The aroma of gingerbread baking is probably one of the most memorable scents of the Christmas holiday. The combination of spices is hard to mistake and we automatically envision decorated cookies or houses. If making gingerbread from scratch seems too complicated, you're not relegated to those elaborately constructed houses—just skip the architectural project and bake up a rich, moist, and fragrant loaf cake instead.
Gingerbread is also wonderfully customizable. Love the earthy sweetness of molasses? Use more of that and less of the granulated sugar. Want just a hint of molasses? Feel free to reduce it a bit. This recipe strives for a good balance between the two, but sample the batter and decide for yourself.
As for the spices, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove are common, but you can alter the proportions to suit your taste. This recipe leaves out the clove for a milder taste. Finally, the sweet tangy notes of cream cheese frosting adds a decadent touch to this simple cake, but a plain icing or powdered sugar will work fine if you'd like to lighten it up.
This loaf is lovely and rich enough to serve as dessert, but we won't judge if you decide it makes a great breakfast.
- For the Cake
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- For the Frosting
- 8 ounces cream cheese (softened)
- 8 tablespoon unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of salt
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Gather the ingredients and preheat the oven to 350 F.
Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer (you can also use a hand mixer) and beat for a few minutes until the sugar has been completely incorporated.
Add the eggs one at a time and continue beating.
Add the molasses and vanilla extract and beat to incorporate.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and salt.
Alternate beating in the buttermilk and the flour mixture until fully incorporated, but do not over mix.
Butter and flour a loaf pan and pour in the batter.
Bake for 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let rest before removing from the loaf pan.
Add the softened cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and salt to a bowl and beat together until smooth.
Stir in the powdered sugar until fully incorporated and the frosting is smooth and spreadable.
When the loaf cake has cooled, top with the cream cheese frosting.
Serve and enjoy!