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A gingerbread loaf recipe blended with the richness of a classic chocolate quick bread. Glazed with a simple icing, and dusted with warm spices, this chocolate gingerbread cake is a fun way to get the flavor of classic gingerbread and rich cocoa all in a tender, sweet and spiced quick bread.
It’s that time of year again, when warm decadent smells begin to waft from your kitchen, and delicious baked goods fill your counters. Let me tell you, the spiced, chocolate aroma of this chocolate gingerbread loaf coming out of the oven is enough to make anyone call ‘cheat day!’. We certainly did!
The goal was to capture the intensity of gingerbread, but to enhance them with a rich cocoa flavor for a soft, spiced loaf of quick bread perfect for sharing this time of year. Top that with a simple icing, a dusting of more warm spices, and I swear you have the ideal gingerbread loaf to serve up to guests (or keep for yourself) all season long. Fair warning, my husband and I polished this off in two days. (Cheat days, it can be plural…right?)
What gives Gingerbread its flavor?
Maybe it’s common knowledge to everyone else, but most of my life I thought gingerbread referred specifically to the cookies. Turns out, gingerbread can refer to a whole variety of quick breads: cookies, cakes, muffins and more! What makes gingerbread, well gingerbread, is the specific combination of spices and molasses.
Gingerbread Loaf Ingredients
Though the recipe is very simple to get together, it does require a specific set of ingredients to make that delicious chocolate gingerbread cake flavor we’re going for.
- All Purpose Flour – The base for all the delicious gingerbread cocoa flavor, is plain old useful flour.
- Cocoa Powder – Blending cocoa in with the flour gives the cake just enough chocolate flavor.
- Granulated Sugar – Enhances the sweetness without overpowering the other spices and flavors.
- Dark Brown Sugar – Dark brown sugar contains more molasses than regular or light brown sugar, which enhances the gingerbread flavor in this quick bread.
- Molasses – An intense syrup that’s created during the sugar refining process (making granulated sugar), it’s a natural byproduct, and very powerful!
- Heavy Cream – The fat and liquid that adds necessary moisture.
- Oil – Fat that helps moisture and texture.
- Eggs – Binding and moisture, room temperature eggs are essential!
- Ginger, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Salt – The combo of spices that makes the gingerbread flavor happen!
- Baking Powder – What makes this chocolate gingerbread a quick bread is the use of a chemical leavening agent. Gives it rise and structure.
How to Make Chocolate Gingerbread
Quick breads like this one are popular in so many of our kitchens for good reason. This one uses the straight mixing method, meaning you just dump dry ingredients into the wet ones and mix. At the end of things you’ll have a delicious moist loaf of chocolate gingerbread to snack on.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and prep a loaf pan with a cooking spray or a thin coat of butter and flour.
- Combine all the dry ingredients (NOT THE SUGAR) into a bowl. That includes the flour, cocoa, spices, and leavening agent, whisk to combine.
- Add all the sugars, eggs, oil, and heavy cream to another, larger bowl and whisk until smooth.
- Gently add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and using a spatula or wooden spoon fold and stir gently until the flour is just blended.
- Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 30 minutes.
- Cover the pan with foil and continue baking for 25 minutes.
- Remove from oven, let cool a few minutes, then carefully remove from pan onto cooling rack.
- To avoid high edges on your loaf (like the edges bake higher than the middle), coat the loaf pan only one third of the way up the sides.
- If your cocoa powder is lumpy, sift it into the flour to avoid dry spots of cocoa powder in the final bake.
- Don’t dump the dry into the wet, the cocoa powder will cloud up and make a mess, just gently spoon in.
- The easiest way to make this is by measuring the ingredients via a kitchen scale, less dishes, more accurate, and fast.
The Glaze – Ingredients + Process
It’s my opinion – and I’m POSITIVE you’ll agree – that there’s nothing better than a sweet sugary icing on a gingerbread cake. In the interest of simplicity, this glaze is just a few ingredients, then you dust the top with some simple spices and boom, good to go!
- When your gingerbread cake has cooled for 30 minutes or so prepare your icing.
- Combine a cup of powdered sugar with a tablespoon of cornstarch in a sifter, and sift into a bowl. Add in 5 tablespoons of heavy cream and stir until smooth and glossy.
- Drizzle over cake.
- Combine cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, and ginger in a small bowl and sprinkle generously over the top.
- Wait for the icing to set, then slice and enjoy!
- The icing sets quickly due to the cornstarch, so don’t make this too far ahead or it won’t be as easy to spread.
