The Fresh Loaf

A Community of 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!

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? 


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.

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

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!

charisma's picture

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

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?



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! 


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


AnnaInNC's picture

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

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.

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

clazar123's picture

Of course I am making this today.

After reading the recipe, it sounds like the butter might be melted and then mixed with the other ingredients (molasses,etc). Is that how it is supposed to be? OTOH, the GIngerbread pictured looks so cake-y that I also wonder if the butter might be beaten until fluffy with the sugar for aeration?


clazar123's picture

I guess I will make this tomorrow-I have too many questions!

I would like to make this in a tube pan (essentially a can). Is the consistency strong enough to be in this shape or is it too cakey/crumbly?  I guess I'm looking for a banana bread consistency-probably not traditional for this cake but suits my needs right now.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Time to dust off this recipe.

clazar123's picture

I never followed up with the results and it was long ago, so I don't remember this particular bake-sorry.

However, I do remember making gingerbread several times and they all turned out very well. I remember making and giving away muffins and that all who received (gingerbread lovers) really liked.

Ginger is one of my new favorites-cookies,cakes, biscotti and muffins. I have never been fond of molasses but I have found that NOT using blackstrap molasses and letting the baked product sit a day greatly mellows out the molasses flavor.

Time to dust off this and the Baking Powder Stollen recipe. Thank you for that one,Mini. Another seasonal favorite.