5 from 14 votes

This cozy gingerbread cake is perfectly spiced and topped with a velvety brown sugar whipped cream, bringing the warmth and sweetness of the holidays with every bite.

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Traditional Gingerbread is truly something special! It looks like a cross between cake and a quick bread, and it kind of is. Gingerbread has a deep molasses flavor, and is full of cozy spices making it a perfect treat for the holidays. Serve it as a dessert for a party with a dollop of whipped cream, or tuck pieces into a festive tin for holiday gifting!

Gingerbread slice on a small plate with brown sugar whipped cream on and cinnamon on top and a small glass of milk nearby.
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When you think about gingerbread, your mind probably goes straight to Gingerbread Cookies. But gingerbread has a long, interesting history, dating all the way back to the 10th century! I won’t bore you with all the details, but when gingerbread crossed the Atlantic to the Americas, people here began using molasses to make it. The moisture in the molasses resulted in a soft, cake-like gingerbread, just like the old-fashioned gingerbread cake recipe I’m sharing today.

With a dollop of whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon, this is a classic dessert for any holiday celebration!

Recipe At a Glance

Cuisine Inspiration: American
Primary Cooking Method: Oven
Dietary Info: Vegetarian
Key Flavor: Warm and cozy
Skill Level: Easy


  • Fantastic Holiday Flavor: Gingerbread is one of those flavors we associate with the holiday season, although the blend of warm, cozy spices is perfect from the beginning of fall all the way through the end of winter!
  • Easy to Make: If you’ve ever made a snack cake, this is similar. The batter comes together quickly, it’s all baked in a pan, and there’s no layering or frosting required.
  • Moist, Tender Crumb: Although the flavor is almost the same, the texture of this gingerbread recipe is the exact opposite of gingerbread cookies. We’re trading crispiness for a soft cake-like texture.
  • Gets Better With Age: This is one of those magical recipes where a day or two of storage actually makes it taste even better. Plus, wrapped gingerbread will last a full week at room temperature!

Ingredients you’ll need to make gingerbread

Ingredients for recipe: heavy cream, brow sugar, vanilla, butter, spices, egg, rising agents, molasses, and flour.
  • Unsalted Butter: Using unsalted butter gives you more control over the flavor of the finished gingerbread. 
  • Brown Sugar: I use light brown sugar.
  • Egg: Let the egg come to room temperature; it will hold more air when beaten, resulting in a lighter texture. 
  • Molasses: I recommend using light or medium unsulfured molasses in this gingerbread cake recipe.
  • All-Purpose Flour: I like to use unbleached all-purpose flour in my baking.
  • Salt: For balance and enhancing the recipe’s flavor.
  • Baking Soda and Baking Powder: These help the gingerbread rise.
  • Spices: Ground cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.
  • Hot Water: Using hot water gives a boost to the leavening power of the baking powder and soda, but even more importantly, it helps thin out the thick molasses so it’s evenly distributed throughout the cake batter.

For the Whipped Topping

  • Heavy Cream: When making whipped cream, you can’t substitute a lower-fat dairy product. Heavy cream is a must!
  • Brown Sugar: As with the gingerbread cake recipe, I used light brown sugar here.
  • Salt: To balance the flavors.
  • Vanilla Extract: Vanilla complements the flavor of the gingerbread without competing with it.
  • Swap the Whipped Topping for Cream Cheese Frosting. You can use the frosting recipe from my Cream Cheese Vanilla Cupcakes.
  • Dust It With Powdered Sugar. Another alternative to the topping is to simply dust the cake with powdered sugar.
  • Use Store-Bought Whipped Topping. For a shortcut, use frozen whipped topping or canned whipped cream.
  • Add Some Garnishes. Sugared cranberries, candied ginger, caramel sauce, and Candied Pecans are the perfect finishing touch when you’re serving this old-fashioned gingerbread cake recipe for a party.

How to make gingerbread

Aside from adding hot water to the batter, this moist gingerbread recipe is almost identical to making a simple snack or loaf cake.

Make the gingerbread batter

  1. Add the butter and brown sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and cream them together until combined.
  2. Add the egg and molasses and mix again.
  3. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add them to the bowl with the wet ingredients; mix to combine.
  4. With the mixer on, slowly pour in the hot water.

Bake the gingerbread cake

  • Transfer the batter to a baking pan lined with parchment paper and smooth the top.
  • Bake the gingerbread until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
2 image collage of gingerbread cake batter in a rectangular pan before and after baking.

