• Yield: Serves 6

  • Time: 20 min prep, 30 min cooking, 50 min total

Adapted from A New Way to Cook by Sally Schneider (Artisan, 2001). Copyright 2001, Sally Schneider.

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 30 min

Total time: 50 min

Yield: Serves 6

It took some time to devise a really satisfying gingerbread, one as rich and moist as traditional recipes, which are extremely liberal with molasses and butter, often at upward of 500 calories per slice. This lightened version has all the elements of an old-fashioned gingerbread: molasses, mustard, strong coffee, and a host of spices. Lots of grated fresh ginger, which, curiously, you don't often find in gingerbread recipes, enlivens the spices and makes the cake extremely moist. This gingerbread relies on buttermilk to tenderize it and lend richness, in tandem with baking soda, which acts as leavening, and counteracts the acidity of the molasses.

Part of Sally Schneider's Easy Menus for Holiday Entertaining


  • 3 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 3/4 cups sifted cake flour or 1 1/2 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • Pinch of kosher salt

  • 3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses

  • 3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

  • 2 tablespoons strong brewed coffee

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

  • 1 tablespoon confectioners sugar


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan or a 9-inch square pan with teaspoon of the butter. Dust the pan with 1 teaspoon of the flour. Set aside.

  • 2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt.

  • 3. In a large bowl, combine the remaining 3 tablespoons butter and the brown sugar. With a handheld electric mixer or a wooden spoon, cream the mixture until it is light and fluffy. Add the egg, molasses, fresh ginger, coffee, and vanilla extract and beat well to combine. Add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk in three additions, beating well after each addition.

  • 4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. To distribute the batter evenly in the pan, beginning at the edge of the pan, move your index finger in a spiral through the top inch of the batter until you reach the center, or zigzag back and forth if using a square pan.

  • 5. Bake for 30 minutes if using an 8-inch pan, 25 minutes if using a 9-inch pan, or until a thin sharp knife or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.

  • 6. Run a knife around the edges of the pan and invert the cake onto the rack. Let cool completely.

  • 7. Place the cake upside down on a plate. Sift confectioners sugar over the top.

  • 8. The gingerbread will keep, well wrapped, for up to 4 days.