This homemade gingerbread cake is just like the old-fashioned classic with the addition of fresh ginger in addition to the usual gingerbread ingredients. A sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar or a dollop of cinnamon-spiced whipped cream makes it even more irresistible.
How often do we forget the memory of the joys of eating gingerbread warm from the oven as children? The baking cake would fill our house with the scent of exotic spices and make us salivate. It was torture to have to wait long enough for it to cool so it wouldn’t become a burning mass in our mouths. We couldn’t get enough whipped cream and would pile dollop after dollop on top of our fragrant warm brown squares before my mother would pull it away from us. Fresh ginger adds a pungent note to this sweet bread, much more so than using only powdered. This gingerbread also bakes beautifully in a small decorative pans such as a fancy Bundt.–Maria Helm Sinskey
Homemade Gingerbread Cake
For the gingerbread
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons (6 oz) unsalted butter room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger (use a microplane) juices included but discard any tough fibers
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
- 1 cup buttermilk (either low-fat or full-fat)
- Confectioners’ sugar (optional)
Make the gingerbread
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Butter and lightly flour a square 9-by-9-by-3-inch (23-by-23-by-8-cm) cake pan or a 10-inch (25-cm) round cake pan.
☞TESTER TIP: Avoid using a dark-colored pan. It browns the sides and bottom of the cake too much.
- In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, cloves, and salt.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the grated ginger and beat well for 15 seconds. Add the eggs, 1 at a time one, beating well after each addition.
☞TESTER TIP: Grate the ginger on the fine side of a grater and try to leave most of the fibers behind when taking away the juice and the pulp.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the molasses and buttermilk. Add the flour and molasses mixtures to the butter mixture in 2 additions each, beating after each addition just until the ingredients are combined before adding the next.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top with a spatula, and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool the cake in the pan placed on a wire rack for 10 minutes. If desired, remove the cake from the pan and let it cool completely.
Make the soft whipped cream (optional)
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream, confectioners' sugar, if using, and vanilla, until softly mounded. Place a dollop on top of each serving of cake.
Serve the gingerbread
- Sprinkle the cake with confectioners' sugar or serve with a generous dollop of soft cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Hands-down one of the best gingerbread recipes I’ve ever tasted. This is the sort of recipe that will please everyone around your holiday table and will be requested year after year, guaranteed! This homemade gingerbread cake is so tasty I wonder why we need to wait until holiday time to make it?!
I love this sort of recipe because if you have a well-stocked pantry, you most likely already have all of the ingredients on hand. Not only is the fragrant combination of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves perfect in this batter, the moist crumb of the cake (thanks to the buttermilk, baking soda, and powder) is unlike any other gingerbread I’ve ever tasted. I think of a traditional gingerbread as a dense-ish cake, but this cake’s crumb is pillowy and super moist. I will be dog-earring this recipe to make again when family comes to town in December!
I did add the confectioners’ sugar to the whipped cream. I left my butter out on the counter for about 4 hours so that it was truly at room temperature when I needed it and that made the creaming process go smoothly and quickly. As for grating the ginger, I find the best way to grate fresh ginger root is with a microplane grater.
Lovely served with a soft, vanilla-scented whipped cream. I can also see this fragrant cake being lovely with vanilla ice cream or even a warm crème anglaise. I made it in a 9×9-inch cake pan and it easily serves 10 people.
Usually when I bring a cake to work, I take a few slices home at the end of the day. Not this time. This gingerbread cake was gone, not even a crumb left, after only a few hours. Needless to say, it’s good. The flavor is crazy gingery, the cake is tender and moist, and the recipe is easy to make. That’s a win in my book.
It’s intensely gingery the day it’s baked and mellows as it sits. Neither is better and neither is worse. It’s all delicious. The other spices are there, too, so no worries about a one-trick pony here. I skipped the whipped cream part (I’m lactose intolerant and didn’t want the temptation or the stomach ache) and the cake is delicious on its own.
I baked the ginger cake in a 9-inch-square pan and it was perfectly baked in 45 minutes. The suggested timings are correct. A sensible person could get up to 16 servings from this cake, but 9 seems more realistic.
I don’t know what prompted me to ask how anyone would feel if I made a homemade gingerbread cake, but the response was unanimously positive, so I went in search of a gingerbread recipe that called out to me. Who could resist this one with fresh ginger and soft cream? Certainly not me! I was especially attracted to the 3 tablespoons of grated fresh ginger, which proved to be a big plus.
The gingerbread had a lovely texture and added an appealing zing that sweet gingerbread can lack. My ginger was young, fresh, and tender, and had almost none of the fibers it was suggested to leave behind. My baking time was 49 minutes. It was hard to wait to taste this. “Cool completely” simply did not happen!
I served it with both plenty of whipped cream and also a dish of lingonberry preserves. I would always prefer my whipped cream without the addition of either or both the confectioners’ sugar or the vanilla, but everyone else preferred it with both of these additions.
While I have a Bundt pan collection, I was not traveling with a Bundt pan. I had both suggested pans available to me and selected the 9-inch square over the loaf pan.
I hadn’t made a gingerbread or cake in a long time, but the combination of fresh and powdered ginger is a great intensifier of one of our favorite ingredients and is worth returning to.
I used dark muscavado sugar for my dark brown sugar. I didn’t have the suggested 9-by-9-inch pan but my Pyrex 8-by-8 is actually about 8 1/2 inches square at the top and it worked pretty well. A 10-inch round would have been a good substitution but mine was quite deep and I didn’t want to risk a broken cake when I turned it out. At 45 minutes it was perfect and easily came out of the baking dish which I had prepared with buttered parchment. So definitely do NOT overbake.
The second time, I used 4 tablespoons grated ginger, 2 teaspoons ground ginger and I increased the cloves, although that may dance too close to spice cake for some folks. The cake is moist and just as nice the next day as it was the evening it came out of the oven. Adding a piece of crystalized preserved ginger with the cream makes this officially a triple gingerbread! When shared with friends who are good cooks, and they gave it a thumbs up as well for “very good, great fresh ginger flavor and texture” and they served it with a dab of cream cheese, both at room temp and toasted.
So maybe we are ginger freaks, but this is a winner.
This recipe produced a moist homemade gingerbread cake and soft whipped cream. We ate it with some sliced, sugared peaches and it was delish! Lemon curd would be nice with it, of course.
I thought I had done a good job of keeping ginger fibers out of the mix, but there were a lot of them caught on the bottom of the mixer paddle after mixing the batter. I used an oval baking dish 24 mm by 34 mm and that worked fine.
Originally published September 1, 2013