Buttermilk Gingerbread with Warm Lemon Sauce

Servings: 6 serving(s)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 1 hours 15 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hours

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Buttermilk gingerbread is a moist and spicy classic. Serve with a warm sauce or whipped cream. No frosting required.

buttermilk gingerbread with warm lemon sauce

Did you grow up with the old-fashioned combination of lemon and gingerbread?

If there is any recipe that reminds me of my grandmother it’s gingerbread with warm lemon sauce. Gingerbread with lemon sauce sticks in my mind because, as a child, gingerbread with butterscotch sauce was my favourite. But tastes change and by the time I was baking my own gingerbread it was lemon sauce that I preferred.

Lemon and gingerbread might sound like a wacky combination if you weren’t raised with it, but they really are delicious together. The combo is an East Coast classic.

buttermilk gingerbread with warm lemon sauce

I have made this buttermilk gingerbread recipe a few times now, changing up the spices as I go. The last time I made it I used French Gingerbread Spices from Spicetrekkers. (It’s available at Liquid Gold locations in Atlantic Canada and from The Spiceman at the Historic Halifax Market, among other places.)

That’s the beauty of gingerbread — you can make it your own with family favourite blends of spices.

Spicetrekkers french gingerbread spices

The Lemon Sauce is meant to be on the thin side rather than thick like a custard or curd. If you prefer yours a little thicker use the larger amount of cornstarch. The lemon sauce recipe is adapted from Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens by Marie Nightingale originally published in 1970 and then reissued a few years ago. I doubled the lemon zest and tripled the lemon juice originally called for in the recipe.

gingerbread with lemon sauce 4 sm

Buttermilk Gingerbread Recipe

Only slightly adapted from Chow


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2  tsp. ginger*
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon*
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg*
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves*
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk**
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 2 eggs

*Can substitute 3 tsp. of your favourite spice blend

** Can substitute buttermilk with an equal amount of unsweetened yogurt. Or, make your own by mixing 1/2 cup of milk  (minus half a Tbsp) with 1/2 Tbsp. of either vinegar or lemon juice. Let the milk sit for a few minutes, until thickened.


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper or grease and flour it.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk flours, baking soda, salt and spices.
  3. In another bowl whisk the buttermilk and vanilla.
  4. In a large bowl beat the butter and brown sugar. Beat in molasses then eggs, one at a time.
  5. Add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk mixture (beginning and ending with the flour mixture.)
  6. Scrape batter into prepared pan, smooth the top and bake for 50-60 min, until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Cool in pan for 10 minutes then invert onto a rack.
  8. Cut into 1 1/2” slices and serve with warm lemon sauce.

Warm Lemon Sauce

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 ½-2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 ¾ cups water
  • Zest of a lemon
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  1. In a saucepan over medium heat whisk the cornstarch and salt in to the sugar. Whisk in the water.
  2. Bring to the boil and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until it begins to thicken.
  3. Stir in lemon juice, lemon rind and butter and pour over warmed slices of gingerbread.

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