Classic Gingerbread Cake Recipe

I positively love the flavor of ginger. Whether it’s pickled ginger with sushi, ginger ale (mint ginger ale is a favorite variety of mine), candied ginger or ultimate ginger cookies, if it has ginger in it, there’s a 99.9% chance I’m going to love it. Which is why it’s so shocking (and wrong) that up until this week, I had never made a proper gingerbread cake for the holidays. Molasses, ginger, beer, and spice – what’s not to love?! Turns out, absolutely nothing. This cake rises beautifully, is soft and moist, and most importantly – packed with boatloads of flavor. Christmas needs gingerbread, I’ve decided. I’ve seriously missed out until now!

I’ve been eating this plain, straight from the plate (breakfast of champions!) but I also think that a dollop of sweetened whipped cream would be a nice touch to the cake.

An extra tip: If you wrap it well in plastic wrap and let it sit overnight before serving, it becomes even moister and the flavor really bursts, I highly recommend it!

One year ago: 30 Favorite Christmas Cookies & Recipes
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Classic Gingerbread Cake Recipe

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 35 to 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

A wonderfully moist and spicy gingerbread cake.


¾ cup stout (recommended: Guinness)
½ teaspoons baking soda
2/3 cup molasses
¾ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8-inch square baking pan.

2. Bring the stout to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda (mixture will foam up). When foaming subsides, stir in molasses, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until dissolved; set mixture aside.

3. Whisk the flour, ground ginger, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and pepper together in a large bowl; set aside.

4. Transfer the stout mixture to a large bowl. Whisk in the eggs, oil, and grated ginger until combined. Whisk the wet mixture into the flour mixture in thirds, stirring vigorously until completely smooth after each addition.

5. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and gently tap the pan against the counter 3 or 4 times to pop any large air bubbles. Bake until the the of the cake is just firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 1½ hours. Cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature. Store leftovers at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.

*Note: This cake does pack some heat thanks to the ginger and pepper. If you are particularly sensitive to spice, you can decrease the amount of dried ginger to 1 tablespoon.

(Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated)


51 Responses to “Classic Gingerbread Cake Recipe”

  1. Jen of My Tiny Oven on December 2, 2011 at 12:51 am

    This looks beautiful! This just might be my Christmas Day dessert!! Thank you!!


  2. Laura @ Laura's Sweet Spot! on December 2, 2011 at 2:16 am

    Good choice! I was going to make gingerbread soon too- maybe i’ll use this recipe ; )


  3. Christina on December 2, 2011 at 3:26 am

    This looks beautiful – sweet, dark and spiced. What a perfect recipe to cook in tin cans (as I recently posted about) and gift to friends over this holiday season 🙂


    • Patti on December 2nd, 2011 at 9:46 am

      what size tin can do you suggest. i like the idea of gifting this cake and the cans would make an easy,unique presentation.


      • Christina on February 8th, 2012 at 4:51 am

        Hi Patti! I have used the large cans (in NZ they’re 700g) and the small cans (350g) and both work well 🙂 I’ve posted about it here ( but just give it a go!


        • Patti on February 8th, 2012 at 8:50 am

          Thanks Christina~ I will have to give the tin cans a try…I used small bread loaf “paper cup liner” type things to make small loafs for gifting at Christmas. They worked okay but the cakes came out kind of funny! but still tasted great! The tins would give them shape that wouldn’t get wonky. The flavor is fantastic with these cakes/bread.


  4. Kathryn on December 2, 2011 at 4:36 am

    I absolutely love ginger cake, this looks wonderfully moist and delicious!


  5. Katrina on December 2, 2011 at 6:21 am

    This sounds so yummy! Can’t wait to try this yummy cake. I love ginger anything too!


  6. Becki's Whole Life on December 2, 2011 at 6:55 am

    I love gingerbread and absolutely have to have some around Christmastime. That is a great tip about wrapping it in saran wrap. I like to put lemon sauce on my gingerbread. I will have to try this recipe this year!


