Sticky Ginger Cake

When staying in Newcastle with our daughter Catherine I offered to make a ginger cake. The recipe I’ve been making for decades uses ground ginger because fresh ginger wasn’t available back then. It came from my Dad’s cousin by marriage who was known as Auntie Vina.

Auntie Vina and Uncle Hector lived at Hill House, a busy dairy farm on the moors of County Durham, where I spent many summers as a child. The farm hands all came into the farmhouse for meals, so Auntie Vina and her daughter in law Little Mary spent a lot of time cooking. She taught me all her basic cake recipes, such as sponge cake, chocolate cake, ginger cake and fruit cake, which I still use today.

Times have changed and most recipes using ginger now call for the fresh kind. I decided to do some research online, looking for ginger cakes which use fresh ginger, or a combination of ground and fresh. I then adapted Auntie Vina’s recipe, using some of the new ideas I had found online. This is the result which we served as a dessert with Mangoes in Ginger Wine.

Sticky Ginger Cake

250g unsalted butter
½ cup water
¾ cup treacle (or molasses)
¾ cup golden syrup (or honey)
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
3 cups self-raising flour
½ tsp salt
3 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ cup milk
2-3 Tbs finely grated fresh ginger (to taste)

Preheat oven to 165°C. Butter and line a 22cm baking pan – round or square. I chose a ring tin – always a bit risky because being fluted you can’t line it, but fortunately the cake came out in one piece.

Place butter, water, treacle, golden syrup and brown sugar in a mixing bowl then heat in the microwave (covered to stop it spattering everywhere) for a minute or two until melted. Alternatively heat in a saucepan over moderate heat.

When cooled a bit, beat in the eggs with electric beaters or a hand whisk. Add the sifted flour, salt and spices, the milk and lastly fold in the fresh ginger. Scrape into cake tin and bake for 40-60 mins. Cooking times vary depending on your oven and the cake tin you use. If you overcook the cake it won’t be sticky, so as soon as the top is firm and springy to the touch it’s ready. Remove from the oven and when cool remove from the tin.

Serve as a dessert with whipped cream with a little rum or brandy added and some stewed fruit. Or serve with Mangoes in Ginger Wine as shown in the photo.

Or serve as a cake dusted with icing sugar or drizzled with lemon icing (1 cup sifted icing sugar mixed with 2 Tbs lemon juice).

Serves between 12 and 20 depending on serving size

Note: if you don’t have self-raising flour use plain flour and 2 tsp baking powder

2 thoughts on “Sticky Ginger Cake

  1. Hi Firstly I enjoy your recipes and your commentary on the ways in which you modify/vary recipes according to the situation. But secondly: I’m a bit gobsmacked by the use of golden syrup, sugar and treacle in one cake. Does it end up very sweet? I’ve never worked out what treacle does for a recipe that golden syrup doesn’t (other than darkening it). Do you have any ideas about why both are required? I tend to keep only golden syrup in my pantry so I usually replace treacle with it which would mean a huge amount of it in this cake–quite a sugar hit–hence my hesitation. If there was a good reason I’d buy treacle, of course.

    • Treacle is very strong so you never use much in a recipe. Apart from the rich flavour, it also gives the cake a good dark colour. You will often find it in for example Christmas pudding recipes, as well as sugar. I’m not keen on very sweet things and I don’t think this recipe is over-sweet. The total amount of sweeteners is 2 and a half cups, but it also has 3 cups of flour, so it makes quite a big cake. I’m sure you could cut back and use less of all three, or indeed use all golden syrup and no treacle. I suggest you give it a try as it is and then make adjustments the second time. That’s what I usually do if I think something is too sweet.

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