Sticky stem ginger cake with lemon icing

Sticky stem ginger cake with lemon icing

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(201 ratings)

Cook: 50 mins - 1 hr


Serves 12

Try this moist and gooey stem ginger cake

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal285
  • fat10g
  • saturates6g
  • carbs50g
  • sugars31g
  • fibre1g
  • protein3g
  • salt0.81g
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  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    Bicarbonate of soda

    Bicarbonate of soda

    Bicarbonate of soda, or baking soda, is an alkali which is used to raise soda breads and full-…

  • 1 tbsp ground ginger



    Mainly grown in Jamaica, Africa, India, China and Australia, ginger is the root of the plant. It…

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon



    A fragrant spice which comes from the inner bark of a tropical tree. When dried, it curls into…

  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 115g butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing



    Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

  • 115g dark muscovado sugar
  • 115g black treacle
  • 115g golden syrup
  • 250ml whole milk



    One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a complete food. While cow…

  • 85g drained stem ginger, finely grated



    Mainly grown in Jamaica, Africa, India, China and Australia, ginger is the root of the plant. It…

  • 1 egg



    The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition, packed with protein and a…

For the icing

  • 50g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice


  1. Preheat the oven to fan 160C/conventional 180C/gas 4. Butter and line an 18cm round, 7cm deep cake tin with greaseproof or parchment paper.

  2. Put the flour, bicarbonate of soda and all the spices into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

  3. Put the sugar, treacle, syrup and milk in a medium saucepan and heat, gently stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to just below boiling point.

  4. Add the stem ginger to the flour mixture, then pour in the treacle mixture, stirring as you go with a wooden spoon. Break in the egg and beat until all the mixture is combined and it resembles a thick pancake batter. Pour this into prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes-1 hour, until a skewer pushed into the centre of the cake comes out fairly clean. Leave to cool completely in tin before turning cake out. (To freeze: wrap in greaseproof paper, then in cling film. Freeze for up to 1 month.)

  5. To make the icing, mix together icing sugar and lemon zest, then gradually add lemon juice until you have a smooth, slightly runny icing, adding more juice, if needed. Drizzle icing in a zig-zag pattern over surface of cake, turn cake around and drizzle again to create the cross-hatched finish (see below). Cake keeps for up to 2 weeks stored in an airtight container.

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Comments (273)

snconnor's picture

In agreement with other reviews - if you're thinking about making this cake, stop thinking and start making. Great flavour and moist, dense, rich texture. I will note my cake cracked on the top, but I just flipped it over and no one was the wiser!

adelie's picture

Made this cake 3 days ago - in a larger tin (didn't have the correct size)and a cooker that does not have an accurate temperature. It sank a little bit in the middle - however I entered it into the local village show and it got best in show - I've won a cup!!!!!!!!!!!!! So although I haven't tasted it yet - it must be good!

last edited: 16:11, 20th Aug, 2016
Pynner's picture

This cake has a lovely texture and tastes great.
I made it exactly to the recipe. It did sink just a little in the centre but nothing to drastic (only my pride might have been bothered about it).
I notice on the photo of the finished cake that there is an extra drizzle of icing in the middle of the cake, so maybe I'm not the only one who had that happen.
It is still a lovely recipe and now I have made it as per the recipe I will try a little less bicarb
and or not mix it quite so much and see what happens but ony for my pride!

babygirl101's picture

Have made this cake twice now, the first time cut it in half and froze half, the remaining half disappeared in no time at all - absolutely delicious and very moist. Have just made it again, but used lime instead of lemon and added a little more ginger (but that's personal preference) - just tried a slice now it's cool (well you have to don't you, just to check!) - outcome - equally as scrummy. I also used skimmed milk this time and it made no difference. Fantastically easy recipe, would definitely recommend it - so what are you waiting for, give it go :)

clarewilkinsonmezzo's picture

Fabulous cake! Followed the recipe exactly except with semi-skimmed milk, noting the tip below about not overdoing the bicarb. 50 mins in a loaf tin - perfect!

allielovetocook's picture

To anybody thinking of making this cake .. DON'T THINK JUST DO!!! It is absolutely delicious. However, after making various errors with it I'd like to point out that 1. you need to be accurate with the syrup and treacle amounts or it might make your cake sink. 2. only add a precise tsp of the bicarb as too much will make the cake (or cakes if you use 2 x 1lb loaf tins) too reactive and they'll bubble up too quickly and then sink before the middle has cooked (has happened to me twice and researching why has found my mistake!). 3. expect the mixture that you heat in the saucepan to "curdle" and look split - it doesn't make the faintest difference to the mix once its in with the flour etc. 4 and finally, if you like a stronger ginger flavour the cake will happily take more of the ground ginger and even a little more of the grated stem ginger. It's an amazingly tasty cake and next time I'll be making it and listening to my own advice!!

supercakes's picture

Super easy cake to make! Followed the recipe to the letter and it came out like a dream. I put a buttercream icing on top swirled with grated orange zest. A real hit and will be making again.

