gingerbread snacking cake

I have a few things to tell you about this cake today, and none of them at the outset sound terribly upbeat, but bear with me, cheer is nigh.

The first is that if you put this out in small squares, dusted with powdered sugar and in proximity to a hand-whisked bowl of lightly sweetened schlag at a packed tree-trimming party, one by one, the handsome revelers will fall upon them, take a big delighted bite, and then you might out of the corner of your eye note that cheer melting from faces into a brief pang of surprise as they realize that no, that was not a brownie, but an extremely dark and intense square of gingerbread cake. Oopsies?

what you'll need, mostly
very black molasses

The second is that yes, I know, I already have a gingerbread cake recipe on this site — what I still consider the Greatest Gingerbread of Them All — and that is still the one I make for every Christmas dinner I’m invited to. However, if there could be one bad thing about it, it would be that on a rare occasion, usually because it sat in the pan longer than it was supposed to or the baking winds were not in our favor that day, it does not like to come out of the bundt pan in one piece. Sometimes it comes out in several. Sometimes it leaves half the cake in the pan. Sometimes you’re trying to get it out of the pan a single hour before you have to be at a Christmas Eve dinner an hour twenty minutes away and you… you cry.

so many spices

I think this would be a good time to state for the record that The Smitten Kitchen does not condone crying over cake. The Smitten Kitchen wants you to know that it’s going to be okay, that cake is delicious whether it’s in one piece or seventeen irregular ones that have been tossed in a bowl with whipped cream because of course you meant for it to be a trifle, sheesh. The Smitten Kitchen wants you to know that in all cases where cake brings one to the brink of tears, the cake is to blame, the cake is actually kind of a jerk, and you should just pour yourself a glass of ‘nog, go outside and catch some snowflakes on your tongue, and come back inside and have a good laugh about it because even if it’s not funny yet, it will be one day so you may as well pre-set the record straight.

mixy mixy
spreading the batter in the pan

Needless to say, these Smitten Kitchen “teachings” were not, in fact, in my head at the time so I didn’t remember any of this. What I did remember, however, was a Gingerbread Snacking Cake I’d spotted from Martha Stewart that week, a simpler cake, one served in little squares, one baked with a parchment paper liner to ensure that it always releases from the pan, and I suspected that I could throw it together in very little time. I melted the butter instead of softening and beating it. I fudged the steps so it was almost a one-bowl cake. It barely took 30 minutes to bake a half-recipe. And what came out of the oven was incredible — almost all of the lovely intensity and complexity of the great and grand Gramercy gingerbread in fewer steps with fewer beads of sweat on one’s forehead. And I have since then kept this recipe in my back pocket, not just for December emergencies and big December holidays, but for December itself, or anytime you crave a deeply spiced gingerbread cake but want a forgiving recipe with minimal fuss. It goes well with mulled wine, with lazy family afternoons and unfurrowed brows, like everything important should.

gingerbread snacking cake
gingerbread snacking cake

Gingerbread Snacking Cake
Adapted from Martha Stewart

This cake may not look like centerpiece material, but it is no less worthy of your full admiration. As written, it makes a maximum intensity (via fresh ginger and a full cup of molasses) gingerbread cake. For a moderate intensity gingerbread cake, skip the fresh ginger (I usually do because I’m a wimp) and swap 1/3 cup of the molasses with honey or golden syrup. If you can’t get molasses, use black treacle syrup.

I suspect it would also make a wonderful layer cake, maybe with eggnog filling and whipped cream for frosting. It can be baked in 1 9×13 pan or 2 9-inch round or 8-inch square pans. I cut it into 32 petite squares.

8 tablespoons (1 stick, 4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, plus more for pan
1 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup unsulfured molasses
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (optional)
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting finished cake
Lightly sweetened whipped cream, essential for serving

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Butter and flour parchment and sides of cake pan, or spray both with a nonstick baking spray.

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan (or large one, if you’d like to make the cake entirely in there) and add baking soda — it will foam up! this is fun! Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir in butter until melted. Whisk in dark brown sugar, molasses and fresh ginger, if using. Mixture is usually just lukewarm by now, but if it still feels quite hot to the touch, set it aside to 10 to 15 minutes to cool further before using.

Place flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt and baking powder in a fine-mesh strainer or sifter so that you can sift them over the wet ones in a minute.

Transfer molasses mixture to a large mixing bowl if your saucepan isn’t large enough to make the batter in. Whisk in eggs until just combined. Sift dry ingredients over wet, then stir the wet and dry ingredients together until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan; bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer cake to a wire rack and let cool completely. Once fully cool, cut around cake to make sure no parts are sticking to the side and invert cake out onto a rack, then onto a serving plate. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and cut into squares. Please, promise you’ll serve this with lightly sweetened, softly whipped cream. They’re made for each other.

Do ahead: Whipped cream needs to be stored in the fridge, of course. Cake keeps at room temperature for up to a week in an airtight container. It gets better with age, just like you, babe.

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263 comments on gingerbread snacking cake

    1. Megan

      This was delicious! Perfect flavor and so nice with whipped cream. I made it gluten free with 300g of flour and an extra egg. (Usual trick for helping it bind better without the gluten.) And a heavy hand with the ginger. The batter was really wet, but baked up beautifully. Thank you for this lovely recipe!

  1. pam

    50 years ago my mother served her gingerbread cake with lemon curd topping it. I always loved the cake but not the topping. This will get a trial here at the Franklin’s. I have made the apple cake and sweet potato cake over and over. Yummy, both of them.

  2. Talia

    Deb- this looks absolutely amazing! The perfect light, pillowy, spiced, delicious dessert for our rather gloomy days up here in the mountains of Vermont. One question- if I wanted to substitute an oil in for the butter (for those avoiding the dairy), could I use a 1/2 cup of vegetable oil instead? Would you recommend mixing it in at the same step? Of course no melting needed, so just continue on with the recipe as listed. Thanks so much, and Happiest of Holidays to you and yours!

  3. Jamie Winkelman

    Whoa! I’m so glad I checked SK today. I was going to go all-out on the molasses spice cookies that I love to bake anytime in October to anytime in March (hey, sometimes winter is long, or it just remains rainy too long, in Oregon)…but that seemed like a lot of work, especially as I’ll be crunched for time this week in a big way, and I’m not a fan of baking ahead of time, as things sometimes can and do go funky while being stored. *sigh* Anyway, this is just the ticket. I think I’ll make three…one for my husband’s work, one for mine, and one for the family Christmas get-together. Yeah for SK!

  4. Marie Beswick-Arthur

    looking forward to making this. (this is my first comment on your blog). RIght now second ‘tripled’ batch of your granola in my oven (in Mexico). My neighbours are loving it….(and I was gifted Quebec Maple Syrup), as well your biscotti was a big hit as well and I’ve replaced your recipe with my own fave….so….I’ll be doing this ginger recipe too… the new year! Thank you for all the great recipes, and the handy, practical tips and convo that accompany!

  5. Deb this is the third gingerbread cake I’ve seen on blogs today already! But it definitely gets the vote for the most molasses. Love that there’s 1 c in it! I love molasses, gingerbread, and spiced cakes like this. I would love a slice of this! pinned!

  6. Susan

    I make that other, much exalted, gingerbread all the time, and I completely agree that it’s a high wire act every darn time. I tried to make it (3 times! 3 times!) in my sister’s kitchen, and it fell each time (same model Bundt pan, even). Evidently it can only be made here in my kitchen. So this looks like a welcome sometimes substitute. I also wonder if this one would be worth an experiment. Years ago, at Mustards Grill up in Napa Valley, I had a dessert I’m still thinking about after all these years – gingerbread with a hot lemon glaze sort of thing poured all over it. I thought gingerbread and lemon would be horrible together, but it was a revelation. Off to the kitchen! Thanks for the recipe.

    1. In the South, “gingerbread” always means a cake similar to this one (not the cookie). And it is always served with the question, “Lemon sauce or whipped cream?”. Some who cannot choose, like me, ask for some of both.

      The said lemon sauce is made with lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, water, cornstarch, and a pat of butter, and is made by simmering and whisking together, similar to how one would make gravy. It’s quite easy to do.

  7. What a great gingerbread cake, Deb. I will try it in the days between Christmas and New Year’s although I have to admit, I’m very much tempted to try your Greatest Gingerbread of Them All first. I’m a risky baker. :)

  8. m.a.

    for christmas day festivities, i’m going to make david lebovitz’s ginger cake (i love the aggressive punch of fresh ginger) in a bundt cake pan and use the smitten kitchen cinnamon swirl bun cream cheese glaze to drape the top. YUM.

    also on the docket: fromage fort and braided cranberry challah (a variation on your fig challah)! and it’s a party, so deviled eggs! thanks for the inspiration!

  9. Caz

    I’m so glad you mentioned that you sometimes have trouble with the Gramercy Tavern gingerbread cake. It’s become a new Christmas tradition of ours (from your website!) and last year, yes I almost cried over it not coming out of my Mum’s nonstick silicon bundt pan. Arg.

