The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Floydm's picture


I baked gingerbread for the first time last night. Yum.


I was amazed at how good the house smelled when I came home from work today. It really smells festive, like the holidays are here, even 24 hours after baking it.

I looked at a few different recipes before settling on something closest to the recipe from the Joy of Cooking.

Gingerbread Makes 1 large or 3 small loaves

1 3/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt (can be omitted if using salted butter)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup molasses
1/2 cup warm water
3 tablespoons crystalized ginger, 1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the butter, egg, brown sugar, and molasses in a bowl and stir until combined. Mix in the dry ingredients, then add hot water and stir until just combined.

Pour batter into greased baking pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, between 30 and 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan.


Bakenstein's picture

Thanks for the recipe and for describing the intoxicating aromas.

Sure beats artificial candles and sprays. Yuk!

The essential oils of ginger,cinnamon and cloves are released with a gradual rise in temperature in the batter so their aromatic qualities are preserved. The heat of the oven then distibutes their complex constituents aloft throughout your entire home.
Spices were always used especially to fight off illness as they pocess powerful antiviral and bacterial properties. The spices and culinary herbs were our first medicines since we began to walk the earth.
All older recipes use these spices freely as we should try to also for our good health's sake. There is a spirit uplifting as well that can't be duplicated. It puts the Cheer in the Holidays!

Bart's picture

I will try this one!

vistawinds's picture


This was the best. Growing up Gingerbread was more cake like= this is GINGERBREAD. Now, the help part. I recently moved to Ireland. They only molasses I can find is black trecle. It is like black strap found in the US. I went ahead and used a cup. Very strong, too strong of flavor of trecle. Tho the color- it was so dark and rich, almost black in color. There is no corn syrup available- I can find cane syrup, which is fabulous in flavor. Any ideas on what I can reduce the trecle too, and what to use as the balance? Gingerbread is one of my favorite "scents". I can't wait to make this again. Thanks for this site. Alison


apprentice's picture

Hi Alison, you've already got some great possible solutions from others. Thought I'd chime in with thoughts from an English book I have. Basically the authors say you can use any of the liguid sweetners alone or in combination with each other (black treacle, golden syrup, malt syrup, honey). Or you can combine one or more of the liquid sweeteners with some sugar (usually brown or Demerara).

But I hope you didn't throw your first all-treacle gingerbread away. Wrap it well in foil and store it in an airtight tin for about a week before cutting into it again. The flavours will develop, mingle and mature. You might end up being a convert to the darker gingerbreads!

PaddyL's picture

Couldn't you use a mixture of treacle and golden syrup instead of all treacle?  I once made a gingerbread with all blackstrap molasses and had to pitch it out as the taste was not at all sweet, just bitter.  If you used a mixture, I would think you'd have enough sweetness without the bitterness of the treacle.

woefulbaker's picture

Yes treacle and golden syrup is an excellent combination!

I also sometimes put in a few grinds of black pepper to add extra spice (it works, really it does!)

Also, much like Parkin (and other melted mixture baked goods) the gingerbread improves if you leave it for a week or so (wrap it well and store in an airtight container). 

vistawinds's picture

Would you sugest 50% ratio, or ? golden syrup is so very sweet. I did use it in place of corn syrup for my bourbon pecan pie and it was fab! Thanks for the help-sometimes I feel like I have had to learn how to cook all over again with all the subsitutions I have been making. Thanks

woefulbaker's picture

but I may have a sweeter tooth than you...I  made it with 100% molasses when I was in the states which turned out dark and delicious so I don't think it matters the precise ratio but there is something about the dark bitter/sweet nature of treacle that goes so well with the spices.

If you can wait that long, do try to store some and let it 'ripen', the flavours will definitely improve much the same way fruitcake does and perhaps take the 'bitter' edge off the taste.





sannimiti's picture

maybe you'd like to try out another recipe. i'Ll post tomorrow! I hope you'l ll enjoy.

