Molasses Gingerbread

Gingerbread’s long history pretty much concludes in the British Isles, where it is a standard. This is an adaptation of a 1940s British recipe.

Makes one 9-inch round gingerbread, about 8 servings


2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

8 tablespoons (1 stick/4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

2/3 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed

1/4 cup molasses

1 cup water

1 teaspoon baking soda

One 9 x 2-inch round pan, buttered and the bottom lined with a disk of parchment or buttered wax paper

  1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350˚F.
  2. Stir the flour and spices together in a large bowl.
  3. Melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over low heat, then (still on low heat) stir in the brown sugar, molasses, and most of the water, leaving a couple of tablespoons in the measuring cup. Stir together to combine and increase heat to medium. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir the baking soda into the remaining water. Remove the butter mixture from the heat and pour the baking soda mixture into it.
  5. Add the liquid to the bowl of dry ingredients and use a large rubber spatula to quickly fold everything together.
  6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
  7. Bake the gingerbread until it is well risen and feels firm in the center and the point of a paring knife inserted in the center emerges clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
  8. Cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then loosen the gingerbread from the side of the pan with a small paring knife if necessary and invert it to another rack. Peel off the paper and replace it with a rack. Cool completely before serving.