Gingerbread Cake | An Old Fashioned Recipe

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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!
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5 from 1 vote
Servings: 9 servings
Author: Ann Drake
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Cooling Time 10 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
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  • 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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Recipe Rating


  1. I just discovered your blog and I love it! Your post was lovely and I can relate to your missing your mom and grandma. I can’t say how delicious this cake is, but it’s baking now and if the aroma is any indication it will be yummy! It was so easy to mix up and I’m anxious for my family to try it! I plan on making a cup of herbal tea and sitting down to sample it this afternoon.

  2. I plan to use this recipe this afternoon as it really looks simple. I have molasses I would like to use (evidently it lasts almost forever!). Do you know the amount to substitute for the brown sugar?
    I loved reading about your memories. Cooking has a strong connection for me with my Mother. And now I am passing that connection on to my grandsons!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Mary Ann…just increase the amount of white sugar to 1 1/4 cups and add 1 tablespoon of molasses. Enjoy!

  3. The old fashioned gingerbread cake recipe sounds really good. Did you try the recipe with the molasses in it instead of the brown sugar? How much molasses did it call for? My family and I like molasses so I think I would like to try it that way also.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Diane…no I never made it with molasses. You can try increasing the amount of white sugar to 1 1/4 cups and add 1 tablespoon of molasses. Let me know how it comes out!

  4. 5 stars
    Classic recipes are the best! Thank you for the hints on substitutions.

  5. Oh this looks delightful as an old time favorite. Older friends love to be reminded of this
    special dessert when they were children!
    Would you happen to have free gift tag printables to accompaniment this cake?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      No…I’m sorry, but if you are giving it at Christmas, there are a few different sets of gift tags in the Members Only Library. Happy Holidays!

  6. Linda M Jung says:

    I can’t wait to try it! Thank you Ann. I don’t think I can wait for Fall! That Fall feeling don’t get here till November!

  7. Thank you for this perfectly lovely recipe, Ann. It’s been a long, hot summer and I’ve been yearning for Fall. The wonderful aroma filling my kitchen this afternoon was just what I needed. We had a piece while it was still warm… Heavenly!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      So glad you enjoyed it Jan…thanks for writing!

  8. Jane Windham says:

    Ann, one day I’d like to sit at your counter, drink coffee, and share some gingerbread! We’d have so much to talk about! I bet your dad loved the gingerbread!

  9. Love the recipe, will have to make when my son is here next weekend. He loves anything gingerbread.
    Love your blog.

  10. Printed off recipe, my son loves anything associated with gingerbread, so will make for when he is here next weekend.
    Love the blog. Look forward to getting in my emails.

  11. Thanks so much for sharing! My mom used to make gingerbread cake when I was a child. It was one of my favorites. And like you, alas, the recipe was lost. I will give this a try!

  12. Oh this reminded me of my moms,can almost smell it.Did your dad get to taste? Thanks for your download ebooks,love them.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Yes my dad got part of the cake and gave it a thumbs up!

  13. Thanks, Sounds yummy. Cant wait to see what you come up with next.

  14. Ann, You have the best recipes !!! I have made your mom’s beef stew, this gingerbread cake, the zucchini chocolate cake, and the strawberry no bake dessert.The last one is my children and grandchildren’s favorite.

  15. Oh this sounds wonderful. Do you know how or if the baking time would change if you put the batter into a mini bundt cake pan?
    Thank you!
    Oh thanks for the early fall decor post. I love fall! I especially crave it this time of year as its so close & yet still far away.????????????

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Actually the recipe in my cookbook said to bake the cake for 55 minutes. I thought that sounded like an awfully long time so I set my timer for 25 min. I had to add 5 more minutes and it was perfectly done. Perhaps start with 20 min. and go from there? A bundt cake would be very pretty too. Enjoy!

  16. Thank you for writing about the gingerbread cake recipe. You reminded me I have the same cookbook of my Mom’s. I hunted it down. Thumbing through it I finally found the date bar (although Mom always called it the Date Nut Bar) recipe I thought was lost forever! Thank you, thank you. By the way that cake recipe looks delicious and i will be making it for dessert tomorrow! A cozy warm hug smell sounds divine!

  17. Penny at Enjoying The Simple Things says:

    I love gingerbread! Thanks for sharing the recipe Ann.

  18. My Dad passed away in May. He was 93 and had been in a nursing home in the bed next to my mom for 3 years. We always thought my mom would go first because she is bedridden and has Dementia. But God had other plans! I miss my Dad although I am happy he doesn’t still have to be in the nursing home.His quality of life was awful as far as I was concerned his last several years because he would not leave my mom’s side. He was a minister and I have videos I’m converting to DVD’s. I can still see and hear him preach. Sorry this post is so long, but I’ve been a little teary about him today.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Oh thank you for sharing…I have those teary days too. You dad sounds like a wonderful person…you are one of the lucky ones! Just cherish the memories.

  19. Thanks for the delicious sounding recipe and I’m happy to hear that the making of it brought you some comfort.
    A comment about the hot water – I was taught that hot water out of the tap is not a good choice because of the sludge that collects in the hot water tank over time. I always heat mine in the kettle or microwave.

  20. One of my favorite recipes of my grandmother’s is her Gingerbread recipe! I made it every week when husband and I were first married. That was 33 years ago and it always brings back wonderful memories each time I bake it. Faith, family, and food run hand in hand in this family and I can’t wait to share it with my daughter’s in love and grandchildren. Time is a great help but you are forever changed after you loose your mom. Blessings to you precious one.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Thank you Sandi…blessings to you too!

  21. Definitely saving and making. I make these Molasses Crackles. Like a mini gingerbread cookie. To die for.

    I can only make these things if I’m going somewhere, otherwise, my clothes won’t fit!

  22. Oh Ann…. I’m trying to be good. Oh well. Life is short! Thank you!

  23. It’s great to hear you are doing a little better. This post was really touching as it also brought back good memories of time past. I love ginger bread and will be giving this a try, today.

    Thanks for posting it!

  24. Kathleen G says:

    Old fashionee cake with homey smells and memories about mom and grandma equals a Blessed day:).
    And oh yes! a cosy rainy day too!
    Kathleen in Az

  25. Good Morning Ann, Thank you for this simple recipe…I will try it…all the wonderful spice scents of fall…Happy Sunday to you ! …..Smiles…..Anne

  26. Elizabeth says:

    Yum! This looks super easy and delicious. I just printed the recipe and can’t wait to make it. My kids are excited, too. They go back to school tomorrow. I think I will surprise them with it this week :) Thank you!

  27. ???? Thank You So Much For the Recipe ????I can’t wait to make it and smell the beautiful aromas and Dream about my Mother and Grandmother too ???? hugs Regina xox ????