Sticky Gingerbread Cake

Sticky Gingerbread Cake

I make this sticky gingerbread cake several times a year, but always in winter. It is a gloriously squidgy, sticky recipe and contains a mountain of sugar and butter (originally a Nigella recipe, which says it all doesn’t it?!). Probably not what you want to be eating at a summer barbecue. But at a bonfire party, or as a treat to have in the cake tin during December it is perfect. 

Being true to my Yorkshire heritage, I do love a bit of Parkin on Bonfire night, but Parkin requires an organised mind as you need to make it about three weeks before you want to eat it for the stickiness to develop. I can’t think more than three days ahead, let alone three weeks, so rather than churning out a bit of late and sub-standard Parkin, I make this cake instead and it goes down very well at our neighbours’ annual Bonfire party (and they are true Yorkshire folk!). The warmth of ginger is also perfect for a Christmassy bake – and with a double hit from both the fresh and the ground ginger, it has a lovely, spiced heat to it.

The icing is optional, it is just as nice left plain, but if you do make the icing, be sure to make it up with lemon juice, not water, as you need something to cut through all that sugar.

It keeps well in an airtight container for at least a week (if you can make it last that long…).

Gingerbread cake

[Makes about 20 squares or 2 small loaves]


  • 150g butter
  • 200g golden syrup
  • 200g black treacle
  • 125g dark muscovado sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, dissolved in 2 x 15ml tablespoons of warm water
  • 250ml full fat milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 300g plain flour
  • Icing sugar (optional)
  • Lemon juice (optional)

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celcius. I tend to either make this in a 20cm x 20cm square cake tin, or 2 loaf tins. Whichever you choose, line it with grease-proof paper or baking parchment. 

In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat, before adding the sugar, syrup, treacle, fresh and ground gingers, cinnamon and cloves. Make sure all the sugar dissolves here – muscovado sugar can be quite lumpy and you want to make sure all the lumps (even the little ones) are broken down, otherwise they will be quite visible in your cake. 

Gingerbread ingredients

Take the pan off the heat and let it cool until it is lukewarm, before adding the milk, eggs and dissolved bicarbonate of soda (in its water).

Gingerbread ingredients

Measure out the flour into a large bowl. Pour in the liquid ingredients from the pan, little by little, stirring constantly. If you do it all in one go you can end up with little lumps of flour dotted throughout the mix that do not incorporate properly. It is a very runny, liquid batter!

Gingerbread batter

Once the flour is thoroughly mixed in, pour the batter into your prepared cake tin, and pop it into the oven.

Gingerbread in tin

It will most likely take around 60 minutes to cook, but check it after 45 minutes. Once it is done it will be risen and firm on top and a skewer should come out clean. Be careful not to overcook it as it will dry out and you will lose the lovely stickiness that really makes this cake special.

Transfer on a wire rack and let the gingerbread cake cool in the tin before cutting into squares or slices.

Cooling gingerbread

If you wanted to go the extra mile, you could make a simple icing to go on top by mixing a couple of tablespoons of icing sugar with some lemon juice to cut through all that stickiness.