This classic old-fashioned gingerbread is a treasured old family recipe from my Great Grammie Alice. It's soft, moist and perfectly spiced with ground ginger, cinnamon, and molasses. This traditional gingerbread cake is absolutely delicious, plus quick and easy to make. Excellent for Christmas, Thanksgiving or any time of the year, you're going to fall in love with this recipe! ❤️
I've tried other versions of classic gingerbread and they just don't compare to this old family recipe. I'm quite confident in saying that this is very likely THE best gingerbread recipe out there!
I hope you enjoy this recipe! ❤️ If you give it a try, please let me know how it turned out for you in the comments section at the bottom of the page or share a pic of your om noms on Instagram and tag @dishesanddustbunnies! ❤️
The history of this family recipe for Old fashioned Gingerbread
This recipe is so very special to me as it was my great-grandmother Alices' recipe! She would make this for my grandfather and his brothers and sister as kids, and it's been an old family favourite for so many years!
My grandmother Mary learned how to make this traditional gingerbread from my Great Grammie Alice so her husband (my grandfather) would have it just right. To me, this recipe represents love in the edible form… my grandmother loved my Papa so much that she learned precisely how to make all the recipes his mother made for him as a child. ❤️
I have vivid memories of my Grammie (who I called Mum) baking this gingerbread for my sister and me as kids in the old wood stove. It made the old house smell so amazing with its fragrant cinnamon and ginger. So many happy childhood memories!
Now, I make this recipe for the people I love. ❤️ I really hope you can feel the love in this recipe! As I said, this gingerbread is love in the edible form… seriously… once you make it, you'll understand why!
A note on Developing the gingerbread from the old family recipe book
It took a little time to make sure the recipe was just right since the old recipe book had instructions that were a bit different than what we're used to these days. One example is that the oven temperature was never specified for all of the old family recipes because they used a wood stove! It didn't have a temperature control dial as the wood controlled the heat and how intense the fire was! The actual instructions in the old recipe book were to bake the gingerbread in a “moderate oven”, which in modern terms is roughly 350°F! Isn't that a neat little fact?? ❤️
What does gingerbread cake taste like?
Rich, dark and molasses-y, with a deep ginger flavor – that's what our old fashioned gingerbread cake tastes like!
And it's just the right amount of sweet and spicy. This is the kind of cake that warms you from the inside out on a cold winter day.
What Ingredients are used to make Old Fashioned Gingerbread?
The two unique ingredients that make this cake what it is are molasses and ginger. Cinnamon is also important for extra flavoring. You'll also need vegetable shortening, an egg, salt, all purpose flour (sifted before measuring), baking soda dissolved in water. Whipped cream is optional but makes for the perfect cake topping.
How to make Homemade Old Fashioned Gingerbread – Overview
At the bottom of the page, you'll find the complete instructions and recipe ingredients, but first, here's a little overview on how to make old-fashioned homemade gingerbread.
Making homemade gingerbread is very simple! In a large mixing bowl, combine molasses, vegetable shortening and one egg. Next, in a separate bowl, combine your dry ingredients; flour, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Mix the dry and wet ingredients, then add a bit of baking soda dissolved in some water and combine.
Pour the batter into a prepared pan (greased and parchment-lined 9″x9″ square pan) and bake in the oven at 350°F for 30 minutes. Allow to cool and cut into squares. Serve with whipped cream on top!
What is the difference between classic gingerbread and gingerbread cookies?
Many people associate gingerbread only with gingerbread cookies (the famous gingerbread men), but classic gingerbread came first and it's different from gingerbread cookies.
Classic gingerbread is known for its cakelike texture, softness, and rich and warming flavors of ginger and molasses, whereas gingerbread cookies are dense and will likely have a snap to them when you break them. They are thin, firm, crispy and chewy.
Gingerbread cake (as some call it) or traditional gingerbread is soft. It's much thicker and is moist and fluffy. When serving it is cut into squares, and often topped with whipped cream.
What is the difference between gingerbread and ginger cake?
Although classic gingerbread is a cake, gingerbread and ginger cake are not the same. They get confused all the time!
One of the differences is that gingerbread contains molasses while ginger cake doesn't. Gingerbread is made with fancy molasses or blackstrap molasses, which gives it a deep, rich flavor that ginger cake simply can’t match.
Ginger cake is usually a standard white cake with ginger and other spices added, without molasses in the batter. It's usually assembled in layers with cream cheese frosting in between. Ginger cake is more like your traditional cakes when compared to classic gingerbread.
So even though gingerbread and ginger cake have very similar names and are often confused, they're quite different!
I'm working on a ginger cake recipe, so stay tuned! I'll link to it here once it's perfect!
What Kind of Ginger is Used for this recipe?
For this recipe, it's best to use ground ginger or powdered ginger for best results, just like my Grammie did. ❤ I haven't tried the recipe using fresh ginger, so unfortunately I'm not sure how it would turn out – it's best to stick with the tried and true ground ginger!
