Warm Gingerbread Cake With Crème Anglaise

December 20, 2021
5 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham. Food stylist: Kate Buckens. Prop stylist: Suzie Myers.
  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 12
Author Notes

In my family, we get together with a larger group in the days around Christmas. But on Christmas Day, it’s a small group. We stay in pajamas all day, and my mom and I cook special food for everyone. So when I think of the holidays, I think of two sort of distinctions of recipe: Christmas Eve recipes (go-tos that can feed a crowd), and Christmas Day recipes (extra special, comforting recipes).

This is a super homey, easy recipe that would be perfect for any sort of gathering with those you love this holiday season. The deeply spiced cake boasts plenty of molasses flavor. It’s fluffy in texture, and served warm. While it’s delectable all on it’s own, my favorite way to accompany it is with a thick vanilla bean custard sauce.

This is insanely delicious if you make the custard sauce fresh, so you can spoon it over the cake while it’s warm. It’s also delicious with chilled custard sauce as a hot/cold contrast with the soft cake, which is more make-ahead friendly, too! To make this even easier, serve with ice cream instead. —Erin Jeanne McDowell

What You'll Need
  • 2 3/4 cups (330 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons (6 grams) ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons (6 grams) ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (9 grams) baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3 grams) fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon (<1 gram) freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup (230 grams) warm water
  • 1 cup (340 grams) molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 1/2 cup (99 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 large egg (56 grams), at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 recipe Crème Anglaise (see headnote, optional but highly recommended)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C with the oven rack in the center. Grease a 9x9 in/23x23 cm pan with nonstick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg to combine. In a large liquid measuring cup, whisk the water and molasses together to combine.
  3. In a small bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest to combine. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, the orange sugar, and the fresh ginger until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well to combine. Scrape the bowl well. Add half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed to combine. Add half of the water/molasses mixture and mix on low speed to combine. Scrape the bowl well and repeat, alternating the dry and wet ingredients until they are fully incorporated and a smooth batter forms.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle the surface all over with turbinado sugar. Transfer to the oven and bake until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes to serve warm (or cool completely).
  6. Cut the cake into 12 even squares for serving. Pour custard sauce over just before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Taylor Stanton
    Taylor Stanton
  • Kelli Solomon
    Kelli Solomon
  • Tanya Mur
    Tanya Mur
  • Ana Goodwin
    Ana Goodwin
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, Savory Baking, came out in Fall of 2022 - is full of recipes to translate a love of baking into recipes for breakfast, dinner, and everything in between!

9 Reviews

Taylor S. October 4, 2023
Deliciously spiced with deep molasses flavor. I added chopped candied ginger for extra punch and I'm curious and I'm curious about swapping oil for butter next time.
Cachevalleychelsea August 24, 2022
Delicious! It was great warm. Kept its form well! Make sure to use quality molasses when making this to get the best flavor!
AmandaL94 January 3, 2022
Kelli S. January 3, 2022
I made this cake for my dad's birthday instead of a traditional birthday cake, but I used a round springform pan. It was sooo good! You absolutely must make the Crème Anglaise. It makes quite a bit of sauce, probably more than you need, so I used the rest to make ice cream (it's basically the same base). Hot gingerbread cake + cold ice cream = the winter dessert of my dreams.
Tanya M. January 1, 2022
Made this for NYE. It was good but nothing special...... felt it needed something more, like maybe dates or nuts added to the batter.
Mrs4nya December 27, 2021
If you're looking for something other than a chocolate cake to make, this cake (and sauce) is a definite must-try! Your house will smell divine! Thank you for this recipe!
Iori December 25, 2021
I thought this was a tasty cake! By itself, I found it lacking…but with the Crème Annalise it was “off the charts AWESOME!” Lots of compliments. I don’t usually make gingerbread anything…so, this was a super fun surprise HIT!
Ana G. December 25, 2021
You sounds intriguing.
Iori December 26, 2021
Last night we had it again. This time with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream AND the Creme Anglais…DIVINE!