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
I have to say this might be my all time favourite recipe for gingerbread recipe. This loaf isn’t just mouth watering. but the flavour is just incredible. I would follow the directions as mentioned and it won’t disappoint. I have had nothing but rave reviews from the people who have tried the ones I have made. Don’t hesitate to try this. Sally, you out did yourself on this recipe.
This looks great but there is a mad scientist urge within me that wants to sub out the hot water for some Earl Grey tea. I think the bergamot would play well with the gingerbread spices, molasses, and orange glaze, but it’s possible that black tea could be too bitter. What do you think?
Hi Mike, We haven’t tried it but you can. The flavor of the tea may be overpowered by the molasses and glaze but let us know if you give it a try.
I liked the flavor. I had a question about the icing. In your picture it looks very white and pretty, mine was much thinner and had an orange color to it. Should I use more sugar to get it more white? I followed your recipe.
Hi Tamara, did the glaze seem too thin? You can always add more powdered sugar to reach a thicker consistency.
Hi Sally…blackstrap was the only kind of molasses they had…how can I adjust the recipe in order to use this kind of molasses…and why are you saying not to use it?
Hi Cindi, blackstrap molasses has a very bitter flavor, and would be quite strong in this loaf. If you want to use it, I would reduce the amount by half and keep in mind that the flavor would still be a bit strong.
I make this at least a half dozen times every holiday season and it’s always incredible. Makes great gifts too! I like covering it in Lemon glaze rather than Orange – the tartness makes it extra special! (Also I’m more likely to have lemons on hand than oranges!) Thank you so much for this fabulous recipe.
Made these as cupcakes this morning! Delicious! Moist! Flavorful! Took them to a Christmas co-op party and they were gobbled up.
Wondering if they can be baked in donut pans? Thoughts?
Hi Maggie, so glad you enjoyed this recipe as cupcakes! I haven’t tried using the batter to make donuts in donut pans though. I can’t see it being an issue.
I am sorry but this did not have any decent taste to it. It had a harsh taste to the point of a burnt taste. (No the loaf was not burnt.). I love molasses but I do not think I will waste it in this recipe again.
Hi Sally, I haven’t made this Gingerbread Loaf yet. I have a couple questions. I would love to add some Candied Ginger & some dice or grated apple bits. What do you think???
Hi Sharon, You can certainly try those add-ins! We recommend keeping the total amount of add-ins to about 2/3 cup. Let us know how it turns out!
I made this last year and it is Absolutely the best gingerbread recipe! Going to try to make into muffins. I saw the different baking time but do you still bake in lower third of oven? Thanks!!
Hi Erica! You don’t have to worry as much about the muffins over-browning, but the lower third will work for muffins as well. You may also love our gingerbread muffins recipe. Enjoy!
Was too dry and didn’t have much flavor. Tried to add candied ginger to the recipe to add some more spice. Didn’t really help. Entered it into the county fair and the judge said that the molasses overwhelms the recipe. Will not make this recipe again. I like other recipes by Sally’s Baking Addiction. This one, unfortunately, wasn’t of the same quality as the other recipes on this site.
Delicious! Very moist, not too sweet and easy to bake! I used Grandma’s Molasses and my loaf looked exactly like the picture.
I left out the pepper, reduced the cloves to 1/8 tsp and added 1/4 tsp nutmeg. I might increase the nutmeg to 1/2 tsp and increase the ginger to 2 tsp in the future to get a little more spice, but its really good as is, and the flavor definitely deepens the next day.
I goofed and used blackstrap molasses instead of molasses. I made sure it was unsulfured molasses…Might want to warn others not to use blackstrap. Gingerbread is baking now but has a strong awful after taste. I will make it again using the correct molasses
NUTS! I was just going to ask about blackstrap molasses… It’s all I have. I’m so glad I read through the comments – thanks for the explanation!
Can you double the recipe and then divide into 2 loaf pans?
Hi Jackie, Yes, you can!
How would you change the recipe for high altitude. We are at 5500 ft.
Hi Trudy, We wish we could help, but we have no experience baking at high altitude. We know some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html.
I have never baked bread but I want to try this. How much should I put into the loaf pan? Will it rise very much? Thank you. I am eager to see how this works.
Hi Loren! This recipe is written of one gingerbread loaf, so you put all the batter in one loaf pan. It will rise a bit as it bakes in the oven. Hope you love it!
Perfect loaf for the “not so sweet” crowd. I enjoy how the flavors come through and are not overpowered by sugar. My family enjoyed without the glaze but you certainly can satisfy the “sweet tooth” crowd with a yummy glaze.
