Every year I share this recipe from my grandmother Adele, and I think it would amaze her to know that there are people baking and enjoying her gingerbread all over the world. The recipe dates back to the 1910s, and when I was growing up, it wasn’t Christmas until she made it. This year, thanks to Andrew Newiss, who kindly translated the recipe, I’m including conversions and substitutions for those of you in the UK and Europe. This heavenly stuff will fill your home with the smell of Christmas and it’s every bit as good as it smells. Barry likes it with whipped cream; I’m a purist and prefer it all by its lovely self. Either way, give it a try. It might become your tradition too.

Adele’s Hot Water Gingerbread (UK & European conversions in parentheses)
1 cup butter (225g salted butter)
1 cup sugar (165g dark soft brown sugar)
1 cup blackstrap molasses (342g or 236ml Lyle’s Black Treacle)
1 tsp. baking soda (1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda)
1 1/2 cups boiling water (355ml boiling water)
2 large eggs
3 cups flour (420g plain white flour)
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
Beat all ingredients together with electric beater. Bake at 350° (180°C) in two square pans (20cm x 20cm x 5 cm) or one oblong pan (33 x 23 x 5 cm) for 45 minutes or until knife comes clean.

If you’d like some Christmas music to bake by, my album Northern Lights (out of print on CD) is available for downloading on iTunes and Bandcamp, and you can stream it at Apple Music and Spotify.


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  1. I made this last night for a work Christmas ‘bring & share’ party. Everyone loved it! And it was so easy to make. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful family ‘secret’ and it’s so lovely that your Grandma’s culinary legacy lives on across the world!

  2. Not being a culinary expert I had a go last night and it came out absolutely spot on. My wife gave it the thumbs up and so did my work colleagues.Definitely on my yearly to do list now. Thank you for sharing.

  3. I might try this amazing recipe too Gretchen, you are so amazing! A fabulous songwriter, instrumentalist, singer, and chef all in one, plus I’m sure you have many other awesome qualities as well. I hope you will tour Australia someday, I would love to see you perform live, especially “Woman On The Wheel” (my favourite GP song).

    Cheers, Michael

  4. This RECIPE is by FAR and AWAY, THE BEST Gingerbread Cake I have EVER tasted!
    I am a baker, in my 7th decade of living, and have always LOVED gingerbread!
    It was my favorite X-mas gift this year, given me by a very English neighbor, and I will make it regularly!
    Also simultaneously gifted an introduction to Gretchens music…
    Peace, Health, Joy, and Wakefullness, to all-.
    From Santa Fe New Mexico,

  5. Thank you Gretchen and Andrew for the conversion I am going to make for the office Christmas picnic!

  6. Always have molasses in house but not “Blackstrap” will it work with “fancy” ?

  7. We’ve just made this for the first time – absolutely delicious – thanks Gretchen.
    A word of caution for those with fan assisted ovens, around 30 minutes at 100°C should be enough time to cook. Happily, we caught it in time.
    have a safe New Year everyone.

  8. ❤❤❤❤
    Thank you for sharing this, Gretchen! I will test it out on Matt!
    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  9. I can’t wait to mix this up and put it in the oven! Thanks for your generosity in providing it on your blog……from a Prospect Hill and PMHS friend of Suzanne’s.

  10. Thanks so much for the UK measurements- can’t wait to try it.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.
    Hope to see you in Bury St Edmunds in the spring.
    Best wishes,
    Reg and Daph

  11. Mine didn’t work out
    Followed everything on the recipe came out like a brownie and not risen

  12. Turned out great, Gretchen. I’m adding your recipe to my Must Bake for Christmas treats.

  13. This is going in my recipe box. Making a lot of holiday goodies this year to fatten up my office staff. Have a wonderful Christmas.


  14. Hi sister, I made it two days after you left and took it to a luncheon on Thursday. It disappeared off the serving plate in 10 min. and was a big hit. I also shared the recipe with the ladies at the luncheon. Our Gram would be so surprised…..
    Suzanne Peters Payne

  15. In Northern England, this is called ‘Parkin’ and traditionally eaten around Guy Fawkes Night of 5th November (a slightly weird British celebration of the chap who tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament).. Must try your grandma’s recipe Gretchen!

  16. i used 3/4 ,cup molasses and 3/4 cu0mSwerbe brown sugar and added 2 very ripe bananas. The spices I put in slightly less of each. Tyrned out delicious will make again and add a side of custard and whole raspberries.

  17. I am heading out to the store to get the ingredients- I will be listening to you and Tom Russell while baking. Thank you for your wonderful music.

  18. My family used to actually boil the ingredients, cool then fold in the flour. But I’ve no idea why

  19. Didn’t have vanilla and it was a two-hour drive to get some. Used rum instead. Delicious! Thank you, Gretchen, for sharing this wonderful family recipe. Pat Hubbard sends his best. There have been rumblings about a Propinquity reunion.

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