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Loved by kids and adults alike, this old-fashioned gingerbread is the perfect treat to keep on hand during the holidays.


Old-fashioned gingerbread is the perfect treat to keep on hand during the holidays. There are many variations, from dark, dense cakes made with robust molasses and stout beer to light, delicate cakes flavored only with brown sugar and a hint of ginger. This recipe, adapted from Cooking with Memories by Lora Brody, strikes a happy medium. It’s dark and gingery enough to please even most serious gingerbread aficionados yet also mild enough for young children. It’s also easy to make. The batter is mixed by hand and comes together in 10 minutes, and the finished cake needs nothing more than a sprinkling of powdered sugar, a dollop of sweetened whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream to go along with it.

For more old-fashioned gingery sweets, try my ginger molasses cookies and gingerbread men.

What you’ll need to make Gingerbread

gingerbread ingredients

I use Grandma’s Original unsulphured molasses but any brand will work. Just make sure not to purchase blackstrap molasses; it’s quite bitter and would have a significant impact on the flavor of the cake.

Step-by-Step Instructions

dry ingredients in bowl

Begin by combining the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves in a large bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.

whisking dry ingredients

Melt the butter in a large microwave-safe bowl.

melted butter

Whisk in the brown sugar, molasses, and boiling water. When the mixture is lukewarm, whisk in the egg. (If the mixture is too hot, it will cook the egg.)

whisking in the brown sugar, molasses, boiling water, and egg

Add the dry ingredients.

whisking the dry ingredients into the liquid ingredients

Whisk until there are no more lumps.

whisked gingerbread batter

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

gingerbread batter in prepared pan ready to bakeBake for about 35 minutes.

baked gingerbread cooling on rack

Let cool slightly, then slice and serve warm with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, sweetened whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream.

slice of gingerbread

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Loved by kids and adults alike, this old-fashioned gingerbread is the perfect treat to keep on hand during the holidays.

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


  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off with back edge of knife
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ⅔ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ⅔ cup mild-flavored molasses, such as Grandma's Original (not Robust or Blackstrap)
  • ⅔ cup boiling water
  • 1 large egg


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-in square pan with nonstick cooking spray with flour, such as Baker's Joy. (Alternatively, grease the pan with butter and lightly coat with flour.)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, molasses, and boiling water. When the mixture is luke warm, whisk in the egg.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until just combined and there are no more lumps. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 35 minutes, or until the edges look dark and the middle feels firm to the touch. Set the 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.
  5. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The gingerbread can be frozen for up to 3 months. After it is completely cooled, double-wrap it securely with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap, or place it in heavy-duty freezer bag. Thaw overnight on the countertop before serving.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (16 servings)
  • Serving size: 1 square
  • Calories: 138
  • Fat: 3 g
  • Saturated fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 26 g
  • Sugar: 16 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 2 g
  • Sodium: 163 mg
  • Cholesterol: 19 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • I love to make ginger bread and it is so good.

    • — lynette birch on September 10, 2023
    • Reply
  • whip;
    1/2 cup mild molasses
    2 eggs
    1/2 brown sugar, golden or dark
    olive oil+ butter (melted) 1/2 cup total (I use about 2T. butter)
    1-1.5 t. cinnamin, 1-1.5 t. ginger, (1/4 t. clove optional), 1/4 t. salt
    then mix in 1/2 C. milk.
    In a separate bowl mix: 2C. all purpose flour with 1-1.5 t. baking soda.
    Add dry mixture to liquid mixture. Stir from the bottom with a tablespoon. letting the liquid gradually incorporate the dry. Do not over mix. If the mixture is too thick 2T more milk will set it right. You can make a gingerbread with a lighter texture by making the batter a little thinner. Since you can not control the humidity of the flour you use, you must adjust the thickness of the batter to taste.
    Bake in buttered floured pan for 40 -45 minutes at 350, intil a toothpick comes out clean.

    I mix the spices with the wet ingredients, because it developes and marries their flavors.
    Creaming the sugar into the butter in this situation is unnecessary.
    I’m not lazy and I have worked as a caterer and has a pastry chef. I tried the recipe with hot water and it is all of fuzz for no nothing.