    Needless to say, for the actual day, we’ll stick with that one. But as I don’t own a bundt pan here on this coast, a snacking cake sounds like a great idea!

    Happy Christmas to your family too. xo

  10. Samira

    Anyone have any ideas what to substitute for the butter to make this dairy free? I am on a restricted diet, but this is calling to me.

  11. Jo

    I was just trying to figure out what to make for desert for Christmas day with ingredients I already have on hand. I wanted to make the Gramercy Tavern ginger bread as it’s become a holiday tradition since you first posted it but I just don’t have the time this year for it so this is perfect.

    I’m definitely going to do the egg nog filling as I wanted to do something with it (aside from just eat it straight out of the bowl) but have enough cookies in the works.

    Now I’m also envisioning the Gramercy tavern gingerbread as a trifle with the egg nog filling and whipped cream.

    1. Vicki Robles

      Did you try the Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread bundt cake as a trifle with egg nog filling and whipped cream. I think it sounds fabulous. I am one of those cooks when reading a recipe I can taste the outcome in my mouth. Isn’t that weird???
      I loved reading all you said here and that was way back in 2013!
      Peace and blessings, Vicki

  12. Elaine

    I am shocked, shocked! that you would recommend any gingerbread but the Gramercy Tavern version. But I trust you. I’m noticing that the snacking cake has less ginger, more leaveners, and water instead of the stout. You also mentioned a slight lessening of flavor complexity. I might use the greater amount of ginger. If I were to use stout instead of the water in this version, will that give it too much rise, and I’ll end up in an I Love Lucy episode?

  13. P

    Have everything except I’m out of dark brown sugar – thoughts on subbing light brown in this? Looks like the perfect ginger treat as I sit at home nursing pneumonia.

  14. sara-hare

    Thank you so much! This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. No time to make it til after Christmas, but this should ease the pangs of that slump week between Christmas and New Year. :)

  15. We moved to the mountains 2 years ago and I’m having to relearn high altitude baking + dealing with the whims of a very dry climate, which means sometimes things work perfectly and sometimes they capriciously DON’T, haha. I don’t so much ‘cry’ over stuck baked goods as ‘roar imprecations at them and foam at the mouth while hovering on the verge of having a stroke’. Alternated with ‘frantic pan shaking and whiney pleading at the thing to just COME OUT OF THE PAN, ALREADY’.

    This cake looks lovely, anything around here I make that is intensely flavored always disappears quickly. Thanks, Deb!

    1. deb

      Shelli — I think so. Different flavor profile, but still delicious in baked goods.

      P — Light brown will work just fine. Feel better!

      deb — I just skip it. There’s already 2 teaspoons ground, though I suppose you could increase it too. Or, use some candied ginger for the fresh, as others have suggested.

      Elaine — I was thinking the same (or hard cider, or fresh cider) but didn’t try it out. I don’t thiiiiink it should affect the leavening but I found the leavening for this cake a bit tricky to begin with — I dialed it back from the original, which used 2 teaspoons baking soda. I had a slight sinking-in-center issue the first time I made it.

      Samira — Some may recommend coconut oil (which is popular for baking these days, though would impart a coconut flavor, albeit a very subtle one) but I think any neutral oil would do — safflower or sunflower.

      Talia — Yes, mix it in the same step. 1/2 cup is correct.

      Cat — I’m always nervous to recommend moving cakes from flat pans to loaves because the leavening can be trickier for loaves, you sometimes need more. (However, it’s fairly easy to take a loaf cake and make it instead as two flatter ones.)

  16. jwg

    I don’t have any fresh ginger and won’t have a chance to get any because my car is dead in the driveway and help is not in sight. I do have a bunch of candied ginger left over from Ina Garten’s ginger cookies. Do you suppose I could chop that finely and throw it in?

    1. Vicki Robles

      Did you make this cake and use the chopped candied ginger? If so, how did it turn out?
      I love dishes that Ina Garten makes, also. I have cookbooks galore of all kinds of cooks and chefs and I read them like novels. lol
      Peace and blessings,

  17. Natalie

    I just made this, on the heels of the Gramercy Tavern gingerbread last week. That one sunk, so it wasn’t perfect, but I confess that I preferred its sticky, dark, spicy intensity. Maybe it has to do with the Guinness, instead of the water here? This one is a little more mild, and not quite as moist. That said, it came together awfully easily. Made creme anglaise instead of whipped cream!

  18. Megan

    I saw this and knew I had to make it right away! It’s in the oven now, and I hardly even care how it tastes because my house smells SO AMAZING!!! It didn’t feel like Christmas until right now. Thanks!

  19. Susan

    I must be the only one who doesn’t care for that Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread Cake. It’s because of the beer in it. I can’t stand beer and it was the first thing I tasted when I took my first bite. I wonder if root beer would be a good substitute for the beer? This is more up my alley. I do love a good spicy gingerbread. Glad you added this for us.

  20. kathy

    Here’s a great tip: get Wilton’s Cake Release (Amazon carries it) and squirt it all over your pan and then spread it with your fingers. I made a pound cake in one of those swirly bundt pans and because of this product, all was perfect.

  21. cindy

    Love this style of ginger cake. Reminds of the ginger cake at Park Chow in San Francisco. Don’t leave out the fresh ginger! They serve it with caramel sauce, pumpkin ice cream and whipped cream. So, so good.

    Samira – Park Chow recipe uses 1 c olive oil. Here are the ingredients.
    • 2 1/2 c flour
    • 1 t ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 t ground cloves
    • 1/4 t white pepper
    • 1 c sugar
    • 1 c olive oil
    • 1 c molasses
    • 2 large eggs, room temperature
    • 2 t baking soda
    • 1 c water
    • 4 oz fresh grated ginger

  22. Now, a gingerbread layer cake with eggnog frosting… and extra ginger added because even though I’m definitely a wimp I like the “sting” of ginger… and I’m all over this. Brownie lookalike or no!

  23. Krista

    Oh Deb I feel so much better! I made the Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread yesterday and it totally stuck. Stacked pieces together and dusted with powdered sugar and served. Was so delicious I didn’t care it fell apart. Is there something about vegetable oil in a cake v. butter that makes it so darn moist? I wondered if I could just make the Gramercy cake in a different pan in the future? Hmmmm.
    Merry Christmas from Minnesota!

  24. JP

    I suppose I am just lazy, but a sheet cake or a square cake that does not have to be frosted, or if it does, can be frosted in the pan (or sprinkled with powdered sugar), always beats a fussy layer cake or bundt cake (they never come out of the pan for me in one piece either…I have hidden my bundt pan so I never have to resort to it again.)…here is a grab it and go cake and I love that about it. No apologies necessary and have a wonderful holiday season and a peaceful and healthy new year!

  25. JanetP

    I am not crying over cake today, but I am sad and apprehensive about something and your encouraging words were just what I needed to read, so thank you! Oh, and the gingerbread sounds really good, too.

  26. Kelly

    In years past, I’ve made the Gramercy cake in my beautiful tree bundt pan, only to have to piece it together for serving. So happy to find this recipe; I just took it out of the oven and the entire house smells amazing!

  27. paula

    Too funny!
    I was too lazy to look in my very unorganized recipe box. Sat down at the computer to look up Gramercy Tavern ginger bread and what do I find? Gingerbread snacking cake! Bought the stout but don’t want to end up crying when the gingerbread sticks to the pan. Whatever shall I do? Make both!! Christmas comes but once a year.
    Merry Christmas!

  28. Jean K

    Made this one for years (M.S.’s Comfort Cookbook?). Fresh ginger is tricky… Texture isn’t smooth like cake. I have done 1 tbl ground ginger instead. when no dark brown sugar I have subbed light brown sugar… A little lighter color and not as moist but still yummy. Dark sugar gives a beautifully deep color. Agree lightly sweetened homemade whipped cream is a must. Last note: if made ahead the top gets tacky. Powder sugar for dusting when ready to serve will disguise that.

  29. Kristin

    Thank you for gingerbread and encouraging words for kitchen (cake or otherwise) disasters. My idea of a perfect life (well, one version) is never running out of gingerbread recipes to try. Even if I think I have found the perfect one (currently stuck on the Cook’s Illustrated recipe, but Russell Wright’s family recipe is nice too, and so are Laurie Colwin’s recipes), I always look for new ones. I also love David Lebovitz’s Fresh Ginger Cake. Merry Christmas to you all!

  30. AnnaBKB

    Thank you for the delicious recipe. I just baked it (about 30 minutes ago) and I really liked the deep finger flavor, but I found it lacking in the crunch department. I’m thinking that a cup of chopped up nuts would have made it even better.

