I don't think Old-fashioned Gingerbread Cake is often baked or eaten by today's generation. But if you love gingersnaps or gingerbread men at Christmas time you'll love Gingerbread Cake. All the spicy flavour and goodness of the cookies are contained in the cake and you don't have the bother of rolling, cutting and baking all those individual cookies.
A few years ago, when I was babysitting Ben, I decided I wanted to make a gingerbread cake and because I didn't have my cookbooks and recipes with me I started searching the internet looking for a recipe that might give me a nice moist cake. After finding and discarding dozens of recipes I finally settled on one that sounded like it might be good. It used black strap or cooking molasses which I thought would make a great old-fashioned gingerbread cake.
I made the recipe and had it on the counter cooling when Anne walked through the door, home from university. She was tired and hungry so I told her to have a slice of the gingerbread. Anne loves gingerbread so I didn't have to urge her to have a slice. She took a big bite and immediately spit it out with the speed of a rocket propelled jet. Not one to mince her words, she told me it was awful, disgusting, nasty and other choice words of revulsion all the while spitting the remnants of gingerbread into the garbage bin. I was a little surprised at her reaction to my lovingly baked gingerbread so I took a bite. It Was Awful. But I ate it and said it wasn't bad. It was bad--bitter with the overpowering taste of black strap molasses. There was nothing sweet and gingery about this gingerbread. I ate one more slice during the next two days but I believe Ben and I took the remainder of it to the ducks who seemed to like it well enough.
After Anne recovered from the unpleasant episode she told me her Uncle Derm's Gingerbread was the best she'd ever eaten and if I was going to make gingerbread I should make his. Derm is renowned (even famous) in Anne's family for his baking skills. I knew if I was going to make gingerbread again it certainly wouldn't be the one with black strap molasses so I gladly accepted Derm's recipe in its place.
Gingerbread is delicious right out of the oven served with a lemon, apple or caramel sauce. A dollop of whipped cream never goes astray, either. It is equally good plain or with a pat of butter melting into the gingery brown crumbs of the warm cake. Gingerbread is also just as tasty served cold or at room temperature with the same toppings or spreads. It makes a nice dessert after dinner or a snack tucked into a lunch box.
Make sure to use fancy molasses in this recipe as cooking molasses or black strap molasses is too strong and will not give good results as we know from my little story. Derm's Old-fashioned Gingerbread Cake won't disappoint you. No one will be spitting this one out or feeding it to the ducks!
Old-fashioned Gingerbread Cake
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3⅓ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
1⅓ cups boiling water
1½ cups fancy or table molasses
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Grease a10-inch tube pan or grease and line with parchment paper a 9x13-inch pan.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs beating until well combined. Mix or sift together the flour, salt, spices and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture.
Dissolve molasses in boiling water and add to the thick batter. Stir with spoon or on the lowest setting of the mixer. Turn up the speed once the liquid is incorporated and beat an additional 2 minutes or until any lumps have been dissolved.
Pour batter into prepared pan. The batter will be quite thin.
Bake tube pan about 75 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.
Bake 9x13-inch pan about 55 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.
Let the cake cool in for 15 minutes and then turn out on cooling rack. The 9x13-inch cake may be served from the pan.
Serve the Gingerbread Cake warm or cold, plain or with a sauce or whipped cream. Sauces that go well with Gingerbread are lemon, apple and caramel. Sweetened whipped cream is always a good choice as well.
Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs and beat well until combined.
Sift or mix together the flour, spices, salt and baking soda and add to the creamed mixture.
The mixture will be very thick. Stir the boiling water and molasses together and pour into the stiff batter. Stir with a spoon or on the lowest setting of your mixer. Once the water/molasses has been incorporated turn the speed up and give it a good beating (ouch!). Now the batter will be very thin.
Pour the Gingerbread batter into the prepared pan. Today I used a 9x13-inch baking pan. It baked to perfection in 55 minutes.
The Gingerbread can be served warm or cold. It slices beautifully when cold.
Here, have a slice or two (or three).