Syb's picture

I baked this cake on a whim......I wanted to enter our local CWA (country women's association, Victoria, Australia) ( equivilant to WI) exhibition, the Ginger Cake category. Once I started mixing, it bought back memories of my mother baking the same recipe when I was a child.
Anyway, I diced glacé ginger, a generous amount, a good handful, love ginger.
I poured into 2 tins, a small loaf tin......and today, upon judging....WON FIRST PRIZE !!!! So...... Can most certainly recommend this recipe. Moist, dark, flavoursome ! Enjoy!

aprilx987's picture

Loved this cake, i made it for my mum who loves ginger cake, im not a fan of ginger but will definitely be making this again!

tarzan's girlfriend's picture

The cake comes out so moist !!! I added a few sultanas to the recipe that I soaked in ginger wine overnight . Really lovely with custard too !!!

debwoody21's picture

I have just made a massive boo boo. I have added the wet ingredients to the flour without heating and melting sugar!!!!! doh, was to late to do anything about so have just had to mix and put in the oven,hope it comes out ok
Recommend 0

Clarelk's picture

This cake is absolutely delicious! I would like to rate this 5* but the widget isn't loading for me.

summer_girl88's picture

I made this cake for Christmas and it was a massive hit. Absolutely gorgeous... It was moist, rich, gingery and very moreish. I love the taste of the treacle in there, it really adds depth. Will definitely be making again. Served mine with a dollop of double cream or custard.

hboyle's picture

I love this cake ... delicious every time. People have commented that the mixture curdles in the pan ... this has happened to mine every single time regardless of how slow I heat it and the cake is fine. Once you mix the wet and dry ingredients together it looks different again (rather sloppy and not very attractive!) I tried making the icing with lime and later with orange instead of lemon ... not nice at all ... lemon is the best :) Also if you dont like or dont have treacle just use all golden syrup. The result will be a lighter (in texture and colour) cake but just as tasty. 200g instead of 230g is still plenty. Also I have never grated the stem ginger ..just chop it up and you'll get lovely little bursts of ginger through the cake. Yummy :)

britzkiwi's picture

Forgot to rate - would give it more stars if I could - and to say don't worry if the liquid mix separates and appears to curdle - I thought I'd done something wrong but just carried on and mixed it vigorously into the dry ingredients and when it was cooked, all was well.

britzkiwi's picture

As a teenager in the sixties I was addicted to Jamaica Ginger cake and have tried with many different recipes to recreate it without success - until now! This recipe is wonderful. I used semi-skimmed milk, as didn't have full cream, ran out of golden syrup, so substituted 20ml of the ginger syrup instead, chopped the ginger finely rather than grated and baked in a lined, large loaf tin, which the mixture filled almost to the brim. Cooked in fan assisted oven at 160 degrees for 50 minutes and it turned out perfectly. Just pierced the top of the warm cake all over and drizzled an ample amount of the ginger syrup instead of icing. Fabulous. Can't wait for my daughter and husband to come home from work to try it - they'll love it!

meganwesty18's picture

Best ginger cake recipe ever!
I split the mix between 2 loaf tins, came out perfectly soft and sticky after about 45 mins at 150 degrees fan (my oven is very hot!). I didn't bother with the icing but brushed the still warm cakes with some syrup from the stem ginger. Absolutely delicious!!

AngelaWB's picture


OMG this cake is to die for. I made it at the weekend and need to bake another TODAY. I didn't have any whole milk, just a 100mls of semi left, so I added 150mls of Elmlea double cream. I couldn't grate the stem ginger, so I chopped it using two sharp knives, as small as I could. I split the mix into two 1lb loaf tins and cooked them for 45 mins, then used the syrup out of the stem ginger jar to drizzle over them. What can I say, the nicest ginger cake EVER.

lottylouby's picture

Was very impressed with how this turned out. Didn't change anything really, however used semi-skimmed milk instead of full and finely chopped ginger instead of grated. Baked in two 1 lb loaf tins and was fine, baked for 45 mins. Skewer was clean the first timed I checked so thought maybe I'd overlooked but wasn't dry at all. Made two cakes as was planning on taking one to a party, and wanted to test the other as it's a new recipe to me. Didn't bother with the topping especially on the 'test'cake and because of how well it turned out I don't think it needs it. Will definitely make again...especially as I've now got half a jar of stem ginger to use up!!

issydimples's picture

Beautifully moist cake! Made the icing thicker and it looked better, and was easier to drizzle, I took on the hints and used less treacle and more syrup and i think it benefited from that as it was still treacly. Kids loved it, it didn't last two days :)


Questions (11)

janjan87's picture

Has anyone ever made cupcakes from this recipe? If so how many does it make and cooking time in a fan assisted gas oven? Thanks!

