Old-fashioned gingerbread is the perfect treat to keep on hand during the holidays. There are many different kinds — from the darkest, densest cakes made with robust molasses and stout beer to the lightest, most delicate cakes flavored only with brown sugar and a hint of ground ginger. This recipe, adapted from Cooking with Memories by Lora Brody, is the perfect balance between the two: it’s dark and gingery enough to please the even most serious gingerbread aficionados yet also mild enough for young children, who (in my experience) seem to love it.

The best part is that it’s incredibly quick and easy to make — the batter is mixed by hand and comes together in 15 minutes — and it needs nothing more than a cup of coffee, dollop of sweetened whipped cream or scoop of vanilla ice cream to go along with it.

Begin by spraying the pan with non-stick cooking spray and coating lightly with flour.

Next, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.

Combine the brown sugar, molasses, butter and boiling water in a large bowl, and whisk until the butter is melted.

When the mixture is lukewarm, whisk in the egg. (If the mixture is too hot, it will cook the egg.)

Add the dry ingredients.

And whisk until there are no more lumps.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 35 minutes.

Let cool slightly, then slice and serve warm. It’s truly delicious on its own, especially as a snack, but you can also dress it up for dessert with sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Happy Holidays!


Print Recipe
Servings: Makes 1 9-inch square cake (about 16 servings)
Cook Time: 35 Minutes
Total Time: 50 Minutes


  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off with back edge of knife
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup mild-flavored molasses, such as Grandma's Original (not Robust or Blackstrap)
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 large egg


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add a few tablespoons of flour to the pan; shake and turn pan until bottom and sides are evenly coated with a light dusting flour. Holding pan upside-down over sink, tap out any excess flour.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine, butter, dark brown sugar, molasses and boiling water. Whisk until butter is melted. When mixture is luke warm, whisk in egg.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and whisk until just combined and there are no more lumps. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 35 minutes, or until the edges look dark and the middle feels firm to the touch. Set pan on a rack to cool slightly, then cut into squares and serve. This cake is best served warm out of the oven or reheated.



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  • Jenn – I love how you always make classic versions of classic recipes! There are so many blogs out there that do the craziest modifications but I appreciate how I can always come here for tried and true classic recipes. Thanks, and can’t wait to try this gingerbread!

  • Gill

    Oh brilliant! This mail came through just as I was looking for something to bake…sorted! Thanks x

  • Maya

    Jenn, if you were to add icing to this, what would you recommend?

    • Jenn

      Hi Maya, it would be good with my vanilla buttercream (search for my vanilla bday cake), and you could add a little cinnamon if you like.

    • rebecca

      I used cream cheese frosting its wonderful

  • Amy

    I just made this for a playdate snack and it was a huge hit, thanks !

  • Judy Claggett

    Hi Jenn, I made your gingerbread yesterday and it is the best I have ever had. You are so creative and come up with the most delicious recipes. This gingerbread is soooo moist and the balance of spices is perfect. Great job as always!! Love your website!!!!!

    • Jenn

      Thank you, Judy…so nice to hear!

  • Fatima

    This looks incredible! However it seems we don’t have any molasses, is there anything I could substitute?

    • Jenn

      Hi Fatima, I’m afraid there’s no substitute for molasses. Sorry!


  • Woops, silly me made this with blackstrap (I didn’t see the “not,” just the “blackstrap” bit >.<)…it turned out as dark as a very dark chocolate cake, and quite heavy on molasses flavour! I've never really seen "light" molasses though – I think in non-American countries (I'm from Australia) that's called golden syrup or treacle for the medium-dark stuff.

  • you have a lovely blog here. bookmarked your website. this looks really good, you take beautiful pics.

  • Maya

    Made as is with no modifications and the buttercream icing. Huge hit

  • Becca J

    I made this for my family at Christmas. I didn’t have quite enough molasses, so I subbed a little maple syrup to make up the difference (to answer the question about substitutes). No one could tell, and it was just delicious. This is going to be a family tradition, I think. Thanks for sharing a delicious treat!

  • Lynn

    Can I double this for a 13 x 9 pan?

    • Jenn

      Hi Lynn, The cake will be a little taller but I think it will work fine.

  • Janet

    I love gingerbread & can’t wait to try your recipe. When I lived in Louisiana, many years ago, an elderly lady at church made gingerbread with an amazing pineapple glaze/frosting. Any ideas on how to make a pineapple topping??

    • Jenn

      Hi Janet, If I were to make a pineapple glaze, I’d probably start with crushed pineapple, butter and brown sugar and cook it down into a thick syrup. Hope that helps!

  • Diane

    I made your gingerbread cake today and absolutely delicious…….it was such a hit with my boyfriend. Just the right blend of spices and so moist. Do you have a good recipe for cream cheese frosting?

    • Jenn

      Hi Diane, Check out my vanilla birthday cake recipe for cream cheese frosting. It makes a ton, so definitely cut the recipe in half.

  • This is just lovely!

  • mona cote

    I usually make gingerbread for my husband’s birthday and thought I’d give this one a try. It was quick and easy to put together. I loved that it was a mild molasses taste and not so sharp as other recipes. I would make this again.

  • Moist a d delicious! If I don’t get ny piece first, it is gone before I know it. Love serving this if fall with string coffee areond the fire.

  • Esther

    This is wonderful and easy! It’s great for company or just whenever you want something sweet (but not too sweet). I’ve made it several times & it’s always great!

  • Carol York

    I made this for Christmas gift plates last year. We baked them as individual loaves and they turned out great! We wrapped them in cellophane and added one loaf to each plate. I agree with the other reviewer that you can sub maple syrup for molasses. It lightens the flavor quite a bit, but it is still very tasty!

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