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.

Old-fashioned gingerbread is the perfect treat to keep on hand during the holidays. There are many variations: 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, 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 quick and 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.

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.

How to make Gingerbread

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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Gingerbread

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

Ingredients

  • 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, melted
  • 2/3 cup packed 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

Instructions

  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.

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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Reviews & Comments

  • Hi. I’ve just made this recipe. Delicious 😋 I substituted the molasses for treacle and substituted the individual spices for two and a half teaspoons of a gingerbread spice mix from a local company’s spice shop (Gewürzhaus Herb & Spice Merchants, here in Australia)It has has cassia, coriander, star anise, ginger and nutmeg banda.

    • — Jane Hadley on June 11, 2021
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  • Very nice and moist

    • — Treasa Heavey on March 1, 2021
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  • I have to retract my previous unenthusiastic review (three stars.) Since the results that time were mediocre I didn’t intend to make it again, but there were so many positive reviews I decided to give it another try. Here is what I did differently the second time:

    1. Substituted 1/3 cup corn syrup for 1/3 cup molasses. (Still used 1/3 cup molasses.)
    2. Threw out my old powdered ginger and used fresh, very lively powder.
    3. Used an extra large egg. (It actually had two yolks.)
    4. Used all brown sugar. (No top up with yellow sugar.)

    This time it came out great – the rising was perfect and the flavour nicely balanced between ginger and sweetness. I think steps one and two made most of the difference. Someone who really likes molasses may want to stick with the 2/3 cup per the recipe. But for the other couple of reviewers who could taste nothing but molasses this should work for them.

    • — Jim on February 4, 2021
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  • Delicious. I have to admit to tweaking it a bit as I love ginger and nuts so I added a handful of walnuts and chopped crystallized ginger. Turned out perfect.

    • — Lynda on February 3, 2021
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  • This is one of the best gingerbread recipes I have made! The recipe couldn’t be easier and the result doesn’t disappoint!!

    • — Michael Caruso on January 28, 2021
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  • I usually love Jenn’s recipes, but this one was the rare exception. I followed the recipe exactly except I didn’t have quite enough brown sugar so I topped it up with yellow. I used regular cooking molasses, not blackstrap. The texture was heavy and dense and basically tasted like nothing but molasses. It was OK with whipped cream but I wouldn’t make this again.

    • — Jim on January 28, 2021
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  • To experience the feeling of an old fashion Christmas, this is a must! The smell of fresh baked gingerbread on a winter evening before Christmas was the perfect touch for invited guests. Serve with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.

    • — Heidi Wilkinson on January 28, 2021
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  • Gingerbread Heaven!!! This recipe is so simple to put together. The spices and molasses are so perfect for a rich, moist taste. Tasting this brought back loving memories of when my Mom made this for our family. Make sure you serve this warm to bring out all the flavors! A dollop of whipped cream is a nice finishing touch!

    • — Sara on January 28, 2021
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  • Delicious- quick and easy and went down a treat with the family!

    • — Elizabeth on January 27, 2021
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  • Decided to make this cake in a whim, and had to make two modifications since I don’t have molasses or dark brown sugar on hand, so I substituted honey for molasses, and coconut palm sugar for brown sugar. Cake was easy to make even on first try and turned out great; thanks for the clear instructions. I will have to grab the proper ingredients next time and see if the cake would come out even tastier!

    • — May on January 21, 2021
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  • This was so good! Wonder what I did wrong, because mine sank a bit in the middle. Do you think I mixed it too long?

    • — Donna Cammack on January 10, 2021
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    • Hi Donna, it sounds like it may have been a little underbaked. If you make it again, I’d leave it in the oven for another minute or two.

