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    Easy Gingerbread Cake

    This moist and flavorful gingerbread cake recipe promises to be a showstopper at your next gathering! It’s full of comforting spices, and topped with a super easy butterscotch sauce that really takes this gingerbread cake to another level.

    gingerbread cake

    What is gingerbread cake made of?

    There are a few key ingredients in a gingerbread cake that distinguishes it from other cakes.

    Molasses

    The first key ingredient is molasses. Molasses is used in gingerbread cake for several reasons, contributing both to its flavor and texture. Here are the main reasons why:

    Flavor: Molasses has a distinct, robust, and slightly bitter-sweet flavor that is essential to the traditional taste of gingerbread.

    Color: Molasses gives gingerbread its characteristic dark color. The deep brown hue is not only visually appealing but also signifies the rich and intense flavor of the cake.

    Moisture: Molasses is a hygroscopic substance, meaning it attracts and retains water. This property helps keep the gingerbread cake moist and tender.

    Chemical Leavening Activation: Molasses, being acidic, reacts with baking soda in the batter. This reaction produces carbon dioxide gas, which helps the cake rise and become light and fluffy. This is why you’ll see many gingerbread cake recipes use baking soda as the main leavening agent. I personally don’t like the after taste when too much baking soda is used, so I use a combination of baking soda and baking powder in this recipe.

    Traditional Authenticity: Molasses has been a traditional sweetener in many recipes, including gingerbread, for centuries. It imparts a classic and nostalgic taste to the cake, making it a staple in traditional gingerbread recipes.

    When choosing molasses for gingerbread, you’ll often encounter different varieties, such as light molasses, dark molasses, or blackstrap molasses. The choice of molasses can affect the intensity of flavor and color in the final cake. Personally, I prefer using blackstrap molasses (I also use it in my fruit cake recipe), which is what I use in this recipe.

    Blackstrap molasses is the most instense in flavor, so I’ve balanced it out with other ingredients in the recipe (like sugar) to ensure the cake isn’t bitter. You can use light or dark molasses in this recipe, however it will result in a less intense flavour and color.

    Spices

    Another key ingredient in gingerbread cake is spices. Ofcourse being gingerbread, powdered ginger is the main spice used, however many recipes also call for other spices like cinnamon. In this recipe, I use a classic combination of ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. You could add allspice too, but to keep the recipe simple I stuck with the traditional 4 spices.

    I love having a very spiced cake (this cake has a bit more ‘spice’ than my spice cake recipe), so I use 3 teaspoons in total for this recipe. You can reduce the amount of ginger to 2 teaspoons for a less intensely spiced, more kid friendly version.

    How to make gingerbread cake

    This gingerbread cake is honestly so so easy to put together!

    Gingerbread cake

    Begin by preheating your oven to 160 °C (320°F) with the fan on (also known as convection mode) and grease a 9×13 inch cake pan. I use my homemade cake release to grease the pan (cooking spray will work fine too), and I also line the pan longways with a bit of parchment paper hanging over the sides to make it easier to take out once it’s done. If your oven doesn’t have a fan option, then you will need to increase the baking temperature to 175°C/350°F.

    Sift together all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Using a whisk or fork, mix until well combined. Set aside for now.

    gingerbread cake

    In a large bowl combine light brown sugar, melted butter, vegetable oil, blackstrap molasses, egg and vanilla extract or essence. Using a whisk mix until well combined and smooth.

    Add dry ingredients into the molasses mixture, and using a spatula or wooden spoon, fold until just combined. The batter will be very thick.

    gingerbread cake

    Finish off by adding in hot water, and using a whisk, mix until well combined and smooth. Do not overmix.

    gingerbread cake

    Distribute the batter into the prepared pan. Drop the cake tin lightly on the counter to remove large airbubbles and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

    Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes, before using the parchment paper on the edges to lift the cake out of the cake tin. You can also serve the cake from the cake pan if you prefer. The cake is best served slightly warm.

    gingerbread cake

    Butterscotch Sauce

    Prepare the butterscotch sauce while the cake is baking.

    Place saucepan over a medium heat and add in light brown sugar, cream, vanilla, ginger and cinnamon. Mix and allow the mixture to come to a boil. Allow it to boil for a few minutes while frequently mixing.

    butterscotch sauce

    Take the saucepan off the heat and pour the sauce into a heatproof bowl. Allow it to cool slightly before serving over slices of warm gingerbread. You can also serve with whipped cream on the side!

    butterscotch sauce

    gingerbread cake

    Commonly asked questions

    What goes well with gingerbread?

    Gingerbread cake pairs well with so many different toppings that complement its warm and spicy flavors. Some of my favorites include butterscotch or caramel sauce (which is what I use for this recipe), whipped cream, cream cheese frosting, vanilla ice cream, nuts, maple syrup and yoghurt. You can also just dust plain gingebread with some powdered sugar for a bit of extra sweetness!

    Does gingerbread have actual ginger?

