Cinnamon, ginger, and cloves impart that classic cookie flavor into this moist gingerbread cake. I topped this cake with whipped cream, but cream cheese frosting or a simple dusting of powdered sugar would be just as delicious! 

A slice of gingerbread cake topped with whipped cream. The rest of the cake is behind it.

Take a break from chilling and rolling cookie dough this holiday season, and make this classic gingerbread cake for a change! 

This is essentially a molasses cake that’s flavored with warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Although richly spiced in flavor, the cake remains moist and can be enjoyed plain or with a dollop of whipped cream on top. 

If you need an easy make-ahead dessert this holiday season, this gingerbread cake would be a great option. If you wait to add the whipped cream until slicing and serving it, the cake will remain tender and moist on your countertop for a couple days. 

Made with basic ingredients and a handheld mixer, this easy cake recipe is good to have tucked up your sleeve for the holidays!

Overhead view of the ingredients needed to make a spiced molasses cake.

Ingredients for This Recipe

Your house will smell absolutely incredible as this cake bakes! Here’s what you’ll need to make this recipe: 

  • Molasses: Be sure to use an unsulphured molasses. My personal favorite is Grandma’s Original Molasses.
  • Water: You’ll need to use hot or boiling water for this recipe. The water is mixed with the molasses before being added to the batter. 
  • Flour: Be sure to spoon and level the flour when measuring it. You don’t want to measure out too much by mistake! 
  • Baking soda: Helps the cake rise in the oven. 
  • Spices: I flavored the cake with a mixture of ground cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt. 
  • Butter: Needs to be softened to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe. 
  • Sugar: I used a combination of granulated and brown sugar. The brown sugar not only sweetens the cake, but it adds a slight caramel flavor as well. 
  • Eggs: Should also be at room temperature. If you forget to do this beforehand, simply place the eggs in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes. 
  • Vanilla extract: I prefer using pure vanilla extract. 

How to Make Gingerbread Cake

Before starting the recipe, you’ll need to spray a 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Once that’s done, you can proceed with the recipe. 

  • Combine the hot water and molasses: Stir the two together in a bowl, then set aside. 
  • Combine the dry ingredients: In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and spices. 
  • Mix together the wet ingredients: Combine the butter and sugars in a third bowl, then beat until light and fluffy. A stand mixer or a handheld electric mixer will work for this. Add the eggs and the vanilla to the butter mixture. 

Gingerbread cake batter in a large white mixing bowl. A batter-covered whisk rests on the side.

  • Finish the batter: Add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the molasses mixture. This will help to ensure that you don’t over mix the batter, which can result in a dense cake.
  • Bake the cake: Turn the batter into the prepared pan, then bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  • Cool and frost: I topped this cake with my homemade whipped cream and dusted it with a little bit of cinnamon. You can feel free to leave it off, or simply dust it with powdered sugar. You could even top the cake with cream cheese frosting, if desired. 

An overhead view of slices of gingerbread cake.

Can This Recipe Be Doubled? 

Yes, you should be fine to double the ingredients list and bake the cake in a 9×13-inch pan. The baking time should be about 50 to 60 minutes.

Can Blackstrap Molasses Be Used? 

No, blackstrap molasses is very bitter and would be too strong for this recipe. Use a regular unsulphered molasses instead. 

An overhead view of slices of gingerbread cake. One slice is turned on its side.

Storage Instructions 

If left unfrosted, the cake can be kept at room temperature for up to five days. Cover the pan tightly with foil or transfer the cake to an airtight container. Once topped with whipped cream, you’ll need to store the cake in the fridge. Note that cake tends to dry out in the fridge, so be sure to store it in an airtight container. 

The unfrosted cake can also be frozen for up to three months. I recommend waiting to add the whipped cream until you’re ready to thaw and serve the cake. 

Slices of spiced molasses cake topped with whipped cream. A fork rests on the side.

Baking Tips 

  • I think this cake is perfectly spiced as is, but you’re welcome to add more or less spices to taste. 
  • Be careful not to over mix the dry ingredients, as that would result in a dense cake. 
  • You must let the cake cool completely before topping with whipped cream. If you try to top the cake while it’s still warm, the whipped cream will melt. 

More Easy Holiday Desserts You’ll Love! 

A slice of gingerbread cake topped with homemade whipped cream. The rest of the cake is in the background.

Gingerbread Cake

5 from 4 ratings
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 45 mins
Cinnamon, ginger, and cloves impart that classic cookie flavor into this moist gingerbread cake. I topped this cake with whipped cream, but cream cheese frosting or a simple dusting of powdered sugar would be just as delicious! 

Ingredients

Servings: 12 slices
  • 1 cup unsulphured molasses (320 grams)
  • 1 cup hot or boiling water (240 ml)
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour spooned & leveled (315 grams)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter softened (115 grams)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar (100 grams)
  • ¼ cup packed light or dark brown sugar (50 grams)
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Homemade whipped cream optional

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray a 9-inch square pan well with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the molasses and hot water. Set aside.
  • In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a handheld mixer, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.
  • Mix in the eggs and vanilla extract until well combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Mix in the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the molasses mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Make sure to mix in each addition until just combined and be careful not to over mix the batter.
  • Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Once cooled, slice into pieces, dust with powdered sugar or top with whipped cream and enjoy!

Notes

Storage Instructions: The unfrosted cake can be kept at room temperature for up to five days. Cover the pan tightly or store in an airtight container. Once topped with whipped cream, you’ll need to store the cake in the fridge.
Freezing Instructions: The unfrosted cake can be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to three months. I recommend waiting to add the whipped cream until you’re ready to thaw and serve the cake. 
Frosting: This cake is fantastic with just a dusting of powdered sugar. I topped it with my homemade whipped cream, but my homemade cream cheese frosting would be delicious too!
Cuisine: American
Course: Dessert
Author: Danielle
Did you make this recipe?Mention @livewellbakeoften on Instagram or tag #livewellbakeoften.