  31. Marcia

    we just had the gramercy gingerbread for my husband’s birthday, and will have some left for Christmas..I have always wondered if it could be baked ina 9×13 pan instead of a Bundt.?? you are the only other person I have encountered who also had a “second best” gingerbread..but your #2 looks better than my #2..( the buttermilk gingerbread from the NY Times Large Type cookbook).. my family all love gingery spicy, cakes and cookies and might just top off a night of gingerbread with a few molasses crinkles and a glass of cold milk. Good Cheer to you and yours!

  32. I once made about a dozen different gingerbread cakes for a party (but really just because I was obsessed) only to decide that I liked the recipe that my Aunt had given to me when I was first learning to bake. I still get a little twinge of curiosity though every time I read a new recipe. I love that this one uses fresh ginger. I recently had to adapt my aunt’s cake to a gluten free version and it seems to have opened the floodgates of curiosity again.

  33. Kate

    “..then you might out of the corner of your eye note that cheer melting from faces into a brief pang of surprise as they realize that no, that was not a brownie…” Ha, ha. A friend brought dinner over for my family after I was recovering from childbirth and with it was a lovely pan of dark cake. Ooooh – the chocolate I had been craving. I was so stinking disappointed at the first bite – gingerbread, not chocolate. But then after I got over it and realized it was a pretty moist and yummy cake,I appreciated it for its own earthy molasses and spicy goodness. I’ve matured so much that I sometimes will bake gingerbread when I even have ample cocoa and chocolate chips in the cupboard.

  34. Norah

    Just made it yesterday! Some Christmas baking without the tedious biscuits cutting in shapes :) And it is lovely! We already have a good and trusty gingerbread recipe, with a specific spice mix we re all used to since childhood, so I was initially a bit hesitant… Unnecessarily, though. I love that the cake is so dark and especially that it is so incredibly airy! Plus, I made it in one big pan, thus with minimal effort. Will likely become a Christmas staple :) Thanks.

  35. This recipe looks amazing. I’m definitely going to have to try it. Always loved gingerbread and would to add this in for our New Year party! Loved that you used real ginger!

  36. Lisa

    Thank you for this. The trifle comment made me a little weepy, this Christmas Eve morning. When cakes didn’t work out as I was growing up, this is always what my mmo used to actually secretly hope the cake wouldn’t work, so it would get mixed up with whipped cream. Thanks for the quiet moment with memory.

  37. Cindy

    This looks incredible…..I will definitely be making it for the new year. I have a question about something else. I love your spice jars. What I would like to know if where do you keep them? I bake/cook constantly,like most people who devour your blog, and it is one of the things about the function of my kitchen that drives me crazy! They have been in a drawer for years and are so hard to retrieve….. Any suggestions would be so welcome….. Have a wonderful New Year and thanks again for all of your hard work and delightful, always informative sharing. You are a constant source of nourishment for our culinary souls.

  38. Dahlink

    I remember that for one big family celebration my sister made a delicious cake that fell apart dramatically. She placed a little sign on it that said “Grand Canyon Cake,” and everyone had a good laugh.

    I got around the sticking issue with the Gramercy gingerbread by making cupcakes. Problem solved! I was debating whether to try my hand at that one in the Bundt pan today or to make Martha’s gingerbread cake, which has been a Christmas staple for many years. Now of course we have to have this one!

  39. Christy

    I’ve been a fan of yours for quite awhile and have never chimed in to say how much I enjoy your site. I love it not only for the delicious recipes, but also because you are such a delightful writer and always make me laughing happy. The merriest of Christmas to you and yours and a New Year filled with beautiful memories, good food and fun! Cheers!

  40. A

    Aw, I made gingerbread a few days ago, before this was posted, and I wish I had waited for this one because this is my favorite website and gingerbread is one of my favorites this time of year. Luckily there are only a few squares left of the old one, so I can make this one right away ;)

  41. I am making this! THis afternoon after the meatloaf cooks… it sounds like the perfect traveling cake. One to share with my in-laws and one for us to nibble on during the long 10 hour drive. ;-)

    Thank you for sharing!!

  42. Marcia

    Ah, Deb …. Bless you, Babe — you’re also getting better and better with each passing year!
    Thanks so much for this recipe. I love gingerbread mit schlag, and I needed something easy to take tomorrow. This will be perfect.
    And I definitely will try this at a later date as a layer cake with the eggnog filling — sounds fantastic. Cheers for a wonderful New Year for you and your family.

  43. Beck

    I’m currently living in Morocco (rough, I know) where there’s absolutely no brown sugar to be found. I think I’ve found a substitute for the molasses: date syrup. We’ll see how that works. But for the brown sugar… any ideas? Because I’d sure love some gingerbread!

  44. FarmerBarb

    …for a layer cake…Or how about marshmallow cream?–like the one you had us do for the sweet potato cake? I’d never made that before, and I was amazed how easy it is, and how dangerously delectable. That would offset a deeply spicy gingerbread, I’m thinking. Let’s do it!

  45. Susan

    This is the greatest post; the humor, your recipe especially, and recipes shared by commenters are wonderful! Your suggesting that it be served with shlag makes me think of my version of a Chocolate Whipped Cream Cake that was served at The Brothers Delicatessen in Minneapolis in the mid 1960s. After considerable experimentation and frustration, I finally tried what the various servers from whom I’d begged the recipe told me: it’s just whipped cream. I discovered that even cake mix chocolate cake is transformed by this treatment. Bake two layers of dark chocolate cake, and let them fully cool. Cut each layer horizontally producing 4 layers. Then whip 3 cups whipping cream with a scant teaspoon of sugar. No vanilla. No gelatin to stabilize it. Just whip it till it’s really stiff. I’ve used my Cuisinart with the s-blade to produce a really dense, stiff whipped cream. Then fill and frost the layers. Then comes the hard part: refrigerate for at least 8 hours. The cream and cake interact, producing more than the sum of the parts. Considering what everyone says about your Gingerbread Snacking Cake, and your suggestion that it be served with soft whipped cream, I think my “frosting” idea would work nicely. Also, in a middle eastern market, I’ve bought a ginger paste (Shan brand) that might work for the grated ginger. I look forward to trying this on your cake! Thank you thank you thank you!

  46. I’m making the Gretest Gingerbread to Rule Them All for the third time this Christmas, armed with shortening AND baking spray to try to avert trifle-level disaster, because it truly is the absolute best. This looks good too though. Happy holidays!

  47. evl

    You can make your own brown sugar by thoroughly mixing 1 cup of white sugar with 3T molasses (or date syrup). If you have one, a food processor does a great job.

  48. Katharine

    82 comments and nobody has mentioned applesauce? In my family, spooning applesauce over gingerbread wins out over whipped cream every. single. time. Try it!

  49. This recipe looks surprisingly simple, it’s Christmas Eve, and for some reason I happen to have all the necessary ingredients. I’m also Cat sitting for a friend so now his house will smell like Gingerbread heaven instead of a mildly dirty litter box. Yay!

    Helon @

  50. Brittney

    I made this the day you posted it. LOVE how simple a one pan prep. My husband thought old folks might enjoy it more.. which made me laugh.. turns out in laws love it. The texture, consistency is very good. But i realize later that cutting back on the molasses and adding honey might of been better. It kinda has a strong after taste. I did not serve with Whip cream which may have been the key!

  51. Jori

    was craving gingerbread yesterday, signed on to the site to look for the Gramercy recipe, and lo and behold…this recipe is perfect!! bringing this and the world peace cookies to a christmas party tomorrow night. thanks!!

  52. Fran

    Just took it out of the oven. It was this or molasses crinkles and this was easier.I used the large pan to mix in so less to clean up too. And yes,Katherine, I have applesauce for topping.
    Deb, mine looked wetter than in your picture, but it cooked okay. Can’t wait to try it, smells divine!

  53. C Rios

    This is in my oven as I write. Smells delicious… And I expect it to be a great dessert after my tamales (my suegra’s “recipe”). I’m serving it with some champurrado, and (as you suggest) soft whipped cream. My whipped cream maker gadget from WS gave out just shy of soft peaks, but I’m sure my hubby won’t complain.

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours.

  54. Jena

    I made this today with much excitement. It smells fantastic and it tastes…. ok. I used fresh ginger and ground, but it’s just kinda flat tasting. It does taste better with whipped cream, that seems to bring out the flavors more. It’s not bad, it’s just not what I expected.

  55. Wendy

    Many years ago my brother who lives in Boston was here in Maryland with his family. Schlag was renamed “crab spit ” and that is what we call it now. We get some funny looks out in public when we say it.

  56. YUM! We just made this for brunch at home, we halved the recipe and made it into muffins! I used a heavy, 12 muffin tin, well greased ad well floured. Bake for 19 minutes. The batter looked a little thinner than yours and the muffins were a little sunken and fudgey in the middle, but WONDERFUL!

  57. Funny that you mentioned the trifle because I actually made a gingerbread trifle for Thanksgiving this year (on purpose) and it was super delicious! I noticed your reply about using coconut oil in this recipe possibly having a coconut flavor. I make a vegan gingerbread with coconut oil and you definitely can’t detect an iota of coconut, probably because the spices and molasses overpower it. Happy holidays!

