Lafayette gingerbread cake
According to tradition, this gingerbread cake was made in the 1780s by George Washington's mother for General Lafayette. Get the recipe for Lafayette Gingerbread Cake ». Ingalls Photography

George Washington’s mother may have served this spicy, buttery, raisin-spiked gingerbread cake to her son’s lieutenant general (and the dessert’s namesake), the Marquis de Lafayette in the 1780s, but we first baked a version of it in SAVEUR No. 9 (Nov/Dec 1995). Most recently, it ran in our Jan/Feb 2014 SAVEUR 100 issue with the article 20 Years of SAVEUR: Gingerbread Dreams.

Lafayette Gingerbread Cake Lafayette Gingerbread Cake
According to tradition, this gingerbread cake was made in the 1780s by George Washington’s mother for General Lafayette.
Yield: serves 8-10


  • 3 cups flour, plus more
  • 2 tbsp. ground ginger
  • 1 12 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground mace
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 34 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp. grated orange zest, plus ⅓ cup fresh juice
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing
  • 12 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 3 eggs
  • Whipped cream, for serving (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 350°. Whisk flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and mace in a bowl. Stir raisins, buttermilk, orange zest, and juice in another bowl. Using a hand mixer, beat butter and sugar in a bowl until fluffy. Stir in molasses. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, until smooth. Add dry and wet ingredients alternately, beginning and ending with dry, beating until smooth. Pour batter into a greased and floured 9″ x 13″ baking pan. Bake until a knife inserted in center comes out clean, 40–45 minutes. Let cool before slicing; serve with whipped cream, if you like.