🇪🇪 Estonia: Soft Gingerbread Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This cake—pehme piparkook toorjuustuglasuuriga, in Estonian—provides a moist gingerbread bite with extra cranberry flavor, that’s topped with cream cheese frosting and pomegranate seeds to not only make it taste great, but look great as well!

Jonatan Vseviov, Ambassador of Estonia

Pille Petersoo, the host of Estonia’s biggest food portal (nami-nami.ee) has been making this cake for Christmas for years now, and it’s still one of the favorites with her friends and family. This year, Ambassador Jonatan Vseviov and his wife, Evelin, baked their own version of it.

🇪🇪 Estonia: Soft Gingerbread Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Servings 20 people
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Cooling Time 1 hr


The Cake

  • 2.75 Cups All purpose flour (400g)
  • 1.5 Cups Caster sugar (300g)
  • 1 Tbsp Ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp Ground cloves
  • 1 Tbsp Baking soda
  • 0.5 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 Cups Kefir
  • 0.5 Cups Lingonberry preserve (or cranberry sauce)
  • 2 Tbsp Lingonberry preserve (separate from above)
  • 7 Tbsp Melted butter (or olive oil)

The Glaze

  • 1 pkg Cream cheese (8 oz)
  • 4 Tbsp Butter (softened)
  • 1.5 Cups Confectioner's sugar
  • Pomegranate seeds (can add cranberries or toasted hazelnuts for decoration, too!)


  • Preheat the oven to 400 Fahrenheit. Line a cake tin with parchment paper (or simply butter it well).
  • Make the cake batter first. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine kefir, lingonberry jam and oil in a large measuring jug. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stir quickly so the batter comes together. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when pierced into the middle of the cake.
  • Let the cake cool completely (wrap in cling film if not decorating straight away).
  • For the frosting, combine the butter, cream cheese and icing sugar in a bowl. Pille uses a wooden spoon for that, but you could also use an electric mixer. Spread the frosting over the cake.
  • Decorate with red berries and toasted hazelnuts or something else festive


There are two things to keep in mind when making this cake. First, the cake is eggless (so suitable for people with egg allergies) and the raising agent is baking soda/bicarbonate of soda. As with other similar batters, it’s important to bake the cake straight away after mixing the batter – the baking soda starts to react with acid in the batter (kefir in this case) within 15-20 minutes, and if you don’t bake the cake during that time, you’ll end up with a very flat Christmas cake.
You may also note that there is no ginger in this gingerbread cake recipe. This is because the Estonian (and Scandinavian) name is actually “soft peppercake” – and there’s no pepper in it either. Gingerbread is often used as a general name for spiced Christmas cookies, that’s why it’s called “soft gingerbread cake”. Perhaps “soft spiced cake” is more appropriate. Alas, no ginger in this cake – though half a teaspoon or so could always be added.
Learn more: https://nami-nami.blogspot.com/2010/12/pehme-piparkook-one-of-my-favourite.html

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