  58. Jetagain

    I will definitely make this recipe but I will definitely NOT serve it with whip cream. In our family it is sacrilegious (We’re atheists.) to serve gingerbread with anything other than lemon sauce–you know, lemon juice, zest, sugar, and cornstarch.

  59. Oh my! This was so good. I intended for this cake to be for Christmas dinner, but once my husband caught a whiff of it, that plan was out the window. Ice cream for dessert. Thanks so much for this recipe, will definitely make again.

  60. Jess

    I make a ginger snacking cake very similar to this but it uses fresh ginger, ground ginger and crystalized ginger. I made it all the time when my wife was pregnant with kid #1 and had bad morning sickness.

  61. Cathy

    GUESS WHAT SANTA BROUGHT ME??? Just the all time best cook book ever written!!!!! I am ignoring my family, devouring every page, laughing outloud occasionally thrusting it at someone squeeling…”just look at this…”
    I cannot wait to get home and start cookin!

  62. kasey

    Deb, awesome recipe as always. I have now made this recipe twice (once for a Christmas Eve dinner and once for Christmas Day lunch). The recipe received rave reviews at both houses and we didn’t even use the whipped cream!

    Thank you for all the great recipes this year and I can’t wait for all the recipes to come. :) Hope you and yours had an excellent holiday!

  63. SallyO

    I checked your blog on Christmas Eve just in case and lo and behold there was the recipe for the ONE thing I had been craving this whole holiday season. Cursing you, but with much love, I knew I wouldn’t have time to make it since I had plans for most of that day, and was due at my brother’s for official Christmas the next day. When I mentioned this to my neice and sis-in-law that night, they both moaned oooooh GINGERBREAD…..sigh. I had been super motivated to bake this holiday in part thanks to Cookie Week, and I struggled, really struggled. BUT… there I was at 8 am on Christmas Day, baking gingerbread!! Let me just say that I would never make anyone’s recipe spur of the moment for a major family holiday unlwaa I had complete trust in them. And boy did you come through on this. MY apartment smelled like heaven. It was plump, moist, gingery and oh so easy to throw together. The only downside was that my neice wanted frosting and there was no time for that. Next time thouh, Buttercream frosting with specks of crytallized ginger. just sayin’. thank you for all the amazing recipes this year.

  64. katie

    Do you know… the “surprise!” moment you had with guests with this cake is exactly the opposite “surprise!” flavor moment I had at a party with your brownie rollout cookies. People grabbed the shaped cutouts, expecting gingerbread, and then you watched their quizzical faces as they realized it was a perfect chocolate cookie. I guess maybe you’re in the business of keepin them guessing :-) Keep up the wonderful work!!!!

  65. Lindsey

    Baked this Christmas eve, made one mistake of baking it an 8×8 pan because I wasn’t paying enough attention, however besides a little spilled edge I cut off after baking it worked perfectly! I brought it for Christmas dinner and we actually ate it plain with coffee, my mom remarking it had an intense New England flavor she loves. I’m eating it for breakfast now too! I love the intense flavor of molasses here.

  66. shari

    Deb, everything ‘gingerbready’ you make is so dark. What kind of molasses do you use? My gingerbread cakes and cookies ‘pale in comparison’.

  67. Sasha

    I’ve made the Gramercy Tavern gingerbread for Christmas dinner the last few years; It always turns out well and if I butter and flour the bundt pan generously as Deb recommends, it comes out without sticking. Maybe I’m just super lucky? I decided to try this snacking cake because it sounded so easy and I was busy with other dishes for Christmas (including the braised beef short ribs adapted by Deb from Suzanne Goin – those were incredible!) It was good, but not as good as the Grammercy. And, funnily enough, it’s sunk in the middle and was a little dry at the edges…? Also, I used Barbados style molasses this time and I’m wondering if it has a less rich flavor? It was recommended for baking, but my cake was not as dark and rich (looking) as the photos here. But based on everyone’s comments, I’m thinking I might try again!

  68. Marcia

    Made the cake yesterday early aft to take to an early dinner and it was perfect. (No surprise there — your recipes have always proven spot-on and work consistently for me.)
    Used the full cup of molasses and fresh grated ginger and did NOT feel it was too strong a taste. Also used 9″ cake pans and only cooked 26 min total. However as I am at 7,000′, next time I will try dialing back the oven temp a bit to avoid “that sinking feeling”. LOL
    And I did not whisk out all the little pockets of dry, as I figured they would resorb into the batter and they did. Treat this batter like a quick bread dough and don’t beat the dickens out of it!

  69. Stephanie


    Like you I have a small NYC kitchen. Where did you get the dividers for your pans above the cabinet? Would seriously improve the space situation in my kitchen!

  70. Tali

    A response to Talia way way way up there – I just made it with coconut oil instead of butter so it’d be dairy free, at a 1:1 ratio. It’s in the oven now, but don’t worry, I licked the batter bowl CLEAN and could detect no coconut taste whatsoever. And the batter came together beautifully.

    Also my house smells heavenly right now.

  71. TerriSue

    I don’t comment often as I’m not a typist. In fact back in the 70’s when I was in High School my typing teacher advised me to give up his class as I had no aptitude for it. This was back when we were learning on type writers, am I dating myself? Anyway It takes me awhile to leave a comment. I just had to after this post. After 55 years, yes I have learned that you don’t cry over cake pieces. They are inspiration to do something with cake pieces. You can pretty well bet that what you come up with is going to taste good, and others will think you have done it on purpose, come up with a new dessert and want the recipe. Life is short with children. They are watching you and how you react to failures. If mommy were to sit down and cry in the kitchen after every goof, what would they think about making bigger mistakes in their own lives. Deb I know you don’t do this as your since of humor shines through in every post. What I do get a feeling of is that you have a little boy who KNOWS he is loved. That you have a husband who KNOWS he is loved. And even though you might not be living in Apartment Beautiful as you have referred to some, in 20 years from now when your son is grown he is not going to remember that. What he is going to remember is how incredibly creative his mom was. How she made his birthday cakes and how amazing they were instead of going out to buy one. He’s going to remember the time he spent in the kitchen with you watching you do amazing things, and making him things just because he liked them. How do I know this? Because my 28 year old son says this about me, and I didn’t have anywhere near your talent. And because I had a mother who had your talent who I can remember watching from my highchair as she performed miracles in the kitchen. Who made all of my birthday cakes, and was also incredibly funny. I don’t mean to be maudlin, I lost her to breast cancer when I was only 35. She was my best friend. This day after Christmas I’ve been missing her with an intensity I haven’t had in years. We spent yesterday with our children and grandchildren. She was a very young mother having her first child 2 weeks before she turned 18. My dad is still alive, but he was older. I’m missing that my mother never knowing her great-grandchildren, and my children only having vague memories of her. This all does have a point. When I read your posts……………your humor, your talent, your lets forget about the house this weekend and go make a memory. You just remind me so much of her. You, my dear, have your head on straight and your priorities right where they should be. Your family is so blessed. We both believe in the same Father God. I want you to know that I hold you in my prayers. Give that little one a good tickling. And know that even though I don’t respond often, every post you send out is treasured by someone in Texas.

  72. This totally looks delish! I think I’ll try it on New Year. The only problem is, I can’t seem to find confectioner’s sugar in our local supermarket.Will it still taste the same without confectioner’s?

  73. Janyll

    Hey Deb, just wondering if you’ve ever tried nonstick foil for baking instead of greased and floured parchment. I find it works just as well, and is easier to use since it can be molded to the pan and doesn’t need grease and flour at all. Really neat stuff. I also use Baker’s Joy when greasing and flouring (without parchment) is called for–removes one step and easy to do. Would love to hear your thoughts on these shortcuts.

    1. deb

      Janyll — I’ve never bought it, though I’ve heard good things about it. Definitely a space issue for me to bring in one more thing when I already have foil and parchment. :(

      Writerknowsbest — Absolutely, but it’s a nice finish. Confectioners sugar is also sold as powdered sugar and, in the UK, as icing sugar.

      Stephanie — They’re like… file racks. I bought angled ones years ago at Bed Bath and Beyond, but prefer the upright ones I bought from Amazon more recently. Here’s the link.

      shari — I don’t only use one brand of molasses. This year, I’ve either had Grandmother’s or this “Wholesome Sweeteners” brand one. I do have indirect lighting in the kitchen so these things can look especially dark in photos but then again, this was really dark in person too.

      Beck — If you can get molasses (or maybe dark treacle syrup?) you can make your own brown sugar!

      Esme — Go here for the eggnog filling used in a cookie, but suggested here for this cake. You’ll probably want less sugar.

      Cindy — I have them out on open shelves. Not actually recommended; the sun isn’t good for them. But in a tiny kitchen, we do what we can.

