Old Fashioned Gingerbread

Servings: 6-8 serving(s)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 1 hours 10 minutes

Cooking time: 55 minutes

Take me to the recipe

Cake doesn’t have to be complicated. This recipe has stood the test of time, is trusted by generations of bakers, and it couldn’t be simpler to make. Enjoy this old fashioned gingerbread cake while it’s warm, with Caramel Sauce poured over, or vanilla ice cream (or both). It’s also delicious plain or with butter. 

Old fashioned gingerbread recipe: a classic gingerbread cake that's simple to make and always satisfying.

This is the recipe that began my love affair with gingerbread. My mom discovered it the year I was born and I have been eating it ever since. To this day I have never found a gingerbread recipe that I love more.

The recipe came out of the Laura Secord Canadian Cookbook, compiled in 1967 as a Centennial project of the Canadian Home Economics Association. The collection amounts to a nation-wide family favourites cookbook with recipes that span centuries and the many cultural influences that are Canada. In the book this recipe is called Signal Hill Gingerbread.

My copy of the book came from a second hand bookstore but thankfully the book was reissued a few years ago. If you’re on the lookout for a new “go to” cookbook this is an excellent choice. Of all my mom’s cookbooks, this is the one she has used most often.

This is about the easiest gingerbread cake recipe you’ll ever find.

You simply toss the egg, butter and molasses in on top of the sifted dry ingredients, mix well then add the boiling water. To make things even easier I line the pan with parchment paper. The cake comes out without a hitch and the pan is easier to wash.

Eat this cake while it’s warm, with Coffee Toffee Sauce poured over, or vanilla ice cream (or both). It’s also delicious plain and I know others who always eat it with butter.

Moist gingerbread is an easy one-bowl cake


Old Fashioned Gingerbread

old fashioned gingerbread cake

This is the easiest gingerbread cake you’ll ever make and the best tasting too. The texture is excellent. A family favourite.

  • Author: Bridget Oland
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 min
  • Total Time: 1 hour


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup soft butter
  • ¾ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup boiling water


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Grease and flour an 8”x 8” square pan (or line the pan with parchment paper.) *
  3. Sift together dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Add the butter, molasses and egg and beat for two minutes or 300 strokes by hand. (This is a very old recipe…)
  5. Add the boiling water.
  6. Beat for another two minutes and turn into prepared pan.
  7. Bake 50-55 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly touched.


A great tip from a reader: “In preparing your loaf pan for the gingerbread mixture, take a mixture of a handful of sugar with a handful of cinnamon and use that to sprinkle onto the greased pan instead of just flour. It gives the edges and bottom of the cake some additional flavor that the flour will not.”



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77 thoughts on “Old Fashioned Gingerbread

  1. Marge says:

    I believe the strokes are counted because I have a gingerbread recipe very much like this one, and the instructions say not to over stir as it will make the cake fall in the middle. Right or wrong? I don’t know!!

    1. Bridget says:

      Hi Marge,
      Makes sense. And it’s a sure sign that the recipe is an oldie when the strokes are counted.

      1. Hazel Gaudet says:

        I.m trying it today. A wet day love getting ur receipts

        1. Maureen says:

          Great recipe Just reminds of my dad {he was the baker in our family {Mostly Mum did do some

  2. Debbie Marsh says:

    I absoutley love this recipie!!I have made 3 so far lol.I have also doubled recipie made in a9x13 pan yummy now have to make one as a birthday cake.

    1. Bridget says:

      Hi Debbie,
      We must have similar taste in gingerbread! Great idea to double it…I haven’t ever tried that. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. Helene says:

    My Laura Secord Canadian Cookbook is the 1977 edition. It has shortening instead of butter. I can’t wait to try this cake. I love any cakes with spices and molasses.

    1. Bridget says:

      Hi Helene!
      You know, I always replace shortening with butter and never think to mention it…

  4. harold borden says:

    I made my first ginger bread the other day It is great and my friends like it. It was sticky on top and bottom were did I go wrong?

  5. Bridget Oland says:

    Hi Harold, If it was this recipe that you used I have a couple of thoughts…Was the oven fully preheated before you put the pan in? Also, how long did you let the cake cool in the plan? 10 minutes should be sufficient before you remove it to finish cooling on a rack. I hope that helps…

  6. Dianne says:

    I lost my recipe for gingerbread many years ago and had to google the recipe and low and behold I found it here. Thanks to Crosby’s molasses.

    1. Hi Dianne, I’m so pleased you found the recipe. It’s my very favourite…

  7. Penny says:

    can this be put in a loaf pan?

  8. Penny says:

    Can a loaf pan be used?

  9. Penny says:

    can a loaf pan be used instead of an 8×8

    1. Shawn C says:

      It would be worth a try. I’d add ten minutes to the baking time, or toothpick-test for doneness.