      • — Jenn on January 11, 2021
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  • This is so tasty n moist. I doubled the recipe n added some milk. It turned out great really loved it. Definitely gonna make this again. Thanx

    • — Vanessa Ibe on January 9, 2021
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  • Just perfect! I made this for my husband’s birthday cake and he was very happy with the surprise. The texture and flavor reminded me of my grandmother’s gingerbread, which I loved. A dollop of whipped cream on top finished it perfectly. It will taste great with hot coffee tomorrow morning too. Thanks for another delicious recipe.

    • — Nanct on January 2, 2021
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  • This was delicious! Mine also sank a bit in the middle and I think it was because I added a bit too much water. It was still wonderfully crumbly and moist and my family devoured it with a bit of whipped cream on top!

    • — Joan on December 31, 2020
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  • First time making a gingerbread and how lucky was I to land on this recipe. DELICIOUS! I followed the recipe exactly – no substitutions, no changes – and it came out perfectly. And I’m no baker so that’s saying something. I read a few reviews saying they had to cook it longer. I cooked it in a convection oven without adjusting the temp or time and that toothpick came out without a flake on it. Thank you for posting this yummy dessert and for making me look like a star this Christmas!

    • — Linda on December 27, 2020
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  • Not a fan of this one. Used the recommended molasses and it was all I could taste in the finished product.

    • — Jessica W. on December 26, 2020
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  • Best ever. I love crystallized ginger and nuts so that’s the only addition I made. Really great and easy recipe.

    • — Lynda S on December 25, 2020
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  • This is now my go to gingerbread! I’ve made it several times and it’s perfect every time!!!

    • — Linda Skura on December 24, 2020
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  • Loved it

    • — Deborah on December 23, 2020
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  • Hi Jenn! Is it okay to use golden brown sugar vs dark? That’s what I have in stock and not sure if it’s worth going out to get dark. Will there be a sacrifice in taste? Thank you!!!

    • — Ling on December 23, 2020
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    • Hi Ling, It’s fine to use light brown sugar. Hope you enjoy it!

      • — Jenn on December 23, 2020
      • Reply
    • I made this recipe for the holidays and it was perfection in every way (taste, effort, presentation, transportability). I used golden brown sugar instead of dark (what I had on hand) and it worked out fine. If you live in So Cal, you can find Grandma’s molasses at Vons/Safeway. They do not carry it at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. My family told me to file the recipe because it’s a keeper and they think I’m a good baker now, thanks to Jenn!

      • — Ling on January 28, 2021
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  • Hi Jenn, I just made this gingerbread and it sunk in the middle although it was completely cooked. Any idea as to why this would happen? Thank you.

    • — Kelly on December 23, 2020
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    • Oh no! I’m so sorry you had trouble. Did you by chance make any substitutions?

      • — Jenn on December 23, 2020
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  • I tried the recipe for the first time today and was very impressed. The gingerbread had the correct proportions of all the ingredients. The texture was ideal. Initially I had planned to make gingerbread only to have at home but after tasting it; I have prepared another to take to my in-laws’ for Christmas get together. Try it; it’s very easy to make!

    • — Samantha on December 23, 2020
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  • Jen, would this work with gluten free flour?

    Marie

    • — Marie Jane Taylor on December 22, 2020
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    • Hi Mary Jane, I haven’t tried this with GF flour so I can’t say for sure, but I think it should work.

      • — Jenn on December 22, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi,

    so, I’m from Germany and just tried this recipe. First of, as you certainly have an international audience who read your recipes, it would be really great if you could also include g/ml instead of only cups. It’s a bit of a strain claculating around every single ingredient, and with the molasses I’m still not sure, 160ml (which is 2/3 cups, which could also have been 80g, so no idea which one it was, as molasses are liquid I decided to lottery choose for 160ml, which seemed way to much in the end).
    Concerning molasses I had a problem: the only molasses available here is the one you call black strap molasses, there simply isn’t any other one. The lady in the store said it can be used as well for baking so I used it now. Result is a very dark dough, which has swalloed almost all the spices, it just tastes like molasses and the dough didn’t rise enough either, which ended in me just throwing the whole thing in the bin sadly.

    • — Sophie on December 22, 2020
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    • A bit under the title there is a switch to convert to metric.

      • — Ann on December 24, 2020
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  • Hi Jenn

    I was wondering if I could substitute fresh ginger for the dried, my dried is a little old and I really don’t want to go back to the grocery store this week.

    Thank you and I love all of your recipes that I have tried and it is quite a few.

    Deb

    • — Debbie on December 21, 2020
    • Reply
    • I haven’t tried it, but I think it should work. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 22, 2020
      • Reply
  • I just made this recipe and it turned out perfectly. My favorite part it is SO easy. Will definitely be a holiday favorite. Perfect with a good cup of coffee on a cold day.

    • — Lisa Blaser on December 18, 2020
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  • I just made this scrumptious cake and had a big, warm piece. I am surprised by how light it is. I followed the recipe exactly, though I only had a round 9-inch pan and baked it for about 28 minutes. It turned out perfect! Delicious! This may be my new go-to recipe as it was so easy, and who doesn’t like a little surprise gingerbread any time of year!

    • — Debbie on December 17, 2020
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  • Delicious! Freezes well too!

    • — Naz on December 16, 2020
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  • Dear Jenn, your website is my go-to for foolproof baking recipes, and this recipe was certainly no exception. It was so quick and easy to prepare and super delicious! I’m already planning to make it again and I’m thinking of adding candied orange peel to the batter. Do you think that would work or will it sink to the bottom? How much of it should I put for this size cake?

    • — Safeya on December 15, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Safeya, So glad you like the recipes! I do think you could add some candied orange peel to this as long as it’s very finely chopped. I’d recommend 1 to 2 tablespoons. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 16, 2020
      • Reply
  • This recipe is very kid friendly and perfect for boosting the holiday spirit. We made it a day ahead to munch while building gingerbread houses. Unfortunately, this sweet treat did not last to see construction day. We followed the recipe exactly, kids loved the flavor. I’m looking forward to making it again.

    • — Mary on December 14, 2020
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    • LOL – glad it was a hit!

      • — Jenn on December 14, 2020
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  • I’ve read many of the comments. I came across one where they asked if the cake would stand up to layering to which you said yes. Then I came across a comment about the cake sticking to the pan. You asked if they had greased and floured their pans to which they replied they had done both. My plan is to make a 2 layer cake with a chocolate ganache filling then to cover it with whipped cream frosting. But after reading those reviews I’m now wondering if I should even try. You told the person with the sticking issue that you suggest to keep and serve the cake in its pan. My question is. If I prep my pans then add some parchment paper do you think they’ll release? Should I add parchment paper all around? Please advise what you think my best option would be. Thanks!

    • — Tammie on December 8, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Tammie, I would suggest a spraying pans w/ a nonstick spray with flour (such as Baker’s Joy) and using a parchment sling to ensure success. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on December 12, 2020
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  • My daughter and I made this exactly as instructed except we used an 8×8 pan. Added 5 minutes to the cooking time. I wish I knew how this cake would taste the next day but the cake disappeared in less than 10 minutes. Better luck next time, I guess.

    • — Ara on December 8, 2020
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  • Could you freeze this cake? Thanks for your help! x

    • — Laura on December 7, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on December 8, 2020
      • Reply
  • Another winner from Jenn. I baked this to serve for our Sunday afternoon tea. Reminded me of the gingerbread I had as a youngster and it’s even better the next day!

    • — Dawn M on December 5, 2020
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  • I made mine in a corningware casserole and I’m assuming it was 8×8 when it was supposed to be 9×9 so it took quite a bit longer to bake, and sunk in the middle. The surface was a little moist in the middle but it was definitely still done all the way. I bet I had it in there for 45-50 minutes. Even though it wasnt beautiful and perfect, it was DONE and DELISH lol

    • — Pedro on December 4, 2020
    • Reply

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