Old-fashioned gingerbread is a Christmas classic. This moist cake has a delicious ginger molasses flavor with hints of brown sugar and cinnamon. It tastes warm and cozy, and is delicious served warm with butterscotch sauce and whipped cream.
When it comes to gingerbread – I think most people bake gingerbread cookies. But I think warm gingerbread cake is even more delicious. It’s filled with molasses, ginger, brown sugar and vanilla extract. It’s not too sweet, but has a wonderful gingerbread flavor. This recipe makes a cake that’s very moist with a soft cake crumb and a dense cake texture. I love to serve it warm over the holidays. And your kitchen will smell like Christmas as it bakes in the oven.
The Perfect Gingerbread Recipe
For this recipe, I knew I wanted the cake to be:
- moist and dense – almost like a carrot cake in texture
- flavorful with a rich ginger flavor, but without being too strong
- and not overly sweet
The recipe itself is very simple and can be made without an electric mixer.
- The recipe starts by whisking together the dry ingredients. We’re using a combination of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves. After testing and retesting, I found the ratio and amounts used in the recipe below complement the molasses perfectly and allow the ginger to shine through.
- Then in a separate bowl you’ll whisk together melted butter, molasses, brown sugar and hot water. The water thins out molasses so that it evenly mixes into the batter without streaks. I typically used what’s labeled as cooking molasses or fancy molasses when baking because it isn’t bitter, like blackstrap molasses. I also really like to use brown sugar in my gingerbread because I find it adds to the flavor.
- Then you’ll whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract. Be careful that the mixture isn’t too warm when you whisk in the eggs, otherwise they can scramble.
- Last but not least, you’ll whisk the dry ingredients into the wet. You’ll notice that the batter is quite thin – this is expected.
- The cake with bake in a 9×13 inch (23×33 cm) pan for around 30 minutes at 350F, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. It may take up to 35 minutes, so don’t be alarmed if that’s the case.
Gingerbread with Honey
In some countries, gingerbread is made with honey instead of molasses for a milder flavor. Since this recipe was designed and tested using molasses – I do recommend it. However, honey can be substituted if that’s all you can find.
I love this recipe served warm with butterscotch sauce and a dollop of whipped cream. (I’ve included my favorite butterscotch recipe below). If I plan to serve it warm for dessert after dinner, I’ll typically bake it and take it out of the oven right before we plan to sit down to eat supper so it has a bit of time to cool. Or I’ll often make it in the afternoon for afternoon tea/coffee. Instead of butterscotch it’s also delicious with caramel sauce, or simple a sprinkling of powdered sugar. If you prefer, you can let the cake cool fully and then frost with cream cheese frosting.
And for more delicious Christmas desserts, be sure to try:
- 9x13 inch (23x33 cm) cake pan
- 2 ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup unsalted butter melted
- 1 cup brown sugar light or dark
- 1 cup molasses*
- 1 cup hot water
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup whipping cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 250F (180C) degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch (23x33 cm) cake pan with and sprinkle with flour.
- In a large bowl whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda and salt.
- In a separate large bowl whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, molasses and warm water. Whisk the mixture enough so that the butter doesn't look separate.
- Whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract. Ensure that the mixture isn't hot before adding in the eggs, otherwise they may scramble.
- Gently whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until there are no more lumps. The batter will be thin.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean or with a few crumbs.
- Add the butter to a medium saucepan over low-medium heat.
- Melt the butter, then once melted add in the brown sugar and salt.
- Gently stir the mixture until the brown sugar is dissolved.
- Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then whisk in the heavy cream. Whisk the mixture as it gently boils until the cream is incorporated.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract.
- Slice the cake using sharp knife and serve with warm butterscotch sauce, and optionally a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
- I recommend using molasses labelled as fancy molasses or cooking molasses. Do not use blackstrap molasses. Honey can be substituted with honey if needed.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the fridge for up to 5 days. Store butterscotch sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- Nutrition information is an estimate only. It's based on 1 slice with butterscotch sauce, assuming that the pan and sauce are divided evenly into 15 pieces.