Tips for the best old-fashioned gingerbread cake recipe

  1. Let the Butter Come to Room Temperature. If you’ve ever forgotten to do this and tried using cold butter, you know the result: the butter sticks to the beaters or paddle attachment instead of blending and you get little bits of unmixed butter throughout the batter. Softened butter mixes into the batter easily!
  2. Make Sure Everything Is Cold for the Whipped Topping. Cold heavy cream, a cold (preferably metal!) bowl, and a cold whisk attachment will help your whipped cream come together faster and hold its shape well. You can pop the bowl and whisk attachment right in the freezer while the cake bakes.
  3. Don’t Use Blackstrap Molasses. Blackstrap molasses is much more bitter than other varieties. It can be a great addition to savory foods, but it’s overpowering in gingerbread.
  4. Use Fresh Spices. The herbs and spices in your pantry won’t spoil like other foods do; instead, they lose their flavor and aroma over time. In this simple gingerbread cake recipe, where the spices are a key component, you want to make sure they’re fresh and flavorful! The best way to tell is to simply open the jar and smell them—if they don’t have much of an aroma, they won’t have much flavor either.
Gingerbread in cake pan cut into squares.

How to store gingerbread

Store gingerbread wrapped in the pan, in an airtight container, or wrap individual pieces in plastic wrap. To keep it moist, store it at room temperature; it will keep for up to a week and sometimes even longer.

How long will gingerbread last in the fridge?

Gingerbread can last up to two weeks in the refrigerator, but the downside is that it’s more prone to drying out when stored this way.

Can I freeze this gingerbread cake recipe?

Yes, you can store gingerbread in the freezer for up to 3 months. For maximum freshness, I recommend wrapping the pieces in plastic wrap individually, then placing them in an airtight container or freezer bag. Let them thaw at room temperature before serving.

Frequently asked questions

Why is my gingerbread cake dry?

Gingerbread cake is usually moist thanks to the brown sugar and molasses, so if yours turns out dry, it was either baked too long or your oven may run hot. You can salvage dry gingerbread cake by making it into a trifle!

Can I use dark molasses to make this gingerbread cake recipe?

Yes, you can! While I recommend avoiding blackstrap molasses, and do prefer light or medium molasses, you can use dark molasses if you want a stronger flavor.

What’s the difference between sulfured and unsulfured molasses?

Sulfured molasses (also known as sulphured molasses—the ‘ph’ spelling is British) is more processed; it’s treated with sulfur dioxide, which changes its flavor. Most bakers prefer unsulfured molasses for this reason.

2 small plates with a slice of gingerbread topped with soft whipped cream and ground cinnamon.

This old-fashioned gingerbread recipe will spice up your holiday season—literally! With cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, along with rich molasses and brown sugar, it’s full of those cozy flavors we all crave this time of year.

More cake recipes:

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This cozy gingerbread cake is perfectly spiced and topped with a velvety brown sugar whipped cream, bringing the warmth and sweetness of the holidays with every bite.
5 from 14 votes
Servings 16 slices
Course Dessert
Calories 318
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 23 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 38 minutes
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  • ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup hot water

For the whipped topping

  • 1 ½ cup heavy cream very cold
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 13×9 baking dish with parchment paper.
  • Add butter and brown sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and cream together until well combined. Add molasses and egg and mix again.
  • Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices in a separate bowl. Add to the butter-molasses mixture. Continue mixing until just combined. With the mixer still on, slowly pour the hot water into your batter and mix until smooth.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 23-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • While the cake is baking, make the whipped topping. Add heavy cream, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt to a medium bowl and use a hand mixer on high speed to whip until medium to stiff peaks form.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Carefully remove from the pan and cut into 16 equal slices. Serve cake warm topped with whipped topping and an extra dash of cinnamon.


Calories: 318kcal, Carbohydrates: 45g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 52mg, Sodium: 209mg, Potassium: 378mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 30g, Vitamin A: 523IU, Vitamin C: 0.1mg, Calcium: 93mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine American
Course: Dessert
5 from 14 votes (12 ratings without comment)

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  1. Anwaar says:

    Hello, Yumna,

    Can I use dates molasses in this recipe? If no what is the alternative as molasses in not available in my country.

    Thank you.

    1. Yumna says:

      Yes, that should work out well!

      1. Anwaar says:

        I did the recipe today and it turned out great. The date molasses with the species gave it an amazing taste. So good 😋
        Can’t wait to try your other pound cake and bread recipes.

  2. Sabs says:

    The cake was still giggly at the 25 minute mark. I think the timing is really off here. I had to bake it for another 15 minutes or so…
    As far as the taste goes… The house smells amazing with the aroma of the spices.
    The cake is really good! Makes for a really good simple cake to serve with tea or simply eat it for breakfast.
    Made this for a party. Can’t wait to hear the guest’s feedback.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Thank you so much for the feedback, what size pan did you use? Is it possible your oven is not true to temperature?