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Lemon-Vanilla Glazed Gingerbread

December 11, 2019 by Ginger Hultin MS RDN

Gingerbread reminds me of gingerbread cookies and gingerbread houses but I wanted to make some real gingerbread cake this season. And I wanted it topped with a light, delicious glaze. Gingerbread already has so many complex flavors going on that you need to keep the toppings simple. A butter cream frosting is the most obvious but I wanted some unexpected flavors to help this recipe pop. Enter: Lemon-Vanilla Glazed Gingerbread.

Lemon-Vanilla Glazed Gingerbread

It’s actually a little difficult to find simple gingerbread recipes…and if you’re an experienced baker, you know that tweaking a recipe can drastically change the texture and even the flavor of your baked goods. I was looking for a gingerbread recipe to bring to a party recently and the recipes had me boiling water, dissolving baking soda, and molasses. That was one too many steps for me, so I came up with my Lemon-Vanilla Glazed Gingerbread recipe instead. It’s simple for the holidays and it makes your house smell incredible.

This recipe is seriously SO good. The gingerbread is packed with spices – cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and even black pepper. These warming flavors pair really nicely with the lemon-vanilla glaze that lightens things up a bit (not to mention a super easy topping).

I love having this around over the holidays for guests if they stop by. It’s such an inviting recipe for kids and adults alike. I used whole wheat flour in this recipe so it’s a little bit higher in fiber and nutrients and it also gives the cake a more hearty texture. I brought it to a friendsgiving party and it was a huge hit. Everyone really enjoyed the balance of the lemon-vanilla glaze. Because of that, it’s actually easier to pick up and to serve than if it had a thick white frosting on it. And you can always freshen it up a few days later but adding on a fresh sprinkle of lemon zest.

I’m baking a lot this holiday! It’s been really fun! I feel like I’ve finally settled into a routine where I plan ahead enough and I know how to carve out time so the months of November and December are more balanced. I made some recipes recently that I’m very excited about. I made a delicious celeriac and apple salad with vanilla honey dressing because celeriac is SUCH a cool veggie and we need way more seasonal salads this time of year. I made a farro risotto with butternut squash and sage that is absolutely incredible and so flavorful for the season.

As you well know, I also do a lot of healthy(ish) cocktails on the blog so I made a Carrot Ginger Turmeric Mimosa as well as an apple cider wine spritzer for all your entertaining needs. I also updated a recipe that I served at Thanksgiving this year: my apple cider bourbon punch. This was such a hit at the party and you know what? It would pair quite well with my lemon-vanilla glazed gingerbread.

Lemon-Vanilla Glazed Gingerbread

To get started with this recipe, preheat your oven to 325F and lightly coat your loaf pan and set aside. Mix the dry ingredients together. You’ll notice ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and even black pepper in this recipe, spicing it up.

The cake is sweetened with brown sugar as well as molasses. Molasses is such an interesting sweetener to use and it’s found mostly around the holidays, at least in this part of the world. Of any sugar cane product, it has the lowest sugar content and it actually has a little bit of nutritional value in the form of iron, calcium, magnesium and B6. We’re not talking large amounts and of course, it’s very sweet, so you can use it here and there in recipes but it won’t likely be a staple in your daily life.

One fun thing about this recipe is that it contains crystalized ginger. I often cook with fresh ginger root but this Lemon-Vanilla glazed gingerbread cake recipe is all about the dried and candied ginger. I found some in the bulk section of my local grocery store and for the recipe, I just chopped it up and incorporated it into the batter.

If you wanted to get creative, there are many other things you could add to this recipe. You could put in any variety of nuts but I think that pecans or walnuts in particular, chopped, would be lovely. You could also do some dried fruit like currants or raisins if you wanted but again, I was trying to keep it simple this time.

Lemon-Vanilla glazed gingerbread

Lemon-Vanilla Glaze

One of the most exciting parts about this recipe is the lemon-vanilla glaze. It is so simple and just very delicious. My intern Katie was the mastermind here and she whipped up some fresh lemon juice with a dash of vanilla extract, added powdered sugar and water and got it to her desired consistency. It turns into this beautiful creamy, yellow glaze. We popped it in the refrigerator to set just slightly, for about 5 minutes, and then we just topped it and garnished with a little lemon zest.

