This is just the kind of gingerbread you crave when dinnertime has suddenly become pitch-black and cold, and you feel like it's midnight all the time. It's big, soft, and comforting, like the down comforter of the cake world, and it fills your house with the spicy, delicious smell of holiday baking, even on a regular old school night. Plus, it will take you no more than 10 minutes to get it into the oven.
A note on Nutmeg: I like to grate the nutmeg fresh -- not because I'm fancy or because I think it makes such a big difference flavorwise, but because it's such a pleasant thing to do, and it's a little job I can give the kids. If you've never tried this, do: it involves buying whole nutmegs and a tiny grater, and it's a small and worthwhile investment.
Heat the oven to 350, and butter and flour a lasagna-sized (10 by 14 inch) baking pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until it's light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time, followed by the molasses. Take a moment to stop the mixer and scrape the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure there's no butter hiding out down there.
Meanwhile, sift together the flour, spices, and salt (and by "sift together" I mean, of course, whisk together, because I'm lazy like that), then mix them into the batter until they just disappear.
Now measure the boiling water (I do this right in the dirty molasses cup), add the baking soda to it, call your kids over to see the amazingly foaming mixture, explain the science of it (each crystal of baking soda actually contains a tiny, burping angel), and beat it gently into the batter, which will now seem incredibly runny, which is fine.
Pour it into your prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until the cake is starting to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick comes out clean or with crumbs on it, rather than ooky batter still.
Serve with whipped cream, if you like, or plain.