    • — bill on June 24, 2023
    • Reply
  • First time I ever made a gingerbread cake so I didn’t really know what to expect. I had no problem at all with the middle sinking which some reviewers mentioned. I did find it a little dense for my taste which I guess was intended. I would like to make it again but lighten it up a little, add less sugar and add a few raisins. Five stars because it came out as intended but how can I make it less dense.

    • — Andrew on June 18, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Andrew, sorry to hear you didn’t love the texture of this. There’s not really a way to make this particular recipe less dense as adding less flour would not make it sturdy enough. I have a recipe for gingerbread cupcakes that are a bit lighter in texture if you’d like to experiment with those. If you have my second cookbook, you can find them on page 274. If you don’t have the cookbook but would like the recipe, email me at jennifer@onceuponachef.com.

      • — Jenn on June 20, 2023
      • Reply
  • I don’t remember if I left feedback before, but this is the best ginger cake – my go to recipe when we want a simple but delicious dessert! I sometimes grate a bit of fresh ginger as well….so little fuss but such a splendid result (as are all the Once Upon a Chef recipes tried to date)!

    Thank you!

    • — Gail Szentesi on January 17, 2023
    • Reply
    • This recipe was moist and amazing. We grated cloves which I think made the flavor better than when I’ve used cloves from the store. I always serve gingerbread with lemon curd as icing and it is spectacular. Highly recommend the Ina garten recipe.

      • — Cas on January 31, 2023
      • Reply
      • What temp do you bake it at?

        • — KIM on February 27, 2023
        • Reply
        • Hi Kim, It gets baked at 350°F/175°C. Hope you enjoy!

          • — Jenn on February 28, 2023
          • Reply
  • Really didn’t enjoy this cake at all. No fault of the recipe, just my tastebuds. This just tasted a lot like Molasses to me than anything else, wasn’t what I was expecting. Did come out super light and fluffy and had a beautiful exterior and color. Sadly, I won’t be making this again. Definitely a great cake if you love the flavour of molasses – if not – I don’t recommend.

    • — Rhey on December 28, 2022
    • Reply
  • This came out perfectly and I paired it with some lemon curd. My pan was slightly smaller than 9×9 so I baked it for 45 minutes. It was still moist and delicious.

    • — Amelia on December 26, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I’m about to make this for our belated Christmas dinner tonight. I was thinking of adding some diced candied ginger. Do you think that would work or should I leave it out?
    Thanks so much!

    • — Nan on December 26, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Nan, I think I’m weighing in too late to help, but sure, diced candied ginger would work here.

      • — Jenn on December 27, 2022
      • Reply
  • Would carob molasses work for this recipe? Thank you.

    • — Clare on December 25, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Clare, I’ve never used it before (as a matter of fact, I had to look it up to learn exactly what it was) so I can’t say for sure how it will impact the flavor of the bread — sorry! If you do try it, I’d love to hear how it turns out. 🙂

      • — Jenn on December 26, 2022
      • Reply
  • I made two of these cakes. One with 2 tsp ginger and the other with 1 tsp. The one with more ginger was a bit too spicy for me, but with the adjustment, it came out really great. Thanks so much for this easy recipe!!

    • — Denise on December 24, 2022
    • Reply
  • Can this be made in a loaf pan?

    • — Melissa on December 14, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure, a loaf pan will work here. Keep in mind that the bake time will be different so keep a close eye on it. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 15, 2022
      • Reply
  • Absolutely loved the taste of this gingerbread and made a second batch. But both sunk in the middle. I bake a lot and have never had this happen before. I used a pyrex dish, 8 x 8, and extended cooking time about 10 minutes. The bread is done, no cloggy or damp areas except for the top “crust” of the middle area that sunk. Any thoughts on why both sunk? I even used new flour for the second bake and, as I said, it still sunk. Wanted to make it for neighbors but want it to look pretty. Help! Thanks!

    • — Deb H on December 13, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Deb, I actually think the issue might be your pan. The recipe calls for a 9×9 – sometimes if a pan is too small, it can cause the cake to sink in the center.

      • — Jenn on December 13, 2022
      • Reply
      • I had the same issue as Deb. Tastes delicious, but sank in the middle both times I baked with different pans. Wondering if I should use more flour next time?

