Ever since I was a kid, I was a big fan of gingerbread loaves rather than gingerbread cookies. We used to buy them from the grocery store and I could simply not get enough of them. Sadly, the gingerbread loaf is not very common and most people opt to make gingerbread cookies. Then, when I was living in Germany, I noticed an abundance of gingerbread loaves at the Christmas market and I was thrilled.
In an attempt to recreate the magic of a German Christmas market during a pandemic when I’m neither going to Germany nor Christmas markets, I present to you this German gingerbread loaf. It is decadent and spicy and you may just eat half the cake in one go.
The Spice Mixture
Stick me in a spice shop and I’m in heaven. This gingerbread loaf uses six spices and each and every one is important and serves a purpose in the flavor profile. For this recipe, you’ll need ginger (obviously), cinnamon, allspice, ground cloves, nutmeg and cardamom.
Although it isn’t a spice, this recipe also has a tiny amount of cocoa powder. Don’t worry, it doesn’t make it taste like chocolate! What it does is bring out all the other flavors and enhances the flavor of the molasses, so don’t skip it.
German Gingerbread Loaf Ingredients
- Flour: I just use regular, all purpose flour. However, you could use whole wheat as well.
- Eggs: The eggs provide structure to the loaf while also giving it great texture and richness.
- Molasses: Molasses isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I love it and I think it’s an absolutely crucial part of making gingerbread taste like gingerbread. For some reason, when I wanted to make this recipe I couldn’t find molasses anywhere and I checked like four stores! If you have the same problem, you can buy it from Amazon if all else fails.
- Milk: I used nonfat milk and while this sounds like a strange choice, there are a few reasons why you want to do this. The first is that the skim milk makes the cake a little bit more delicate and fluffy, which is exactly what I’m looking for. The second is that milk solids actually can mute flavors, especially chocolate, and I find using nonfat milk makes this cake even richer. Plus, it’s lower in saturated fats so that’s just a bonus.
- Butter: I always use unsalted butter because different butters can be salted in different amounts and it makes it really difficult to get the right amount of salt. With salted butter you don’t have much control over how salty your stuff turns out.
- Brown Sugar: You really want to use brown sugar in this recipe instead of white since the flavor is what we’re looking for. Brown sugar has a little bit of molasses in it that fits perfectly with this recipe.
- Baking Soda: This is what makes your gingerbread loaf rise so definitely don’t skip it!
- Spices: The most important part of this entire German gingerbread loaf are the spices! You’ll need ginger, cinnamon, allspice, ground cloves, nutmeg and cardamom. And while not a spice, you will also use a tiny amount of cocoa powder to bring out the molasses flavor.
- Salt: Like all baked goods, this loaf has a little bit of salt to enhance all the other flavors.
How to Make this German Gingerbread Loaf
Making this gingerbread loaf is not as hard as it may seem. First, make sure to take your butter out of the fridge so it softens and comes to room temperature. For me, this usually takes about an hour and a half.
Then I like to combine all of my dry ingredients into one bowl and mix and then set aside until I need it. After that you’ll take the softened, room temperature butter and cream it in a stand mixer on a low speed for just 30 seconds – one minute.
Then you’ll add in the sugar and combine still on a low speed for about 30 seconds.
After the sugar has been mixed into the butter, you’ll add the eggs and molasses, and then alternate adding the flour and milk in thirds. It will only take several minutes for the mixture to become well combined.
Your batter should be runny, but thick enough that it takes a couple of seconds to drip off the spoon. Then the loaf bakes in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 50-60 minutes. To check if it’s done, you can stick a skewer or fork into the center of the loaf and if it comes out clean, the loaf is cooked through.
This German gingerbread loaf can be wrapped in plastic wrap or put in an airtight container and kept at room temperature for up to five days for ultimate freshness.
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German Gingerbread Loaf
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup nonfat milk
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp alllspice
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cardamom
- 1 tsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- About two hours before you want to start making your gingerbread loaf, take half a cup of unsalted butter out of the fridge to come down to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Combine all the dry ingredients into a bowl, mix well and then set aside.
- Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter in the stand mixer on a low speed for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Add the sugar and combine still on a low speed for another 30 seconds. Add in the eggs and molasses and beat on low for 1 minute until well combined.
- Then alternate adding the dry ingredients and milk in thirds letting it mix well before adding the next third. Mix the batter on a low speed for several minutes until everything is well combined.
- Grease a 9x5 loaf pan and pour your mixture in, tapping it a couple of times on the counter to get rid of any bubbles. Then bake for 50-60 minutes. For my oven, 55 minutes seems to be the sweet spot.
- Let the loaf cool for at least 20 minutes before removing it from the pan and slicing.