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
Even though it’s only October and still in the mid 80’s here in California, I’m ready for the smells and tastes of the holidays. This recipe is wonderful. The bread turned out moist and delicious. It smelled so amazing while baking that I didn’t wait for the glaze before I tried a slice. I made the glaze with cinnamon rather than orange and added finely chopped crystalized ginger to the batter. Next time I’ll try the Wholesome! molasses to get that dark color. Thanks for another winning recipe.
So so so so good!!! I made this cake with a little extra spice and added a spoonful of honey to help with the strong molasses, and I didn’t use the orange glaze – I used a brandy-butter glaze instead because I wanted something boozy and sweet with the cake, and served with freshly whipped cream. There were two other, fancier, desserts at this dinner party but a week later, everyone is still talking about the gingerbread. Yes, it was too strong for a few people – you have to appreciate real gingerbread to like this. But for those that do, this cake is DELICIOUS. We had literally one slice left, and hubby and I split it the next night and licked our plates clean. I used a fancy-patterned Nordic Ware loaf pan so I buttered the inside of the pan and then dusted it with fine granulated sugar hoping that would help it release – it did, and it also made a lovely crust on the cake. I’ll do that again for sure. I’m on a quest for the best gingerbread cake recipe, and so far this one is in the lead.
The recipe immediately reminded me of the older molasses spice fruit cakes. What do you think about walnuts, dried apples and diced candied ginger for additions? Would I have to soak the dried apples first? (If so, I’m thinking of hot apple cider…) Is there another dried fruit that would work better? And how much of each addition?
You can certainly add in nuts and dried fruit! I recommend keeping the total amount of add-ins to about 2/3 cup. Let me know how it turns out!
I don’t usually do comments, but this recipe is so very good! I’ve been following you for years now, and have found that I can depend on your recipes always being consistently delicious. I’m very thankful to have discovered you I tell anyone who asks me for a recipe that I don’t have to check your site, that they’ll be happy. I learned from you to bake my muffins at a high start temperature. What a difference! They’re so pretty now! I would not have thought of that to remedy them from spreading out on the muffin pan and being flat. Now they have beautiful rounded tops! Thank you!
I made this today and it turned out perfect. The taste is amazing and everyone in my household loved it. Thank you for sharing.
I whipped this up this afternoon, and it’s amazing!
We love the extra dark flavor the heavy spices.
I added the zest of half and orange and half a lemon as well as the juice from half a lemon to the glaze as written, and it was amazing. This is definitely a keeper. Thanks so much and Merry Christmas!
I made this for a snack while our gingerbread houses were setting. It was delicious with lemon curd and certainly didn’t last long. I’ll be adding this to my fall and winter menus.
This is SO delicious! I’m not a huge fan of gingerbread, but with the holidays I thought I’d give this a try. I’m so glad I did- I absolutely loved this bread! I used lemon for the glaze instead of orange because my kids ate all the oranges before I could make the bread! Definitely a keeper!
Hi! this recipe looks soo wonderful! I was wondering if you thing I would be able to turn it into a layer cake. Do you think it would hold-up to stacking? Is it too dense to work in a layer cake?
You certainly can try this as a layer cake but yes, it would be more dense than your typical cake! I suggest you try this one: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/moist-gingerbread-spice-snack-cake/
Wow! You weren’t kidding when you said this loaf has some spice. My gingerbread-loving husband was over the moon for this recipe. I subed out the orange icing for a Greek yogurt icing to lighten things up a bit, and also cut down on the butter and added Greek yogurt to the batter. It turned out so moist and delicious!
I baked this loaf using Grandma’s brand molasses, and while the texture and moisture were perfect, I just felt that the molasses flavor overpowered all the spices 🙁 I do want to try again, I’m thinking of reducing to 1/2 or 1/3 cup molasses and upping the spices a bit. Do you think the reduced molasses would impact the moisture level?