MaryinHammondsport's picture

I hope you do post your German gingerbread recipe, and I am sure I'm not alone.

I love gingerbread of all types!


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

to the above recipe but Austrian Gingerbread has no molasses.  Uses unrefined sugar and honey.  Also allowed to sit in cool temp from several days to a month, then baked. 

Mini O

Oldcampcook's picture

Mini Oven,

Are we speaking of Lebkuchen or is the Austrian a different creature?


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

But the other day, I was visiting Villa Vanilla (Link) and had some excellent Ginger Sugar cookies (and other culinary treasures), a soft chewy cookie with just the right amount of ginger.  Smelling all those fresh spices was not only informative but a delight!  And forget chocolate chips, I'm going for roasted beans from now on!  Whack 'em with my Indo Garlic Press and have a better life. Yep, that's the way to go!  Oops, this is not a cookie thread is it? 


Lyne's picture

I've been browsing through your website, and lo and behold you have a gingerbread recipe.  I started off with the simple white bread, next week end I am going to try the white bread with milk and sugar, but, but, I just saw your gingerbread loaf, and it looks like the bread that mom used to make called "pain d'épices". As I recall she made it with honey instead of molasses, but I am going to try this one just because it wounds so yummy and it would be perfect to take it to my friend's house for tea.  I will let you know how it turns out.

SulaBlue's picture

I came across this recipe for gingerbread late last year, just in time for the holidays. It turned out so, so, SO delicious! It comes out more cake-like than the OP recipe, but mmmm, the chunks of ginger and raisins gave it such a wonderful mouth-feel with hidden little bits of 'zing' when you'd get a bit of minced ginger! I made mine without the icing.

Beverly Whipple's picture
Beverly Whipple

My mother use to make ginger bread with peaches and whipped cream on top for a desert. You wouldn't think it went together but it is very delicious. You can use canned peaches too.   Beverly

caseymcm's picture

There are a lot of recipes out there for a triple ginger cake or bread.  I've always done it as a cake, but would like to try something closer to bread.  I'm a huge ginger fan and the combination of dried-ground, fresh-grated, and candied chunks of ginger is totally blissful.

I once made this cake underway in rough seas sailing on a 40 ft yacht from Ensenada to San Diego for the birthday of a crewmate.  Ginger is a well known remedy for sea sickness so I figured it was a good choice.

Come to think of it, this bread would be a good gift for a newly pregnant friend or neighbor who may have morning sickness.

Nick Shepherd's picture
Nick Shepherd

That does look good. Isn't it amazing what cooking and baking do to a home? The good eats, the great smells, and the family enjoying the scene. Well, I think I will ask my wife to make some gingerbread tonight. Can't wait.

pgpalmer's picture

Hello,  I made this recipe in a large loaf pan.  It fell in the middle.  I had opened the oven to test it after about 30 minutes and it wasn't done.  Then about 15 minutes later I looked in the oven and the middle of the loaf had sunk.  What did I do wrong?

I might add that it is delicious despite the sunken middle.  Thanks.

clairedenver's picture

I baked this today putting the batter into two regular bread pans as I was concerned the whole thing would overflow.  However, they both fell in the middle!  I think they are still tasty (a bit stongly molasses flavored) so will cut into squares and make a parfait with whipped cream. 

I do love gingerbread and there are so many good reviews so will try this again.  And put the batter into one pan!  C

jcawn's picture


I am making a loaf right now using the 'joy of cooking' , but before I got too far into it I thought I should look at fresh loaf for a bread maker's ginger bread.

Thanks, I was wondering how much the baking time would change, since the joy recipe uses a 9x9 pan.

melbournebread's picture

For those of you experiencing a "too-strong" molasses flavour, be aware that molasses comes in three grades.

