Gingerbread Cake

Time for gingerbread! Please welcome Garrett McCord who has whipped up this beautiful dark and gingery gingerbread for us. ~Elise

I get cravings throughout the year for the spicy, treacly flavor of gingerbread. Sure, I can easily satisfy myself come December when the baking world goes gaga for gingerbread, but I’ve been known to make it in the middle of Spring or Summer simply to quell my ginger-obsession. By itself or served toasted with a bit of butter and jam I find that a lively and gingery gingerbread is really appropriate at any time of year.

This recipes utilizes the classic method for making gingerbread, which requires melting the fat (in this case, the butter) in with the molasses, honey, and sugar before adding the dry ingredients. To give it some extra kick I use three forms of ginger: ground, fresh, and candied to ensure a pronounced ginger flavor. A heavy dose of other classic gingerbread spices give the cake some more dimension. These methods and ingredients together create a gingerbread that is dark, dense, a little bit sticky, and outrageously flavorful.

Gingerbread Cake Recipe

This is a cake that benefits from time. When the cake is cool wrap it up in plastic wrap and wait 24 hours to allow the flavors to intensify. If you can't find candied ginger, you can simply substitute more fresh ginger.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup molasses, unsulphured
  • 1/2 cup honey (preferably a dark variety such as buckwheat, avocado or wildflower)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (can substitute light brown)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon candied ginger, minced
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Method

1 Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and lightly flour an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish. Fit a piece of parchment or baking paper inside and allow some to hang off the sides (this will make it easier to lift the cake out of the pan later). Lightly butter and flour the paper as well.

2 In a medium sauce pot over medium heat place the butter, molasses, honey, water, and brown sugar. Stir to melt the butter. Do not allow to simmer or boil. Once the butter is melted take the pot off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Be sure to stir the mixture every so often as the the sugar and fat will form skin on the surface.

3 Once room temperature whisk the eggs, grated ginger, and candied ginger into the molasses mixture. Set aside.

4 Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Add the flour to the molasses mixture in three or four additions and whisk until it just comes together.

5 Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes. Loosely place a piece of foil over the top and bake for another 15-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for ten minutes, then lift the cake out of the pan and continue to cool on the rack. You can serve this fresh out of the oven, but the flavor is much better if you give it a day to sit and allow the spices to intensify the cake.

5a A loaf pan can also be used for this recipe. Simply place foil over the top at 25 minutes, and then increase the continuing baking time by 5-10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. I find, however, that a loaf pan often results in slightly crispier, more well-done crust.

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26 Comments

  1. Meagan

    Gingerbread. My favorite. It’s interesting that honey is used in this recipe. I’ve never seen that in classic gingerbread before.

    Gingerbread, like many recipes, has many different forms and recipes. Just as gingerbread can be a cake, biscuit, or cookie the recipes for each of these can vary from cook to cook. If you look around you’ll actually find many classic recipes use honey (Joy of Cooking, for example, uses honey in its recipe). According to the Oxford Companion to Food the oldest gingerbread recipes from Europe never used molasses; they used honey. In fact, molasses isn’t even a part of the original gingerbread recipe. Heck, there are even white gingerbread recipes out there that use spices, ground almonds, and honey. It’s really only in the United States and parts of England that we find recipes using only molasses. “Classic,” in regards to gingerbread, is in the mouth of the eater. ~Garrett

  2. MP

    Mm, I love gingerbread too. I wish it wasn’t so seasonal. What does covering it with foil while baking it do? Something for the crust?

    It prevents the top from getting too brown and crunchy. ~Garrett

  3. Lori

    When I was growing up, Mom always used to serve gingerbread with a drizzle of warm lemon sauce (i.e., cook & serve lemon pudding). My favorite way now is to have it with a dollop of whipped cream while the gingerbread is still warm.

  4. Jill

    Any thoughts on using this recipe to make cupcakes? I am heading to a holiday party with lots of children. Please let me know!

    You could make these into cupcakes, but this cake is dense and without a lot of rise. Plus, the large amount of spice might be off-putting for many children. I do have a gingerbread cupcake recipe on the site that would be perfect for you. Of course, if you want to use this recipe, feel free. Just cut the baking time down a bit and I doubt you will need to use the foil. ~Garrett

  5. randi in canada

    This seems similar to Dutch Breakfast cake or ontbijtkoek. That is also sometimes made with large chunks of soft sugar. If you’re lucky you can find one with both the sugar and the candied ginger. Thanks for posting!

  6. Tavaris Jones

    You are going to make me and my fiancee fat… Thanks…

    Any suggestions on freezing any excess and excuse the sarcasm, I love the site!

    You plan to have excess? How strange of you. ;) Just wrap it well in plastic wrap and pop it in the freezer. Pop it in the oven at 325 for a few minutes to warm it back up. ~Garrett

  7. Eq4bits

    Hmmmm, looks yummy. I may have to try this but with a twist: cube it up and turn it into a ‘gingerbread bread pudding with hard sauce (meaning a confectioners sugar, butter & whiskey sauce).

  8. cherry

    Lovely. Will try this as soon as I have candied ginger. A question, how long does this keep at room temp or does it need to stay refrigerated?

    I have kept it wrapped in foil or plastic wrap on the counter for about 4 or 5 days. After that the moisture leaves. ~Garrett

  9. Ena

    How long does it remain fresh?