It shouldn’t. Hope that you enjoy the modified loaf a bit more than this one. Thanks Molly!
Hi Sally, any replacement for the dark molasses? It isn’t available where I stay 🙁
Try dark corn syrup, honey or maple syrup as a molasses substitute, 1 cup or you can substitute 3/4 c. brown sugar. That’s what my friends who can’t get molasses do and they are happy with the results. They do that for my molasses cookies recipe.
Anyone have a different flavor glaze they could recommend I’m not a fan of orange flavor?
How about vanilla or maple?
I actually love lemon with gingerbread!
Is it okay to use blackstrap molasses?
The gingerbread loaf will have a very intense flavor. That being said, yes you can.
I LOVED the cake, but the glaze wasn’t a winner. The cake recipe is a keeper!
I was really excited about this recipe, but I found the molasses flavour a bit too strong for me.
The loaf came out perfectly; moist, tender, and fluffy. I’m just not the molasses fan I thought I was
This gingerbread recipe is SPECIAL. I made it today and I am so glad I did! I will use this recipe FOREVER. It is moist and tender and has the perfect amount of spice for those of us who really love spice. I baked mine in an 8×8 square pan instead of a loaf pan. It was perfectly done in about 45 minutes. The Orange glaze is the perfect accompaniment; no whipped cream needed here!
I made this recipe with Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 gluten free flour and it turned out beautifully. I doubled the recipe and it made two loaves and 5 muffins. I made the muffins without liners and had no sticking. Delish!
Good to know about the GF flour! Thanks Erin.
Is there any way to substitute the molasses with anything else?
Hi Ranjana, unfortunately, there isn’t really another substitute that has the same distinct gingerbread taste that molasses provides. Best to stick with molasses here!
I am now making this for the second time. It is a total holiday winner! Slightly sweet, awesome holiday spice, and so incredibly tender. It was delicious even after a week ( I was limiting myself on treats and eating very slowly!) Great the day of, but the only difference the next day was the crust had lost is slight crunch and the whole loaf was delicious and soft. It was fine to make ahead. Love me some Sally’s Baking Addiction, the recipes are no-fail!
I made this bread this morning for my husband and I to have with our morning coffee. It is delicious!!!
If I wanted to give this as a gift, would I still put the icing on? I was thinking of maybe putting the icing in a separate container and then letting the person put it on themselves. Or should I just make the cake and give it as it? Which would be better?
Hi Rachel! I’d either gift it with the glaze on the side OR with a print-out of the glaze recipe. The gingerbread loaf is actually quite tasty without the glaze too, so gifting without is perfectly OK!
Hi Sally! Quick question – does the icing on top dry/get hard or does it remain gooey? I’m going away for the weekend and want to make this and wrap it up in some foil to travel with. If the icing hardens it shouldn’t be a problem but if it stays gooey I’ll leave the icing off. Thanks!
Hi Melissa! It will harden after a few hours 🙂
I made this gingerbread the other day. It made three mini loafs. It taste wonderful and is nice and moist. I will be making these to give away with my cookies for Christmas. Thank you for the great treat.
Hi Sally! I made this recipe as muffins and oh my gosh you were not kidding about the delicious smell filling the house! I texted my husband “you better get home right now and smell this kitchen” lol. I made mine as muffins and for some dumb reason thought I could get away without using liners, which didn’t work out so well. But whatevs, cake crumbles are still delicious. I also skipped the glaze and added about 3/4 of mini chocolate chips and it was awesooome. Highly recommend. Definitely making this recipe again. Thanks so much!!
Good to know about the muffins sticking! But oh my gosh adding chocolate chips– I can only imagine how wonderful they tasted.
Just made this today and it turned out great! My roommates and I loved it. Thanks so much for this new fave!!
I made this last night to officially welcome the Christmas season; it was perfect! Delicious, even without the glaze.
Hi Krystle! I haven’t, but here’s a chocolate gingerbread cake recipe 🙂 I LOVE it!