A good recipe for making gingerbread cake the easy way combines sugar, butter, flour and molasses with spices such as cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Before beginning the recipe, grease a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray or shortening, and lightly flour the pan.
Cream 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup butter in a large bowl. Add 1 egg, beating vigorously until blended, and then stir in 1 cup molasses. In another bowl, sift together dry ingredients, including 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cloves and salt. Mix dry ingredients into the molasses mixture, and stir in 1 cup hot water. Pour cake batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 1 hour.
To make a traditional old-fashioned gingerbread cake, lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with unsalted butter, and line the bottom with wax or parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup each of vegetable oil, sugar and unsulphured molasses, along with 1 or 2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger, whisking to blend. Lightly beat 2 room-temperature eggs, and whisk into the molasses mixture until smooth. In a separate large bowl, combine 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon fine salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves. Add molasses mixture to the flour mixture, and whisk until evenly combined.
Bring 1 cup water to boil in a saucepan, remove from heat, stir in 1 tablespoon baking soda, and then whisk into cake batter until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake for 45 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.