1) "first molasses" aka mild/barbados

2) "second molasses" aka dark

3) "third molasses" aka black strap

Black strap molasses is NOT for baking gingerbread!  It's more a health food supplement because it's got the greatest concentration of minerals but it's also the most bitter version.  You don't usually see a distinction on the label between first and second molasses, but if it doesn't say "black strap" it should be ok to bake with.

I live in Australia now (grew up in the USA) so I have to find my molasses at health food stores or American import stores.  Health food stores usually only sell black strap, unfortunately.  I had to buy my latest bottle of Grandma's brand at an American food shop!

Also, molasses isn't as sweet as most sugars, so if you're going to replace some molasses, use less sugar.  e.g. if you decided to use only 1/2c molasses in the above recipe, personally I'd replace the other 1/2c with about 1/3c brown sugar or honey.

pmccool's picture

I beg to differ!  I've had wonderful gingerbreads made with blackstrap molasses.  For most people, it's a very clear yes/no decision as to whether they like blackstrap molasses but for those who do, it's wonderful stuff.  Ah, gingerbread!  Warm, with some lemon sauce drizzled on top, or a dollop of whipped cream...

Besides, how many desserts can give you a substantial amount of your daily iron requirement?


melbournebread's picture

In that case I stand corrected.  But if you feel like your gingerbread has a "funny/bitter taste", check your molasses because you may prefer a milder form.

yozzause's picture

Over here in Perth  Western Australia i just bought some molasses,  2 litres for $5.20 my daughter got it from the local horse feed store when she was buying some hay, they get it in those 1,000 litre plastic containers in a metal frame and decant it for the horse people, i just used it in a bread (not all of it) i will post in the next week or so.  It was a whoelmeal and stout with sour dough starter over night ferment followed by addition of white flour and  sprouted barley grain. i suppose i should call it horse bread. or Real Brumby bread not to be confused with the hot bread shop chain over here.

Regards Yozza


melbournebread's picture

Your "horse bread" sounds good to me yozzause!  Molasses is a fun addition to a number of recipes, I have a bran muffin recipe that uses it, it adds a lovely depth to the flavour.  And of course molasses biscuits (cookies to the Americans) are sooooo tasty and chewy. 

EvaB's picture

In Canada, its fancy grade (lightest) and cooking, and if you want the blackstrap then it might be harder to find but you can find it in the healthfood stores.

However my brother always called Roger's golden syrup (cane syrup not corn) table molasses, which he got from my grandmother who was from Missouri. So the golden syrup is simply a light refined molasses (and since sugar is refined from it, its really all a sugar) and will work in the gingerbread without the addition of any dark molasses, but of course the taste and colour will be different.

By the way you can get dried molasses powder, at Bulk Foods along with Malt powder, powdered eggs, and other bulk goodies. So if you are a long way from home and need baking supplies and can import them from Bulk Foods go for it!

ducky's picture

Sorry about this; I just read (more thoroughly) the comment above that explained about the different types of molasses--I need to read everything before I get excited. But I think I'll just leave this here 'cuz it might have some info that someone might like. Here's my original comment:

I noticed that your recipe doesn't specify what type of molasses you used. It would make a difference in the sweet/bitter dynamic as to which type was used.

Here's a clip from a webpage that explains the different kinds of molasses:


All varieties can contain sulphur depending on the specific refining process used, but unsulphured products (lighter in color and smoother in flavor) are available. The lighter the molasses, the sweeter it is.

 Here are the different varieties of molasses:


 Blackstrap molasses: The syrup remaining after the third extraction of sugar from sugar cane. Blackstrap (derived in part from the Dutch stroop, meaning syrup) refers to the color of the molasses, which is extremely dark. It has a very strong, somewhat bittersweet flavor with a heady aroma. This variety is best used in recipes rather than as a straight sweetener such as pancake syrup. It contains many of the nutrients left behind by refined sugar crystals. By measure, it is 55% sucrose, the least sweet of the varieties.


 Light molasses: Syrup remaining after the first processing of the sugar. It is generally unsulphured and is the lightest as well as sweetest variety. It is often used as a syrup for pancakes and waffles or stirred into hot cereals such as oatmeal. 65% sucrose.