    Yes! Traditional gingerbread recipes typically include actual ginger as one of the key ingredients. It adds a distinctive and characteristic taste to gingerbread, which is where the dessert gets it’s name. Most recipes call for powdered ginger as opposed to fresh ginger.

    How do you store gingerbread?

    Gingerbread cake can be left at room temperature in an airtight container for a few days. After that, it’s best to place it into the fridge where it’ll last upto a week.

    The butterscotch sauce can be left out for the day, but it’s best to refrigerate it overnight due to the fresh cream. Simply heat it up when you want to pour some over your gingerbread!

    Can you freeze gingerbread?

    Yes, you can freeze gingerbread and make it ahead for special occasions (it’s very popular during the end of year around Christmas time). Simply wrap the cake well in foil, before placing it into an airtight container and freezing.

    Allow it to thaw out completely before serving. I would recommend heating the gingerbread and having it slightly warm.

    Can I make a layer cake using this recipe?

    I have never tried this myself, but I don’t see why not! The cake holds together well and would be great for a layer cake. Just ensure the cake has time to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting it. I imagine my cream cheese frostingwould go amazingly well with this recipe!

    gingerbread cake

    Easy Gingerbread Cake

    This moist and flavorful gingerbread cake recipe promises to be a showstopper at your next gathering! It's full of comforting spices, and topped with a super easy butterscotch sauce that really takes this gingerbread cake to another level.
    5 from 8 votes
    Print Pin Rate Watch Video
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 20 minutes
    Total Time: 30 minutes
    Servings: 18 slices

    IMPORTANT: For accuracy, I would recommend using the gram measurements provided as those are the exact quantities I use. Cup measurements are given as estimates (based on US cup measurements) to make it easier for those who do not have a scale.

    Ingredients
     

    Gingerbread Cake

    • cups (300 g) flour - plain, all purpose
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • ¾ tsp baking soda
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 3 tsp ginger powder - ground ginger, can reduce to 2 tsp for a less spiced/more kid friendly cake
    • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • ¼ tsp ground cloves
    • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
    • 1 cup (200 g) light soft brown sugar - firmly packed (see note 1)
    • ¼ cup (57 g) unsalted butter - melted
    • ¼ cup (55 g) unflavoured vegetable oil - I use canola oil
    • ½ cup (140 g) blackstrap molasses - see note 2 for using light molasses
    • 1 large egg - room temperature
    • 1 tsp vanilla essence/extract
    • ¾ cup (180 g) hot water - make sure it's very hot (almost boiling)

    Butterscotch Sauce

    • ½ cup (100 g) light soft brown sugar - firmly packed (see note 1)
    • ½ cup (120 g) whipping or heavy cream
    • ½ tsp vanilla essence/extract
    • tsp ginger powder
    • tsp ground cinnamon
    • ¼ cup (57 g) unsalted butter - cold, cut into cubes

    Instructions

    Gingerbread Cake

    • Preheat oven to 160 °C (320°F) with the fan on (see note 3 if you don't have a fan function) and grease a 9x13 inch cake pan. I use my homemade cake release to grease the pan, and I also line the pan longways with a bit of parchment paper hanging over the sides to make it easier to take out once it's done.
    • Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Using a whisk or fork, mix until well combined. Set aside for now.
    • In a large bowl combine light brown sugar, melted butter, vegetable oil, blackstrap molasses, egg and vanilla. Using a whisk mix until well combined and smooth.
    • Add dry ingredients into the wet mixture, and using a spatula or wooden spoon, fold until just combined. The batter will be very thick.
    • Finish off by adding in hot water, and using a whisk, mix until well combined and smooth. Do not overmix.
    • Distribute the batter into the prepared cake pan. Drop the cake tin lightly on the counter to remove large airbubbles and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
    • Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes, before using the parchment paper on the edges to lift the cake out of the cake tin. You can also serve the cake from the cake pan if you prefer. The cake is best served slightly warm with butterscotch sauce. A side of whipped cream works amazingly too!

    Butterscotch Sauce

    • Prepare the butterscotch sauce while the cake is baking.
    • Place saucepan over a medium heat and add in light brown sugar, cream, vanilla, ginger and cinnamon. Mix and allow the mixture to come to a boil. Allow it to boil for a few minutes while frequently mixing.
    • Take the saucepan off the heat and add in the cold butter. Stir until the butter is completely melted and the sauce is smooth. Pour the sauce into a heatproof bowl. Allow it to cool slightly before serving over slices of warm gingerbread.

    Video

    YouTube video

    Notes

    Note 1. If using measuring cups for this recipe, then you want to firmly pack your soft brown sugar. To do this, pack your measuring cup with sugar and using the back of a spoon, press the sugar into the cup with a little bit of pressure (not too much) and then fill the remaining cup with more sugar.
    Note 2. You can use light molasses for this recipe, it'll just make your cake slightly sweeter, and less deep in flavor. 
    Note 3. In this recipe I use an oven with the fan function turned on. The fan forced function cooks cakes/cupcakes faster, so if your oven doesn't have a fan option, then you will need to increase the baking temperature to 175°C (347°F) so that the cake bakes at the same rate as mine 🙂

    Nutrition

    Calories: 272kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 172mg | Potassium: 205mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 270IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 2mg

    Nutritional information are estimates only as they are automatically calculated by a third party application. Actual values may differ based on brands and types of products used.