        • — Julie on December 17, 2022
        • Reply
        • I’m sorry you’ve had a problem with this sinking (twice)! You could try adding a few more tablespoons of flour and/or leave it in the oven for a few extra minutes. Hope that helps!

          • — Jenn on December 19, 2022
          • Reply
  • We loved this! I followed the recipe except for light brown sugar (didn’t have dark). It was so easy and so good. Thanks for the recipe.

    • — KC on December 13, 2022
    • Reply
  • For the Gingerbread Cupcakes in your book, would it be possible to make a cake from it? If so, what size pan would you recommend?

    Thank you!

    • — Samantha on December 12, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Samantha, if you want to make this into a cake, it would fit nicely into a 9-inch round pan. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on December 14, 2022
      • Reply
      • If I doubled the batter, would it work in a 9 by 13? How long do you think it would need to be baked for? Thanks so much!

        • — Samantha on December 17, 2022
        • Reply
        • Hi Samantha, yes, you can double the recipe with a 9 x 13″ pan. The cake will be a bit taller (and may take an extra minute or two in the oven). Hope you enjoy!

          • — Jenn on December 19, 2022
          • Reply
      • Hi! I made the cupcakes from your book into two 9 inch round cakes. I put lemon curd between the layers and then a whipped chocolate ganache frosting over it. Soooo good!! Will definitely be doing it again.

        • — Samantha on December 28, 2022
        • Reply
        • Sounds delish — thanks for reporting back!

          • — Jenn on December 28, 2022
          • Reply
    • Hi- did you try making a cake? I was thinking of doing the same thing and wondered how it came out

      • — Chithra on December 21, 2022
      • Reply
  • This sounds delicious, I am wondering if I can use this in a trifle with a pear compote and eggnog pudding? It sounds quite delicate.

    • — MH on December 10, 2022
    • Reply
    • I think you could. Keep in mind though that this gingerbread is not dense so it may get a bit soggy. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on December 14, 2022
      • Reply
  • Can you make this in mini loaf pans for gifting? If yes, how much time in the oven? Any adjustments? Thank you!!! Merry Christmas!!

    • — Maria on December 4, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure, Maria, that will work! The bake time Depends on the size of the loaf pans. I’d start checking them at about 25 minutes. I hope your recipients enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 5, 2022
      • Reply
      • Have you doubled it for a bundt pan?

        • — Pamela Castrey on December 13, 2022
        • Reply
        • Hi Pamela, I think this may be too delicate for a bundt pan and you might have problems with sticking. Sorry!

          • — Jenn on December 13, 2022
          • Reply
    • How many mini loaf pans would you think this recipe makes?

      • — Clare on December 15, 2022
      • Reply
      • Hi Clare, I’ve never made this in mini loaf pans, but I’d guesstimate you’d get 4 loaves out of it. Please LMK how they turn out if you try it!

        • — Jenn on December 15, 2022
        • Reply
  • Hi Jen, could I make this recipe vegan by subbing vegan butter and applesauce for the egg?

    • — Tatiana on December 3, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Tatiana, I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for sure, but I think it should work. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on December 5, 2022
      • Reply
  • This recipe was a hit!!! My husband loved it ❤️ Definitely making for everyone this holiday season!!!

    • — C.C. on December 2, 2022
    • Reply
  • Perfect right out of the oven, unadorned. I was hoping for a slight chewy crust where the batter meets the sides, and I got it! I love that it takes only 35 minutes (less, in my case) to bake.

    • — Marcia Flanagan on November 28, 2022
    • Reply
  • Made this for Thanksgiving, and everyone enjoyed it..

    • — Lin H. on November 26, 2022
    • Reply
  • Outstanding! Perfectly spiced. Moist. Absolutely Delicious. Served it with a warm cherry sauce and vanilla ice cream for a dinner party but would eat this plain every day if I could. Everyone went wild and wanted seconds and to wanted to take whatever scraps they could home. Accidentally used 1 cup of boiling water instead of 2/3 cup but this just made the cake more moist. Everyone said I should make it this way next time/every time. Home run, out of the park recipe, again, Jenn. Thank you!

    • — Diane on November 17, 2022
    • Reply

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