Dragonfly Home Recipes

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Gingerbread Cake

Place a piece of this rich, moist gingerbread cake on a layer of tangy-sweet lemon sauce, top it with a dollop of whipped cream, and you have an iconic, heart-warming holiday dessert!

Nothing gets me in the holiday spirit like gingerbread.  Whether it’s decorating gingerbread cookies or breathing in the comforting aroma of gingerbread as it bakes, I don’t feel quite right in December until I have made something with gingerbread.  This feeling goes way back to my childhood, and I associate the incredible smell of baking gingerbread with warmth and comfort against the backdrop of December’s cold, dark mornings and nights.

ginger cake with lemonsI adapted this recipe from my beloved “Atutumn” cookbook by Susan Branch.  I guess it is still technically autumn, at least for a few more days, though it feels more like winter out there the past couple of days! We have a dusting of snow!

Gingerbread has a special place in my heart.  When I was a very little girl, I was very attached to a gingerbread stuffed toy that my aunt gave me.  I loved it so much and held it so much that my mom had to sew a new covering for it so the stuffing would not fall out.  Now my aunt often gives me gingerbread decorations because she knows how much I love them!  So baking gingerbread for me is like an extension of my love for all things gingerbread.

gingerbread cake with lemonI have tried lots of different gingerbread cake recipes, but this one is my favorite.  It is so moist and with just the right amount of spices.  The lemon sauce is completely optional–the gingerbread cake can stand on its own.  But the contrast of the spices in the gingerbread with the sweet tanginess of the lemon sauce adds a layer of complexity and deliciousness.  And the whipped cream is optional as well, though I highly recommend it!

There is always so much going on in the month of December, and sometimes the obligations and expectations can be overwhelming.  Baking gingerbread is one way feel I am honoring the spirit of the holiday season in a way that is meaningful to me, while at the same time bringing joy to those around me.  And it doesn’t cost much to fill your home with the iconic aroma of baking gingerbread.  I hope you all have a great weekend! I wish you could taste a bite of this cake! It is delicious.  I am sharing this recipe over at Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.gingerbread cake with rose and lemon

Gingerbread Cake

  • Servings: 9 pieces
  • Print


For the lemon sauce:

  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • a dash of nutmeg

For the gingerbread cake:

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of molasses
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried ginger
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups of all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 cup of buttermilk (or 1 cup of milk with a tablespoon of white vinegar)
  • whipped cream


First, make the lemon sauce.  In a small saucepan, stir together the sugar and the cornstarch.  Stir in the boiling water gradually.  Turn on the heat to medium, and cook until the sauce becomes clear and thick, stirring often.  Stir in the butter, lemon juice and zest, and nutmeg until everything is blended.  Allow the sauce to cool, and then cover and refrigerate it.

For the cake, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease an 8 x 8 inch square baking pan.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together the first 7 ingredients.  Beat in the egg.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking soda.  Add the flour mixture, alternately with the buttermilk, to the bowl with the first 7 ingredients.  (If you don’t have buttermilk, you can substitute with regular milk stirred with a tablespoon of white vinegar).  Stir a little after each addition, until everything is combined, but don’t over-stir.  Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.  Bake for about 35 minutes. Cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

To serve, spoon the lemon sauce onto dessert plates.  Place a piece of gingerbread cake on the sauce and top with a spoonful of whipped cream. Enjoy!

This recipe is adapted from the cookbook Autumn by Susan Branch.



  1. This looks really good as long with the lemon sauce. Pinned!

    • Jenny

      December 9, 2017 at 3:16 pm

      Thank you so much! Yes, the lemon sauce adds a delicious flavor to it and smells so good while it is cooking!

  2. I love ginger anything! I am making this tonight- yum!!

    • Jenny

      December 9, 2017 at 3:20 pm

      Thanks, Becky! I think you would love this cake! Thanks for visiting–it’s fun to see your name pop up here! 🙂

  3. This is an amazing dessert. Pinning it!

  4. I love everything about gingerbread whether in cooking/baking as well as decorating my home for the holidays.

    • Jenny

      December 11, 2017 at 12:12 pm

      Thank you, Judi! Me too! We have little gingerbread decorations and ornaments all over the house right now! 🙂

  5. I love anything gingerbread, but I haven’t made a cake yet. This looks like a perfect recipe to me. Thanks for sharing at FF party this week!

  6. One of my husband’s favorite desserts. I’m pinning so that I can make it for him.

  7. Gingerbread is one of my favorite seasonal treats, too. I usually go for a really dark, sticky, molasses-heavy formula, but I love the sound of your light, lemony approach!

    • Jenny

      December 12, 2017 at 9:37 am

      Thank you, Hannah! Yes, I have made a version that turned out much darker–and it called for maple syrup as a sweetener. It was really good too, but I like this lighter version a lot. Basically, I like anything with molasses and ginger. 🙂

  8. Gorgeous, Jenny! I have my grandma’s recipe which I made but frankly doesn’t live up to current expectations…so I’ve tried a few others but haven’t been thrilled! I’m going to have to try yours. I wish I could just have a bite!! 🙂

    • Jenny

      December 12, 2017 at 9:40 am

      I wish you could have a bite too, Molly! 🙂 I have tried lots of different versions of gingerbread too, and this is my current favorite–it seems to be the best crowd-pleaser. (Though my son and husband don’t want the lemon sauce! But I do!)

  9. Loved this Jenny! I made it for a holiday party, and cut pieces and just drizzled the lemon glaze on the top. I wanted to do the whipped cream but ran out of time. It smelled wonderful when baking, my husband and I had to sneak some immediately! I followed advice on King Arthur’s website about reducing sugar and removed 6 teaspoons of sugar from the 1cup and it tasted fine (in the cake).

    • Jenny

      December 23, 2017 at 9:14 pm

      Thank you, Kara, I’m glad you enjoyed the cake! That’s good to hear about reducing the sugar too-I will have to try that next time I make it. Might as well have less sugar if it still tastes good! Good to hear from you–I miss our meetings!

  10. Wonderful, Jenny! I made it for our Christmas Eve dessert with special personal meaning with friends and family. The lemon sauce was a unique twist that blended beautifully with the cake. Next time I will adjust the cake more for altitude at 5280ft, but I still loved it. Thank you!

    • Jenny

      December 26, 2017 at 9:42 pm

      Great to hear from you, Carole! I’m glad you enjoyed the cake and the lemon sauce! Thank you for letting me know! Merry Christmas to you and your family (and tell your sis I said hi and Merry Christmas too 🙂 )!

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