Lemon is a really fun addition here, nutritionally speaking. Just 1/4 cup, which is about what we used, contains about 30% of your daily vitamin C needs plus a little folate and potassium.

This is a brown colored recipe so adding in a little glaze gives it both a pop of color as well as flavor. The sweet glaze balances all the spice in the gingerbread for a very wonderful little holiday dessert.

This would be such a perfect treat to take to an office party or simply to treat your coworkers. I could imagine enjoying it with a cup of coffee in the morning. I work by myself now – or with my interns – so I miss out a little on that office camaraderie that I used to have. However, I’m at home more, in my office, and my kitchen is right outside my door. I love that I can pop out and bake something delicious like this lemon-vanilla glazed gingerbread any time of the day now. I hope you enjoy it!

Lemon-Vanilla Glazed Gingerbread

Lemon-Vanilla Glazed Gingerbread

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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Americana
Keyword: easy gingerbread, gingerbread, gingerbread cake, holiday cake, lemon glaze, real gingerbread, vanilla glaze
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 1 loaf
Author: Ginger Hultin



  • Cooking spray
  • 1 ¼ cups plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup molasses
  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons crystallized ginger, roughly chopped

Lemon-Vanilla Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Preheat the oven to 325F. Prepare a 9x5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  • Whisk 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, salt, and baking soda together in medium mixing bowl.
  • In a separate small mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy.
  • Add the vanilla and egg to wet mixture.
  • In a third small bowl, mix remaining 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour with chopped ginger.
  • Alternate adding water and butter and sugar mixture to flour-spice mixture 1/4 cup at a time, mixing to combine. 
  • Once combined into a batter, fold in the crystallized ginger and flour mixture.
  • Transfer to prepared loaf pan and bake for 55-60 minutes.


  • To make the glaze whisk together confectioner's sugar, milk, lemon juice and vanilla in a medium bowl.
  • Top the gingerbread loaf with the glaze and serve.


Serving: 1/8 loaf
Tried this recipe?Mention @champagnenutrition


  1. SBP, RD on January 31, 2020 at 11:41 am

    Hi — this looks like a wonderful recipe. I have two quick questions for you — 1) why do you use kosher salt instead of iodized? As a dietitian I value flavor, and I know many misinformed bloggers ( feel that iodized salt wrecks flavor. I’ve not found it to be true, but I do know, also as a dietitian, that our country needs iodine.

    Second point — why plant-based milk? I have nothing particular against plant based milk, but I am a big fan of the nutrients in cow’s milk. Why not use milk and let people substitute almond milk or soy milk, etc., if they choose to? Calcium, vitamin D and yes, iodine, are well-represented in dairy milk. It’s important to bake, cook AND educate consumers.

    • Ginger Hultin on February 1, 2020 at 8:37 am

      Hi! Absolutely you can make those subs. Iodized salt is a perfect substitution and then if you prefer dairy milk, that’s absolutely fine, too. Enjoy!

    • NoNonsenseRD on February 1, 2020 at 10:53 am

      To the author-please don’t feel like I’m trying to attack you here, as that is not my intention. I just wanted to express my agreement with SBP, RD’s comment. I too am an RD and couldn’t agree with his/her more on both points. I think as dietitians, we have to fill the internet with information, recipes and thoughts that do not perpetuate the irrational fear of dairy that has seemed to consume the US or at least the Midwest. Almost every patient/client/customer I interact with feels that sea salt, kosher salt or Himalayan sea salt are better for them than plain, iodized salt.

      • Ginger Hultin on February 1, 2020 at 1:21 pm

        Hi Jamie – I don’t feel attacked at all! Eat dairy and eat iodized salt if you want – doesn’t bother me. My recipes are always made to be open to changing in any way you want to so I’d love to know how it turns out for you if you make some alterations. Let me know!

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Ginger Hultin,MS, RD, CSO

An award-winning, nationally recognized nutrition expert and media spokesperson.

Thanks for visiting! If you’re like me: obsessed with eating, wine, going out and traveling, you’re in the right place. Champagne Nutrition® LLC is a Registered Dietitian-run concierge virtual practice helping clients look and feel better. On this blog, you’ll find cocktails, mocktails, and plant-based recipes that are easy to make quickly at home and pack for leftovers on your adventures.

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