    Keyword: best gingerbread cake, classic gingerbread cake, easy gingerbread cake, ginger bread cake, ginger cake, gingerbread, gingerbread cake, gingerbread cake recipe, moist gingerbread cake, old fashioned gingerbread cake, recipe for gingerbread cake
    Tried this recipe?I love hearing from you! Tag me @cakesbymk.nz on instagram so I can see your amazing creations 🙂

     

     

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    24 Comments

    • Kimberly

      5 stars
      I tried this cake and it was delicious. Thank you for sharing the recipe ☺️

      • Cakes by MK

        Awesome! So happy to hear you enjoyed it Kimberly 🙂

    • Pree

      I could smell this through the YouTube video and although I’d already planned my Xmas treats I had to make it especially since it’s so easy and speedy without a mixer as well. It did not disappoint I had two pieces which ended up being lunch today and will take it for Xmas events over Xmas eve and Xmas day. Thanks MK! I’m so loving the spiced cakes! I made the pumpkin roll too recently, yum!

      • Cakes by MK

        Hi Pree! So so happy to hear you loved the gingerbread recipe 😀 spiced cakes are some of my favs! So happy you enjoyed the pumpking roll too 🙂 have a wonderful holiday Pree!

    • Mildred Kelly

      Sounds lovely. I am gluten free was wondering how this mix would react to using a flour with no gluten..
      Thank you
      Mildred

      • Cakes by MK

        Thanks Mildred! 🙂 I haven’t tried this recipe as a gluten free version myself, although others have used Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour for some of my other recipes and it’s worked great, so may work well for this recipe too 🙂

    • Ntombie Maduna

      I love ❤️ all your recipes. Thank you do much

    • Alicia Gray

      This recipe looks great MK! I love adding a tablespoon or two of finely chopped crystallized ginger to gingerbread cake. It gets very soft while baking and gives big pops of ginger flavor that melts away in your mouth. I will be trying this recipe tomorrow.

      • Cakes by MK

        Thanks Alicia! 🙂 Ooohh the addition of crystallized ginger sounds amazing – I’ll have to try that next time 😀 hope you enjoy the recipe 🙂

    • Jayne

      I love gingerbread with a butterscotch or toffee sauce but we use black treacle in place of molasses. I look forward to trying your version. Thank you for all your recipes this year. I wish you and your family all the best for 2024.

      • Cakes by MK

        Hi Jayne 🙂 ahh interesting, I’ve never tried black treacle before, I’ll have to give it a go sometime! 😀 Hope you enjoy the recipe and wishing you and your family all the best for 2024 too. Really appreciate all the love and support Jayne, have a lovely holiday!

    • Valerie

      This looks yummy! Can you pour the sauce over the entire cake, or is it better to pour it slice by slice?

      • Cakes by MK

        Thanks Valerie! 🙂 You could totally pour it over the entire cake if you like! I would just recommend letting the sauce thicken up slightly to ensure too much doesn’t fall off the sides 🙂 enjoy!

    • Li

      When do you add the butter into the butterscotch sauce? It’s not mentioned?

      • Cakes by MK

        Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention! Have added this in now :). Once you take the saucepan off the heat, you mix in the cold butter until completely melted 🙂

    • Lana

      5 stars
      Sounds and looks amazing! What does adding the hot water in the mix achieve? Also, can the egg be omitted for those of us that are or know someone that is allergic and how should the recipe be adjusted with the egg taken out?

      • Cakes by MK

        Hi Lana! Thanks so much 😀 the hot water helps to thin out the batter and loosen the gluten strands in the flour, giving you a softer and fluffier cake. It also helps to release more of the flavour from the spices. In terms of the egg, I haven’t tried an egg substitute for this recipe myself, so can’t recommend anything at this stage sorry! The eggs help with binding the batter, so you probably will need to use something in replacement of the egg to ensure the cake isn’t too crumbly 🙂

    • Jan Owens

      I love your cakes and have used many of the recipes. I am slowly printing them out, but would definitely buy your cookbook if you ever put one together. My family think your cakes are fantastic and particularly loved the Oreo birthday cake I made. Well done and keep on bringing us new cakes. Every one is a winner! Jan

      • Cakes by MK

        Hi Jan! Thank you so much for the wonderful feedback, so so happy to hear your family are enjoying the recipes! Would love to do a cookbook sometime in the future 🙂 have a lovely holiday Jan and again, the love and support is greatly appreciated 😀

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    About me

    Welcome to my blog! My name is Maryam and I LOVE baking! :) I hope to provide you with the tools (i.e. simple, from-scratch, quality tested recipes), so that you can confidently bake up delicious treats to share with your family and friends!

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