Black Sticky Gingerbread Cake

This black sticky gingerbread cake recipe makes an outrageously dark, dense, flavorful and delicious cake. The burnt-caramel-esque crust that forms on the top of the cake is part of what makes this recipe a keeper.

Black Sticky Gingerbread Cake

I've experimented with a good number of gingerbread recipes in the years since I highlighted Regan Daley's Black Sticky Gingerbread cake. There were single, double, and triple ginger gingerbreads. Cakes that were spice-kissed, and others with experience at first and second base. They're all good, really. But hers is the one I keep coming back to when it counts. And because it has been hiding in the archives for so long, I thought I'd run my updated version today complete with tweaks, and fresh insights. Please enjoy!
Black Sticky Gingerbread Dusted with Powdered Sugar
Back then, here's what I said, "...The Black Sticky Gingerbread comes together like the cake that it is - straight-forward, unfussy, with a bit of kick and attitude. Melt the butter with the sweeteners, stir in a few eggs, fold in the fragrant spices and flour, spike it with some freshly grated ginger, and pour the batter into the prepared pan. The cake is outrageously dark, dense, flavorful, and delicious. Not the prettiest cake you'll ever make, but one of the tastiest. The burnt-caramel-esque crust that forms on the top of the cake is outrageous, and that was the first part of the cake to go."Black Sticky Gingerbread Dusted with Powdered Sugar

What is the Best Gingerbread Pan?

I've baked this gingerbread cake in a range of pans over the years. Honestly, it's hard to go wrong. You might have to adjust the baking time depend on what you're using. Less time if you're baking in muffin or cupcake tins, or longer if you're using a sheet pan or large bundt pan. There is guidance in the recipe notes. This is just a long way of saying, experiment!

Black Sticky Gingerbread

Your Gingerbread Suggestions

A number of you have left insightful comments over the years, and I wanted to highlight a few here. Kelly noted," I made this for Christmas dinner this year with homemade lemon curd and it was fabulous!" There has been success swapping in gluten-free flour for the flour. And Haruspex loaded it up saying, "I halved the recipe, made it in a loaf pan, added a fistful of sherry-soaked chopped dates & raisins and another of chopped walnuts, and brought it to a New Year’s Eve party." Have fun, I'd love to know if any of you give this a try over the holidays, or if you make any other personalized tweaks to it! xo -h

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Black Sticky Gingerbread

4.39 from 36 votes

ust a quick mention that I like Wholesome Sweeteners or Plantation Organic Molasses, both are unsulphered organic, blackstrap molasses. Pan choice: My version of the recipe calls for a 13x9x2 inch pan. I suspect it is a size many of you have, and it's a nice choice because you get lots of the caramelized top. That said, loaf pans also work beautifully, but don't fill them more than ~2/3 full, and line them as noted below. In this set of photos I used a 10-cup capacity Bundt pan, which means no parchment lining, and 50/50 odds for getting the gingerbread out of the pan in one piece - butter and flour well.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup / 8 oz / 225 g unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup / 120 ml water
  • 3/4 cup / 180 ml unsulphured blackstrap molasses
  • 3/4 cup / 180 m flavorful, real honey
  • 1 cup / 5 1/2 oz / 155 g tightly packed dark brown / Muscovado sugar
  • 3 cups / 13 1/2 oz / 385 g whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup / 120 ml milk
  • 1 packed tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
  • Lightly sweetened whipped cream, to serve
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325F / 165C, with a rack in the center. Butter and line a 13x9x2-inch (33x23x5-cm) baking pan so the parchment hangs over by a couple inches. This will help you remove the cake from the pan later on.
  2. Combine the butter, water, molasses, honey and brown sugar in a medium non-reactive saucepan and place over low heat. Stir the mixture frequently until the butter is just melted, and all of the ingredients are well blended. Remove from the heat, pour into a large bowl and set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, all-spice and cloves, and set aside. When the molasses mixture feels just warm to the touch, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the milk and stir to combine. Fold the dry ingredients into the batter, and don't be overly concerned if you can't get every lump out. Stir in the grated ginger.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for ~45-60 minutes. Start checking for doneness after about 45 minutes. When the top of the cake springs back when touched you're good. For me this is usually ~55 minutes, but the baking time will depend on your oven and the shape of your pan.
  5. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes, then, using the overhang of parchment (if you're using a rectangular pan), lift the cake out of the pan and cool completely on a wire rack before cutting. If refrigerated, the texture becomes dense and sticky - in a good way, just let it come up to room temperature before serving. And, as I'm sure you can imagine, this cake is particularly nice served with boozy whipped cream.

