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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.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Melt butter and let cool.
- 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.)
- In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and spices, stirring to blend well.
- Add molasses to hot water and stir to combine.
- Add the molasses mixture alternately with the flour mixture to the bowl with the butter, egg, and sugar mixture. Stir well to combine.
- 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 🙂