    2. Donna says:

      My mom used to make this recipe so I’m excited to try it. I’ll need to make it gluten free because I have Celiac. I’m hoping it will still be good with the gluten free flours.

  10. Marg says:

    Is there a recipe for the sauce for this cake?

      1. Marie Arnold says:

        I amgoing to make this recipe today and put away for christmas, A lemon sauce is also very good with gingerbread.

        1. Hi Marie, Lemon sauce is such a classic with gingerbread. I don’t have a great recipe for lemon sauce though so must go on the hunt for a good version.

          1. Christine Storrs says:

            We always have our gingerbread with applesauce and a dollop of whipped cream.

      2. we like our ginger bread cake with a lemon sauce. yummyadd lemon juice to water and sugar bring ro a boil thicken with cornstarch, easy . i use real lemon juice in the bottle.

        1. Bridget Oland says:

          Hi Carmen, Lemon sauce is such a great topping for gingerbread. Classic and old fashioned. Yum.

      3. Nancy Lindsay says:

        Or Hard Sauce on warm gingerbread! My New England father always insisted on traditional hard sauce on warm Indian Pudding (also rich with molasses) at Thanksgiving. Hard sauce is a sweet, rich dessert sauce made by creaming or beating butter and sugar with rum, brandy, whiskey, sherry, vanilla or other flavourings. It is served cold, often with hot desserts.

        1. Bridget Oland says:

          Oh yum!

      4. Lynn Brown says:

        While my personal preference with gingerbread cake is a lemon sauce, my mother always served it with a custard sauce made with good old Bird’s custard powder. Comfort food for sure!

        1. Bridget Oland says:

          Hi Lynn, I love custard sauce with gingerbread too. And I just plain love custard sauce :)

  11. Lorraine says:

    Hi there;
    I made this recipe last week and it was loved. It was moist and had a lovely “spice” smell. I sprinkled it with sifted icing sugar as I was bringing it to a social gathering. I doubled the recipe and used a oblong pan, lined with parchment to bake it which made it very easy to remove. I think it would bake well in a lined loaf pan as well.
    Happy baking. L

  12. Anni says:

    I frosted it with cream cheese frosting! YUMMO

  13. Kathy says:

    Do you use fresh ginger, powdered Ginger or stem Ginger?

    1. Hi Kathy, powdered ginger would be perfect!

  14. Cathy says:

    I am looking for a recipe my mom used to make, molasses cookies. They were soft & delicious, please help

  15. Emma says:

    We made a similar one from an old cook book I have. It was the first time I had added boiling water to a cake recipe. My recipe did the more traditional cream butter and sugar and gradually add the remaining wet items. I think we overbeat it. It fell a bit in the center. Still very delicious and one we want to try again. We’ll give this version a shot because it makes an 8×8 which is a better size for us. We drizzled powdered-sugar-and-milk icing on top.

    1. Hi Emma, the icing sounds like a wonderful addition. Glad that you enjoyed!

  16. June bloye says:

    What fun to find my family’s old recipe here. My grandmother made this, then my mother and Ive been using the same recipe for50 years myself. No one ever knew why it fell in the middle. A few years ago I decided the batter was just too moist so I reduced the water to 3/4 of a cup and that seemed to work. I love it best with plain yogurt on top, sprinkled with cinnamon. Real comfort food for us.

  17. Emsmythe says:

    My mom made this when I was a kid. We devoured it! Thanks for the memory. Mom always served it with ‘Dream Whip.” I don’t think I knew what real whipping cream tasted like until I moved away from home!

  18. leta charlton says:

    Hi I’m looking for recipe to make gingerbread coolies. ….this sounds good too

  19. B says:

    I substituted 1/2 cup butter for 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce. I also added a little more ginger & 1/4 tsp of cloves to make it a little spicier. Everyone loved it.

    1. Thanks for the suggestions. That’s a great way to lower the fat and calories.

    2. bella dittburner says:

      We substitute oil with unsweetened apple sauce in almost all baking recipes never had any problems..

  20. Marg says:

    Anyone know how to convert cups to grams in this recipe.

    1. Hi Marg, Each cup of flour (the way I measure) is close to 5 oz, so when I convert ounces to grams I get just shy of 142 g. Hope that helps.

  21. Barbara says:

    I had a gingerbread cake with raisins in it and it was scrumptious!! Could I add them to this recipe and if so, which raisins should I use? Thanks, Barb

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Barbera, If you wanted to add raisins to gingerbread I’d choose the Sultanas. They’re softer than Thompson raisins so good for a cake, I think.

  22. Valerie Stackhouse says:

    Hello, What speed should I use if I use my hand mixer

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Valerie, I’d use low to medium with my hand mixer.