  74. Elisabeth

    Dear Deb, thanks for this wonderful recipe, it’s perfect. Reading about “schlag” makes me feel at home in your fabulous little blog world.
    Looking forward to next year’s recipes, Elisabeth (Vienna, Austria)

  75. OMG! I have been making gingerbread (many different recipes) for 50 yrs. and serving it with warm, homemade applesauce. SK’s Gingerbread Snacking Cake mit schlag is by far the very best. Thank you, Deb, for this dense, gingery cake. If you use wax paper to sift the flour onto, it becomes a one pot cake….soooo easy to clean up.

  76. Astrid

    Hi there – this is fab. I made it the other day (in two square tins as you suggested) and the cake keeps getting better. Made some small changes: used wholemeal spelt flour, added some finely chopped ginger in syrup, did not have enough molasses so made that up with golden syrup and ginger syrup, everything else is as per recipe and it was amazing. I love ginger cake and have been looking for a perfect recipe. I may have found it!! Many thanks.

  77. baker_d

    This was so dead simple and so perfect. I did go with the fresh ginger and was glad I did– brightened the whole thing up! Thanks for a great go-to that did not even require me to get out the old yellow KitchenAid. Happy New Year!


  78. So- in case you were still wondering… I made the cake with the full shebang of ginger n all…in 2 9″ pans. It was for my Japanese husband, and ginger is a big part of anyone’s Japanese life. He also loves rum raisin so I make jars of them to spoon over vanilla ice cream, etc. I sprinkled some I had patted dry over the batter before baking. Then I thought, which frosting? I was sure I’d like the eggnog frosting but my husband finds frosting too sweet usually, so I thought, “why not try the marshmallow frosting instead?” Back and forth- finally, I made the eggnog frosting. Well, it may just be the way I frost but the filling recipe filled between the 2 cakes and frosted the sides but that was it. GUESS WHAT? I GOT MARSHMALLOW FROSTING ON THE TOP! And as if I hadn’t overdone it enough ( that IS what Christmas is for, isn’t it?) I chopped a few raisins and sprinkled them over the top for color. I would have taken a picture and sent it, but it was truly gone in a flash! Thanks for everything you add to my life- even the extra pounds. Happy New Year t you and yours!

  79. Logan

    Amazing. I made this with trader joe’s gluten free flour and coconut sugar. It is awesome, even though the batter seemed to runny… It came out perfect. Best cake ever.

  80. Cathleen Phelps

    Sorry to bring up the molasses again but did you use blackstrap molasses? It looks dark enough to be blackstrap but I have not had good experience with using that in gingerbread and might be scared to use a whole cup. That would be Really Intense and maybe make the gingerbread kind of dry. The Grandma’s blackstrap has the green label and the regular Grandma’s molasses has the yellow label. When you buy Grandma’s do you get the green label or the yellow label? Thank you! I am excited to make this one way or the other.

    1. deb

      Cathleen — I use the yellow label, not blackstrap. I actually find the yellow label Grandma’s to be less dark than the Wholesome Sweeteners brand.

  81. Wow, yum! I was afraid for a little that I burned it (my oven thermostat is broken) but the spices overpower any hint of extra flavor from a slightly darker top than should be. Even the kids who were here for dinner loved it – the 5-year-old wouldn’t eat the potato soup or bread bowl but had seconds of the gingerbread cake. Another great one, Deb!

  82. Andrea

    While I love the look of these, and agree that your gramercy Gingerbread cake is the BEST IN THE WORLD, I did stop reading mid sentence when I read the word trifle….please, please, please come up with a gingerbread trifle recipe before next Christmas!!

  83. haha I’m glad you have trouble with that cake too! This year it did not come out of the pan nicely, and, in fact, some of it fell on the floor (5 second rule!). I glued it all together with a confectioners’-sugar-plus-oj glaze and no one was the wiser. Well, until someone asked if there were layers of frosting and I had to admit there were not, just glue in some of the gaps. Maybe I’ll try this version next year for a less stressful dessert :)
    Happy New Year!

  84. Liz

    Deb, thank you for this wonderful recipe. I had a little trouble when it came to mixing the dry and wet ingredients. I did exactly as instructed but the batter was very lumpy. It said to mix just until combined but, I figured that it would be best to get most of the big lumps out so I whisked it pretty good. I was worried about overworking it. I don’t have a stand mixer – perhaps that made the difference in mixing? However, it came out beautifully. The parchment paper underneath made it so easy to move to a platter. I greased and floured the paper and baking dish but did not have any baking spray. I thought that might make it difficult to get off so I just trimmed the edges of the parchment and left it in place on the platter. It’s moist and flavorful and, as you say, great with whipped cream. I followed the recipe exactly except for the fresh ginger.

  85. Abby

    Fabulous! I topped with lemon curd instead of powdered sugar.

    Mine sunk slightly in the middle, and I’m wondering if there was too much baking soda or baking powder. I used fresh baking powder, homemade last week–perhaps that’s the issue. Not that the cosmetics are a problem, though–my roommates are lapping it up.

    Thanks for another year of fabulous recipes. Yours are always winners!

  86. I felt so sad my Best Gingerbread Cake of All Time fell apart. Then I cut the fell apartness in to slices LIKE I MEANT IT THAT WAY. And was super psyched that every foolish family member ate cookies instead. So I have snacked on leftovers since Christmas. Yum.
    Point of all this: Thank you for a recipe that does not not need oat beer. Cannot wait to try this.
    Happy new year!

  87. Andrew

    It does make a great layer cake, I just tried it earlier tonight. :) I did use the fresh ginger, I think it has an impact on texture as well as flavor, because the cake is particularly moist. I used a lemon, white chocolate, cream cheese frosting, inspired by Chocolate Obsession, from Michael Recchiutti, and I think that balanced nicely. Maybe lemon, white chocolate buttercream would have been even better, but my wife disagrees, and it was her birthday I was baking for.

  88. Margaret

    OMG… This was SO GOOD!!! I used 2/3 molasses and 1/3 local honey, no problems with the leavening or sinking, only had light brown sugar, did not use fresh ginger, and had no cloves so used cardamom instead. And it was just.. wow. I definitely ate a large amount of it for breakfast.

  89. Gabriela


    Thank you first of all for your incredible pictures, humor, and recipes; I reference and drool over them often.

    I am wondering where you bought your glass spice jars in a few pictures down on your New Years post. You have them labeled: “salt” nutmeg” etc. They are perfect size for my fingers to pinch some out or for a measure spoon!

    I’d like to think I’m great at writing comments and checking for replies but I’m just not. If you don’t mind, could you e-mail me your response?

    Thanks so much.
    Happy New Year & many blessings.


  90. This looks fantastic! I just have to tell you that I made The Greatest Gingerbread of All times THREE times in the last 3 weeks — and every time it slid right out of the pan like buttah! The secret is taking the pan out of the oven, and putting it immediately on a hot wet towel that you sit in the kitchen sink, and leaving it for 10 minutes exactly. It’s foolproof!
    Anyway, thanks for this version, I may break down and try it as soon as I get out of rehab because that’s what it’s gonna take to break my addiction to the gramercy gingerbread!
    Happy New Year!

  91. Jen

    I’ve made this cake a couple of times since last year. My family loves it, and it screams “holidays!” My son dislikes chocolate, but this is a different kind of rich that I think many people enjoy.

  92. carol

    Hi Deb
    So after just recently spicing up the amazing Gramercy Tavern gingerbread with ground pepper to add the bite I love I thought I was done with new gingerbreads. Since I love your stuff I feel obliged to try this but I have to look in my gingerbread bread recipe folder (really!) to make sure I haven’t done it yet.
    Again a thank you for the pistachio petit-four cake. I baked my fourth cake since October and it just keeps getting more delicious. A zillion thanks, (and a zillion calories). Happy New Year

  93. Shifra

    Hi Deb,
    Do you have a good recipe for chocolate crinkle cookies? I baked some last week and they looked really pretty (puffed up really nicely) but were a bit lacking in the flavor department.


  94. Lizykat

    OMGosh…this is just excellent!..Mine is dark dark dark…I used the fresh ginger, full c of molasses….OMG…powdered sugar was the only topping… the best! thanks for sharing… xoxo

  95. Wife To An Amazing Cook

    This is so yummy – and my kitchen smells like the holidays exploded (in a good way!). The taste is very grown up and the spices are perfectly balanced. I added the tbsp of fresh ginger and really like it, though can see why others might not if they’re not ginger fans. And I know the directions say cool completely before turning out, but we just couldn’t wait – we snacked on warm cake and loved it. The plan is to give the negihbors the other 9″ round, but I’m suddenly feeling greedy!

  96. I just made this, with some modifications due to ingredient availability in Turkey. I miraculously came up with molasses, though, and DAMN this is good. The crumbly lovely everything. I also used some thick grainy honey, and only fresh ginger. I’ve been soaking my whole cloves in boiling water to get some flavour from them, any other advice? They’re impossible to grate or mince.