What molasses is best for gingerbread?
For this recipe, I used regular fancy molasses. For a richer and deeper flavor, you could try using blackstrap molasses, but the traditional kind my family always used was fancy molasses. Molasses makes for a deliciously rich and moist cake!
What kinds of cooking pans can I bake old fashioned gingerbread in? (bundt pan, etc)
You can bake old fashioned gingerbread in a bundt pan, muffin tin (if you want to make mini gingerbread cupcakes), cake pan, or even a loaf pan.
Really, any kind of baking pan will do! Just make sure to grease it lightly with butter or butter cooking spray and dust the grease with flour before adding the batter.
The bake time will be about the same no matter what kind of cooking pan you use just watch it closely as it bakes. Be sure to do the toothpick test so you know when it's perfect – when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean then it is ready!
Classic Gingerbread Recipe Variations/Toppings
This is a classic century-old family recipe so making too many variations will change it too much from what it's supposed to be! But here are some variations that make sense with the original recipe:
- You can replace the fancy molasses with blackstrap molasses to give a deeper and more intense flavor to the gingerbread.
- Add fresh whipped cream to the top of each slice when serving.
- Sprinkle some chopped walnuts on top of the slices for a complimentary flavor and crunch.
- Drizzle some butterscotch or caramel sauce on top of each slice
- Add a layer of cream cheese frosting on top
- Add a dusting of powdered sugar over top of the cake.
- Sprinkle some brown sugar over top along with a dollop of whipped cream
- If you can find candied or crystallized ginger, it's lovely sprinkled on top too!
How to Serve Old Fashioned Gingerbread
Old fashioned gingerbread is good both warm up, at room temperature or even chilled – it's up to you! It is nice to serve it warm with a dollop of whipped cream on top. The whip cream can be further drizzled with butterscotch or caramel sauce.
Serve warm gingerbread with some vanilla ice cream on top is also a favorite.
What to Serve with Old Fashioned Gingerbread
This old fashioned gingerbread recipe tastes wonderful as a desert after a meal of pork, chicken or beef.
The gingerbread pairs well with roasted nuts or walnuts although you may prefer to put those on top of the gingerbread rather than as a side.
Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or my pumpkin spice latte all make for a delightful gingerbread companion. If you are feeling fancy, gingerbread also pairs well with a glass of red wine or port.
Classic homemade gingerbread is wonderful as dessert after Christmas dinner too!
How to Store Leftover Old Fashioned Gingerbread
This time of year, many of us have gingerbread leftover from holiday baking. If you're like me, you might be wondering how to store old fashioned gingerbread so that it stays fresh and tasty.
Here are a few tips:
– Store in an airtight container: Airtight storage is key to keeping your gingerbread fresh.
– Keep it cool and dry: Room temperature is fine, but if your kitchen is particularly warm, you may want to store your gingerbread in the fridge.
– Wrap it tightly: If you're using a container with a lid, make sure to wrap the gingerbread tightly in plastic wrap before sealing the lid. This will help keep the gingerbread from drying out.
– Eat it within a week: Gingerbread is best eaten within a week of baking, but it will still be delicious for up to two weeks.
How long is Gingerbread good for? in the fridge, freezer, etc
Assuming it's stored properly, gingerbread will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge or up to three months in the freezer.
If you're reheating gingerbread that's been frozen, thaw it overnight in the fridge before reheating. When you're ready to reheat, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place the gingerbread on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until heated through.
If you're reheating gingerbread that's been refrigerated, you can simply place it on a plate and microwave it for 30-60 seconds, or until heated through.
Other recipes from my Family Recipe Series you'll enjoy:
- Ginger Sparkle Cookies – another recipe from Great Grammie Alice
- Old Fashioned Chicken Soup (using a whole chicken) – inspired by my Grandmother Mary (aka Mum)
- Sage & Brown Butter Pork Chops – inspired by how my grammie made hers!
- Chocolate Pudding Pie/Cream Pie – inspired by my grammies recipe
- Lemon Meringue Pie – inspired by my grammies recipe
- 1 cup molasses
- ½ cup vegetable shortening
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups all purpose flour, sifted before measuring
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp baking soda, dissolved in 1 cup water
- Optional but highly recommended: Whipped cream for topping 😋
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Grease a 9″x9″ metal baking pan and line it with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, combine molasses, shortening and egg.
- In a separate bowl, using a whisk, combine flour, salt, cinnamon and ginger.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet and combine.
- Add the baking soda dissolved in water to the batter and combine.
- Pour the batter into the baking pan and use a spoon to spread it evenly. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.
- Allow the gingerbread to cool (while still in the pan) on a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes. Once it's cooled, remove it from the pan by lifting it out by the edges of the parchment paper. Cut evenly into 12 squares.
- Serve plain or with whipped cream on top. 😋
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking