No-fuss sticky gingerbread cake

This is an incredibly simple gingerbread cake with a mixture that is made up in seconds: it is very moist, with jewels of stem ginger throughout and the underlying heat of spice from the ground ginger. The icing has a ginger kick with a nice lime zing to it – two flavours that are made for each other.

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The cake really does take moments to “throw together”, before getting baked: it actually takes longer to weigh out the ingredients than to get the cake into the oven!

About this recipe

This is an adaptation of a recipe I had scribbled down 30-odd years ago, re-discovered only after tidying up one of my bookcases: there is something quite alluring about recipes on scraps of yellowing paper; they are almost begging to be tried!

This certainly makes a wonderfully satisfying ginger cake.

I have simply added crushed stem ginger (the type that comes in jars with syrup) to the original recipe, which not only adds a different level of ginger heat, it makes the cake even more moist. I have also gone for molasses sugar and have increased the amount of black treacle for that deep, rich flavour they bring.

From time to time I have used all black treacle instead of both treacle and golden syrup, giving an even darker, richer flavour, and I sometimes use a mixture of whatever brown sugar I have to hand…..either way, you get a great cake.

Resist temptation to eat it immediately: let the cake “mature”!

The cake is nice eaten immediately, but it really benefits from being baked a couple of days earlier, so that the ginger flavour develops and the cake takes on a softer, slightly stickier texture.

Simply leave the cake un-iced, wrapped in greaseproof and placed in an airtight container. I have left the cake for 5 days, by which time it has fully developed its flavour.

The un-iced gingerbread also freezes perfectly; I sometimes freeze it in small squares, removing a few at a time as I want them.

Ginger crumbs!

I like to dry a few small cubes of the un-iced cake in a low oven (about 120C – fan), sometimes with a dusting of caster sugar and cinnamon, for a couple of hours, before roughly crushing them – think ginger sugar cubes! They are wonderful kept whole and dunked into melted chocolate or ganache….

However, these ginger cubes are great crushed and then sprinkled over ice cream or added to a crumble topping: a rhubarb crumble works particularly well here.

Recipe: gingerbread cake – makes one large cake


  • 100g molasses sugar, or use any brown or dark sugar
  • 130g softened unsalted butter or margarine
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 150g black treacle
  • 50g golden syrup
  • 5 pieces stem ginger, very finely chopped or crushed
  • generous pinch fine salt
  • 250ml milk, either whole or semi-skimmed
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 5 level teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • 150g icing sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons stem ginger syrup
  • the juice and the finely grated zest of 1-2 limes: you may not need it all
  • 4 pieces stem ginger, finely chopped

(1) Line a rectangular tin (approx. 6 inches by 12 inches, and 1 inch deep) with greaseproof paper and preheat oven to 170C (fan). Alternatively, use any tin you have, adjusting the cooking times – see below.

(2) Place all of the cake ingredients into a large bowl and mix well for about a minute until you get a smooth, thick batter. Pour into the tin and level it off. NB: you can sieve the flour, ginger and cinnamon together if you want, but this is not essential

(3) Bake for about 45-50 minutes until well risen and firm to the touch: a cocktail stick inserted into the middle should come out clean. It will have a few cracks on the surface, but that is fine. Leave to cool in the tin. Ideally, wrap the cooled cake in greaseproof and store in a cool place for a couple of days, but you can ice it now if preferred.

(4) For the icing: mix the icing sugar with the stem ginger syrup and about half of the lime juice to form a smooth, fairly thick icing. Add a little more lime juice or water if needed. NB: it needs to be thick enough to slowly, but surely, fall off a spoon; you don’t want it so runny so that it pours quickly off a spoon.

(5) Remove the greaseproof from the cake and pour the icing over the top, letting it drip down the sides randomly or fully. You shouldn’t need to spread it out as it should slowly find its own level! Sprinkle the stem ginger over the icing and a little of the grated lime zest.


Author: Philip

A love of growing fruit & veg, cooking and eating - with a penchant for baking. Contestant on Britain’s Best Home Cook (2018).

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