  97. Britt

    I made this cake with gluten free flour (Cup4Cup) and was amazing. I brought the remainders into work and it got rave reviews. I made it in two 8×8 pans instead of the 9×13 to give it extra structure as it baked, which I think was helpful.

  98. amy

    Hey, I saw that M.S. recipe, too! And was naturally similarly inspired, except…oh wait, if I make gingerbread cake, it has to be gluten-free. And Martha’s recipes and my substitutions don’t get along. (pout) Fortunately, America’s Test Kitchen has a similar recipe for gingerbread cake that DID convert beautifully to gluten-free. I even managed to squeeze some pear jam/apple butter into the recipe for extra moistness and to tie all the flavors together. Recipe here:

  99. Jason

    Nothing to add about the recipe as I haven’t tried it yet (although I plan to). I just had to say it’s so refreshing and wonderful to see 157 comments on a blog and it’s not a flame or troll war! What a wonderful site and community of readers!

  100. Just made this tonight for dessert. The Folks loved it! Couldn’t stop talking about it. They said if this was served at a restaurant, they would have to come back again, just for the cake. My mother has requested I bake this for her birthday, which won’t be for more than three months.
    The fresh grated ginger really makes a difference. It only took 30 minutes to bake, but the cake came out with a moist, tender crumb. Instead of whipped cream, I served this with low-fat vanilla ice cream, which worked perfectly with the heat of the spices.
    I will be making this for the family Christmas get-togethers next year!
    I really love your blog. It is a delight to browse through your recipes.

  101. BBS

    I have been making the Martha version ever since she published it. It is a big hit. That recipe makes a square cake. Tip: I like to grate the fresh ginger when I can but in a pinch I buy a jar of already minced ginger. Great when you are rushing to make this.

  102. Sukytawdry

    Belated update from our family Christmas dinner: I substituted stout for water as someone suggested, baked in three 9″ layers, used generous amounts of eggnog cream as filling, and had enough left to pipe a flourish on top. The cake was very pretty, intensely gingery, moist and dense,

  103. anne

    Oh boy. I have been job hunting and it is soul crushing to say the least. Last night:half bottle of wine. Today: THIS CAKE!!! So warm, moist, comforting and yummy. Like a big hug. Thank you so much.

  104. Ginny

    I have made this three times in the last month. My husband keeps begging for it. I used about 3/4 blackstrap molasses and 1/4 cup honey. I also used fresh ginger. It turns out wonderful, light and moist every time. Thank you!

  105. Sam

    Love this recipe! My husband is a huge fan of your Gramercy Tavern cake. Such a great idea to serve it with mulled wine. Do you have any favorite recipes for mulled wine?

  106. Jenna

    Deb, this looks amazing. I tried to make it and it just didn’t live up to my expectations. But I think the culprit was my molasses, rather than your recipe – all my kitchen fails in the last few months have been recipes with molasses! I checked my expiration date, which was in the distant future, but tried a new bottle (sticking with the same brand I’ve always bought, which my mother has bought for as long as I can remember – it’s a national brand) just in case. No dice. The batter is incredibly thin, it burns easily (like halfway through the baking time!), and doesn’t taste very good – kind of cardboardy, like a Starbucks baked good. It happened to me with this cake, my grandmother’s gingerbread men cookies, and a Gourmet recipe for gingersnap cookies – all reliable recipes! None of my other ingredients have gone bad, and all of my other baked goods turn out fine – and I bake a decent amount. Of course my next step is to try a different brand of molasses, but I was curious if you had ever experienced molasses qualities changing due to humidity, weather, or altitude – is it one of those mercurial ingredients?

  107. Jenna

    It was Grandma’s Molasses, original, unsulphured, not blackstrap – which I had thought was pretty much the most basic and common type/brand of molasses out there.

  108. Chris Peacock

    I have just discovered a square 10 inch loose bottomed cake tin, 3 inches deep, at the back of a cupboard. Do you think this will do the trick and should I cook it a bit longer due to the depth of the tin? Looks a great recipe.

  109. Laura P.

    This cake is glorious! I made it yesterday for my daughter’s birthday…she has loved gingerbread since first tasting it at Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia and this is the best recipe I’ve ever made! I followed the recipe as written with the exception of the fresh ginger and it looks exactly like the photo. The cake is incredibly moist, almost fudge-like, none of that crumbly, cakey gingerbread here! I served it with a side of creamy French vanilla ice cream and it was a match made in heaven. Thank you for such a perfect gingerbread recipe!

  110. Karie

    I made this last night, and it was heavenly. My family always likes to eat cake in a bowl of milk and this cake was perfect for milk. It soaked it up like a sponge, which created a amazing texture change from the cake in milk and the cake standing out of iit. Not everyone like to eat cake this way, but for those who do, wow!

    I love so many of your recipes that I keep coming back for more. But when I read about your troubles removing your Christmas ginger cake from the pan, I realized I may have a tip for you.

    You take equal parts flour, shortening, and vegetable or canola oil and mix them together then you use this glop to grease your pan. I actually find I like a little more flour and a little less oil, but it’s very forgiving. Ever since I started using this stuff, I can remove my cakes without problems; I never could before.

    Typically, I mix a cup of shortening, a cup plus a couple tablespoons of flour, and a little less than a cup of canola oil. Then I just store in in a container in my baking bin so I dont have to remix it everytime I bake something. When you do bake a cake, generously use this stuff to grease. I just use my fingers, but I like to cook with my hands.

  111. i just made these with my daughter, she Loves them and so do i :3
    i made half the batch into a dozen cupcakes and let my daughter decorate them with fresh whipped cream and nonpareils :)

  112. felicity

    Yum! I made this the other night and I’m doing my best not to scoff it down in one. I tweaked it slightly, I used extra fresh ginger, including about a tbsp of it coarsely grated. I also added a 1/4 tsp of pepper as it adds to the gingery firey oomph.

  113. Hema

    I was wondering if cake and pastry flour can be used instead of all purpose flour? I have run out of all purpose but have tons of cake and pastry flour and want to use it.

  114. Min

    I tried this using cupcake baking cups. Used non stick spray inside and out of the tins and the cake stuck to the cups anyway. So don’t try that! :)

  115. Rebecca Kahn

    Just made this with 3 small eggs (from my neighbor’s chickens), added 1/8 teaspoon white pepper, definitely used the fresh ginger as well as ground, cut the molasses to 3/4 cup and added 1/4 cup honey (my molasses is the very dark kind, almost bitter, so I thought cutting in some honey might be a good idea), and also I added about 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom, which I love. Black as night, moist, warming, absolutely delicious. I’m having a square with a cup of tea right now, and may I say, goes very well with a cup of Earl Grey!

  116. Jasmine

    The texture of this cake was great. However, the molasses flavor was too strong, and there was almost a bitter strange after taste. I actually used the same brand you have in the picture. Perhaps it had to much baking soda which can also leave an after taste. Should i just cut down the molasses next time then? I usually enjoy the flavor of gingerbread baked goods but not this time.

  117. Catherine

    Just tried this, and I think I should have halved the soda…I could taste it very strongly, though this may be because I also halved the molassas so the cake wouldn’t be as strong. Everything else about the cake was great: spicing was perfect, and the cake crumb was perfect and moist, but if I make this again it’s going to be with much less leavening:-/

  118. I made this and didn’t love it. The flavor was great, but it wasn’t very moist and the texture was kind of weird. I’m sure I must have done something wrong! I want to try again, but I’m not quite sure what to do differently next time.

  119. Hello! Thank you for your recipe. I went full bore and did a cup of molasses and the fresh ginger. Kicks ass. Also…this cake DOES get better after a few days. Friends are amazed and I am now famous. Question (I’m new to baking): why do we do the baking soda in the water first?

  120. Anne Talley

    Are you sure this needs the baking powder? Here’s why I’m asking: both of my tried-and-true gingerbread recipes have similar proportions to this recipe, but they either call for baking powder or baking soda, but not both. I made your recipe today and it fell. Horribly. In fact, in my 45 years of baking, the only flat failures I have ever had have been with snack-cake recipes that call for both baking soda and baking powder.

    So this cake is going in the trash (thanks for the waste of ingredients) and I will instead make my old standby from the 1974 Joy of Cooking.

  121. deb

    Anne — I tend to get a very very slight dip in the middle (you can see in the photos that it’s very minor) but no sinking and this hasn’t been mentioned by others. So, for me, the baking powder works. But, if you have a cake that’s been working for you forever, and this one did not, I definitely understand the desire to go back to it.

  122. Angela

    I tried making this last night and was a little worried when I got to mixing the wet and dry ingredients and the batter was really lumpy. I tried to mix out some of the big chunks but because the recipe said to stir until just combined, I didnt mix the batter longer so as not to overdo it–this was probably a bad call, as my cake turned out pretty visibly lumpy. I think I will stick to the Gramercy Tavern recipe next time.