  23. Margaret says:

    Excellent cake! I made a mix of 1/2 c butter and 1 c brown sugar, made a gingerbread pear upside down cake with pears, candied ginger, and cherries. Yummy!

    1. Hi Margaret, Thanks for the suggestion. Sounds delicious.

  24. Marsha says:

    Hello, all I have is the cooking molasses. How different is that to the Fancy molasses? Could I use the cooking molasses?

    1. Hi Marsha, Cooking molasses is a blend of 70% blackstrap molasses and 30% fancy molasses. You could use it in this recipe but the taste would be very strong. Another option would be to use 1/2 cup cooking molasses and 1/4 cup honey in this recipe.

  25. Carmen Hood says:

    I’m a single person. I really miss my wife’s baking and cooking. Never thought I could do this but you make it sound so easy . So I tried your recipe it was delicious. Thanks.

    1. Lynn Purdy says:

      Carmen, I am so glad to hear that you tried a baking recipe and were successful. Baking is not very hard, as long as you measure your ingredients properly and that you have good instructions. I hope you venture into other recipes. Thank you for sharing. Happy Holidays!

  26. Esther says:

    Just pulled it out of the oven and of course I had to cut a corner out while it was still steaming…mmmm delicious! Thank you I followed the recipe not quite as written (I did not do the 300 stirs) and I also added some ground cloves.

    1. Lynn Purdy says:

      Esther, it is hard to resist that corner when it come out of the oven, it smells so good. So happy that you enjoyed the gingerbread. Happy Holidays.

  27. Pattyjune says:

    My aunt Bea gave me this recipe years ago. I have moved twice since then and can’t find the recipe . So glad to find it.
    She was a great cook.

    1. Lynn Purdy says:

      Pattyjune, I am so happy that we posted this recipe and that you saw it. As I have said many times, food gives us such great memories.

  28. Andrew says:

    I have made this a few times now, in two loaf pans (cooking time adjusted to 40 minutes). I find it’s not very gingery, so I recommend tripling the ginger to 1 Tbsp (3 teaspoons) and I also add 2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Andrew, Thank you for your suggestions. Using loaf pans is a great idea and the extra dose of ginger sounds delicious.

  29. James Derry says:

    This recipe works perfectly. I got my students to make two different versions of ginger cake and this one is a keeper. Rises evenly, does not crack, moist, excellent crumb, and tastes delicious. I always review comments before making a web recipe, so I took the advice of one and increased the ginger to 1 Tablespoon.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi James, I’m so happy you discovered the recipe. Credit goes to my mom (via the Laura Secord cookbook) for raising me on this gingerbread.

  30. Melanie says:

    Can this be made in a Bundt pan?

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Melanie, It would need to be a smallish Bundt pan since this recipe is normally baked in an 8″ x 8″ pan. The crumb of the cake is on the delicate side but all should be fine of you grease your pan well.

      1. Nancy Lindsay says:

        It would be darling made in the little individual-serving Bundt pans!

  31. Alda says:

    I would appreciate any recommendations you would have for using this recipe to make cupcakes.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Alda, This recipe will likely make a dozen cupcakes. They might take as little as 20 minutes to bake, not sure. You can check them after 20 minutes and then decide how much longer they’ll need.

  32. Pamela says:

    Made this for Christmas day dessert and it was a huge hit! Am already planning on making another for a get together this week. We frosted ours with cream cheese frosting and it’s sooooo yummy. Thanks for the great recipe!

  33. Lynda Caouette says:

    Is there nutritional information for the traditional gingerbread? Love your emails and recipes always. Crazy about molasses. Thanks so much for any assistance you can give this Weight Watcher. Please be safe and well! Lynda

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Lynda, We only have nutritional info for a handful of our recipe. We aspire to include it for all but aren’t there yet.

  34. Aruni says:

    This was my dessert for Christmas dinner in 2019. Served with the coffee toffee sauce and Everyone absolutely loved it! Planning to make the same for this Christmas even though it’s going to be in a much smaller scale. Thank you and sorry for posting a year later!

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Aruni, It’s never too late to share your thoughts on our recipes. I’m so please those recipes have become favourites. Have a wonderful Christmas.

  35. Doreen says:

    I have a mini loaf pan ,can I make this recipe work .with sauce when serving?

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Doreen, Yes, this cake can be baked in loaf pans. (I love gingerbread baked in a loaf pan ad served in slabs, drizzled with sauce.)

  36. Debra Brien says:

    Made this for Christmas this year. Real nice , moist cake. Even better the next day…would definitely make again. Lots of flavour.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Debra, Glad you enjoyed the gingerbread cake. It has always been my favourite.

  37. Jaime says:

    I have that cookbook. I’m going to have to give that recipe a try.

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