Home Cooking: Gingerbread Snacking Cake

Gingerbread and lemon curd, a delicious combination.

I started craving gingerbread about a month ago. I don’t know why, but suddenly I really, really, really wanted some gingerbread.

I don’t think gingerbread is a thing here in Hawaii. I’ve never seen gingerbread mix here like I used to back on the mainland. As I began researching recipes to make some from scratch, I realized we had everything on hand except for molasses and a recipe, so I picked up a jar of molasses a couple of weeks ago and started looking for a new recipe. An ice cream sale at Safeway plus some British ginger nut biscuits delayed things for a few days but once Brett and I had finished those things it was finally time for me to bake some gingerbread.

The gingerbread recipe I had used and loved in the past had unfortunately been in the box that the movers lost, and there were almost too many other gingerbread recipes out there to choose from, or so it seemed. Most recipes appeared to be fairly similar, but I wanted one with a little something extra, and I eventually found what I wanted on the Smitten Kitchen blog. Her gingerbread recipe (via Martha Stewart) contained an additional ingredient that we also happened to have on hand: freshly grated ginger root. That, I knew, would add a lovely little kick to the recipe.

I was a bit worried when I first read through the instructions though, thinking it sounded overly complicated, but it came together very easily and quickly. The finished cake is perfectly delicious, very moist and flavorful, but the best part of making this recipe was that I was able to do the entire batter in a four-quart saucepan. A saucepan might seem like a strange piece of kitchen gear to mix up a cake, but the recipe starts with boiling water, and being able to do everything in one pan meant that cleanup was easier than it might have been otherwise.

Smitten Kitchen suggests dusting the finished gingerbread with powdered sugar or adding a dollop of whipped cream, but I absolutely love gingerbread with lemon sauce. We had a jar of Monkeypod Jam Meyer lemon curd just waiting for something special, and a spoonful of that has been perfect with our gingerbread cake. Yum, yum, yum!


  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of unsalted butter, cut into chunks]
  • I cup water
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar (I only had light brown; it worked fine)
  • 1 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (optional but it really makes the flavor of the cake zing)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground or freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • powdered sugar (optional)
  • whipped cream (optional)
  • lemon curd or lemon sauce (optional)
Butter cut into chunks, brown sugar, freshly grated ginger, baking soda, molasses, and eggs. Our kitchen is very small, so I’ve learned to always get my ingredients organized, measured, and ready to go before I start.
Flour, salt, baking powder, and spices, ready for sifting
The molasses mixture is done and ready to rest and cool for a few minutes
Whisking the the sifted flour mixture into the molasses mixture.
The finished gingerbread right out of the oven. The sides of the cake rose up first during the baking, but as the cake cooled they settled down for an even top.

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare a 9 x 13 baking pan by either buttering and flouring, or coating well with cooking spray (I chose chooking spray as it’s a very moist cake and I didn’t want it to stick).

In a large saucepan, boil the water, and add the baking soda (it will foam up a bit). Let stand for 5 minutes, then add the butter and stir until the butter is melted. Stir in the brown sugar, molasses, and freshly grated ginger. The mixture should be barely warm by now but in case it’s still hot let it sit an additional 10 minutes. Whisk in the two eggs.

Sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt and baking powder over the molasses mixture in the saucepan and whisk to combine. If your saucepan isn’t big enough, transfer the molasses mixture to a large mixing bowl first, whisk in the eggs, and then sift the dry ingredients over it and then whisk to combine.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you’re not going to store the cake in the baking pan, turn out the hot cake to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely. Otherwise cool completely in the pan. Before serving, dust the gingerbread with powdered sugar if desired and/or serve with whipped cream, lemon curd, or lemon sauce.


8 thoughts on “Home Cooking: Gingerbread Snacking Cake

  1. And some crystallized ginger makes the trifecta. Love it. Triple ginger shortbread is another favorite:)


    1. I love, love, love crystalized ginger – that would have been a worthy addition to this gingerbread. I am going to start looking around and see if I can find a local source/product here – with all the ginger that grows here you’d think there would be. But, I can’t think of seeing anywhere it so who knows?


  2. My grandmas Martha/Mimi’s favorite!
    Her handwritten recipe cards call it “English Grandmother’s Ginger Cake”!
    Baicallr an identical recipe from the 1920s!


    1. Wow – I love this! The recipe was a new one to me, or at least a new way of making gingerbread. The old one I used was a pretty standard cake recipe, and did not using boiling water.


  3. Thanks for sharing the recipe! It looks easy and delicious. Love your serving suggestion, too — what a great way to use some of my precious lemon curd from Monkeypod Jam!


    1. The recipe is surprisingly easy – what a surprise.

      We are going slowly through our precious remaining jars from Monkeypod Jam. I finished up our cranberry relish this morning (on pancakes!) and the lemon curd is now gone as well. We still have a few jars of lilikoi curd left, and one jar of chocolate-orange sauce. We’re saving that for a special occasion although I don’t know which one yet.


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