Stem ginger & lime cake

This cake is one I never tire of making and it always gives me a great sense of comfort each time I make it. The sweet heat of the ginger and the zingy lime work together effortlessly to give a cake that I think can brighten up any day!

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The sponge is sticky (which is absolutely what you want in a ginger cake) but it is not too dense. There is a real punch flavour-wise with the spices, muscovado sugar and hint of lime, and a little drizzle poured over the cake adds extra sweet-sharpness.

One of the easiest cakes to make!

This is a very easy to make and is one of the cakes I would recommend to anyone, especially if you are new to making cakes: it literally is just a matter of mixing everything together, pouring into the tins, coming to about half full, and baking.

About the recipe and the embellishments!

The ginger cake itself is based on a handed-down recipe I have had for decades, despite putting in a few tweaks from time to time. It is great just as it is without the toppings and benefits from maturing for 1-2 days, wrapped in greaseproof paper, before cutting. .

The mixture makes two 1lb cakes although you can bake the cake in a larger deep circular cake tin, adjusting the baking time until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

I don’t always go for a topping with this cake but this time I decided to jazz this cake up a little, topping it with a light lime and rum buttercream – French buttercream for extra lightness: this is not essential by any means, and purists might shriek, in horror at embellishing what is essentially a drizzle cake in this manner, but I think it makes the cake even more special.

If you want an icing, but do not want to make the French buttercream (although French buttercream is sublime!), you can simply mix about 100g icing sugar with 150g soft unsalted butter, the zest of a lemon and enough lime juice to give the level of sharpness you like.

Recipe: stem ginger & lime cake (makes 2 1lb loaves)

Ginger cake:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of salt
  • 180g golden syrup
  • 4 tablespoons stem ginger syrup
  • finely grated zest of 3 limes
  • 125g very soft unsalted butter
  • 5 pieces of stem ginger, finely chopped or grated
  • 125g dark muscovado sugar or brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 230ml milk

Lime drizzle:

  • 1 tablespoon stem ginger syrup
  • juice of 3 limes
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Lime & rum French buttercream (optional)

  • 160g unsalted butter, softened
  • 120g caster sugar
  • grated zest and juice of 2 limes
  • 3-4 tablespoons dark rum
  • 40ml water
  • 3 large egg yolks

To finish (optional):

  • thin slices of stem ginger, drained from the syrup
  • thinly sliced lime zest, simmered in a mixture sugar and water for about 30 minutes and cooled (about 50g sugar per 200ml water, but this really need not be precise!)

(1) Line two 1lb loaf tins with greaseproof paper. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C (fan).

(2) Sieve together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large bowl. Mix in the stem ginger and the lime zest. Whisk the milk and eggs in a separate bowl.

(3) Heat both syrups, the sugar and the butter in a pan and let the mixture simmer very gently for about a minute, stirring from time to time.

(4) Pour the hot syrupy mixture into the flour. Stir in the milk and eggs, mixing gently until you get a smooth batter.

(5) Pour the mixture into the tins, coming to not much more than half full* and bake for 20 minutes before turning down the temperature to 150C and baking for a further 15-20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

NB: if you have extra mixture, spoon into cupcake cases and bake them for about 20 minutes

(6) Make a few holes over the surface with a skewer and pour over the drizzle mixture. Leave the cakes to cool in their tins and ideally wrap in greaseproof for at least 24 hours before cutting or icing: this allows the flavours to develop.

For the lime and rum French buttercream:

(7) Put the egg yolks in a large bowl. Put the sugar, water and lime zest in a small pan and slowly bring to the boil, shaking the pan from time to time to help the sugar dissolve. Allow it to boil for about 5 minutes or so until it becomes syrupy (about 115C if using a thermometer).

(8) Slowly pour the syrup over the egg yolk, using an electric whisk and whisking for a couple of minutes. Add the lime juice and rum, if using, and keep whisking for a few minutes until you get a light and thick mixture. Leave to cool and add the butter, a little at a time, whisking well until all the butter has been incorporated.  Taste, and add extra lime or rum according to preferences.

(9) Spread the buttercream over the cake generously (or pipe) and scatter over stem ginger and the lime zest.

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

12 thoughts on “Stem ginger & lime cake”

  1. I live in Australia and I’m going to make your cake. I don’t have stem ginger syrup, can you suggest an alternative, please? Thanks.


    1. Hi, you can use fresh ginger, grated and simmered with water and sugar until it becomes slightly syrupy. Perhaps 2-3” peeled ginger, 300ml water, 100g sugar. I hope you enjoy it


      1. I made the syrup and then the cake. Absolutely delicious. The cake will be a regular one in my house from now on. It is most generous of you to share your recipes and expertise. and you’ve inspired me to try some of your other recipes too. Thank you.


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