Kicks like a ginger (cake) mule!

My Grandmother was probably my earliest baking tutor. She’s baked most days of her married life, and thus 60-or-so years later it would be fair to say she’s good at it! Some of my earliest memories are of watching her making her wonderful wholegrain bread, or being taught to make golden, buttery shortbread. But one of the things I remember most clearly is the taste of her gingerbread, coated in butter.

I have tried a number of recipes over the years, but I’ve never found a recipe which lives up to my memory. But along the way I’ve found a few good recipes, one of which I am particularly fond of; it is dense, moist, strong, sticky and very moreish.

Dark sticky gingerbread by Rachel Allen

60g (2 1⁄2 oz) butter
75g (3oz) golden syrup
50g (2oz) molasses or black treacle
110g (4oz) plain flour
25g (1oz) self-raising flour
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 heaped tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
100g (3 1⁄2 oz) caster sugar
Pinch of salt
120ml (4fl oz) milk
1 egg, beaten
50g (2oz) crystallised ginger, finely chopped (I used approx the same weight in chopped stem ginger in syrup, drained)

For the syrup
80g (3 1⁄2 oz) caster sugar
80ml (2 3⁄4 fl oz) water
1 tsp finely grated root ginger

(I used the syrup from the stem ginger instead – since this is basicly what it is!)

For the topping (optional)
200g (7oz) icing sugar, sifted
Juice of 1⁄2 lemon

(I didn’t do the topping, but I’m sure it’s lovely)

You will need a 13 x 23cm (5 x 9in) loaf tin

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F), Gas mark 3. Line the loaf tin with parchment paper.

2. Melt the butter, golden syrup and molasses or treacle in a small saucepan over a low heat. Set aside.

3. Sift the flours, bicarbonate of soda, spices and pepper into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and salt, then add the milk and egg and mix until smooth. Gradually add the melted butter mixture, stirring until well incorporated, then fold in the chopped crystallised ginger. The mixture will be runny.

4. Pour into the prepared loaf tin and bake in the oven for 50-55 minutes or until risen and firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Do not open the oven to test before the bread has cooked for at least 45 minutes. Allow the cake to stand for 10 minutes in the tin before removing to a wire rack to cool.

5. Place all the ingredients for the syrup in a small saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes. Prick the hot cake all over with a fine skewer, pour over the syrup and leave to cool completely.

6. If you wish, mix the icing sugar and lemon juice together in a small bowl until thick, then spread carefully over the top of the cake with a palette knife or a table knife, allowing some icing to drip over the edges

I made this as one of three cakes for my colleagues when I finished my last job (all of which disappeared, and there really weren’t that many people in my building…) and this was my stand out favorite. I’ll put the other recipes up at some point. But this one could blow the back of your head off – the pepper in particular adds a lot.

It’s not the most aesthetic of creations, but it really doesn’t matter. It is just a good old-fashioned dense loaf-cake of the type you can imagine being served up in thick slabs in a farm kitchen in Yorkshire (this type of cake always makes me think of the James Herriot novels). I’m thinking I might do a few recipes from Yorkshire in the near future – curd tart, perhaps.

Irritatingly I’ve just realised that I don’t have a picture of the blooming cake! Gah! Oh well, you’ll just have to content yourselves with making your own to see what it looks like :-p

P.S. – The Hot Cross Buns for yesterday: I took a tin of batch #2 into the office and all except 2 disappeared 🙂


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dunsrangers on 28/04/2012 at 10:03

    I feel like baking! I have a copy of Catherine Brown’s Scottish Cook Book and in it she has a recipe for a dark sticky gingerbread. Catherine states that anyone inheriting her well used baking book will find it opens automatically at the gingerbread complete with all those lovely greasy, sticky marks on the page of this much loved recipe. Happy memories of favourite cakes!


    • Hehe – a recipe book covered in splatter marks and greasy thumb-prints is a sign that it’s a good book! Ginger cake is one of my grandad’s favourites, so next time I’m down I will be bringing another of these super-dense loafs.


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