So gingerbread cookies have become a holiday staple, but let's not forget classic gingerbread cake! These gingerbread muffins are based off of old fashioned soft gingerbread in cake form. Frosted with a bit of vanilla buttercream, these are the perfect holiday treat!
Ingredients for Gingerbread Muffins
For these gingerbread muffins you will need:
- An orange - this will be zested and juiced in the course of the recipe. If you don't have a fresh orange, you can substitute orange juice and leave out the zest.
- Bourbon - for a festive punch to your gingerbread, I recommend using bourbon or whisky. The alcohol will cook out of this during the boiling and baking process. If you would prefer not to use alcohol though, you can also substitute with water.
- Raisins - use either raisins or sultanas.
- Treacle - in the UK, dark treacle is much more readily available than molasses. You could use either in this recipe for similar effect.
- Sour Cream
- Flour - either all purpose or plain flour.
- Baking soda
- Spices - ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground cloves and salt.
Steps to Make Old Fashioned Gingerbread
There are three key stages to these old fashioned gingerbread muffins.
Part 1 - Infusing Dried Fruit
Soft gingerbread often includes raisins, sultanas or other mixed dried fruit. Not as much as in a fruit cake, but a bit of fruit adds extra texture and flavour. These dried fruits offer an opportunity to infuse additional flavour by soaking.
To prepare the raisins in this recipe, you want to steep these in orange juice and bourbon. You could do this one of two ways:
- Either leave to soak and infuse overnight.
- Or, the quicker process, boiling the raisins in the liquid for about 5 minutes.
Both methods will produce plump, partially rehydrated fruits, steeped in the flavours of your liquids.
Part 2 - Melting Butter and Treacle
Stage two in this recipe is to melt your butter and treacle together. Place these in a separate saucepan and bring to a boil over a medium heat.
Warming the treacle and melting the butter creates the base liquid for this batter.
Once your butter has melted and the mixture boils, remove from the stovetop and add the sour cream, orange zest and vanilla. Whisk together until smooth.
3. Mixing Old Fashioned Gingerbread Batter Together
To bring this all together, start by sifting the dry ingredients together into a large mixing bowl. The dry ingredients here are your flour, spices, salt and baking soda.
Then add the treacle mixture, stirring well to incorporate. And then finally pour in the raisins and steeping liquid. Stir this through to distribute the raisins.
Baking Gingerbread Muffins
Simply spoon the batter out evenly into a lined 12-hole cupcake or muffin tin. This mixture will fill each muffin hole about three quarters (or a bit more) full. Don't worry! The batter does rise, but it shouldn't go crazy - gingerbread is a rich dense cake.
If you'd like to make this as one old fashioned gingerbread cake, you certainly can! The batter is enough to fill a 8" or 9" square baking pan or a similar sized round tin. Grease and flour or line the tin and bake using the same temperatures as directed for these muffins.
The baking times will vary dependent on the size of the tin, but you'll be looking for the traditional test of a skewer to come out clean.
Decorating Gingerbread Muffins
Old fashioned soft gingerbread is often paired with a glaze, but personally I like to serve these with buttercream.
To decorate 12 gingerbread muffins, you should need one quantity of my American buttercream recipe.
For my gingerbread muffins, I frosted a few using a blue and white swirl made with a 1M Piping Nozzle and added fondant snowflakes and sprinkles. For the rest, I made a poinsettia design using a 352 leaf piping tip with red and green dyed icing and a few dot of golden yellow frosting for the centres.
If you want to try something else, you could pair these with a simple orange glaze:
- Mix together sifted powdered icing sugar with orange juice until you have a consistency of glaze or frosting that you are happy with. This will make for a nice zesty accompaniment.
FAQs for Gingerbread Muffins
These muffins last well for a few days at room temperature in an airtight container. Do not refrigerate or these cakes will dry out more quickly. If you want to make these in advance but are uncomfortable keeping buttercream out of the refrigerator, either decorate nearer the time of serving or store in a cool room.
They can be kept airtight in the refrigerator as well, but this will stale the cakes more quickly and they will have better flavour at room temperature - so allow to warm up a bit before serving.
Yes, absolutely! These muffins can be frozen either before or after decorating. First allow the muffins to cool completely. You can then decorate them or leave them plain or frost with buttercream.
If plain, once cool, place in a ziploc bag and freeze for up to three months.
If frosted, allow the buttercream to set for a couple of hours. This will allow it to crust slightly and be more easy to store. Then place gently into a ziploc bag and freeze for up to three months.
Defrost at room temperature before serving.
Yes, conveniently this soft gingerbread cake is already egg free, so the only alterations required to make this vegan is to substitute the dairy. Try using a vegan butter substitute in place of the unsalted butter and a dairy free yogurt or other vegan sour cream alternative in place of the sour cream.
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Old Fashioned Gingerbread Muffins
- 2 saucepans
- 1 large mixing bowl
- 12-hole muffin pan
- ¼ cup orange juice freshly squeezed
- 2 tablespoon bourbon or water
- ½ cup raisins or sultanas
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup dark treacle or molasses
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoon orange zest or roughly the zest of one orange
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2½ cup all purpose flour or plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 quantity buttercream frosting using my recipe for vanilla buttercream
- Begin by preheating the oven to 350°F (175C/155C Fan) and lining a 12-hole muffin pan.
- Place the raisins, bourbon and orange juice in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over a medium heat. Once boiled, allow to cook for about 3 minutes before removing from the heat and setting aside.
- In a separate saucepan, place the butter and treacle. Stir together over a medium heat and bring to a boil. Once boiled, remove from the heat and add the sour cream, vanilla and orange zest.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt.
- Pour the treacle mixture into the mixing bowl with the flour and whisk together. Then add the raisins along with the soaking liquid and stir to combine.
- Spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin pan and place in the centre of the preheated oven to bake for about 30 minutes. Check for doneness by using a skewer inserted into the middle of a central muffin. Once this comes out clean, the muffins are done.
- When ready, remove the pan from the oven and transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool.
- Serve as they are or frost with buttercream.