Billie's Gingerbread
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Sweet and Spicy, with just a hint of black pepper heat, this cake is awesome and abounds with so many flavors! Billie’s Gingerbread is not your typical molasses based gingerbread and this may just be my all-time favorite version.

Billie’s Gingerbread comes from author Ruth Reichl from the book “Delicious!” This wonderful cake is referred to several times in the book with the recipe graciously shared with us by the author.
Recipe type: Dessert | Butter Cake | Gingerbread
Small amount of vegetable shortening and flour for preparing pan
Cake Batter:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ¼ cup freshly grated ginger root, finely grated and tightly packed Tip: this will require a large piece of ginger root. Use a microplane for grating.
  • zest from 1-2 oranges Tip: I used 1 large orange. Use a microplane for zesting.
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
Bourbon Syrup:
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • 1½ tablespoons granulated sugar
Orange Glaze:
  • ¾ cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar, sifted
  • 5 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare one 10-cup Bundt pan; lightly grease the pan with shortening and dust with flour. Tip: the original recipe calls for a 6-cup Bundt Pan which I don’t have. I substituted a Bavarian 10-cup pan which worked perfectly, therefore I recommend the 10-cup size.
Cake Batter:
  1. In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and black pepper; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside. Tip: the original recipe calls for whole cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and black pepper which you grind and measure out. I used pre-ground spices in my cake and it turned out very good.
  2. In a medium-size bowl, combine the sour cream, eggs, and egg yolk; whisk together to mix. Set aside.
  3. Peel and grate the fresh ginger root. Set aside. Tip: use the tip of a kitchen spoon to scrape away the skin or use a vegetable peeler to peel the skin off. Then grate with a microplane.
  4. Zest 1 large orange or 2 medium size oranges using a microplane. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Tip: To cream, start by placing the butter in the bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed begin by beating the butter about 1 minute until it is smooth and light in color. With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the sugar to the butter, either one tablespoon at a time, or in a very slow steady stream, taking from 4 to 8 minutes to add all of the sugar, and beating until the butter and sugar are fully incorporated and the mixture is a light, or pale yellow color, with a fluffy texture. While adding the sugar, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly.
  6. Add the ginger root and orange zest to the butter and sugar mixture, blend on low speed to evenly mix.
  7. With the mixer on low speed, add about one third of the flour mixture, mix just until the flour is almost completely blended. Scrape the bowl down, and add about one half of the sour cream mixture, blending just until mixed. Scrape the bowl down again and continue alternating with the flour mixture and sour cream mixture, ending with the last portion of the flour, and stirring just until blended.
  8. Bake: Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with the back of a large spoon or spatula. Bake 40 minutes or until a long toothpick, wooden skewer, or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place pan on a wire cooling rack and cool for 10 minutes. While the cake is cooling in the pan, prepare the Bourbon Syrup.
Bourbon Syrup:
  1. Prepare the Bourbon Syrup while the cake is cooling in the pan. In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat, combine the bourbon and sugar, heat and stir until sugar is dissolved while bringing to a simmer. Simmer for about 4 minuets. It should reduce to about ⅓ cup. Remove pan from heat.
  2. While the cake is still in the pan, use a pastry brush to brush half the hot bourbon syrup onto the exposed cake surface (the bottom of the cake.) Allow the syrup to soak in for a few minutes, then turn the cake out onto a cake plate or wire cooling rack. Gently brush the remaining bourbon syrup all over the cake.
  3. Let cake cool completely before adding Orange Glaze.
Orange Glaze:
  1. In a small bowl, combine sugar and orange juice. Stir until smooth. Drizzle a small amount of glaze over the cake and allow to drip down the sides and allow drizzle to set a bit. Keep drizzling small amount over the cake until completely glaze is completely used. Tip: Put the glaze into a squeeze bottle for a controlled drizzle. if the glaze is added all at once you may find that most of the glaze will drip down and off the cake. Adding small amount of glaze at a time will allow most of the glaze to stay on the cake.
  2. Billie's-Gingerbread
  3. Adapted From: Reichl, Ruth, Delicious!, Random House, New York, 2015
Recipe Notes
Pan: One 10-cup Bundt pan Pan Prep: Greased and Floured Oven Temp: 350° Storage: Cover and Cool Place or Room Temperature

Help: Cake Hints and Tips

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