  7. Jennifer@Peanut Butter and Peppers on December 2, 2011 at 7:32 am

    What a great recipe! My friend asked me to make her Gingerbread as a X-mas gift, I think I’ll make her this cake!!


  8. sue@ cakeballs, cookies and more on December 2, 2011 at 8:35 am

    that looks great, but I don’t know if I could wait over night, I would be at it before it cooled.


  9. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts on December 2, 2011 at 9:47 am

    I have not sure I have ever tried anything more than a gingerbread man cookie before, and those are not high on my list of favs. But I love ginger and spices. This cake sounds like it would be amazing. Perfect with coffee or tea for an afternoon snack too!


  10. Paula on December 2, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Looks delicious. Don’t you just love the aroma when this is baking!


  11. Andy on December 2, 2011 at 11:41 am

    This looks great. I love gingerbread. Have you seen Nigella Lawson’s version? She cuts it up and covers it in retro reindeer and pine tree decorations, then lots of icing sugar to make a Bavarian snow scene. It’s ridiculous. In a good way.


  12. Ashley @ Wishes & Dishes on December 2, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    LOVE gingerbread! Nothing beats the smell 🙂


  13. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel on December 2, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    This is an absolute must try for me soon. I’ve made a basic gingerbread but never one with beer and all the extras. Totally in love. I don’t blame you one bit for eating it straight from the plate!


  14. Carissa on December 2, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    We used to have gingerbread once every year in December when some family friends made it. I’m pretty sure they used a box mix, but the flavor was spot on & it’ll always be what I base the taste of gingerbread on. Thanks for the memory trip & the recipe. The color of yours is just like what I remember.


  15. Amy Jo on December 2, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    This made my day! Ditto to everything you said about ginger. Thinking about all the different reasons I could/should make this cake. Thank you.


  16. Parsley Sage on December 2, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Well, you’re not alone! I’ve never even tasted gingerbread cake, although I’m absolutely positive I would love it. Sounds heavenly!

    Buzzed 🙂


  17. Cori on December 2, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    I am now a fan on facebook! Love your blog!


  18. linda on December 2, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    this looks like a fantastic recipe…i made molasses & ginger cookies today (bakesale betty’s recipe)…& they are very good!
    my holiday baking reads like a BEB medley!


  19. Joanne on December 2, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    I’m totally a ginger fiend also…in fact, I’ve been known to borrow people’s pickled ginger off their sushi plate for my own eating purposes. (And by borrow…I might mean steal.) This looks like a delicious recipe! Gingery enough for my psycho palate!


  20. Carolin on December 2, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    mint ginger ale? Is this something you make? I need to know more…. I love all things mint!


    • Michelle on December 3rd, 2011 at 10:12 am

      Hi Carolin, I don’t make it, it’s made by a brand called Tom Tucker. I have only ever found it here in the Pittsburgh area, nowhere else! It’s delicious though and they only thing I crave when I’m sick!


  21. Kim Bee on December 3, 2011 at 12:00 am

    This looks so moist and yummy. I bet it smells really incredible as it’s cooking. I have to try this one.


  22. Jessica on December 3, 2011 at 2:18 am

    I’m going to have to give this a try!

    The first time I tried gingerbread cake was at Christmas two years ago. I can’t believe I waited that long because I love it…with ample amounts of whipped cream! 😉


  23. Melissa@Kids in the Sink on December 3, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Beer. I never heard of beer in ginger bread but I love things made with Guiness so I’ll be trying this for sure.


  24. Jean (Lemons and Anchovies) on December 3, 2011 at 10:42 am

    I love the taste of ginger too and since I think I manage better with cake than cookies, I am all over your recipe. So perfect for the season!


  25. jules on December 3, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Oh wow – i’ve never attempted to make a ginger cake before – but your recipe looks incredible. Love the guinness.


  26. raquel on December 4, 2011 at 2:45 am

    This is a yummy treat for Christmas, I should try to make this for the holidays.


  27. Mi Vida en un Dulce on December 4, 2011 at 7:32 am

    This cake looks wonderful, I like the ones that have spicies, makes me feel I’m on grandma’s.


