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!

Any size!

This cake can be made as a large tray bake (as in the photos above), but the mixture can be baked in two 1lb loaf tins or a deep 9” cake tin. The pictures below are of the deep 9” version:

Drizzles, icings or left without either

I sometimes go for a sticky gingery-lime icing, at other times a quick lime drizzle but to be honest, this cake is also lovely without either.

That said, I do think it benefits from a generous scattering of finely grated lime zest.

If you want a really luxurious melt-in-the-mouth icing, try my recipe here.

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 for the lovely treacly flavour it gives.

From time to time I have used a 50-50 mixture of black treacle and golden syrup instead of just 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 sometimes make a batch of the cake mixture, bake it as below and then dry 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! The recipe for these is here.

This also works well with any left-over cake (any cake!), and makes wonderful gifts as well as giving little gems of sweet treats just to dive into!

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


  • 125g molasses sugar, or use any brown sugar
  • 125g softened unsalted butter or margarine
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 180g golden syrup
  • 5 tablespoons stem ginger syrup (from the jar)
  • 5 pieces stem ginger, very finely chopped or crushed
  • 230ml milk, either whole or semi-skimmed
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 rounded tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Icing (optional):

  • 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, bicarbonate of soda, 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.

*for a deep 9” cake, cook for about 1 hour. I sometimes turn the oven down to 150C after 45 minutes just so it does not go too dark on top.

(4) For a sticky 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

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.

6 thoughts on “No-fuss sticky gingerbread cake”

  1. Hello, I made this today exactly like recipe and it was yummy but not moist or sticky. How can I make it more sticky pls? Thanks, Saskia


    1. Hi Saskia, I am glad you enjoyed the flavour of it. It should indeed be both moist and stick so I can only think that either some of the ingredients mightly have been slightly mis-weighed (easily done) or the oven temperature might not be quite right: esp. given ovens can vary depending on their age etc. However, with a gingercake, leaving it wrapped overnight or so before icing will make it even more moist and sticky.


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