Gingerbread loaf reminds me of snowy winter nights, oversized fluffy cardigans, and all that is right with the world.

The smell of gingerbread baking is so warm and cozy that I get an instant hit of serotonin when those signature ginger-cinnamon spices waft through the air.

If you asked me what I liked better: gingerbread loaf or gingerbread cookies, I would say gingerbread loaf for eating and gingerbread cookies for decorating. Cookies are cute and fun and delicious, but there’s just something about sinking a fork into a plush cake topped with thick snowy white glaze that gets me every time.

I LOVE loaves and quick breads because they’re quick, easy, and essentially cake! Who doesn’t love a slice of cake in the morning with coffee? Or mid-morning, after lunch, as afternoon tea, dessert, or a late night snack? Give me all the loaves masquerading as cake, but especially deep, dark, mysterious gingerbread.

mysterious gingerbread loaf | www.iamafoodblog.com

What is gingerbread?

Gingerbread is an umbrella term for baked goods sweetened with molasses or honey and flavored with ginger, cinnamon and cloves. It can range from soft and cakey like this gingerbread loaf to crisp and crunchy like ginger snaps. Gingerbread is especially popular around the winter holiday season because of all the warming spices.

What is the difference between gingerbread and ginger cake?

In most of the world, gingerbread can mean either cookies or cake, but sometimes it’s confusing, so people have started to refer to soft, cake-y gingerbread as ginger cake. This gingerbread loaf is ginger cake, baked in a loaf pan. Really, if you think about it, the name gingerbread is very fitting because it’s kinda sort of bread shaped? This recipe tastes very similar to Starbucks’ gingerbread loaf except there isn’t any crystallized ginger because I don’t really like things like fruit and nuts in my loaves.

This is the best kind of gingerbread out there: heavily spiced with a large amount of ginger and cinnamon, scented with sticky molasses, and made extra soft and moist with a touch of applesauce. It’s a classic old-fashioned gingerbread, the kind you want to come home too after an afternoon of playing in the snow. I like it glazed, which reminds me of a layer of freshly fallen snow, or dusted with powdered sugar, or with a dollop of softly whipped cream. I like it all ways and always :)

gingerbread loaf | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to make gingerbread loaf

  1. Prep: Heat your oven, lightly butter a loaf pan, and whisk the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Mix: Whisk together the molasses with a bit of warm water to loosen it.
  3. Cream: Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the egg, applesauce, and molasses-mix.
  4. Fold: Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until well combined. Pour into your prepped pan.
  5. Bake: Let the gingerbread bake and enjoy the delicious smells that will drive you nuts with longing.
  6. Enjoy: Let cool completely in the pan, then glaze (if desired), slice and enjoy!

Gingerbread loaf ingredients

All the ingredients for gingerbread are pretty standard loaf ingredients, with a couple of special mentions. You’ll need: flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt, butter, sugar, egg, molasses, and applesauce.

  • Ginger: Try to use fresh powdered ginger as ginger tends to loose its potency as it sits in your cabinet. I love my gingerbread extra gingery and sometimes I even add an extra teaspoon to the mix.
  • Molasses: Make sure you get the right kind of molasses, because it’s important! You want unsulfured fancy or light molasses, more on that below!
  • Applesauce: This adds an extra bit of moisture in your loaf.

gingerbread loaf cooling | www.iamafoodblog.com

Which molasses should I use for gingerbread?

This gingerbread uses light/fancy molasses.

But maybe you’re wondering: what is molasses?

Molasses is a dark and sticky smoky syrup that’s the byproduct of refining sugar from sugar cane or sugar beets.

gingerbread loaf wet ingredients | www.iamafoodblog.com

There are three types of molasses out there:

  • Light Molasses is the sweetest and lightest of the three kinds of molasses. It’s also called first pass, mild, sweet, and light molasses. It’s the one most commonly used when baking ginger cookies, gingersnaps, gingerbread, and ginger cakes.
  • Dark molasses, also called full, robust, cooking, or second pass, is thicker, darker, and stronger. This is used in baking gingerbreads with a stronger, more molasses-y flavor.
  • Blackstrap Molasses is the darkest and thickest of the three types of molasses. It’s bitter and not really used for baking, more for savories like baked beans and barbecue.

gingerbread loaf cooling | www.iamafoodblog.com

What if I don’t have molasses?