  28. Joanne on December 4, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Beautiful. This is perfect for my husband, Adam, he loves Gingerbread! A must make!


  29. Mackenzie@The Caramel Cookie on December 5, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    Delicious looking cake! I love gingerbread cake too!


  30. Tracy Williams on December 7, 2011 at 9:00 am

    A fond childhood memory is warm gingerbread dripping with fresh, warm lemon sauce, and topped with a dollop of whipped cream. Heaven itself! I’ve been thinking about this memory for months now, and this recipe looks positively delicious to try!


  31. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction on December 7, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    This gingerbread reminds me of one that my mom made when I was younger. I always loved that she let us have it for breakfast. Now I’m craving some!


  32. Tracey on December 8, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    I really want to make some gingerbread, but I don’t have any stout on hand. Can I use regular beer or leave out the stout altogether?


    • Michelle on December 9th, 2011 at 4:34 pm

      Hi Tracey, I wouldn’t leave it out, but I would use a dark beer if you can. A light beer or an ale won’t have the same outcome.


  33. Kristine Steen on December 9, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Try topping the homemade gingerbread with homemade lemon curd…. Unbelievable !


  34. Lisa on December 21, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    I made this the other day and it turned out great! Wasn’t sure how so much molasses would taste (I find the smell a bit off-putting. I used the Grandma’s brand — is there a milder one I should have tried?) but the end result was delicious. Didn’t make or buy any whipped cream, but some Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream was just as good.


    • Michelle on December 22nd, 2011 at 12:40 am

      Hi Lisa, I’m glad you liked it! I use the Grandma brand of molasses, or Brer Rabbit. They are both milder molasses, you definitely don’t want to use something like black strap, very strong!


  35. gailllc on March 21, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Mmmm, mmm! Just saw this on Pinterest! My mom made gingerbread often through the years when I was growing up, using a recipe from one of the popular standard cookbooks of the era. We always had it with sweetened whipped cream. This is what was expected when someone said gingerbread for those generations past, at least in our extended family/friends (gingerbread cookies were “gingerbread cookies”). We recently made it again with mom, only we put some crystallized ginger in the food processor and pulsed it, then sprinkled bits and sugary powder over the top of the whipped cream. She’d probably like this stout-containing recipe better!


  36. Jack on September 5, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Do you think I could bake this in a Bundt pan?


    • Michelle on October 5th, 2012 at 11:27 am

      Hi Jack, No, there isn’t enough batter for the volume of a Bundt pan.


      • Angelina on November 1st, 2013 at 2:30 am

        For a large bunt pan I always use 2 boxes of cake mix. Works great.


  37. Melissa H@ Kids in the Sink on December 6, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Have you ever tried to make it in loaf form? I’m thinking of trying it so that it can be eaten for breakfast and not be called “cake.” haha… but really, yes or no?


    • Michelle on December 6th, 2012 at 11:20 pm

      Hi Melissa, Yes I do think you could do that! Great idea!


  38. Clair Boone on February 28, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Oh yum! I Loved this idea and featured it on my St Paddy’s day roundup. please feel free to share with your social media networks too!


  39. Charlotte on April 20, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    My father was born and raised in the Beechview/Dormont area of Pittsburgh, and he would talk about his Welsh grandmother would making it and putting hard sauce on it. i remember as a kid, my father liked to dip ginger snaps in hard sauce that you could buy in a jar. I guess that was the closest to his childhood dessert. My mother was not much of a cook and did not bake. Her attempts were scary! You could never tell her mother and aunt were from Pa Dutch country and could cook and the baking was out of this world. They were always baking for me after they moved to Florida when I was little.


  40. Shelly Barker on December 21, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Just made this. I didn’t have any Guiness on hand so I used Vanilla Porter instead and I used ground all spice instead of pepper. A-Mazing!!


  41. meryam on March 10, 2014 at 10:21 am

    It seems delicious, but I don’t use beer or wine. With what can I substitute them????


    • Michelle on March 10th, 2014 at 7:52 pm

      Hi Meryam, Unfortunately, I’ve never tried it with anything else, so I’m not sure what an appropriate substitution would be.


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