 Medium or Dark molasses: Remains after the second processing of the sugar. It is not as strong as blackstrap. About 60% sucrose.


 Treacle: True treacle dates from Victorian times. A pale, refined molasses, it is notably sweeter and has a much more mellow flavor than molasses. Nowadays, treacle is a blend of molasses and refinery syrup. It ranges in color from light gold to nearly black. British treacle can be substituted for molasses in most recipes, but much less frequently will molasses work as a replacement for treacle. If you do substitute molasses for treacle, use the lightest, unsulphured molasses you can find.


 Sorghum molasses: Technically, this is not molasses. It comes from the sorghum plant, a cereal grain which is grown specifically for molasses rather than refined sugar. It is also referred to as unsulphured, West Indies or Barbados molasses. The syrup is made from the juice of the stalk which is cooked and clarified. The result is smooth with a clear amber color, free of sediment or graininess. Although it contains no sulphur, sorghum molasses generally does contain preservative which is added to lengthen its short shelf life. When substituting for other sweeteners, use 1/2 to 3/4 of the sweetener amount called for in the recipe. Since it can ferment, sorghum molasses should be kept refrigerated unless you go through it fairly quickly. 65% to 70% sucrose.


This was from

charisma's picture

anyone care to give me an egg substitute????

smmmiley's picture

I know this isn't a gingerbread recipe... but, thought it might be helpful to post it for you anyway.  And, it might turn out like a gingerbread if you decide to bake it as a loaf instead.  ?

Gingerbread Biscotti

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup cold water
2 &1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp allspice

Cream the butter and sugar well. Blend in molasses and water.
Sift together remaining ingredients and blend together until dough forms.
Chill 2 to 3 hours.

Form the dough into two 3 inch wide logs and place 6 inches apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees F. Remove the biscotti from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before cutting the biscotti on a diagonal into ¾ of an inch thick slices.

Place the biscotti back on the parchment lined cookie sheet and reduce the temperature to 300 degrees F. Bake for an additional 15 minutes before turning the cookies over and baking for an additional 10 minutes. Cool completely.

Melt 12 ounces of dark chocolate chips in a double boiler. Dip one side of the biscotti into the chocolate and let stand until the chocolate cools and hardens.

plvannest's picture

I noticed no one had replied to the questions about the gingerbread sinking in the middle.  I, too, have had this problem.

Any chance of a response?

EvaB's picture

underdoneness. Especially for things like ginger bread. Did you do a test for doneness, before removing it from the oven? Its simple, take a bamboo skewer (find them int he BBQ section) and insert into the middle of the cake, if it comes out with bits or sticky then its not done, cook it a bit longer (I generally cook it 10 more minutes) and test again using a different spot but in the middle of the cake.

Check your oven with an oven thermometer, mine was 25 degrees below where it was set, that would slow the heating of the bread, and cause the loaf to loose its oomph and sag when it came out.

If you are using molasses you MUST use soda in the recipe, to get the lift! Don't ask me why, I just know that if you leave it out, it won't raise!

But I would go for the simple first, check the oven, then test for doneness, its like knocking onthe bottom of the loaf of bread, its old but works.

tc's picture

I had the same sinking problem, and I did test it with a toothpick and it came out clean. What I'm hearing from your response is just to bake it for a little longer? Will it puff up again?



slinkee's picture

I tried to make this recipe in the 3 small loaf pans, but they overflowed all over my oven.  I do have to say that the parts that baked onto the cookie sheet I put under the pans after I realized what happened tasted wonderful.  So, I will try this again in a 9x9 pan...

DaringBaker101's picture

Hi there! I'm baking the gingerbread as I type. I buy pure cane sugar called panela in spanish that when melted forms a thick syrup called melado. Is this molasses? This is what I used but would just like to clarify

pmccool's picture

As you note, panela is a solid sugar at room temperature.  Molasses is the residue from sugar refining and is a thick syrup at room temperature.  

