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
Just made this yesterday … I did add about 1/2 t more of all the spices and it was very tasty. One problem is that it fell as it was baking, and by quite a bit! None the less it was delicious but I was going to make it for gifts but b/c of the valley running down the middle, I will look for another recipe.
Hi Dale, Thank you for trying this recipe. If the bread is deflating, double check the freshness of your baking soda. (we find it loses strength after just 3 months.) Additionally, try baking for a few extra minutes. Sinking is usually because the baked good is under-baked.
Humm…the BSoda might be that old. But it was definitely cooked inside.
Thanks for your response!
Can I substitute the butter for something else?
Hi Gayle! Solid coconut oil could replace the butter– other than that, I recommend sticking with softened butter.
Good morning: I saw an earlier question asking about using a bundt pan. Would I have to double the recipe or would a single recipe work in a bundt pan? Thank you!
Hi Kristen, We haven’t tested this in a Bundt pan, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work. It might be better to make the batter twice instead of doubling, then combining them for the Bundt pan. I’m unsure of the exact bake time but you can use a toothpick to test for doneness. Same oven temperature.
Awesome recipe! I read through some of the comments and added slightly more brown sugar (1/2 cup) for a sweeter cake and 1/3 cup applesauce – the applesauce made the cake incredibly moist. Highly recommend!
Received in an email today, had all ingredients so made it.
Was concerned as the consistency of the creamed butter, sugar, egg, Vanilla looked a bit odd. But thought I’d go ahead and see if it was right. Yum
I did as directed and made little mini loaves. So good. Thank you.
could diced apples or pears be added?
Made this recipe as muffins. Tender and delicious!
This has the ginger bread fast of my dreams! I was careful not to overbake (kept poking it to make sure I removed it as soon as skewer came out clean) but it came out a bit dry. What can I add to increase moisture, apple sauce?
Hi Sarah! I’m sure you could add about 1/3 cup (80g) room temperature applesauce when you mix in the egg. I haven’t tested this but it would likely yield a moister loaf.
Absolutely unreal! What a delicious tender cake! I personally love bitter flavors and the contrast between the molasses and the pepper is perfect. I added a bit more juice in my glaze (tangerine) because I like how much the acid cuts the sweetness of the loaf. A real winner!
I made this today and holy smokes! I added some orange zest into the batter since an orange was going to be sacrificed for the icing and pumped up the ginger and cinnamon based on comments I read here. My house smells like heaven and this loaf tastes just like the holidays!
This recipe looks identical to your Spiced Gingerbread Loaf, the only difference being the size/shape of the pan. Am I missing something? I was trying to decide which one to make and couldn’t seem to see any other difference. Thank you.
Hi Tess! This gingerbread loaf recipe is the same as my gingerbread snack cake (is that the recipe you meant to comment on?). The loaf is darker in color because I used a darker molasses.
Made these as muffins this morning while waiting for my scones (also from your site) to chill. Didn’t want to bother with the separate spices since I had Epicure gingerbread seasoning…took a guess and used 3 tsp and then added the pepper separate. Just glazed them with the orange glaze and holy cow! This will be my go to baking site from now until the end of time lol sooooo moist and flavorful. Like someone else suggested, I used 1/2 cup of brown sugar rather than 1/3. Perfect!
Can I substitute orange juice for the water?
I haven’t tested it, but my recommendation is– if you want the orange flavor– only substitute some of the hot water. I wouldn’t use a full 3/4 cup of orange juice.
This turned out great though it was not as brown as yours as I substituted molasses with a combination of treacle and honey. Nevertheless, the taste was lovely Thank you Sally! ❤️
Hello Sally, I was very disappointed in the taste to be honest. I find the loaf tasted only of molasses with no other flavour at all. I would have liked to taste ginger. Molasses is bitter and combined with only half a cup of brown sugar which, in itself, is not very sweet, the loaf was borderline bitter. Sorry……
Hi Bev, thank you for trying this recipe. This isn’t an overly sweet loaf and will taste bitter depending on how dark (or what type) of molasses you use. Appreciate your feedback!
This gingerbread loaf sounds delicious! Do you think pecans would work in it? I’m trying to use up all my pecans from Christmas.
I made this last night. It was one of the easier recipes of the ones that came up on my search. It was simple to make and turned out delicious. I did not have enough molasses so I added syrup as well and a little extra clove. My 2 year old loves it. We substituted vegan butter due to his milk allergy and the taste is great!!!
