grandma’s holiday gingerbread

by ALLISSA on December 3, 2011

Slices of Grandma's Holiday Gingerbread

The day after Thanksgiving, when my neighborhood exploded into a Griswald family Christmas wonderland, I began to think, OK panic, about the giant list of to-dos I have yet to do before Christmas. Basically, that includes everything, since I haven’t done anything. No shopping for gifts. No holiday cards. No pretty wreaths or outdoor lights or freaky glowing electronic deer in the front yard. Did I mention no gifts? I meant to start early. I swear I did.

So today, sticking to my newfound procrastination tendencies, I vetoed a torturous trip to the mall, where I would no doubt wander aimlessly with no plan and no idea about what to buy, and stayed home to bake gingerbread. To me, gingerbread equals Christmas, a perfect holiday baking staple, simple and homey and traditional, in a loaf pan or as a little man. I’m familiar enough with the process of baking gingerbread men (and women), but the baking of gingerbread in loaf- or cake-style is new, so I dug into my grandmother’s recipes to see if she had any suggestions. I found a list of ingredients and instructions, doubled up on the spices and chose to to make a bundt pan gingerbread cake.

Dry Ingredients for Gingerbread

Molasses and Sugar for Gingerbread

Gingerbread Batter in Bundt Pan

Truthfully, I wish I hadn’t. The actual recipe is fine, but I wish I’d poured the batter into a loaf pan and called it good enough. The thing is, this particular recipe doesn’t produce a whole lot of batter, so what went into the bundt pan came out looking like an oversized gingerbread donut. Still, it tastes pretty good, even after I glazed it erratically with chocolate powdered sugar icing instead of dusting it with my initial choice, ol’ reliable confectioners’ sugar. But this was no slice of tall bunt cake, that’s for sure. So stick to the loaf pan, then cut yourself a really thick slice and enjoy.

Gingerbread Ring from Bundt Pan

Grandma's Holiday Gingerbread with Glaze

Grandma’s Holiday Gingerbread

(adapted from family recipe)


  • 1 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of molasses
  • 1/4 cup of melted shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of boiling water


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease your baking pan. You can use a loaf pan or a Bundt pan. If you choose the latter, dust with flour and shake out the excess.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Mix well and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine sugar, molasses, shortening and egg. Whisk until just combined.
  5. Add the dry mixture to the large bowl in two steps, half and half. Stir until combined.
  6. Add the boiling water to the large bowl, again in two steps. This will moisten the mixture so that it’s more cake batter, less cookie dough.
  7. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 30 minutes to 35 minutes or until your cake tester comes out clean.
  8. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack. If using the Bundt pan, cool this way for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on the rack.
  9. Toppings are your choice. I chose powdered sugar icing with a teaspoon of cocoa, but a dusting of confectioners’ sugar, fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream work just as well.

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