Grandmother’s Old-Fashioned Gingerbread Cake Recipe

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This old-fashioned gingerbread cake recipe has a rich flavor with spices and molasses and a soft cake-like texture |

There are few dessert recipes that seem quite as traditional as old-fashioned gingerbread cake.

Next to fruitcake and plum pudding, gingerbread is one of the quintessential old-fashioned desserts for the holiday season, but it’s also delicious at any time of the year. Even though we usually tend to think of gingerbread as a holiday dessert, in earlier centuries, gingerbread was often served for special occasions throughout the year, like Muster Day, for example.

The Easier Shortcut to Gingerbread Flavor

Gingerbread cake is one of my favorite ways to make old-fashioned gingerbread because I love the soft texture of the cake, and I love how quick and easy it is to make. Gingerbread cookies always take a lot of time to roll out the dough and to wait for multiple batches to bake (not to mention the disaster that my kitchen always looks like by the time I’m done . . .)

With gingerbread cake, though, all you have to do is pour the batter into a pan, pop it in the oven, and enjoy the heavenly spicy aroma as it bakes, so it’s the perfect solution for times when you want the flavor of gingerbread without the work of making cookies.

I’m not sure exactly how old this particular recipe is because I found it in one of my grandmother’s old recipe boxes and there was no date on it. It was mixed in with several older-sounding recipes, though (like ones calling for lard and for yeast cakes rather than yeast packets), so I’m guessing that the recipe has a little bit of history to it at least even if it might not be quite as old as some of the 19th century recipes I usually make.

No matter how old might be, though, it has all the flavor of old-fashioned gingerbread recipes, and it’s going to be one of my favorite holiday traditions from now on!

Grandmother’s Old-Fashioned Gingerbread Cake Recipe


(Note: Organic, non-gmo ingredients and butter and eggs from pasture-raised animals are the best option if you have them available to you. I’ve included links to some of the ingredients that I like to use and would recommend.)

  • 3/4 cup (12 Tbs.) butter, melted and cooled
  • 3/4 sugar (I like using organic cane sugar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 3/4 cup flour (I used a mix of einkorn and organic all-purpose flour, but you can use all all-purpose if you don’t have any einkorn.)
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp ginger (I like this kind because it’s organic and non-irradiated)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (I like this kind)
  • 3/4 tsp cloves (I like this kind)
  • 1 tsp salt (I like using real salt)
  • 1 1/2 cups molasses*
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water

*Note: Usually I would recommend organic molasses, but the only molasses that I’ve been able to find is organic blackstrap molasses like this kind. If you don’t mind having a cake with a darker, less sweet flavor, then you might be ok with using the blackstrap, but if you like your cake to have a sweeter flavor, then the blackstrap molasses might make the cake too bitter. I used this regular molasses for making this recipe because it has a milder flavor and it’s also unsulphured and non-gmo.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt butter and let cool.
  3. Once butter has cooled, add sugar and eggs and beat together for a minute or two (or a little bit longer if you’re like me and you stir by hand rather than using a mixer.)
  4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and spices, stirring to blend well.
  5. Add molasses to hot water and stir to combine.
  6. Add the molasses mixture alternately with the flour mixture to the bowl with the butter, egg, and sugar mixture. Stir well to combine.
  7. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 9×13 inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.Optional:

Optional: Drizzle the top of cake with icing before serving. I didn’t write down the exact measurements I used (sorry!), but I just poured some organic powdered sugar into a bowl (it was probably about a cup and a half, maybe?), added a little splash of vanilla extract and a couple of spoonfuls of pure maple syrup (I like the darker syrup for stronger maple flavor), and then I added a few drops of water at a time, stirring until it was the right consistency for drizzling.

The icing was delicious with the hint of maple flavor, and the next time I make this cake, I’ll try to remember to write down the amounts I used so I can update the recipe 🙂


This old-fashioned gingerbread cake recipe has a rich flavor with spices and molasses and a soft, cake-like texture |

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The information in this post is not to be taken as medical advice and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.

24 thoughts on “Grandmother’s Old-Fashioned Gingerbread Cake Recipe”

  1. I’m such a sucker for almost anything that contains molasses. It was just the way my mother baked all those old fashioned things that I’m sure were passed down for generations.

  2. This sounds so good that mine is already in the oven. One of the restaurants in our town leaves the gingerbread icing-less and serves warm with fresh whipped cream on top. Divine.

  3. Nothing better than grandmother’s cake, especially gingerbread one. My granny also used to make one, haven’t had one that would taste the same good since.

  4. I wanted to mention that I had made this GF for Xmas (using Reddi-wip instead of the frosting) and it was… authentically rustic. Whoo boy! So I made it again for New Year’s sans cloves and used half of the molasses and it was more like a ginger spice cake.

    Really a bummer about non-organic molasses, though. I don’t trust any of ’em.

  5. I made my great (times 4) grandmothers recipe today and the ingredients are just about the same. No exact measurements; egg size ball of butter etc.. this one is dated about 1837. Probably the same time period. Hard to say how long the recipe had been around before this date.

    • That’s really interesting, and it’s so neat that you have such an old family recipe from your four times great grandmother! I love the history of old family recipes.

  6. Pingback: 35 CHRISTMAS GINGERBREAD RECIPES: HOLIDAY CREATIONS – The Lifestyle Hacks | Food Recipes, Fitness, & DIY
  7. Could this be made with spelt flour and treacle? I live in Europe and can get black treacle instead of molasses. Also, I’ve heard that a pinch of ground black pepper goes well with ginger spiced goodies, so I’ll try that.

    • Yes, spelt flour should be fine, and treacle should be fine too. The only thing that might be a bit different is the sweetness level depending on how sweet your treacle is. I’m not completely sure how black treacle compares to molasses. I know that in America we have regular molasses and then we have blackstrap molasses, and the blackstrap is less sweet and has a more bitter flavor. So depending on how sweet or bitter your black treacle is you might want to add a bit more sugar if your treacle has a bitter taste at all.

  8. I left my cookbook at home while visiting friends and wanted to make gingerbread for them. Was looking on this site and found yours. I always see whipped cream served with it but my Mother always served her gingerbread with either lemon sauce or raisin sauce. Recipe almost the same. Hers came out of an old southern home comfort wood stove cookbook delicious!

    • Good question – I would say around 30 minutes, but I would probably set the timer for 25 minutes to start with and then check them to see if a toothpick comes out clean. And then, if not, I would put them in for another 5 minutes or so and check again with a toothpick. When it comes to cake, I usually like to set the timer for a bit earlier to check because I would rather do that than have them bake too long and be too dry.

    • That’s really neat that you inherited her baking pan and that you have those good memories of your Aunt’s gingerbread! 🙂

    • I used 1 cup of einkorn flour and the rest organic all-purpose flour, but you don’t have to use those exact amounts. Depending on what type of flour you have and how much you have, you could use all all-purpose or all einkorn or any ratio in between. Since this is designed for a sheet pan, the type of flour shouldn’t make a significant difference in the finished cake. If you decided to try this in round pans as a layer cake, though, then using 100% einkorn flour might make the cake too soft to have enough structure to stack. But for a single layer in a sheet pan it should be fine.


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