Notes

Serves 12-16.

Adapted, quite a bit over the years, from Regan Daley's In the Sweet Kitchen.

Serves
14
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
42 mins
Total Time
57 mins
 
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Recipe Rating




Comments

Very tasty! The cake is a nice texture although the cake stuck to the bundt tin in two small patches. I melted the butter in the microwave then stirred in the other ingredients so I didn't need to wait for the sugar mix to cool. I also used treacle rather than molasses and skipped the water as I used runny honey.

Rachel

This gingerbread is a family favorite. I The addition of fresh ginger makes the flavor pop.

Colleen

    So happy you enjoy it Colleen!

    Heidi Swanson

Hi Heidi, I'm hoping to bake this ahead of time for a friends birthday. Do you think this cake could keep in an airtight container refrigerated for 3 nights before serving? Thanks Heidi!

Liz

    I think you'd be ok!

    Heidi Swanson

My husband wanted a ginger cake for Christmas, so, knowing you typically can't go wrong with Heidi's recipes, I tried this one. She isn't kidding when she describes it as outrageously delicious. Quite possibly the best cake we've ever eaten, and we are not gingerbread aficionados. I'm going to make a few of these next year and send them out for holiday gifts.

Lynne

    Thanks Lynne! So happy it was a success!

    Heidi Swanson

I think this is the same recipe that I've made a few years before, I love it! But the photos here make the cake look much lighter than I remember? I seem to remember the recipe used to have a photo that was super dark, almost like a brownie. Any reason? (Or am I misremembering?)

Claire

    Hi Claire! Same recipe - The photos are a collection of shots of the cake over the year. The ones at the top are more recent. Have a look at the cake on the bottom - it's probably just the lighting. I shot the recent ones on my patio.

    Heidi Swanson

I made this almost exactly as written, except that I left out the fresh ginger and I halved the recipe and used an 8.5x4.5x2.5 inch loaf pan. It cooked to perfection in 55 minutes. This is my ideal gingerbread. The spices are just right, the crumb is tender and moist, and those crispy edges are delightful. Will make it again and give as gifts.

Alyssa B

    Thanks Alyssa! So happy you're enjoying it. Happy holidays!

    Heidi Swanson

Heidi..many years ago, I made this gingerbread. It was THE BEST GINGERBREAD I have ever had..as I remember it, it WAS dark, buttery, gingery and totally fabulous. I have come back to your site to get the recipe again as I am craving this particular gingerbread. It is just so good.

JANIS I. CARLSON

    Thanks Janis! I make it every year as well! xx!

    Heidi Swanson

this is a staple for me! it’s a perfect way for me to use up sourdough discard — I sub in discard for the water and subtract 120g of flour from the original recipe. a couple of times I’ve grated in an entire apple. it’s such a perfect recipe; so adaptable. we eat it for breakfast sometimes! honestly, this cake brings actual joy to my life. thanks as always, Heidi!

kelley

    Thanks Kelley~! I'm totally going to try the sourdough swap!

    Heidi Swanson

Somehow it happened that I had some left that was not eaten. (Go figure). I served it with the sauce for Sticky Toffee Pudding. Omg. Not low cal by any means, but just about the closest thing to heaven that my sweet tooth could imagine.

louise

Just incredible. The perfect crumb, rich and sublime flavours...made this for Christmas and it was perfect for rainy west coast weather. I baked it in a bundt pan and, following Heidi's comment, seriously buttered the pan. The gingerbread lifted like a dream. A question—I would like to try lowering the sweetness, but unsure how to do so without compromising the moisture and texture. Any tips and suggestions?

Ivy

I just made this gingerbread and it is by far the tastiest I have every made. I put half of the batter in a greased and floured Nordic Ware Gingerbread man mold with low expectations that it would pop out clean but it did!!!! The second half went into muffins. It is insanely good. Perfect mix of spices. Gingerbread is sometimes too sweet, too cloying. This is absolutely addictive!!!!!

Morgan

Loved everything about this cake except it was a bit too sweet for us. Do you think the recipe would work without the brown sugar? Or would you recommend something else?

Cynthia

I made this last Sunday and loved it..it was shared with many colleagues (everyone raved) and the 2 loaves were gone in 3 days. I did change the sugar content (due mostly to just not having enough honey and molasses on hand) and cut 30 grams from each of the sweeteners. It was still sticky, gorgeous and satisfying. I personally will put a bit more ginger in next time, but I've already replaced my sweeteners in my pantry..it's going to be made again very, very soon. Thank you for such lovely recipes.

