Rich Soft Gingerbread

A simple and gently-spiced gingerbread.

Rich Soft Gingerbread

Origin: Woodside National Historic Site
Region: Ontario
Period: 19th Century
Course: Desserts and Baked Goods

Woodstove at Woodside Woodstove
© Parks Canada

Gingerbread has a long history in Europe and Great Britain and comes in many varieties. Sometimes it is hard and thin like a cookie and other variations, like this recipe, are more like cake. It is possible that the King family ate a gingerbread something like this Rich Soft Gingerbread. The ingredients were easily available in local stores in 1891, and customers could even choose among several types of molasses. Rich Soft Gingerbread is worth the effort to make but it does take practice, especially if prepared in a wood-fired stove!

This recipe has become a Christmas favourite with visitors to Woodside National Historic Site, and over the years many Parks Canada staff members have incorporated this recipe into their own family celebrations.

Rich Soft Gingerbread


  • 1 cup | 250 ml butter
  • 1 cup | 250 ml sugar
  • 1 cup | 250 ml molasses (the darker the molasses, the darker the gingerbread)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp | 5 ml soda
  • 1 tsp | 5 ml powdered ginger
  • 1 tsp | 5 ml salt (or less, if using salted butter)
  • 1 cup | 250 ml sifted all-purpose flour (or a bit more if needed)


  • In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add the molasses and eggs. In a separate bowl mix the baking soda, ginger and salt with the flour. Stir into batter. Continue adding flour in small amounts until dough is stiff. Spread into parchment paper lined or buttered 10" x 10" baking pan. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 40 minutes.
  • It can be served in pieces the size one would for brownies or in larger squares.
  • Note: It can be a challenge to determine exactly when to remove the gingerbread from the oven ... particularly by kerosene lamp light. However, it is well worth it as this is a very delicious dessert. The centre can be a little bit soft but the edges should be crisp when removed from the oven. Beware of overbaking or underbaking the gingerbread. A tester inserted in the centre should come out clean.


Recipe tested by Chef Sean Edwards, Algonquin College School of Hospitality and Tourism

Adapted from: Smiley’s Cookbook and Universal Household Guide. 1894. p. 390