Soft, moist, and intensely flavored gingerbread loaf tastes just like the holidays! Made with molasses and ginger and drizzled with orange glaze, you’ll welcome a slice any time of day.
Today’s wonderfully spiced gingerbread loaf is breakfast, snack, and dessert all rolled into one. Orange icing and all. You can make the loaf as muffins (see my notes!) or serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert. Have a slice with coffee in the afternoon or top with homemade whipped cream and fresh cranberries. The possibilities are endless and if you have a few minutes to spare, you can whip up this gingerbread batter. Let’s do this!
Why You’ll Love This Gingerbread Loaf
One of the many things I love about this recipe is the smell as it bakes– your home will smell completely divine as guests come and go, not to mention put you in a completely festive holiday state of mind. If you need even more convincing to give gingerbread loaf a try… it’s:
- Deeply spiced and moist
- Has rich, dark molasses flavor
- Not overly sweet
- Easy to make
- Perfect any time of day
- Adaptable into muffins or cupcakes (or try my gingerbread muffins)
- Delicious with or without the icing
- Always impressive!
Ingredients in Spiced Gingerbread Loaf
We use pretty standard ingredients to make gingerbread loaf. They’re all pantry basics that you likely already have on hand.
- Flour: This is a dense, moist cake so we need sturdy all-purpose flour as the base.
- Baking Soda: Baking soda helps it rise.
- Salt & Spices: This loaf is a deeply spiced gingerbread. There’s plenty of ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. The three spices I use the most this time of year! Also: I add black pepper. I love it so much in my pumpkin pie, I figured why not in gingerbread too. There’s not much– only 1/8 teaspoon– but just enough to make this a super spiced gingerbread, unlike any others I’ve ever tried.
- Molasses: A gingerbread essential. There are varying intensities of molasses on store shelves from lighter molasses to blackstrap molasses. Just like in my gingerbread oatmeal cookies, you want a dark molasses, also sold as “robust” molasses. A few brands I favor: Grandma’s Robust Molasses, Grandma’s Unsulphured Molasses, or Wholesome!’s Organic Molasses (this stuff is potent and delicious– it’s what I used in the pictured loaf and why the loaf looks so dark.)
- Water: We use hot water to thin out the molasses and provide some liquid for the gingerbread batter.
- Butter: Adds flavor and moisture. Make sure it’s properly softened to room temperature before beginning.
- Brown Sugar: We use brown sugar (light or dark) for extra molasses flavor and moisture.
- Egg: One egg binds everything together.
- Vanilla Extract: A must! Vanilla pairs wonderfully with all of the spices and flavors we have going on. Try using homemade vanilla extract.
Son of a nutcracker! This gingerbread is dark!
How to Make Gingerbread Loaf
- Mix the dry ingredients together.
- Whisk the molasses and hot water together.
- Cream the remaining wet ingredients together. (Butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla extract.)
- Add the dry ingredients and molasses/water mixture. In three additions, add the dry ingredients alternating with the molasses/water mixture. Mix each addition just until incorporated. The batter will be thin.
- Make the orange icing. Drizzle over cooled loaf.
I made a simple and quick orange icing for drizzling on top of the soft and spicy gingerbread. You can certainly use vanilla icing instead, but I highly suggest the citrus! It’s a light and fragrant contrast to the richer, more intense flavors in the gingerbread. It’s just 2 ingredients: orange juice and confectioners’ sugar. You’ve got both on hand, so why not pour on top? You won’t regret this.
Top with cranberries for color. You can even sugar them like I did in my pumpkin pie recipe!
More Gingerbread Recipes
- Gingerbread Muffins
- Upside-Down Pear Gingerbread Cake
- Gingerbread Snack Cake (actually the same recipe, just in cake form topped with cream cheese frosting and cranberries)
- Chocolate Gingerbread Bundt Cake
- Gingerbread Cookies
- Homemade Gingerbread House
- Gingerbread Cupcakes
- Gingerbread Waffles
Spiced Gingerbread Loaf
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 60 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
- Yield: 1 loaf
- Category: Bread
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Spiced Gingerbread Loaf is full of robust molasses flavor, cinnamon, cloves, and topped with orange icing.
- 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 2/3 cup (160ml) unsulphured or dark molasses (do not use blackstrap)
- 3/4 cup (180ml) hot water (about 100°F (38°C))
- 1/2 cup (115g; 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/3 cup (67g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 2–3 Tablespoons (30-45ml) orange juice
- Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt and pepper together until combined. Set aside. In a separate bowl or dish, whisk the molasses and hot water together.
- In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat on high speed for 1 minute until creamed together fairly well. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. On medium-high speed, beat in the egg and vanilla extract until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the hot water/molasses and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Avoid overmixing. Batter will be thin. Whisk out any big lumps.
- Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for around 50-60 minutes or until the gingerbread loaf is baked through. All ovens are different and your loaf could take a little more or less time. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the gingerbread loaf. If it comes out clean with only a couple moist (not wet) crumbs, it is done. Allow to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack before removing from pan.
- Make the icing: Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice together. Drizzle over cooled loaf.
- Leftover loaf keeps well covered tightly in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The flavor gets even better after a day or two!
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: The loaf can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. Loaf can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
- Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer, 2-cup Glass Measuring Cup, Mixing Bowls, and Loaf Pan
- Muffins or Cupcakes: Simply pour batter into muffin liners or a greased muffin pan. Bake at 350°F (177°C) for 20-22 minutes. Makes about 10-12.
Keywords: gingerbread loaf, spiced gingerbread
Reader Comments & Reviews
Made this last weekend and making it again today as a layer cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.
Absolutely stunning recipe!
Making this lovely loaf again. Directions are easy to follow and it’s perfect! Big hit with all. These ingredients are amazing and such good flavor!
Love it! It’s become a morning staple for well over a month, now. I bake it every week for hubby and me, and indeed, it does get better every day (as long as it lasts.) Thank you for posting this.
I made this tonight and I thought “this taste is like a hug”. It’s so delicious!
BTW, how long can I freeze orange zest?
Hi Mary, we’re so glad you enjoyed this gingerbread loaf! Orange zest should stay well in the freezer for about 3 months.