brother and I to bed, so that she and my dad could “play Santa.” However, now that we are older, we all wait for my dad to get home. Once we’re all home- for the first time all night, we will stay up late, because the holidays aren’t the holidays unless you have time together. So we will make time, and we will likely do it by the fire, with a plate of crackers and cheese.

The next morning, we will stumble out of our beds- mom will make coffee, dad will turn on the Christmas lights, and somewhere between opening gifts, trying on new winter coats, and manning the fire, mom will pass around a tray of baked bread- muffins, scones, and loaf slices.

That is Christmas.


When I stumbled upon this recipe, I knew I had to make it. The title alone pulled me back to those mornings around the Christmas tree, with our backs warming to the fire in the fire place,  and mom’s tray of baked bread circulating around the family. And I have to admit, I am so glad I did, because this recipe is AMAZING! These scones truly tastes like Christmas! Something about the favors, particularly the rosemary, smells and tastes like Christmas morning. I know that might sound crazy, but trust me on this. Tis the season for comfort and joy, and in my book, comfort and joy look a lot like scones.

Merry Christmas dear readers. Thanks for sticking with me for another year!

Gratefully, and warmly,

– Sarah
Scone Ingredients:
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened dried cranberries, chopped small
  • 4 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and diced
  • 1 cup half and half (or milk or cream), plus 2 Tablespoons more for brushing on top
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Glaze Ingredients: 
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water
  • Optional: Unsweetened dried cranberries and fresh rosemary leaves
  1. Preheat the oven to 450˚F.  Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, dried cranberries, and rosemary.
  3. Using a fork or two butter knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture, until it resembles a coarse meal.
  4. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the half and half and the vanilla bean paste, and then add to the flour mixture.
  5. Stir the liquid into the flour mixture using your hands or a wooden spoon, until the dough begins to form.  Shape the dough into a ball,  cover it with plastic wrap, and put in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  6. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, roll out until the dough is in a large circular shape, about 3/4 inches thick.  Run a large knife in water, then then cut the dough into 8 equal wedges.
  7. Arrange the scones on the prepared baking sheet and lighty brush the tops with half and half.
  8. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until light golden brown.  Remove from the pan and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
  9. Meanwhile, whisk together the ingredients for the glaze- adding water to reach your desired consistency.
  10. Dip the scones in the glaze, and sprinkle with cranberries or rosemary leaves as desired. Allow the glaze to set, and then eat and enjoy!
Notes and Tips!:
  • If you want to make this dough ahead, instead of placing the dough in the freezer for 10 minutes, simply wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. Bake the scones straight from the refrigerator in the morning.
  • Source: An Edible Mosaic
  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious bread recipes from A Rented Kitchen!