These look like they’d be great as holiday gifts! If you were to make mini loaves (3.5″ x 6.5″), how long would you bake them?
Hi Mai Anh, such a great gift idea! We’re unsure of the exact bake time for smaller pans, but it will be less. Keep a close eye on the loaves and use a toothpick to test for doneness.
Hey Sally? I’m just curious, why hot water? I noticed some other recipes online use buttermilk or hot water. What would be the difference? Thanks, Richie
Hi Richard, The job of the hot water here is to thin out the molasses. Molasses is very thick. The thick goop, for lack of better words, doesn’t mix easily into cake batter. It’s fine for cookies and such, but hot water helps loosen the viscous consistency of molasses, which helps incorporate it into the batter.
Absolutely delicious! Served with whipped cream and peppermint sprinkles. Looking forward to leftovers after reading the flavor gets even better after a few days.
All set to make this but I have a question? Would my glass 9×5 loaf pan work? I only have an 8 inch aluminum one? Do I need to lower temp?
Hi Connie, your 9×5 pan glass pan will work just as well. The bake time may be a few minutes longer, but keep a close eye on it and use a toothpick to test for doneness. Enjoy!
Another great recipe! I made this for a group and was thankful many people missed it so I could bring home the leftovers! It’s even better on day 2 and was extra moist. I do prefer the lemon glaze from the gingerbread muffins recipe but the orange was very good, too. So easy to make!
Lovely gingerbread loaf!! Made this for dinner with friends. I skipped the icing but served it warm with ice cream and it was a hit!
Hi Sally. I love your recipes. I’m very new to baking and was wondering, what is the best thing to use to grease a loaf pan? I have heard, butter, vegetable oil, and shortening all work. Is one better than the other?
Hi Stephen, unless otherwise noted, we prefer to use a baking spray like Pam or other brands. Butter works, too!
Sally does give us wonderful recipes doesn’t she. I have not had one fail me yet. Regarding your question, I have used all of them in my lifetime and I agree with Sally about the spray because it is light and it is easy. Butter is good too and will add a little flavor as well. Parchment paper makes it even easier and you don’t have to use anything.
Absolutely wonderful! So moist and flavorful. I added sliced almonds to the top before baking, which added some nice texture. I will be making this again!
This is amazing! I made it yesterday and put it into mini loaves. With the orange glaze on top, it just brings it to a new level. The moment it hit my tongue I knew it was going to be delicious. I followed the recipe exactly and it was absolutely PERFECT!!
Can I add chocolate chips to this recipe
Hi Liza, absolutely. You can add 3/4 cup to 1 cup of chocolate chips to the batter.
very tempted to try this recipe! Any idea if it works with pomegranate molasses as well? (it’s the only one I can find where I live)
Hi Laura! We haven’t tested it so can’t say for sure. It would bring a fruity flavor that could be fun with the spices – let us know if you try it!
Personally I don’t care for the spice mix—substitute nutmeg, all spice for the cloves and pepper—much more traditional gingerbread flavor for me.
How long would you bake mini loaves? Is it different for the gingerbread loaf and orange cranberry loaf?
Hi Barb! The mini loaf baking time varies between pans (they are all different sizes these days!) but generally 22-25 minutes. Use a toothpick to test for doneness.
Hi Sally, I only added almond slivers to the recipe, but I did change the icing for this loaf to your pumpkin cake icing – cream cheese frosting:
Together the bitter sweet taste was amazing. Thank you for these recipes
This loaf is SO GOOD, serious keeper. Tons of spicy flavor, really tastes like gingery gingerbread, is super moist but slices perfectly. I used Grandma’s molasses and my loaves turned out pretty dark, to my eye. I didn’t want the cinnamon flavor to come through too dominant, so I actually reduced the cinnamon to 1tsp and upped the ginger to 2tsp. I am not sure if this even made a difference, but the flavors were absolutely spot on IMO. It doesn’t rise as much as some other breads but matches the pictures Sally has on the site so I figure that’s just how it is. The first time I baked one I was worried because there was a definite dip along the middle but in the last 15 minutes of baking the middle rose up and was perfect. I made 4 of them so far over the holidays and it’s a very reliable recipe. Sometimes I have put the zest of an orange in the batter and sometimes I’ve left it out. It’s great either way but if you have an orange to “waste” it’s an amazing addition. You will not taste the orange, it’s just like adding another spice.
Sally, what do you think about using buttermilk instead of the water? Unnecessary?
How would you incorporate fresh grated ginger into this?
Hi Meg, You can definitely use fresh ginger here. Feel free to skip the ground ginger and replace with 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger.