Gingerbread for tea: Sticky Gingerbread

Sticky Gingerbread As I finished up at work on Friday, I suddenly, as I looked out into the showery evening, got a yearning for gingerbread. No fancy stuff, I just wanted a damp and aromatically spicy loaf, the sort of teabread that would go perfectly with a cup of tea on a weather-swept Saturday. When I was younger, this kind of longing would be easily satisfied with a squashed loaf in a packet that said “Jamaica Gingerbread” but now, with a well-stocked baking cupboard, spur-of-the-moment cooking decisions aren’t too much of a problem.

During my slow month-by-month perusal of Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries (I’m reading it in real time) I had come across a reference to an afternoon’s baking involving a Double Ginger Cake. A quick search of the Observer website threw up the recipe but it wasn’t quite the one that I was looking for. What I wanted was a cake involving the darkness of treacle or molasses rather than the lighter flavoured golden syrup that Nigel used. Plus he used stem ginger in syrup and, well stocked as I am, I don’t have any of that on hand. But the recipe below that – David Herbert’s Ginger Cake – was something that hit the spot. I jiggled around with the amount of golden syrup that he used in the recipe, adding some sturdy blackstrap molasses instead. Rather than mixed spice, I added my own mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg and freshly ground peppercorns and, as I had picked up a packet of lovely sugar-encrusted crystallised ginger chunks last weekend while in Nenagh’s Country Choice, a small handful were chopped up and added to the cake batter to add a little texture.

This is a cake which takes more time in the oven than it does to put together and perfect for Friday night when I didn’t have much time to devote to it. With one eye on the clock, I landed the Gingerbread into the oven while getting ready for a gig at Whelans of Wexford Street – Joey Burns of Calexico was playing. I took a break from applying eye-shadow to ladle the ginger syrup over the cake and resisted the temptation to break into the loaf as I headed out the door. At 2am that night it tasted good, but not as great as it did on Saturday afternoon with a steaming hot cup of tea. I love it when a plan comes together.

Sticky Gingerbread
Butter – 60g
Golden syrup – 75g
Blackstrap molasses or black treacle – 50g
Plain flour – 100g
Self-raising flour – 25g
Bicarbonate of soda – 1 teaspoon
Ground ginger – 1 heaped teaspoon
Ground cinnamon – ½ teaspoon
Freshly grated nutmeg – ¼ teaspoon
Freshly ground black pepper – ¼ teaspoon
Caster sugar – 100g
A pinch of salt
Milk – 125ml
Egg – 1, beaten
Crystallised ginger – 50g, finely chopped

Sugar – 125g
Water – 125ml
Fresh ginger – 1 tablespoon, finely grated

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease a 23 x 12cm loaf tin, lining the base with baking paper. Melt the butter, golden syrup and molasses in a small saucepan over a low heat. Set aside.

Sift the flours, the soda and the spices into a mixing 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 very runny.

Pour it into the loaf tin and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until risen and firm to the touch. A skewer inserted into the middle of the cake should come out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool.

Place all the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Prick the hot cake all over with a skewer, spoon the syrup over and leave to cool.

Adapted from Nigel Salter’s adaptation of David Herbert’s Ginger Cake.



Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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2 Responses

  1. Kieran says:

    Sounds yum. Must try it! Not a bad write up on Country Choice in the Times this Saturday. It’s a great shop, and Peter deserves all the press he gets!

  2. Caroline says:

    I saw that too – was delighted to see a shop that well deserves the acclaim getting such positive attention. When we stayed at the nearby village of Terryglass recently I really enjoyed the chance to spend a while gazing longingly at Peter’s shelves of gorgeous-looking tuna in olive oil, artisan pastas, homemade jams, chutneys and marmalades, and the stacks of fabulous cheeses, terrines and brawn in the display. It’s great to find a shop like this thriving in a country town – next time I’ll have to pick up a clutch of those bantam eggs that he had on display outside!

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