No molasses gingerbread is super easy. If you don’t have any molasses on hand and there’s a big snowstorm outside, use this molasses substitute:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup

Mix them together and you’re good to go. In fact, if you’re not a huge fan of the flavor of molasses, which can be robust, caramel-y, and smoky, just make no-molasses gingerbread!

Which loaf pan?

I bake all my loaves in this 1 lb loaf pan.

gingerbread loaf ready for the oven | www.iamafoodblog.com

Can I make this as a gingerbread cake?

You can absolutely make this as a cake! It slices up beautifully and looks so pretty with a dollop of whipped cream on top. Bake it in an 8×8 or 9×9 inch pan.

Happy gingerbread-ing!
xoxo steph

gingerbread loaf | www.iamafoodblog.com

PS – If you’re a gingerbread lover, here are some other gingerbread recipes for you!

gingerbread loaf recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Gingerbread Loaf

Give me all the loaves masquerading as cake, but especially deep, dark, mysterious gingerbread.
Serves 8
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins

Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temp
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup fancy molasses unsulfured light
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce

Special Equipment

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 350°F and lightly butter a loaf pan. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
    gingerbread loaf dry ingredients | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • In a bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together 1 cup hot water and molasses. Set aside.
    gingerbread loaf wet ingredients | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Stir in the egg until glossy, then mix in the apple sauce and molasses mix.
    gingerbread loaf batter | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well combined and pour into the pan.
    gingerbread loaf ready for the oven | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Bake for 1 hour or until a tester comes out clean. If the top starts to brown too much, top loosely with a piece of foil. Cool completely in the pan on wire rack before optional glazing (see notes for glaze).
    gingerbread loaf cooling | www.iamafoodblog.com

Notes

This is a medium-low sweet loaf, so the glaze will add a lot of sweetness if you're looking for that.
To glaze: mix 1.5 cups powdered sugar with 3 tbsp milk until smooth. Spoon over the top of the loaf.
Estimated nutrition doesn't include glaze.

Estimated Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Gingerbread Loaf
Amount Per Serving
Calories 425 Calories from Fat 113
% Daily Value*
Fat 12.5g19%
Saturated Fat 7.5g47%
Cholesterol 51mg17%
Sodium 493mg21%
Potassium 67mg2%
Carbohydrates 74g25%
Fiber 1.5g6%
Sugar 37.4g42%
Protein 5.3g11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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10 Comments

  1. This looks utterly perfect. Good amount of ginger in there too – lovely!

  2. Ter says:

    Hi. If I make also for Christmas gifts, how long will they last? Can I freeze and then thaw before giving as gifts? Can’t wait to make! Thanks.

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi ter,
      i haven’t frozen this particular loaf cake, but loaf cake freezes very well, i would wrap tightly in plastic wrap then again in foil and place in a freezer safe bag. it will be good for up to 3 weeks. make sure they are completely cool and don’t frost before freezing. oh, and freeze whole, without slicing :)

  3. Pat says:

    Is there a substitute for apple sauce?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi pat,
      if you don’t have any, you can leave it out, the loaf will just be slightly more firm :)

  4. Betsy Eberg says:

    Can I split into 2 smaller loafs, and if so, how should I adjust the baking time

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi betsy,
      yes, you can make two smaller loaves! start checking on them at 35 minutes, they will probably need about 35-40. they’ll be done when a tester comes out clean :)

  5. John says:

    5 stars
    Made it for myself and it reminded me of the spicy gingerbread of my youth. Loved it. Could I add crystallized ginger to batter or would it sink? Or sprinkle on top or would it burn? Just need opinion of professional baker.

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi john,
      so happy you liked it!
      you can definitely stir it in or sprinkle it on. it won’t burn, but it will sink a bit :)

  6. JOANN DEPRISCO says:

    5 stars
    Oh oh oh oh oh! I’ve been making this loaf for years and I LOVE IT! I add a bit of ground black pepper cuz that’s what my mom did, and the applesauce really is a must. My frosting is cream cheese and I’d be driven from home forever without it. Merry Christmas! ??

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