Since panela has a dark color and melts easily, I suspect that it still contains some amount of molassess.  In other words, it hasn't been refined so much that all of the molasses has been rinsed off the sugar crystals.

I don't know how panela will behave in the gingerbread.  As a guess, the gingerbread may be drier (since there is less water in the panela than there is in molasses) and sweeter (since the panela contains more sugar than the molasses does) than it would be if made with molasses.  There may also be some structural differences (flatter, maybe?) because of the way sugar behaves when melted.  The color and the flavor will also be lighter but should still be good, though.

Best of luck with your bake.  


DaringBaker101's picture

Ooh ok yeah I always wondered if melado and molasses were the same thing but I guess not. The bread came out absolutely fantastic, it didn't sink as you mentioned just collapsed a little in the middle but pretty much held its structure. I did reduce the amount of brown sugar to 1/4 cup and it was perfect! I also added a samll pinch of nutmeg since I noticed that some other gingerbread recipes called for it and I have no regrets :D

mrfrost's picture

You can buy molasses at the grocery store. It is usually located in the syrup(pancake syrup, etc.) section. It costs about $2(US) for 12 oz or so. Typical national brands are Grandma's, Brer Rabbit, Roddenbery's, etc.

criscarile's picture

Hello, I just made this bread and watched it off/on throughout it's baking time, and the centers never rose at all (I made three small loaves).  I had read all the comments prior to baking, and noted some had trouble with the middle sinking, so I monitored to see what mine would do... 

There was no problem with the oven temperature, and I let these small loaves bake for 45 minutes prior to checking for doneness.  I followed the recipe perfectly, and yes, baking soda is included.

Could it be the sugar content (molasses and brown sugar)? Does it need more *umph* (like whole wheat flour and an extra egg, or how about baking powder thrown in to accompany the soda and salt?)

It's a puzzle, albeit a tasty one.


ducky's picture

After reading all the comments here I have been shy about making this recipe. I happened across another recipe on the web and the ingredients looked so good I just couldn't pass it up. I made it and I don't think I'll make any other again. I highly recommend leaving it in the refrigerator for several days or even better, freezing it for a week or more and then leaving it out for a few days before cutting into it. Its flavors really meld together with time and the texture becomes very moist and almost slightly chewy.

I also recommend just slicing the whole thing right down the middle and then treating the two halves like you would a loaf, slicing as thick or thin as you like. Serve by itself or on a plate with loosely whipped cream oozing over the edges.

I tried to put the link here but it was rejected as spam. Maybe I broke a rule or something.

I got the recipe off foodnetwork and it is called "Old-Fashioned Gingerbread". It uses rum, golden raisins, butter, sour cream, orange zest, crystallized ginger and all the typical spices and it calls for unsulphured molasses. I used half blackstrap and half the milder "old-fashioned" molasses and I liked the outcome. There are no eggs in the recipe.

oceanicthai's picture

think I might have to modify this recipe & try it with a sourdough boule...

EvaGal's picture

My teenaged daughter loves the recipe from the Dec.2010 Cook's Illustrated Holiday Baking magazine.  It includes ground black pepper and Irish Stout beer and is just the right density and flavor when cooked in a bundt pan.

Strangely enough, my mother baked it, and declared it too hearty for serving at a piano recital reception, thus will not bake it for her granddaughter's event! 


annabel398's picture

... Because the combination of equal parts dark/robust molasses and Guinness Stout makes the most amazing aroma ever found in a measuring cup. That magazine paid for itself tenfold with that one recipe. We've modified it by tripling the amount of fresh ginger--yup, we grate a full quarter-cup of fresh ginger into that bad boy, on top of a very generous amount of powdered ginger. I bump up the black pepper too, and my husband's contribution was to make the glaze with ginger juice (thinly sliced ginger in a Rikon Whatsit garlic press will produce juice). That cake is AMAZING, and has proven addictive. We can't stop--we bake it, we eat it, we bake another, we eat it....

