Ginger Cake

I love ginger in any form: dried, crystallized, preserved in syrup (stem ginger) or fresh. It’s important to know that fresh ginger becomes milder with cooking and powdered ginger does not. In my twenties I wrote a recipe for the Daily Mail and failed to specify stem ginger when I called for an ‘ounce of ginger’ to go at the bottom of two little ramekins of crème brulée. Dozens of readers used an ounce of ground ginger (which is a whole mini-carton). Unfortunately, one of them was the editor’s wife, who said it blew her husband’s head off. Happily he didn’t fire me, and I learnt a lesson about careful recipe-writing.


  • 225 ml Guinness
  • 225 g black treacle
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 60 g piece of root ginger, peeled and finely minced
  • 3 large eggs
  • 200 g soft dark brown sugar
  • 180 g caster sugar
  • 175 ml vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 255 g plain flour
  • tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp mixed spice
  • 6 good twists of black pepper


  1. Heat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm (8in) springform cake tin with baking parchment.
  2. Heat the Guinness and black treacle in a large saucepan over a medium heat until the mixture starts to boil, then remove from the heat. Whisk in the bicarbonate of soda, then the minced ginger. Leave it to cool to room temperature.
  3. Whisk the eggs with the brown sugar and caster sugar in a bowl until it is free of lumps, then whisk in the oil. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Stir the now-cool Guinness mixture into the eggs, then mix in the dry ingredients, ensuring they are fully incorporated.
  4. Pour the batter into the lined cake tin, then bake it in the middle of the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes, checking it after 1 hour and covering it with foil if necessary to prevent it browning too quickly. Test it is done by inserting a skewer into the centre – it should come out clean.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely before serving.