English Gingerbread

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes:

    2 inch


Appears in

Kyle Cathie, the clever and discerning British editor of the UK version of The Cake Bible, informed me in no uncertain terms that a book could not be called a “cake bible” in England if it did not contain the beloved gingerbread. So when I went to England to retest all the cakes using British flour and ingredients, I developed this gingerbread recipe. It is a moist, spicy cake with an intriguing blend of buttery, lemony, wheaty and treacly flavors and an appealing alternative for people who stay away from gingerbread because of the molasses. Cut into squares and decorated with pumpkin faces it makes a delightful “treat” for Halloween.

Preheat the oven to: 325° F.
Baking time: 50 to 60 minutes

*If using glass, reduce oven temperature to 300°F.

FINISHED HEIGHT: about 2 inches

KEEPS: 2 days at room temperature, 5 days refrigerated, 2 months frozen.
room temperature volume ounces grams
unsalted butter ½ cup 4 ounces 115 grams
golden refiner’s syrup liquid cups 8 ounces 230 grams
dark brown sugar ¼ cup (firmly packed) 2 ounces 60 grams
orange marmalade 1 heaping tablespoon 1.5 ounces 40 grams
2 large eggs 3 fluid ounces 3.5 ounces    100 grams

(weighed without shells)

milk liquid cup
cake flour 1 cup (lightly spooned into the cup) 4 ounces 115 grams
whole wheat flour 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon (lightly spooned into the cup) 4 ounces 115 grams
baking powder teaspoon 7.5 grams
powdered ginger 1 teaspoon
ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon
baking soda ½ teaspoon 2.5 grams
salt a pinch
Lemon Syrup
lemon juice, freshly squeezed 2 tablespoons
unsalted butter (softened) 2 tablespoons 1 ounce 28 grams
sugar 3 tablespoons 1.3 ounces 38 grams


Preheat the oven to 325°F.

In a small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, stir together the butter, golden syrup, sugar and marmalade until melted and uniform. Set aside and let cool until just barely warm; then whisk in the eggs and milk.

In a large bowl, whisk together all the remaining ingredients. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring with a large spoon or rubber spatula just until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, filling it no more than half full (see Pointers for Success).

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven.

While the gingerbread is baking, make the syrup. In a small pan, stir together the lemon juice, softened butter and sugar. Heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolved.

Brush half the syrup on to the top of the hot gingerbread. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes.

Loosen the sides of the gingerbread with a small metal spatula and invert onto a greased wire rack. Brush the bottom with the remaining syrup. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the top is up.

The British like their gingerbread moist and sticky. To achieve that consistency, invert it instead onto a large flat plate covered with a larger piece of plastic wrap, brush the cake with the syrup and cover it with the plastic wrap.

For extra moistness, cover the cake with plastic wrap (preferably Saran brand) while still hot and allow it to cool. For the most even moisture distribution, wrap airtight and set aside for 24 hours before serving.

To decorate the cake with a pumpkin motif, cut the cake into 2-inch squares. Lay the template on top of one of the pieces of cake and sprinkle it with powdered sugar. Lift off the template and repeat with the remaining cake pieces. (To make the template, trace the design and use an X-Acto knife to make the cutouts for the eyes, nose and mouth [Fig. 1].)