In fact, I must confess, I bought the two-pound package of Frontier powdered ginger from Ammy solely because we make this cake so often. I just wish I knew why the price of fresh ginger is so variable--it's run anywhere from 1.79/lb to (!!)6.99/lb--at the same supermarket! What's up with THAT?

sonia101's picture

Lovely cake, thanks for sharing the recipe!

I replaced the molasses with 50% treacle & 50% golden syrup, I also used my own spice mix but added the same amount as per the orginal recipe.


Spice mix

2 tblspn cinnamon

2 tspn ground clove

1/2 tspn ground all spice

1/2 tspn ground ginger

1/4 tspn ground nutmeg

1/2 tspn ground corriander

1/2 tspn ground cardamon

1/2 tspn ground anise seed

1/2 tspn ground star of anise


AnnaInMD's picture

cookies and no worries about center not rising. I just finished a batch using fresh ginger, here is the link:

604 Center Street's picture
604 Center Street

I've always been leary of making things I haven't grown up with. I'm always afraid that I'll hate it. Then I've gone and water perfectly good ingredients on something I only took a bite of. However, this recipe has got me wondering if it would make a good thing to bake in a cast iron skillet. (I have a small obsession with mine.) This looks like a yummy recipe. I may have to make it over my three day "weekend."

PeterinVT's picture

Not so sure about the large amount of cinnamon.   My favorite Gingerbreads also have Black Pepper in them-- just enough to bump up the heat level, but not enough where someone would guess that it's the secret ingredient.


Asian Markets are a great source for both fresh and crystalized Ginger..


merlie's picture

This is the best gingerbread recipe ever! I have to make it nearly every week. There's only my husband and me so I've been replacing half the butter with apple sauce ( telling myself it's healthier! ) and making cupcakes instead of loaves.I 'm also very generous with the crystalized ginger ! Made in a loaf pan we were cutting great hunks at a time - it lasted no time at all. Thank you Floyd !!


butterflyblue's picture

I had no trouble with the loaves sinking in the middle, but boy they stuck to the pan!  I hoped to give two smaller ones as gifts, but the first one I tried to take out of the pan (after ten minutes of cooling) was so mangled that we had to "dispose" of it ourselves (with whipped cream) for breakfast.  Such a shame. :)

Anyway, the others I waited longer before taking them out of the pan, until they were completely cool, and they had only minimal sticking.  I could give them as gifts. 

FlyinAggie's picture

One of our favorite winter desserts is the more cake-like gingerbread served warm with hot lemon sauce.  I'm always asked for seconds!  One of my neighbors has a lemon tree so I get all I want. I freeze the juice in an ice cube tray whose cells hold exactly 1 tablespoon each.  I think this year I will try grapefruit sauce on gingerbread.

CourtneyKenyon's picture

I am a huge fan of the gingerbread. Actual gingerbread and not the men all dressed up for the holidays, even though, those can definitely be some good eats if done properly. I am not a fan of molasses at all in anything clearly, especially gingerbread. I use a dark corn syrup instead. I also make gingerbread with oil instead of butter. Yes butter is wonderful and delicious in so many ways, however oil in a quick bread recipe like this one, not only extends the shelf life, but it will create a more moist final product. Since it is "ginger"bread I like to really ginger it up and put not only ground ginger and crystallized ginger, which is fabulous and easy homemade, but I also use fresh ginger into the bread batter. Only about a teaspoon per loaf of bread, however it cuts the sweetness of the bread and just enhances the overall ginger taste.

embth's picture

This Gingerbread recipe is an "oldie but goodie."  Today I made it in a square cake pan which I had prepped with butter, brown sugar, and apple slices.  I added 1/3 teaspoon of mustard powder to the spices and doubled the ginger.  It was a very good cake…sweetness and a bit of zing!  Embth