Gingerbread Cake | An Old Fashioned Recipe

This gingerbread cake is an old fashioned recipe that uses basic pantry ingredients. It’s easy and delicous!

pieces of gingerbread cake on plates

Sometimes the best recipes are the ones that have been around for a while…as is the case with this gingerbread cake. During one of my conversations with my dad, he told me about a gingerbread cake that his mother made. I, of course, went looking for the recipe, but could find nothing. I was sure it would be somewhere in my grandmother’s recipe book, but I had no luck finding it. I wasn’t ready to give up though, so I searched my vintage cookbooks. I found exactly what I wanted in The Good Housekeeping Cookbook, copyright 1942. 

*Originally published in 2016, this post has been updated with a printable recipe card, better images, and more information. Enjoy!

gingerbread cake recipe ingredients

There are so many things I like about this recipe. It’s easy, uses basic pantry ingredients, bakes in half an hour, has no frosting, and tastes amazing. So that’s five good reasons to give it a try!

gingerbread cake recipe batter in pan

Gingerbread Cake Recipe Tips:

  • I made two substitutions that worked out great. The original recipe called for cloves, and I used allspice. I also substituted brown sugar for molasses.
  • The recipe calls for one cup of hot water. It doesn’t specify exactly how hot the water should be…so I used a very unscientific method. I ran my kitchen faucet with my finger in the hot water stream until it got so hot that I had to pull my finger out. I then filled my measuring cup!
  • In place of the powdered sugar topping, a powdered sugar glaze would be delicious. Place 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar in a mixing bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of milk, and stir. Add more milk until the glaze gets to a pouring consistency. Drizzle it on the cooled cake until the entire cake is covered. 

gingerbread cake recipe baked in pan

gingerbread cake recipe baked in pan

Gingerbread Cake

This gingerbread cake is an old fashioned recipe that uses basic pantry ingredients. It's easy and delicous!
5 from 1 vote
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: gingerbread cake
Servings: 9 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Cooling Time 10 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes


  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice or ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening (Crisco)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup hot water


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Whisk together flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
  • Beat shortening in the bowl of a standing mixer (or large bowl with a hand mixer) until fluffy.
  • Add both sugars and egg. Beat until well mixed, scraping sides of bowl.
  • Add half of the flour mixture, the hot water, and then the remaining flour mixture, mixing well between additions.
  • Put batter in prepared 9 x 9 inch baking pan. (I prepare my baking pans with Baker's Joy.)
  • Bake 30 minutes or until knife inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
  • Cool 10 minutes. Dust generously with powdered sugar.
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This would made the perfect after-school snack or easy week night dessert. I haven’t baked anything for quite a while. The day I made this, it was rainy and dark. I had all the lights on, and as the cake baked, the scent of ginger and cinnamon filled my kitchen. For the first time since my mom died, I felt a bit of contentment. I sat at my kitchen island with a cup of coffee, and thought about my mom…and my grandmother. Happy thoughts that made my heart smile. So what you all told me is true…although the pain of losing a parent never goes away, time makes it less painful. 

Author’s Note October 2020: One of my ongoing tasks as a blogger is updating my old recipes. When I’m in the process of updating, I occasionally run across personal thoughts like the ones in the paragraph above. Sometimes I take them out, and sometimes I leave them in. I decided to leave my thoughts about my mom as is…because as they did back in 2016, they made my heart happy. 

Thank you for stopping by…and for your friendship. 

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