This gingerbread cake is everything you want out of the classic holiday treat. It has the perfect blend of molasses, ground ginger, cinnamon, and cloves for a delicious cake with a rich and warm flavor.
I mean, look at it… dark gingerbread dusted with powdered sugar, who could deny a piece of mastery like this?
Holiday Gingerbread Cake
As you can see, gingerbread cake makes a show-stopping dessert topped with powdered sugar or whipped cream cheese icing. And on top of its heavenly flavor and impressively moist texture, this is an easy recipe to get right, even on your first try.
The secrets? Butter, molasses, and hot water help make it soft, and unlike some gingerbread recipes, this cake gets just enough spice so both adults and kids can enjoy the warm flavors of ground ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.
Gingerbread Cake Ingredients
To make this gingerbread cake you will need:
- all-purpose flour: the flour of choice for this recipe. Swap for a 1:1 gluten-free all-purpose flour to make this recipe gluten-free. Or follow this recipe for a gluten-free gingerbread cake using oat flour.
- baking soda & baking powder: the leavening agents that give this cake a lighter texture.
- spices: the combination of cinnamon, ginger, cloves make up the classic gingerbread spices. Some recipes use fresh ginger, but in this case, we are sticking to ground ginger.
- salt: enhances the flavor of the other ingredients.
- butter: you’ll only need ¼ cup melted butter. For a dairy-free alternative use ¼ cup canola oil.
- molasses: make sure you use unsulphered molasses and not black-strap, which can be bitter (check the label on the jar for this).
- maple syrup: for a little ‘neutral’ sweetness, otherwise the molasses flavor can be overpowering.
- eggs: to bind the ingredients.
- vanilla extract: brings out the sweetness in the cake.
- warm water: a must to thin out the molasses and help incorporate it into the rest of the cake batter.
- powdered sugar: an optional ingredient for dusting, once cooled to give this cake an exciting holiday touch.
Print the recipe card at the end of the post for full instructions & the ingredient measurements.
How to Make Gingerbread Cake
Grab your mixing bowls, a mixer, and let’s make a cake!
- Turn on the oven
Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9 x 9-inch square pan with cooking spray or butter.
- Sift the dry ingredients
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ground ginger, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
- Mix the wet ingredients
In a separate large bowl, use a hand mixer or whisk to mix the butter, molasses, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and warm water.
- Add the eggs
Let the mixture reach room temperature before adding the eggs and mixing until they are fully incorporated. *If you add eggs to scalding hot water, they will scramble.
- Make the batter
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir to combine. The batter will be thin, but that’s okay!
Pour the batter into the greased baking pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.
- Add the finishing touches
Remove the cake from the oven and cool down to room temperature before removing the cake from the pan and dusting with powdered sugar.
- Grab a fork and plate
Slice the cake into 16 squares and serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Watch this video to see the cake come together.
Keeping It Moist
Below are a few simple tips so your gingerbread cake turns out moist every single time.
Room temperature ingredients
Ingredients such as eggs and butter should be at room temperature, and in this recipe’s case, the butter is melted. This makes it easier to incorporate the ingredients and prevents overmixing, which can make cakes dense.
Use both baking soda and powder
Molasses is an acid, and too much acid with too little baking soda can make a cake flat and dense. This is where the baking powder comes in. It works with the baking powder to make the cake’s texture lighter.
An overbaked cake is the biggest culprit to dry cakes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.
Can You Freeze Gingerbread Cake?
To freeze a piece or the entire gingerbread cake for future enjoyment, wrap each piece (or the whole cake) with plastic wrap, transfer inside a freezer zip bag, and freeze for up to 2 months.
To have it later, simply remove one of the pieces from the freezer (or the entire cake) and let it thaw on the counter for 30 minutes, or warm-up for 30 seconds in the microwave.
If you froze the entire cake, I recommend thawing it out slowly in the fridge, which will take 4 hours or so -or overnight. Once it’s thawed out, remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Toppings for Gingerbread Cake
While this cake is delicious all by itself, the right toppings can turn it into a gorgeous dessert. Below are a few options you can spread, drizzle, or sprinkle over this cake and whoo everyone into a slice:
- powdered sugar and cranberries (as pictured above)
- Cream Cheese Frosting
- whipped cream
- a drizzle of Caramel Sauce and whipped cream
Best Gingerbread Cake
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- ¾ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup melted butter
- ½ cup molasses
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons powdered sugar for dusting, optional
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ground ginger, cloves, and salt.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk the butter with the molasses, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and warm water until smooth. Let the mixture reach room temperature before adding the eggs and whisking until fully incorporated.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir to combine.
- Pour the batter into the greased baking pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.
- Remove the cake from the oven and cool down to room temperature before dusting with powdered sugar.
- Slice into 16 squares and serve.
- Store leftover cake in an airtight container for up to 5 days.