- If your icing is too thin, simply add a little more powdered sugar. If too thick, add more cream, a tablespoon at a time, until a thick glue like consistency.
- Ice the cake while it’s still slightly warm (but not hot), and the icing will seep into the cracks at the top and create this delicious gooey layer under the crust.
- Place a few paper towels under the cake and cooling rack when icing for easiest clean up.
The heavy cream is the key to the moist, tender texture of the cake, combined with the sugars, it makes all the difference in final texture. I have however baked this with milk and it will work, but be a little less moist.
Yes, you can simply replace the cocoa with equal parts flour for a simple gingerbread loaf.
Cake freezes really well. Skip the icing step, wait until completely cool, and wrap in plastic or freezer paper. Then place in the freezer up to 3 months. If desired you can add the icing once your cake is out of the freezer and completely cool .
I usually recommend 3 to 4 days for cakes, stored at room temperature in an airtight container. Any more and you’re looking at a dry, likely crumbly texture.
This quickbread, due to the sugars, especially the molasses, develops a crisp crust very similar to a gingerbread cookie. It’s actually my husbands favorite part! But left uncovered that crust burns before the middle can bake properly. Covering with foil lets the cake continue to bake without the risk of burning edges.
It’s actually extremely normal for quick breads. Don’t worry about it!
I use a 9×5 loaf pan for this, you can use a smaller pan, but will have excess batter and it will require less bake time.
Other REcipes you may enjoy
For other delicious quick bread recipes….
- Types of Quick Breads
- Pecan Blackberry Coffee Cake
- Homemade Drop Biscuits
- Cornbread Muffins
- Rosemary Olive Oil Cake
For more Gingerbread inspired deliciousness, check out these recipes from my favorite blogger friends:
- Gingerbread Biscotti Recipe from Melissa at The Olive Blogger (YUM! Coffee and biscotti please!)
- Gingerbread Blondies from Jennifer over at Foodess (Chewy, spiced, gingerbread bars that will knock a brownie right out of the water!)
- Gingerbread Waffles from Leanne at Crumb Top Baking (Who says we have to wait for dessert?!)
I hope you and your family enjoy this chocolate gingerbread loaf recipe, it truly is a treat that we enjoy all throughout the holiday season. It’s a nice break from pumpkin spice, and a quick and easy quick bread that comes together simply.
Is gingerbread one of your favorite holiday flavors? I’d love to hear! Until next time, Happy Eating!
For the Chocolate Gingerbread Loaf
- 9 oz AP flour 2 cups
- 1 oz cocoa powder heaping 1/4 cup
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp ginger
- 3/4 tsp nutmeg
- heaping 1/4 tsp cloves
- Full pinch of salt
- 3 oz dark brown sugar 1/2 cup, firmly packed
- 4 oz granulated sugar 1/2 cup
- 2 large eggs
- 6 oz vegetable oil 2/3 cup
- 2.5 oz molasses 1/4 cup
- 4 oz heavy cream 1/2 cup
For the Glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 Tbs cornstarch
- 5 Tbs heavy cream
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp granulated sugar
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp ginger
For the Bread:
Preheat your oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9×5 loaf pan*
In one bowl measure your flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, spices, and salt. Whisk to combine.
In a second, larger, bowl combine both sugars, eggs, oil, molasses, and milk. Beat with whisk or sturdy spoon until eggs are fully incorporated and the mixture is smooth and glossy.
Carefully add the dry ingredients into the wet bowl. (Just dumping it in will create a mess, so gently add it!). Using a sturdy spoon or rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients in. When the flour is mostly incorporated, leaving only small lumps in the batter, it’s finished.
Pour into your loaf pan. Place in oven and bake for 50-55 minutes. Cover after 30 minutes with foil for the remaining bake time.
When the toothpick comes out of the center clean or the cake has a springy top, remove from oven.
Allow to cool in the pan for 2 to 3 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack.
For the Glaze:
When the bread has cooled for at least 30 minutes, sift powdered sugar and cornstarch together in a bowl. Stir as you add in the heavy cream and continue to add until the consistency is that of light glue.
Place a plate or paper towel under the loaf, then pour the icing over the top, allowing it to drip over the edges.
Mix together the cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, and ginger in a separate, small bowl. Using your fingers or a spoon, sprinkle the mixture over the top of the wet icing.
Allow to cool and slice when ready to serve.
Store in an airtight container until ready to eat!
Original Post 11/7/2017, Updated 10/8/2019