Embracing the coziness of the season with this classic Old Fashioned Spiced Gingerbread Loaf Cake! Tender and moist gingerbread cake made with sweet molasses, buttermilk, and all the classic spices – ginger, cloves, and cinnamon. Then, after baking, the cake is generously iced with the most delicious lemon ginger icing. Bonus? This cake is effortlessly pretty! It’s truly the perfect dessert to celebrate the holiday season.
I’m SO excited to finally be sharing my family’s beloved gingerbread cake. This recipe is one that has been passed down through the generations. And, while the original recipe was good, my mom has been tweaking and perfecting the recipe over many years. Now, this cake is better than EVER before! If you’ve ever made our gingerbread layer cake, gingerbread cupcakes, gingerbread cookies, or even our gingerbread sheet cake, then you will LOVE this recipe.
For our new-and-improved gingerbread cake, we’ve tweaked the spice blend to give it just the right amount of warming goodness, replaced the traditional lemon-hard sauce with a mouth-watering lemon ginger icing, and added a splash of buttermilk that perfectly complements the flavors of the cake. It’s tender, perfectly spicy, and oh-so-delicious!
The Secret Behind A Perfect Gingerbread Cake…
The secret to a perfect gingerbread cake comes down to two things, the spices used and buttermilk. Just these two simple things make a HUGE difference in a cake. We have worked for years perfecting the spice blend in this recipe, while also testing oil versus shortening versus butter and whole milk versus water versus buttermilk. There were clear winners. Butter gave us a brighter flavor that marries so well with the other ingredients in this cake. And, you guessed it, buttermilk because of the flavor it adds as well as the tenderness it helped us achieve.
Each of these things make this cake the ultimate gingerbread cake!
What Makes This Gingerbread Cake So Good?
- Years of testing, refinement, and tweaking. From my great grandmother all the way to my mom, this recipe has been reworked, tweaked, and edited over many years.
- Flavor. We know how disappointing it can be to bite into a piece of gingerbread and find that it’s just…not flavorful enough. This recipe is a deeply spiced, moist cake that has everything and MORE that you could ever wish for this holiday season.
- Ease & simplicity. This recipe is streamlined from start to finish. Mix up the batter, dump into the pan, and bake. That’s all you need to do!
- Perfect for any time of day. While most cakes are reserved for dessert only, I feel like any Christmas cake can be the exception. Serve at breakfast, brunch, or keep it traditional and serve as dessert. This cake will taste amazing any time of day!
- Delicious with or without the icing. If you love spicy gingerbread, this cake is for YOU! Serve without the icing for all the spicy goodness, or serve with icing to tone down the spice in the cake and add a bright lemony pop of flavor.
- Gorgeous without the effort. One of my favorite things about this cake is that it doesn’t take any effort to make it look pretty. Just drizzle with icing and your done! If you want to be a little extra fancy, add some sugared cranberries, sugared rosemary, or even some gingerbread cookies!
All The Ingredients You’ll Need To Make This Gingerbread Loaf Cake
For The Cake:
- All Purpose Flour – We wanted a moist, tender cake but one with enough structure to hold its shape without going to pieces. That’s where the all purpose flour comes in. It has the perfect amount of protein to create that structure.
- Baking Powder and Baking Soda – Leavening agents that have different purposes here, baking powder is responsible for the rise while baking soda neutralizes the acid in the molasses so the baking powder can do its job.
- Salt – A bit of salt enhances the flavor.
- Ginger, Cinnamon, and Cloves – The classic blend of spices for gingerbread of any kind, they add warmth, sweetness, and flavor.
- Unsalted Butter – With a bright, fresh flavor that adds not only richness, unsalted butter also adds moisture and flavor and allows us to control the level of salt.
- Granulated Sugar – Because it adds the perfect amount of sweetness, granulated sugar is the best choice here. It also helps with the texture and structure of the cake.
- Large Eggs – The binder that holds all the ingredients together, eggs also contribute structure, stability, moisture, and richness.
- Molasses – You can’t have gingerbread without molasses. It adds a deep, rich flavor that really pulls the whole cake together while also contributing to the sweetness.
- Buttermilk – This is the ingredient that really makes this cake sing! It helps the cake rise, giving it a light fluffy texture, makes it tender, and contributes to the flavor as well.
For The Icing:
- Powdered Sugar – Because it melts easily, powdered sugar ensures a smooth icing.
- Ginger – While the flavor ties in to the cake, it gives this icing a bit of warmth.
- Lemon Juice – The bright pop of flavor that lemon juice brings is just the flavor this icing needed, making it a terrific substitute for the lemon hard sauce from the original recipe.
- Vanilla Extract – Adding a subtle undertone, vanilla really enhances the ginger and lemon.
- Heavy Cream – This is the smooth, creamy element that makes icing so good. It is also a nod to the creaminess of the original lemon hard sauce.
How To Make This Gingerbread Loaf Cake (Step-by-Step!)
Step 1: Prepare batter
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes, stopping to scrape bottom and sides of bowl as needed.
Add eggs, beating well after each addition.
Mix in molasses.
Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
Step 2: Bake
Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes, or until cake tests done.
Step 3: Make icing
Combine sugar, ginger, lemon juice, vanilla, and cream in a medium bowl. Whisk until smooth.
Pour over cooled cake.
FAQ’s and Troubleshooting
If your cake sunk, this could be caused by a few different things. Either the oven door was open before the cake was completely set OR your oven temperature is running too cold/too hot. Be sure to use an oven thermometer to ensure your oven temp is accurate!
This will vary depending on many factors, but you can estimate that the cake will be cooled and ready to ice in about 35 minutes to 1 ½ hours.
If your cake is stuck to the pan, it could be one of two things. Either the pan wasn’t greased enough (it happens to all of us!) or the cake is still a little too warm to be turned out. If you suspect it’s still too warm, let it cool for a little longer and try to turn out again. If it’s stuck because the pan isn’t greased enough, run a knife along the edges of the cake and place upside down on a cooling rack and tap the top and sides of the pan. The cake may tear, but it will still taste delicious!
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Old Fashioned Spiced Gingerbread Loaf Cake with Lemon Ginger Icing
- 1½ cups all purpose flour*
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 teaspoons ground ginger
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- ½ cup molasses
- ¾ cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
- Heat oven to 375℉.
- Spray a 6 cup loaf pan with baking spray. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes, stopping to scrape bottom and sides of bowl as needed.
- Add eggs, beating well after each addition.
- Scrape bottom and sides of bowl.
- Beat to make sure everything is incorporated, about 1 minute.
- Mix in molasses.
- Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
- Pour into prepared pan.
- Bake for 40 minutes, or until cake tests done.
- Combine sugar, ginger, lemon juice, vanilla, and cream in a medium bowl.
- Whisk until smooth.
- Pour over cooled cake.
Notes + Tips!
- Don’t forget to pre-heat the oven!
- Check the expiration dates on all your ingredients.
- Make sure the butter, eggs, and buttermilk are room temperature before mixing the cake.
- Add the dry ingredients and buttermilk alternately. This yields in a much better cake.
- Don’t over-mix the cake batter. If it’s over-mixed, the cake will sink in the middle!
- Do not open the oven to check the cake until at LEAST45-50 minutes have passed. If the oven door is open before the cake is set, it will sink in the middle.
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Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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