Gingerbread Cake

Gingerbread cake is a holiday classic, but many recipes fall short on delivering any actual ginger flavor, and end up tasting more like a lightly spiced molasses cake instead. While a mild, docile gingerbread may be okay for some folks, I like my gingerbread to have some bite to it. This recipe, modeled on the famous gingerbread they used to serve at NYC’s Gramercy Tavern, definitely delivers on that intense ginger flavor, along with fragrant holiday spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom. However, the real “secret ingredient” in this recipe is the stout. Although other gingerbread recipes just use water or maybe coffee, the addition of stout gives this cake extra richness and underscores the spices and molasses.

If you like, you can decorate this cake with nothing more than a simple dusting of confectioners’ sugar once it’s cooled. Or, you can give it an extra dose of ginger and spice by drizzling it with a simple glaze (like the one I use for my Caribbean Rum Cake with Rum Glaze), but substitute ginger beer in place of the milk (Reed’s Extra Ginger or Fevertree work well). You can also give your glaze a bit more ginger-y bite by mixing in some dried ginger, but be careful not to overdo it, as the dried spice can be pretty potent in a glaze.

This gingerbread is delicious on its own, with nothing more than a cup of coffee or tea to wash it down, or you can dress it up with a dollop of whipped cream. If you’re feeling extra festive, you can serve it with some sugar plums on the side and some eggnog (nonalcoholic or grown-up, your call).

This cake is good warm from the oven, but it’s even better the next day. Since it is made with oil, this cake will stay moist if covered and kept at room temperature for several days (and will keep longer than that if properly wrapped and refrigerated). It would also probably freeze well, but I’ve never had that much cake left over to find out.


• 1 cup stout beer, such as Guinness or Murphy’s
• 1 cup molasses (regular or robust- do not use black strap)
• 1/2 tablespoon baking soda
• 3 large eggs
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
• 3/4 cup vegetable oil
• 2 cups all-purpose flour (2 cups plus 4 tablespoons if using cake flour)
• 2 tablespoons ground ginger
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
• 1 tablespoon grated, peeled fresh ginger root


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9- X 5-inch loaf pan, line the bottom and sides with parchment, and grease the parchment. Alternatively, butter and flour a 6-cup Bundt pan.

2. In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the stout and molasses and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the baking soda. Allow to sit until the foam dissipates.

3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the eggs and both sugars. Whisk in the oil.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, ground ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom.

5. Combine the stout mixture with the egg mixture, then whisk this liquid into the flour mixture, half at a time. Add the fresh ginger and stir to combine.

6. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 1 hour, or until the top springs back when gently pressed. Do not open the oven until the gingerbread is almost done, or the center may fall slightly. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.