TheGirlWhoBakesCakes's picture

Hi, Ive made this cake a few times. Its amazing, it tastes great, smells wonderful. Frankly its dangerous to dieters! Mine always sinks a bit though. Any suggestions as to how I can fix this? I measure my bicarb and level it off with a knife.....any help much appreciated. Thanks!

AngelaWB's picture

Has anyone tried putting a dash of lemon in the mixture to react with the bicarb, just wondering if it would affect the flavour and help with the sinking in the centre issue?

goodfoodteam's picture

Oddly enough the gingerbread sinking could quite easily be due to too much baking soda, especially if mixed with an acid like lemon as it makes it very reactive. The mixture converts to carbon dioxide causing it to rise very quickly in the oven then sinking before the cake batter has time to set. A combination of soda and acid is perfect for scones however as they cook very quickly, and are a stiffer mixture. If the cake looks a bit wrinkled this is another sign that there is too much baking soda in the cake, so it is always a good idea to use a 5ml measuring spoon to ensure accuracy. For other tips, take care not to add too much treacle and syrup - oiling a metal spoon when taking them from the tin will help the baker be precise. It is also important to heat the oven in advance and make sure the cake is fully cooked right to the centre before removing from the oven. 

Gill87's picture

My cake has cracked. The top looks like a rustic loaf of bread. I don't know how or if this will effect the end product as it's still in the oven. Can anyone shed any light on why the cake has cracked? Thank you!

Ralph's picture

Mine curdles in the pan please can you help good food, otherwise it is an amazing cake which everyone loves

lisav1426's picture

It's in the oven now and my fingers are crossed because the syrup, milk and sugar mix curdled in the pan. anyone know why? I started on a low heat, but maybe stirred too vigorously, would that do it?

DiDe's picture

This question is the the Good Food Team.

After reading through the comments, several people have commented on the cakes sinking slightly despite following the recipe exactly. There were also a couple of comments regarding the syrup mixture 'curdling'.

Perhaps it would be helpful if you could describe what the perfect syrup mixture should look like using photos or even a video. I don't have a saucepan thermometer so have to judge the 'just before boiling' temp which I do by watching for a few small bubbles appearing around the perimeter of the saucepan. Is this a good way to judge? My mix always has a curdled look but I presume this is how it should look?

Love the cake!!!

DiDe's picture

I have been making this absolutely mouthwatering ginger cake for a few years now and it is always a favourite with family and friends. I make my cake in a 2lb loaf tin but this means that there is a little too much mixture so I use the surplus to make 4/5 buns.

My cakes have always been perfect but recently they have started to sink a little in the centre. The quality of the cake is not affected. My husband still loves it!

Could it be that I am now using a gas oven instead of electric? I put my cake on the third rack from the bottom which means that the cake is sitting just above centre. Each cake always has a dip in it now.

I follow the recipe instructions to the letter and am always careful to sieve the dry ingredients. When the last stage of the mixing is reached where the egg is combined the mixture looks fine with little bubbles popping on the surface. At this stage I pour the mix into the loaf tin and leave about 1 inch for the cake to rise. My oven has been warming from the time I start to weigh out my ingredients.

Any suggestions would be most welcome.

Cakemakerwannabe's picture

Ok, just made this cake and it rose very quickly over the tin and has now sunk in the middle. What did I do wrong?

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi there. Did you bake the cake in a deep tin? If so it sounds like your oven may not have been at the correct temperature, you can check this with an oven thermometer.

Tips (2)

debwoody21's picture

I have just made a massive boo boo. I have added the wet ingredients to the flour without heating and melting sugar!!!!! doh, was to late to do anything about so have just had to mix and put in the oven,hope it comes out ok

AngelaWB's picture

Use half cream and half milk, lovely. Also if you can't grate your stem ginger, use two sharp knives and chop it small, you'll taste it in the cake, but it's lovely.

Nice hot with custard, lovely cold on it's own. Best made when you're home alone, then you don't have to share it!