  123. Melissa

    Just made this cake this afternoon, and oh my word it’s fantastic. I was worried about all of the molasses and ginger, but everything is just perfectly balance. I cut back 1/4 cup on the molasses, since I was worried the blackstrap molasses would overpower everything, and it still turned out well. Next time I’ll use the full cup to see if there is any difference. I added the fresh ginger, even though I typically hate fresh ginger. It added a great kick to the cake, without adding an overpowering ginger flavor. I also threw in a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla for good measure. I’m bookmarking this recipe and making it my go-to gingerbread. I have a feeling this is going to become a classic recipe in my household!

  124. Jessica B

    FINALLY got around to trying out this recipe! Of course, even though I checked to be sure I had molasses, I didn’t check to be sure I had a full cup of molasses. Hopefully it will still come out well! It certainly looks and smells wonderful as it’s finishing up in the oven. ;-)

  125. Michelle G.

    I made this a few weeks ago and I’m making it again tonight to take to a family dinner. It’s so delicious and so quick and easy to throw together. The only problem I had was my fault – I went for the long end of the baking range right off the bat instead of starting with the short end (like I usually do and like everyone should). Oh well. It was still delicious and the dryness was easily covered up with extra whipped cream. :)
    As a note about the fresh ginger: I didn’t have any, but I minced up some of my candied ginger from Trader Joe’s and it worked perfectly!
    Thanks for the great recipe! :)

  126. carol

    In the oven now…. My batter was thin unlike the batter in your picture. Could it be my flour was too fluffy? The batter tasted great. I will keep my fingers crossed.

  127. Kathy

    Oh man, so disappointed. I made this cake for the second time and it fell again. I love the flavor so I will keep making it but I think it has too much baking powder. I will try it again. I baked this second cake for my best friend who is going through some health issues but she will love this cake even with the minor mistake. I do find your recipes to be fail proof and easy for me. But, this one is a challenge I am going to overcome!!

  128. Penny

    I made this last night and it was great. The texture is the most amazing aspect of it and the flavor is exactly what you’re looking for in an actual gingerbread cake, as opposed to the ginger snap flavor you get with gingerbread cookies. I added the raw ginger and it was not too gingery for my family, which includes two children. It was even better this morning and it went off to school with my boys for a mid-morning snack.

    I’m going to try to make this gluten-free and dairy-free!

  129. Niki

    Made it, loved it. Moos, lovely texture (I was worried as I didn’t get a smooth mixture after I added the dry ingredients to the wet but it was perfect) My husband doesn’t like molasses so I now have the whole cake to myself, even better! :) will definitely make again. Thanks!

  130. Niki

    Made it, loved it. Moist, lovely texture (I was worried as I didn’t get a smooth mixture after I added the dry ingredients to the wet but it was perfect) My husband doesn’t like molasses so I now have the whole cake to myself, even better! :) will definitely make again. Thanks!

  131. Jess

    Anybody else find their batter a lot runnier than the pictures? I halved the recipe, and it was not a thick batter like the recipe shows. Hoping it still comes out the same! The batter tasted delicious, nonetheless.

  132. mirandamidas

    I made this last night and although it is really nice, I expected it to be more strongly ginger flavoured. I feel this is a really nice spice cake rather than a gingerbread. (I did add the fresh ginger as well, but think it’s the powdered ginger I will increase next time, and reduce the cloves a bit). It has a gorgeously light texture and soft crumb. Mine rose beautifully, although there is a small dip in one part, but it doesn’t matter once it’s cut up! My batter was wetter than Deb’s pics like many other commenters have noted, but it didn’t matter at all. I’m adding a simple lemon icing to the top of the cake today as I feel it does need something, and whipped cream is too formal for a snacking cake for me! Thanks for the recipe Deb.

  133. Pam

    Just had my first piece after letting this bad boy cool a bit and it is SO good. I was scared about the molasses (like some of you also mentioned), but it’s not bitter at all. The ginger and spices balance out the molasses perfectly. Yes, the batter is runny than pictured in Deb’s recipe, but makes no difference!

    I love ginger but left out the freshly grated ginger out of laziness. I still get a great ginger flavor, but would love to try adding in fresh as well next time.

    I goofed and melted the butter separate from the other ingredients, adding in after the molasses mixture. Made no difference! This recipe is pretty hard to screw up I think :)

  134. Jessie

    I made this for a holiday party – very easy to make even though I’ve never worked with molasses before. It’s easy to share and delicious!!

  135. Okay, this is me being anal, but I hope you’ll understand.

    I’ve made this as well as the Gramercy Tavern one in the past, but not in the same year, I think, so I don’t seem able to compare the taste. So I’m comparing the ingredients just now, and the amounts of flour and sweetener leave me stumped. This one: 2.5c flour + 0.67c dark brown sugar + 1c molasses. That one: 2c flour + 1c white sugar + 1c dark brown sugar + 1c molasses. Isn’t that insane?! Both have 1c liquid and don’t differ in fat all that much — 0.5c butter vs 0.75c oil. What’s a girl to make of this? Is it the difference in liquid ie water vs stout? Is stout really bitter, so the GT one needs more sugar — is that the explanation?

    Now that I write that, I remember the GT one being QUITE sweet, but I think I had put that down to using Grandma’s (dark?) molasses rather than blackstrap? (I do use blackstrap sometimes even when the recipe says not to, I’ve never regretted it.)

    I will make one or the other in the coming days, but shaking my head until then…

    Happy holidays and a happy new year to you Deb! Thanks for another year of such high quality work :)

  136. And an addendum. I’ve also made Heidi’s gingerbread once, and liked it as well. (Can you tell that I really like molasses? And that’s before we even get to cookies with molasses.) And she explicitly lists blackstrap, which is what emboldened me to use it in the first place, I think. She also adds honey though. I’ll leave it to you to compare proportions if you like, I’m done with that craziness for the moment :)

  137. Wendy Norwood

    This cake is absolutely delicious. I have tweaked it a bit to our taste, but every version is awesome. I substitute 1/3 cup of honey and reduce molasses to 2/3 cup which SK suggested. I also sub. coconut sugar for brown sugar (1:1) which you won’t notice a bit. I leave out cloves and nutmeg to increase flavor of ginger and cinnamon (which is just our family’s fav.). Thank you SK!!!!

  138. Kristin

    Made this tonight — SO good!! I can’t believe I’ve never made gingerbread before. I only had a 9×9 baking dish, so mine was extra tall and took almost an extra 20 minutes of baking time (I was keeping a careful eye on the temperature and it was usually hovering somewhere around 325). But the end result is incredibly moist, with a super-thin, chewy crust on top. The spice/molasses intensity is perfect for my taste, but yeah, this is a verrrryy molasses-y cake. I might even increase the fresh ginger next time.

  139. Georgina

    I made this for Thanksgiving and it was delicious. I substituted a good stout for the water, and baked in (2) 8″ round cake pans for 30 minutes. I made sure to butter the pans, line with parchment, and butter again. I also let cool completely before removing from the pans. No problems with cake sticking or sinking. I’ve made the GT gingerbread cake without any issues, but this one was perfect for a small gathering, and just as tasty :)

  140. Tried this today for my mother in law’s birthday and it was a hit! only thing is next time I’m adding more spices and more raw ginger and ginger powder…we like our cakes heavy with spice!

  141. Francesca

    I’m so excited to make gingerbread cake this winter season! I was wondering if you have tried Claudia Fleming’s Gramercy Tavern recipe as a sheet cake like this or if you think it would work. I saw you converted it into a layer cake with frosting, but I like the idea of something more simple.

  142. Carolyn

    I just made this and my kids, who I would have bet cash money would hate it, devoured half already. I didn’t do the full amount of fresh ginger, just maybe a teaspoon worth.

  143. Anne at Large

    I made this for the first time today, it just came out of the oven and the first slice was lovely and light. I did it in a 9” cake pan and halved the recipe and it took about 25 minutes. Great quick treat, I was rooting for a darker more ginger-heavy flavor so I may up both gingers next time. But just a tasty, easy little cake with great texture. Looking forward to a slice with vanilla ice cream later!

  144. Vanessa

    I wanted to love this but for me it was just really lacking the depth of flavor of the Gramercy Tavern classic, even with the fresh ginger and full amount of molasses. I also feel super mixed about making that cake because it’s such a persnickety recipe, but when I tasted this I realized that the beer is really necessary for effective gingerbread magic.

  145. Anita W

    This cake was my plan B when I wanted a Xmas treat for the kids to decorate but didn’t have a rolling pin to make gingerbread cookies — and it was so much easier and faster (I made it without the fresh ginger). We topped it with royal icing and mini candies. It didn’t last 24 hours…

  146. Crissy

    I made this today because my craving for Gingerbread got the best of me. Just wanted to thank you for being obsessive in testing your recipes and adding notes so I can fine tune them for my tastes. I love how easy this was and was eating a piece in less than an hour from when I started. I making more in cupcake form tomorrow to bring to work.

