Sticky stem ginger cake with lemon icing

Sticky stem ginger cake with lemon icing

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(267 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
    Golden syrup

    Golden syrup

    goal-dun sir-rup

    Golden syrup is a clear, sparkling, golden-amber coloured, sweet

  • 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, questions and tips

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21st Feb, 2019
i had a problem with the cake sinking, but the taste was wonderful so I can over look that. I will not be put off from making it again.
30th Dec, 2018
The absolute best ginger cake I have ever made, or tasted for that matter. Used Opies stem ginger in syrup. Moist and sticky without being claggy, and the lemon icing has the perfect zing to cut through that spicy, treacle-laced sponge.
Laura Sells's picture
Laura Sells
19th Dec, 2018
17th Nov, 2018
Such a delicious cake, it's now a favourite celebration cake in my house. While it's not the prettiest, it's super tasty and moist. Works every time.
30th Oct, 2018
This is absolutely Divine!! I didn't have preserved ginger so I used crystallised ginger grated and put into the liquid mixture to infuse. I also added a tsp tumeric and tsp ground black pepper for the health benefits. I also made up a full fat version of milk with some left over soured cream. Totally delicious, fabulous texture and consistency. Will be making as Xmas prezzies. Nearly all gone a day later
15th Oct, 2018
I've made this dozens of times and it always turns out well. It's definitely a treat as it it's so high in sugar, but it goes down well after a marathon or trail race. I've only once made the icing. I thought it didn't add anything except cost. I don't usually add the stem ginger, partly on cost grounds but also because a lot of people don't like it.
20th Jul, 2018
This is the best ever ginger cake, never tasted anything sooo good! I had a slight dip in the middle, nothing anyone else but me would have noticed, filled it in with the delicious icing. Next time will reduce the bi-carb by 1/4 of a tsp, which hopefully would remedy this. Cannot understand people complaining about the cost, as once you have bought the ingredients, you have enough for at least 3 cakes, and you would certainly make it again.
3rd Jul, 2018
Great results every time. Big hit all round.
4th Jun, 2018
An excellent recipe and easy to veganise. Just change the butter and milk to dairy free versions and use 2 flaxseed eggs (1 tbsp ground flaxseed to 3 tbsp lukewarm water per egg) to replace the eggs and it works wonderfully. I leave it a couple of days to mature before icing.
25th May, 2018
massive success & delicious cake! Had no issues with sinking


21st Nov, 2018
Can this cake be frozen?
goodfoodteam's picture
22nd Nov, 2018
Thanks for your question. Yes you can. All our freezable recipes are marked with a blue star above the nutritional information.
18th Oct, 2017
Would it work if I substitute in soya milk?
goodfoodteam's picture
20th Oct, 2017
Thanks for your question. We haven't tried this with soya milk. It will work but will change the flavour. If you are dairy-free you will also need to find a substitute for the butter. We also have a number of dairy-free alternatives on the website, including:
14th Mar, 2017
Can I substitute golden syrup ?
goodfoodteam's picture
16th Mar, 2017
Thanks for your question. We haven't tested the recipe using an alternative to golden syrup and would suggest using this to guarantee best results. If you want to substitute with another syrup, results will vary due to different flavour and properties.
9th Aug, 2016
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!
10th Feb, 2016
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!
10th Nov, 2015
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
19th Nov, 2015
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. 


jaywalker's picture
20th May, 2019
I have made this so many times now, its our favourite cake. I tend to use coconut milk or cream instead of regular milk, and apple sauce instead of butter...i just mix it into the dry ingredients. Its amazing slightly warmed up with custard after its been maturing in the tin overnight.
30th Dec, 2018
Try making these in mini bundt cake moulds for perfect Christmas treats. Used semi skimmed lactofree milk and that's what we have, worked perfectly.
Sarah Teachey's picture
Sarah Teachey
12th Nov, 2018
Made this in the States and had to make several substitutions for unavailable ingredients - it still turned out WONDERFULLY. I hope Tom Dolby (the recipe creator) doesn't think I've butchered his recipe! I ended up making my own Mixed Spice and Stem Ginger with recipes I found on the internet. Not realizing I'd have to grate the ginger later, I cut mine into 1-inch (2.5cm) cubes. I ended up finely mincing the Stem Ginger and it worked well! Here are the changes I had to make: 1. Substituted dark brown sugar for muscovado sugar. 2. Substituted molasses for treacle. 3. Substituted honey for golden syrup. I will definitely be making this again to share at work!
31st Dec, 2017
Type of milk makes no difference whatsoever. I used 1% fat milk and it was fine. Use more icing sugar to make a thicker drizzle icing, the thin glaze just disappears into the cake.
26th Dec, 2017
I chopped the stem ginger for the occasional lovely chunks of ginger in the cake which I enjoy. I used semi milk without any issues. Cake was baked for 45 mins which was perfect in my oven.
12th Dec, 2016
Three tips: 1. Use 3x the amount of ginger 2. Don't overbake (i.e. I found 50 mins slightly too long) 3. Substitute milk for buttermilk (or milk and fresh lemon juice premixed for 10 mins) for a lighter texture Oh and use more icing sugar than suggested
28th Feb, 2016
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
10th Nov, 2015
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!
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