Quick and easy gingerbread recipe, homemade with simple ingredients. This old fashioned, traditional, classic Christmas gingerbread cake is soft, moist, loaded with molasses and spices.
Baking this gingerbread or ginger cake is one of the highlights of my holiday season because it reminds me of home and my mom's baking. As you know, I am very fond of using ginger in desserts, as can be seen by this Easy Ginger Cake with Ginger Frosting and these Easy Ginger Cookies and this Homemade Gingerbread Latte Recipe and of course these Gingerbread Cupcakes. Today's cake is dense but not gluey, unlike some of the other recipes I have tried. It's still soft and moist. The recipe is also very versatile and can be used to make layer cakes or even a loaf of bread.
It's a family recipe and beats any other recipe I have ever tried. It's even better than the cakes I have had at bakeries. Use a combination of warm spices like ground ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Some people also add a little vanilla extract but the classic recipe never had that ingredient.
Table of contents
Key ingredients for best gingerbread cake
- Butter- Use unsalted kind at room temperature.
- Brown sugar- Similar to granulated sugar but with added molasses for the right flavor.
- Molasses- Make sure to use unsulphured (not the blackstrap kind).
- Egg- You only need one egg yet it is just to enough to bring the batter together.
- Flour- It is important to note that you must use all-purpose flour in this recipe.
- Baking soda- This allows the cake to rise and look more light and airy.
- Ginger powder- Unlike real grated ginger, this is a little more subtle.
- Cinnamon powder- Really compliments the ginger taste.
- Cloves powder- Adds a nice warm spice to the mix.
- Water- Be sure it is boiling hot when you add it in.
- Cream cheese frosting- This is a great pairing, but you can also use whipped cream.
Make a loaf- Pour this batter in a 9 inch loaf pan. Bake it for about 50 minutes but keep a close eye on it after 40 minutes. It's fully baked when an inserted toothpick in the center comes out clean.
Icing recipe- I like to pair this cake with cream cheese frosting but my Mom and Grandma always served it with Homemade Whipped Cream. Some people in my family omit frosting altogether and enjoy it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Layer cake- Make 2 batches of this recipe and turn it into a Christmas layer cake.
Add zest- Such as lemon or orange zest for a hint of citrus.
Chocolate flavor- Drizzle Hot Fudge Sauce or Chocolate Ganache on top. You can consider pairing with Chocolate Whipped Cream, Chocolate Ganache Frosting or Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting. You can even think about mixing in some mini chocolate chips in the batter.
How to make easy gingerbread recipe from scratch?
- Cream together- Butter and sugar.
- Mix in- Egg and molasses.
- Separately, whisk together- The flour, spices and baking soda.
- Dump this dry mixture- Into the wet mixture and mix.
- Pour in hot water- And mix until smooth.
- Pour batter- Into the pan.
- Bake- And enjoy.
Tips and techniques
Don't use blackstrap/ robust molasses- Because their flavor is overwhelmingly strong.
Butter cannot be replaced with oil- Because that will alter the texture of the cake.
Use unsalted butter- To prevent the cake from becoming too salty.
Only use all-purpose flour- Because no other flour I tried yielded the same results.
Molasses cannot be replaced with honey- Because that will change the flavor of this classic cake. Some people have made it successfully with maple syrup.
Adjust the amount of spices- Based on your preference.
Baking powder cannot be used instead of baking soda- Because it makes this cake rise too much and alters the classic texture.
Use room temperature ingredients- Because they mix together more easily and make a smoother batter.
This usually happens when it is underbaked. Be sure to insert a toothpick in the center to ensure it comes out clean.
You likely over-baked it or didn't add the correct measurement of wet ingredients.
You have to use unsulphured molasses. Don't use blackstrap/robust molasses because their flavor is overwhelmingly strong.
Make ahead- The frosting and cake can be made 2-3 days before serving and kept separately in individual sealed containers in the fridge. When you are ready, remove from the fridge, decorate, and serve.
Room temperature- Leftovers can be left out 2-3 hours before being refrigerated. Be careful with cream cheese frosting and whipped topping, because they do not stay good long when left out.
Refrigerate- Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Freezer- The frosting and cake can be made beforehand and kept separately in individual sealed containers in the freezer up to 1 month before serving. When you are ready, remove from the freezer, thaw, decorate, and serve.
More Christmas Desserts and Ginger Desserts
- Gingersnap Cookies
- Easy Gingerbread Cookies (With Cake Mix)
- How to Make Gingerbread House
- Ginger Molasses Cookies
- Jumbo Gingerbread Men Cookies
Gingerbread Recipe (Gingerbread Cake)
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar.
- Add molasses and egg and mix until smooth.
- In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.
- Dump this dry mixture into the wet mixture and mix until just combined.
- Add water very carefully and mix until smooth. Don't burn yourself!
- Pour batter in a greased and floured square pan (Dimensions 9x9).
- Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until an inserted toothpick in the center comes out clean.
- Allow it to cool down. Then, cut square slices.
- Top off each piece with a swirl of cream cheese frosting or whipped cream and enjoy!
- Don't use blackstrap or robust molasses. It has to be unsulphured molasses.
- Molasses cannot be replaced with honey or corn syrup.
- Adjust the amount of spices, based on your preference.
- All ingredients should be at room temperature.
- Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.