  147. Susan Mc

    Hi, Deb! I’m coming to the party a bit late, but I’m wondering: Can you use a bundt pan for this recipe? Or will it stubbornly cling to the sides of the pan? Inquiring minds are dying to know! Thanks

    1. Echo

      I just made this in a bundt pan and it worked very well. I oiled and floured the tin and it came out fine after sitting for 10mins before turning out.

  148. tessajmccall

    So good. Second time I’ve made this, and I dont have a flour sifter, so there were some flour pockets on the first attempt, and I only half attempted to flour with a colander, and it still turned out excellent. I meant to be done with gingerbread in December, but here we are, January needed a little love too.

  149. Jane Vincent

    Hello. I am just about ready to try your adaptation of Martha Stewart’s Gingerbread Snacking Cake. As I look at the photo of all the ingredients lined up my eye immediately fell on the Vietnamese cinnamon. Reading somewhere that Vietnamese cinnamon is the best in the world I decided to ask my son, who lives in VN to get me some. I now have about a pound of cinnamon! I am very hesitant to use it as it just smells so different from what I am used to buying here in Canada and I’m nervous as to how it might change the flavor of my baked goods. I would really appreciated your thoughts on this. Thanks so much!

  150. Robert

    This caught my eye the other day, I made it tonight and it turned out beautifully. Very quick and easy recipe, and I already had everything needed in the pantry and fridge, which is a bonus. Used treacle instead of molasses, and included the fresh ginger. Mine was perfectly cooked after only 25 min in the specified pan. As others found, batter was quite lumpy after stirring in the dry ingredients, so I used a whisk. The finished cake is absolutely moreish – not too sweet, good amount of spice, very light crumb with a beautifully chewy exterior. You have a wonderful blog by the way!

  151. Mom24

    I baked my cake, I’ve made it before, I checked it at 30 minutes, it needed a bit more time, and when I checked it again it had completely sunken. Why???

  152. Virginia

    I’m wondering whether anyone has tried substituting coffee or tea for the hot water in this recipe, to add in a little complexity. I made it once last year and it was very good — debating whether I want to experiment this morning or play it safe!

  153. erinfae

    ++very important question++
    ok, so i bought the molasses pictured above (since i couldn’t get to my brer rabbit classic) and looked at the ingredients and saw that it’s blackstrap, not regular. Do you find any difference in this brand? I want to make gingerbread (cookies, in my case) but I don’t want it to fail

  154. muppditt

    Who’s here during #pandemic2020?! All kidding aside, it was my mister’s birthday today and he’s in quarantine in his room (cell LOL). I’m not allowed to go out because I’m immunosuppressed :( Thank you to Smitten Kitchen for this recipe where I could use that 5 year old jar of molasses in the back of my cupboard, and a bunch of the fresh ginger I had stocked up on to make his birthday at least a little bit special despite the circumstances. PS: I was REALLY tempted to go out and take the risk to buy some heavy whipping cream but reason won out.

  155. Victoria Davis

    This was delicious. I made it Gluten free by subbing 1.5 cups Bobs Red Mill cup for cup GF flour, a half a cup of oat flour and a half a cup of almond flour. It was delicious with chewy, crisp edges. My non-GF family loved it.

  156. Christina H.

    I love me a spicy ginger molasses cookie, so this recipe seemed right up my alley. I wanted to bake it in an 8×8 so I did two-thirds of the recipe (used the King Arthur ingredients weight table and weighed all the ingredients) and it turned out beautifully. I also used half blackstrap molasses and half date molasses. The batter was runnier than the photos, as other reviewers experienced, but this did not negatively affect the result. The cake has a beautiful crumb and smells and tastes like Christmas. If you love a spicy gingery molasses cookie, do not skimp on the fresh ginger or molasses measurements!!

  157. Jesse H.

    I usually make gingerbread solely to make the house smell delicious during the holiday season–my whole family dislikes the taste of it in general, so we usually give it away. This recipe, however, is delightful! Not overly sweet, not dry, not painfully spicy. We added 2/3 cup dried cranberries & 1 cup chopped walnuts to one half (split the recipe into 2-9in round pans) and it gives it a perfect crunch & tartness that gingerbread always longs for. Delightful!

  158. Alexis Allen

    Just made this (with the fresh ginger added) and it was perfect! Definitely intensely gingery but even the 4.5 year old loved it (and he ate his sans whipped cream so there wasn’t even anything to dampen the intensity). Love that it can be made in one pot and halved easily! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  159. June Macdonald

    Sooo good. If I didn’t have so Christmas cookies plus apples that need baking into cake I’d be making this again. Nice and spicy and keeps well.

  160. kat

    This was such a forgiving recipe. Despite adding the eggs in after everything was already combined, and forgetting the salt, it still tasted great and baked beautifully. I upped the spices as others suggested, and it’s perfectly gingerbready and goes great with whipped cream.

  161. emilie

    This is the best gingerbread!! I didn’t have molasses or dark brown sugar so I used what I had on hand – Steen’s cane syrup and light brown sugar. I can’t imagine that it could come out any better with the printed ingredients!

    I baked it Christmas day and since there were only 4 of us, I have leftover cake – and it’s better 2 days later than it was the day it was baked! I will confess that I topped it with a lemon/honey/ginger glaze instead of powdered sugar. Delicious!!

    Thanks for the recipe.

  162. Sharon

    This was absolutely amazing!!!! I love anything ginger. I made this for my sons birthday and I am ashamed to say he asked my BF why so much of his cake was gone. I don’t normally pig on anything but I just could not stop eating this!!!!

  163. Catherine

    It took me how many years to make this? Let’s not talk about that. I was (and still am) a devotee to the Gramercy Tavern gingerbread, despite its difficulties. Earlier today I figured I would try this version and it did not disappoint! It’s like a slightly tamer sibling- almost as dark and intense- but much more user friendly (and preggo-friendly, as my sister is in that category now). Will definitely make this again! And soon! :D

    1. Catherine

      P.S. I realize this posted in EST, so I guess technically this was “yesterday” (I’m on the west coast). Anywho- I served this with a bourbon-spiked, barely sweetened whipped cream and sprinkled over some turbinado sugar for crunch. Do it.

  164. Amanda Pollon

    Made this because my husband had a gingerbread craving. Didn’t skimp on the ginger but he still thought we could stronger. After it sat for a day though the ginger is perfect. It really does get better with age.
    Next time I will probably add crystallized ginger, stirred into the batter just before pouring into the pan.

  165. Rebecca

    Ok so… the recipe says the batter will fill two 9-in round pans or two 8-in square. Had one of each and prepared both but found the batter filled the one 9-inch pan quite nicely , like a normal cake, not overflowing, and there was definitely not enough batter for the second pan.

    Which is fine I only want one cake but… did I miss something? Am I in for a surprise later ? It’s in the oven now. I guess … stay tuned.

    (I did add some extra spice and crystallized ginger at the end )

  166. Rebecca

    Ok it came out fine; rose normally and is kind of spongey. A little on the gummy side. Maybe should have done half in each pan. Definitely needs whipped cream or an icing of some kind

  167. Angela

    Sharing my secret additional ingredient after having made and loved this cake so many times: a half cup of chocolate chips. Try it!

  168. Christine

    This cake is delicious! I made it last night with the intention to share in the office today HOWEVER I embarrassed about how much had already been eaten (intentional use of passive voice) so instead brought a piece for my dessert after lunch. Anyways, I forgot to bring some whip to eat with it so I just ordered a single shot con panna and am dunking the cake in the coffee and just want to share that this is a lovely way to enjoy the gingerbread snacking cake. One note and one question: I’m a newer baker so this tip might be obvious to others but I sifted my dry ingredients together and then dumped into the wet rather than following the step to sift over the wet. This was a mistake as I have little chunks here and there of dry ingredients, so next time will sift into the wet ingredients. Also, I keep thinking this would be good with coffee in it but not sure what to adjust to do that–could I boil coffee instead of water in step 1?

    1. emilie

      If you want to add coffee, the easiest thing to do is add instant espresso (preferred) or instant coffee. I made this recipe awhile back and it was delicious – even more so a couple of days later.

  169. Michele

    This is indeed a fabulous gingerbread. I’ve tossed out my old recipe. However, I’ve made it 3 times now. Twice without the baking powder and one time with. Seems the baking powder causes it to sink in the middle. Curious if anyone else has experienced this

  170. I have made this several times successfully using chopped stem ginger instead of fresh. Do you think it would be possible to substitute some of the syrup from the stem ginger for some or all of the water in this recipe?

  171. Emily

    This was excellent. I cut the recipe in half and baked in an 8×8 pan for 30 min. Made as written with two tweaks: 1) I buttered the pan/parchment and then coated with granulated sugar instead of flour. Cake released beautifully and had an amazing sugar crust on the edges. 2) Added about 1/2 tsp ground black pepper to the spices. Yum. So happy to have this in my collection! Thank you!