    As I stated in the previous comments it will remain fresh for a few days if well wrapped. It is best a day or two after it is baked. ~Garrett

  10. Richard

    I wonder if a dollop of craime freche would taste good on top? Any thoughts?

    Sounds fine by me. Give it a try and let us know how it is. ~Garrett

  11. nestra

    I had this last night with company (I made it the night before so it could sit for the recommended 24 hours) and it was fantastic. I have made many recipes from this site and they never disappoint. Thanks!

  12. Julia

    This was my first time ever making gingerbread myself, and this recipe was a big winner! I always alter every recipe I come across, and I only needed to alter this one a little bit to meet my tastes. Even though my family never really liked gingerbread, they do now because of this recipe!

  13. Tara

    I am a huge fan of this recipe. I would like to make it in mini muffin form. What cooking times do you recommend?

    My guess is 15 minutes, but be sure to keep testing them to be sure as I haven’t tried that with this recipe. ~Garrett

  14. sarah

    I love the idea of including candied ginger in the mix. I made a similar gingerbread just recently and included chopped fresh pear. Delicious.

  15. cindy leeder

    I absolutely love your web site and recipes, even if I can’t eat most of them due to food allergies. But this recipe I was determined to be able to eat so I just converted it by using 2 cups of almond flour and 1/4 cup arrowroot (it worked other times with other recipes) and the results, well if I didn’t have a sense of humor, I would have just quit. The batter was delicious! and I was so excited that I was going to have some wonderful cupcakes to give as christmas gingerbread goodies to my friends (gluten free of course), but the end result…well. After the batter cooked, expanded as cakes do in the oven it all just began to ooze – for lack of a better description, ooze all over the 3 cupcake tins, and the oven. I was able to scrape some of the ooze off the edges of the tins and use that for cookie crumbs – yummy! but my oven (thank heavens for self cleaning!) and the cup cakes themselves? – well they are still sitting on my counter after last nite cuz I hate throwing them away. HELP. How can I convert this recipe to almond flour? I cannot use any grains.

    Thanks so very much.

    Merry Christmas

    Cindy, I am not a gluten-free baker. I am not sure how to convert this recipe for you. My suggestion is to look for a different recipe and then use the spice measurements from this one. ~Garrett

    • Janet

      I know I’m replying late in the game here, but try subbing a GF flour mix called “Cup4Cup” one-for one in the recipe. I’ve used it in many other recipes and it has never disappointed. I have found it at Whole Foods. Bob’s Red Mill has a GF substitute also which would probably work fine here too.

  16. Krysten

    I have all the ingredients ready to go at home and I’m so excited to make this for Christmas Eve. I’d like to make it in a bundt pan though. Any suggestions for cooking time? Also would greasing and flouring the pan really well be adequate or is parchment paper best? I know some gingerbread can be pretty sticky.

    I am not sure on the baking time, though I would imagine it won’t be much different. And yes, I would pick up some Pam for Baking and spray the heck out of that pan. ~Garrett

  17. Val

    I made this cake for my son’s homecoming from college last weekend. What can I say? It was delicious! I thought there would be a bit left over but there wasn’t even a crumb. We had it with coconut ice cream and they worked beautifully together.

    I didn’t have any candied ginger or ground ginger so just used fresh and it worked out great! Going to make it again. Thanks for the recipe and merry Christmas!

  18. Alexis

    Made this last night and had to comment. It was so good!! Exactly meets my description of perfect gingerbread, perfectly dense but moist texture and very gingery. I didn’t have enough butter on hand to use so I subbed in coconut oil (measured after melting) and used about 1/2 T. more of fresh ginger since I couldn’t find candied ginger. But OH SO GOOD! Thanks for the recipe.

  19. Tina

    This might be a dumb question – Is crystallized ginger the same thing as candied ginger? I’ve only been able to find the former.

    There is no difference between the two. ~Elise

  20. Penny

    Made this on Christmas Eve and loved it! I didn’t have parchment paper so used a spring-form pan with plenty of butter and it worked fine. Moist and deelish and lots of compliments; so simple and good!

  21. Amy

    I’m not sure where I went wrong… I followed the recipe almost exactly (didn’t have any fresh ginger on hand, so I added a little extra ground ginger), but something about the flavor is off. It’s too bad, because it looked like such a tasty cake!

    This recipe calls for fresh ginger, so if you didn’t use it, that would probably account for something being off with the taste. ~Elise

  22. Carol

    I made these cupcakes today, they turned out wondeful. I did make the following changes. I soften butter and added it with the wet ingredients and added 1 teaspoon of vanilla. In place of grated ginger I used about 3 TB of finely chopped crystallized ginger,it worked perfect. I frosted cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting, great recipe :-)

  23. MAC

    This recipe is amazing! It truly was *the* PERFECT gingerbread. I substituted an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend cup for cup for the wheat flour and my guests had no idea. Thank you for providing a recipe that I will look forward to making year after year!

  24. A World In My Oven

    Thank you so much for the lovely recipe! I bought a big jar of molasses and didn’t know what to use it for, but now I’ve tried your recipe I think I’m going to use the rest of the jar for the exact same thing! Unfortunately I was short on the ginger, so I topped the cake with lemon icing instead ;)

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