Loulou

I just made this for the first time tonight and it is wonderful!!! Thank you Heidi for all of your flawless recipes.

esperanza

I made this subbing Pamela's gluten free baking mix for the flour (cup for cup) and baking soda (since Pamela's has leavening in it). It turned out amazing!

Kimberly

I had to make a dessert for a dinner party with my in-laws. I made this gingerbread because I wanted something rich, but not too sweet in taste. It was absolutely what I wanted and especially the women loved it. I live in Switzerland and a gingerbread here is something quite exotic, nevertheless it was a hit! Thank you Heidi!

Gina

As a child my mother would make the ultimate gingerbread cake - the only type of cake my dad would EVER eat. She'd serve it warm with either vanilla ice cream or homemade apple sauce. Sometimes both. Her recipe is long lost and I've been trying for years to replicate its moist, spicy perfect textured goodness. So far no luck. But I will definitely be trying this one. Thank you for sharing. Happy New Year!

Stay-At-Home-Chef

I hadn't been on your site in quite some time, and I actually did make this over Christmas without knowing you had reposted it! It's the best gingerbread recipe I've ever found. It was the hit of the dessert buffet, even beating out the homemade chocolate chip cookies!!

Janet

This was absolutely incredible! Used whole spelt flour, and followed everything else exactly. I used a dark amber honey. I'll be making it again with gluten-free flour to bring in to the office. I could not stop eating it after it cooled! (It was good warm, better room temp.) I ate it straight for the first few days, and like it with whipped cream now that it's been refrigerated. I'm curious as to whether anyone's tried cutting back the brown sugar or honey a little? I'm willing to make it as-is, but thinking it's a little high sugar and would love to see if any experiements have worked out. Thanks, Heidi!

Stephanie

I made this for Christmas dinner this year with homemade lemon curd and it was fabulous! I grew up loving gingerbread with lemon sauce but my mom always made both from a box. This post challenged me to make a family classic from scratch and what a difference it made. Thanks, Heidi!!!

kelly. k.

Heidi I plan on making Black sticky gingerbread this week and was wondering exactly what type of honey (flavor) do you use in this recipe. I figured on using clover honey and was thinking about Buckwheat honey, what do you think? Denny
HS: Have a go with clover for starters Denny, and then if you make it again, switch it up to something a bit darker/more distinctive?

Denny Abler

Oh. I just now saw that the 45-50 minute baking time you proposed was for a flat pan, not for the bundt you used, which I would have expected to take longer than a half-sized loaf. So I probably should not have been surprised at the long bake time. However, it came out beautifully, with a crunchy top and soft, moist interior.

haruspex

I halved the recipe, made it in a loaf pan, added a fistful of sherry-soaked chopped dates & raisins and another of chopped walnuts, and brought it to a New Year's Eve party. Extremely good, well-textured and well-flavored, even though I had no fresh ginger (shh! I added extra ground spices, including a sprinkle of garam masala). It was a very wet batter and was taking forever to bake at 325, though, so I raised the temp to 375 to finish it off. I mention this just in case anyone else encounters the same effect.

haruspex

This was so wonderful! Thank you! Everybody LOVED it!!!

Melanie

Years ago I jarred some apple butter with the intention to open the jars to serve with a perfect gingerbread cake, and finally i've found that recipe. So so good. Many thanks from a grateful fan!

annie

I made this for Christmas Day dinner and served it with Black Maple Hill spiked whipped cream... What a great cake!

rugged filly

It looks great. At the moment i've got time to try this. Thanks for this recipe...

Silvana

This is one FABULOUS cake - one of the best I have ever made! TX!

dina

I made this for Christmas and it was fabulous! I substituted a gluten-free flour mixture. This is my new favorite Christmas dessert.

Kenda

oh this was christmas incarnate (in-bunt-ate?) i made it in an angel food cake pan, and put a ring of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan. i also buttered and floured the sides-- no sticking at all! it came out beautifully. took about 65 minutes to bake. the cake was delicious. sticky, rich, perfect. my uncle (a dessert-hater) gobbled his up and dubbed it our new christmas tradition. thank you!!

julia

Just made the Sticky Teff Kissed Spice Loaves from your Super Natural Cooking book. I used all Whole Wheat Pastry Flour and substituted the eggs for flax seeds and soy for milk and it turned out fantastic!!!! Very similar to this recipe. I'm really enjoying many of your recipes thanks!

Diana

Delicious! I substituted olive oil for butter and still great!

Kat

I made this gingerbread cake tonight, using a gluten-free flour mix and baked it in a bundt pan. The cake looks fabulous!

Kenda

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