A sweet and simple holiday classic from my mom’s recipe binder. Mom’s Old-Fashioned Gingerbread is perfectly spiced with ginger, cinnamon, and rich, delicious molasses. The flavors of Christmas!
It’s Christmas which means it’s time to bring out the big guns. In my kitchen, that means Mom’s recipe binder.
Let me try and put into words my feelings for this truly beloved recipe. It brings back a flood of memories of not just the holidays but specifically, Sunday evenings when Mom would frequently pull her freshly baked gingerbread out of the oven. There was no special gathering, no party, just the family on a random Sunday night. I always suspected it was her way of softening the blow as the weekend was ending and school was just hours away. And, man did it work!
Where there’s gingerbread, there must be freshly whipped cream. This is not negotiable.
It was our routine to sprinkle the still slightly warm gingerbread with a bit of powdered sugar (make it snow!) and add a dollop of homemade whipped cream.
Taking a bite of this cake is like stepping back into the past for me. A flood of warmth, love, and comfort.
What Kind of Molasses Should I Use to Make Gingerbread?
When it comes to the molasses for this Old-Fashioned Gingerbread, you want to be sure you’ve got the right one for the job.
This recipe calls for regular, unsulphured molasses like the Grandma’s brand above. It is plenty deep, dark, and flavorful but believe it or not, it is considered to be light molasses in comparison to the dark variety (sometimes labeled as “full flavor” or “robust”) or blackstrap molasses. The darker varieties are less sweet and even somewhat bitter and while some taste buds may be very happy with that, I’d highly recommend going with basic, unulsuphured molasses for the most crowd-pleasing result.
How to Make Old-Fashioned Gingerbread
Here’s a quick photo tutorial but be sure to watch the quick video at the end of this post to see this recipe in action.
My kitchen hack for the day. When measuring sticky ingredients, like the molasses in this recipe, generously coat the measuring cup with non-stick cooking spray for easy release of the ingredients into your mixing bowl. It works like a charm and the frugal mom in me rejoices as every last drop glides right out of the cup and into my recipe. Oh, the simple joys in life.
When spraying, make sure you hold the cup over the bowl or over the sink – not over your kitchen floor – or you’ll be slip, slidin’ away…
The molasses slides right out of the measuring cup and into the creamed butter and sugar mixture. A little side note – Mom’s original recipe and many others from back in the day, called for shortening instead of butter. Although I still use a bit of shortening when I make pie crust, I typically substitute butter in nearly all of my other recipes and it works beautifully here.
In goes an egg. Beat this mixture until nicely combined. You’re done with the mixer at this point so go grab a wooden spoon.
After mixing the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, add them all at once to the bowl. The simple list of dry ingredients includes flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt.
Use a wooden spoon to combine the wet and dry ingredients – like so.
Now, add 1 cup of boiling hot water. I use my tea kettle to get the water boiling but you can boil it in the microwave or any which way you’d like.
I know this looks weird, which is exactly why I’m showing it to you. After you add the hot water it’s going to look like a hot, soupy mess and you might think I’ve lead you down the wrong path, but no, I promise… it’s going to be wonderful!
Use the spoon to mix in that hot water and you’ll end up with a silky but thin cake batter.
Pour the gingerbread batter into a square baking dish that has been coated with non-stick cooking spray and pop it in a 325 degree oven for about 45 minutes. The baking time will depend on the size of your baking dish, your individual oven, and the precise distance from the Earth to the Moon… as well as a variety of other immeasurable items, so when you feel it’s looking good, please check it by inserting a toothpick in the center. When it comes out clean, you are good to go.
How to Serve Gingerbread
One of the keys to my happiness in life is serving this gingerbread slighlty warm so even if I’ve baked it the day before, I like to pop the individual servings in the microwave for just 10 to 15 seconds to warm the cake ever-so-slightly before topping with powdered sugar and whipped cream. Trust me… it’s a beautiful thing.
I hope you’ll try Mom’s recipe this holiday season and create some sweet and lasting memories for your own family.
More Old-Fashioned Holiday Treats
Mom’s Old Fashioned Gingerbread
- ½ cup butter, softened
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup unsulphured molasses, I use Grandma’s Original Unsulphured
- 1 egg
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- powdered sugar and whipped cream, for topping
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Coat a 8- or 9-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Use an electric mixer to cream together the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the molasses and egg and beat until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Use a spoon to blend the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Add the hot water and stir until well incorporated and the batter is smooth. Pour into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- It is delicious served slightly warm, topped with powdered sugar and whipped cream!
Nutrition information is automatically calculated using generic ingredients, and is an estimate not a guarantee. For more accurate results, please refer to the labels on your ingredients at home.
Questions and Reviews
Hi there, can you tell me if I can use a loaf pan instead and will it be one loaf
Hi Lorraine. I’ve never baked this gingerbread in a loaf pan so I can’t advise on the exact baking time. A 9- x 5-inch loaf pan is equivalent to a 9-inch baking dish so you should just need one. I hope it works out for you!
I made this for my family, and everyone loved it. Even my father, who never eats any dessert but chocolate cake and apple pie, ate a big helping. I plan to make this an annual tradition. I used Grandma’s unsulfured molasses, followed the recipe to a “T,” and made whip cream from scratch (with a little cinnamon added to it). Thank you so much!
I’ve made several gingerbread recipes in the past, but this by far is the best one. We had it on Christmas Day with freshly whipped cream, and everyone loved it. Couldn’t believe how high this cake rose or how yummy it was. It will be my go to recipe for my Christmas dessert from now on. Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe!
You’re so welcome, Joani. So glad to know you loved my Mom’s gingerbread. It is a holiday favorite here!
Have you tried this recipe using real ginger? I randomly have some in my fridge at the moment and would like to use it.
Hi Laura. No, I haven’t tried this recipe with fresh ginger. If you decide to try it, be sure to let me know how it works out for you.