Old Fashioned Gingerbread with Citrus Glaze

By Ann Fulton

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This is one of those recipes that I have made over and over again, tweaking many times until I arrived at an end result that my family loves.  It is moist and full of flavor, and I get requests for it often.

The citrus glaze is a delightful addition.  When I first made a glaze with all lemon juice, it was a bit too tangy.  All orange juice didn’t offer enough zing.  A mixture of the two turned out to be the perfect solution.

Of course, whipped cream is a classic gingerbread topping for a reason; it tastes great, too. I also like to spoon some homemade applesauce onto the gingerbread and warm gently.  It’s sooooo good!

Once when I made this recipe, I removed the cake from the oven a bit prematurely, and the center was not quite cooked through.  I found that just a hint of undercooking yielded a pudding-like consistency in the very middle that I adore.  While I wouldn’t generally suggest undercooking a cake, I will say that now I often remove the gingerbread from the oven when it is just the slightest bit undercooked.  This ensures that the whole cake is extra moist…and then I reserve the ever-so-slightly undercooked center piece for me!

Old Fashioned Gingerbread with Citrus Glaze
The addition of pumpkin heightens the flavors and moisture in this classic snack cake. Whipped cream or the optional glaze are both delicious toppings. Yet another excellent option is to spoon homemade applesauce overtop and warm gently. While this cake is delightful served warm from the oven, the flavor of the spices will develop overnight. Store the cooled cake tightly wrapped in the refrigerator to preserve moisture, rewarming gently before serving, if desired.

Yields 1 (9x9-inch) square cake or 2 (9x5-inch) loaves.
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup unsulphured molasses (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup honey (may substitute pure maple syrup)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (may substitute applesauce; see comments above)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I have used my gluten-free baking mix with excellent results)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Whipped cream for serving or Optional Glaze: 1 cup confectioner’s sugar and 1 1/2 tablespoons each freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch square pan or two 9×5-inch loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. (I use a hand blender; a stand mixer is a good option, too.) Beat in the egg, and then mix in the molasses, honey (if not using all molasses; see notes), and pumpkin.
  3. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Blend half of the flour mixture into the creamed mixture. When just combined, mix in the remaining dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in the hot water, and then pour into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for approximately 35 minutes for a 9-inch square pan or 40 minutes for 9×5-inch loaf pans, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. (Check a few minutes early and add a few extra minutes, if needed, as all ovens vary. Avoid overcooking as this will create a dry baked good.)
  5. Allow to cool in pan before serving, and drizzle with optional glaze.
  6. For the glaze: Mix the confectioner’s sugar and the orange and lemon juice in a small bowl. If too thin, add a little more sugar. Stir to remove any lumps and drizzle over gingerbread before serving.
  • Be sure to use unsulphured molasses. Sulphured or blackstrap molasses have a harsher, more “minerally” flavor.
  • My original version of this recipe uses 1 cup of molasses and no honey. For those who prefer a less robust flavor, you may use half honey, half molasses as described above. Not sure? Opt for 1/4 cup honey and 3/4 cup molasses the first time and adjust from there.
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  1. Pingback: Tasting seasonally: citrus recipe roundup | edge of center

  2. Gail

    Anne, What are your thoughts on mailing the Gingerbread across the country. My son lives in Seattle. Loves Gingerbread, but would never make it himself. Would it hold up for a week in the mail, or would it become moldy?