Gingerbread Cake


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    (makes 1 x 22 cm 9 inch cake )

Appears in

How to Cook The Victorian Way with Mrs Crocombe

How to Cook The Victorian Way with Mrs Crocombe

By Annie Gray and Andrew Hann

Published 2020

  • About

Avis Crocombe, unpublished manuscript (no date)

Ginger was one of the cheaper spices in the past (along with black pepper) and was consequently much used. Cakes such as this developed in the 18th century when treacle became readily available as a cheap alternative to sugar. They are easy to make, and this one keeps for months, so it would have been ideal for the servants’ hall. If you do happen to have any left, it makes an interesting alternative to sponge cake or breadcrumbs in some of the sweet puddings in this book. This is a real favourite at Audley End, and the team have cooked it regularly since the manuscript was donated in 2009. Many of them also cook it at home.


  • 225 g/8 oz/1 cup butter, plus extra for the tin
  • 225 g/8 oz/generous 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 455 g/1 lb/1⅓ cups black treacle
  • 455 g/1 lb/ cups flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 115 ml/4 fl oz/½ cup warm milk, plus extra if needed
  • icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar), to serve (optional)


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line the cake tin with well-buttered baking parchment.

Put the butter in a large bowl or mixer and beat it until it is pale and creamy. Now add the sugar and ginger and mix again.

Gradually add the eggs, continuing to mix vigorously. Reduce the mixer speed to medium, add the treacle, then fold in the flour.

Stir the bicarbonate of soda into the warm milk in a separate bowl until dissolved, then add this to the batter. (If you heat the milk in a jug you can then transfer it to an empty treacle tin, just to get the last scrapings of treacle out of the tin.) You are aiming for a thick, gloopy batter, so you may need to add a little more milk or water at this stage.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 45–60 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Once cooked, turn onto a metal rack to cool.

For a more elevated appearance, pop a paper doily on top and dust with icing sugar, before removing the doily to leave a rather delightful pattern.