My sister who lives in France recently made this for her mother in law’s birthday and sent me a picture and described the aroma floating through her house. I had to ask for the recipe and I’ve since made it three times since Christmas. It is New Year’s Day today. I literally cannot live without this loaf. It is one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten, let alone made myself. The recipe is almost perfect for me! I use 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar instead of 1/3 because I find it just a tad too unsweet. But I will say that I have not made the icing as I like to eat it plain. Thank you for the gem. I’ve been thinking of all the people I can make this for. I will make this forever!
Hi Sally wondering like others why yours is so dark and the ones we are making are more of a pecan color. Give up the secret gurl lol
Hi Lorraine! See above. 🙂 No secret! I simply used Wholesome brand dark molasses, which is pretty dark in color. You can see in my gingerbread snack cake (basically the same recipe) that it’s lighter. There I used Grandma’s brand.
Hi Sally, I was actually looking for a chocolate cake when I came across this recipe, I did a quick change of plan since I had all the ingredients and made this cake yesterday for a dinner with friends. I like it a lot and will add it to my recipe files. One thing though, I added less than the required amount of orange juice with a slightly heaping cup of powdered sugar and the drizzle was more transparent, than it was white. It was still nice, but I was looking for the contrast.
Do you think it would be possible to double this recipe and bake in a Bundt pan?
Hi Maggie! I haven’t tried it, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work. It might be better to make the batter twice instead of doubling, then combining them for the Bundt pan. I’m unsure of the exact bake time but you can use a toothpick to test for doneness. Same oven temperature.
I made this loaf yesterday and while it is moist and taste fine, I’m actually surprised it doesn’t taste more…like gingerbread? I used Grandma’s molasses and followed the recipe exactly. Could I add more spices?
Absolutely! Feel free to add more spices. Did you use the full 1 and 1/2 teaspoons each of cinnamon and ginger, plus the cloves and pepper?
Yes, which is why I was a little disappointed. I thought it would takes similar to your gingerbread cookies. I may increase to 2 tsp of the cinnamon and ginger each, 1/2 tsp of cloves, and 1/4 of pepper. Thanks!
Hey Sally!Great flavor!I was surprised as to how quick it was gone!The only thing I was wondering is that yours looks so dark and pretty and mine came out more light like a chocolate brown.It still looked nice but I loved that dark coloring
I made this recipe on the weekend in 40 degree heat (in Brisbane Queensland). I really wanted to make it so I thought there is no time like the present. I didn’t have any molasses and thought I had enough golden syrup that would be a good substitute. I didn’t have enough of the golden syrup so I topped this off with honey. It was delicious. It was so light and airy and easy to make. I didn’t ice it as we like to put some butter on it and have it with a cup of tea. Great recipe!
I love the flavor of this loaf. It’s probably a good thing I froze individual slices of it otherwise i probably would have eaten it in one day! The only reason I put 4 stars was because it still stuck to the bottom of the pan, even after spraying generously with non-stick spray. Could I use parchment next time? Or do I need to spray even more?
Hi Lydia! It could have been your pan OR it just wasn’t greased enough. Easy fix for next time– either line with parchment or use extra nonstick spray.
I tried this recipe over Thanksgiving, and everyone loved it. It has a richer molasses and gingerbread taste than the one I relied on for years. Also threw in some dried cranberries
Hi Sally! I’m wondering if this loaf could be sliced after cooling, wrapped individually, and then frozen in a large sealed bag? I’m thinking for ease of access for breakfasts, I could just pull out a slice and it’d defrost by the time I get to work. Also, freeze with the glaze or without?
Hi Lydia! Yes, and I do that often. You can slice and freeze individual slices. And you can freeze with or without the icing– I’ve done it both ways. The icing thaws just fine on the slices.
Sally – was wondering if putting a lil orange rind in batter would enhance or take away from loaf! Love your recipes.
Would be delicious! I love citrus and gingerbread together.
This recipe is perfection!!!!!! Thanks so much for sharing it!
So tasty! I made this using one of those Nordic Ware cakelet pans, and while I ultimately wouldn’t recommend it for that (I think it rose a bit more than you want batter to when you use those pans? I’m not actually sure – I’ve never used one before), the resulting mini cakes taste SO GOOD. Next time I’ll bake it as a loaf or as muffins. Yum!