Sticky stem ginger cake with lemon icing

Sticky stem ginger cake with lemon icing

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(205 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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16th Apr, 2017
Marvellous! I used peanut butter and reduced the amount of sugar and syrup by 1/3, and it was still gorgeous. The taste and texture were perfect. Moist but not wet, spongy but rich.
22nd Jan, 2017
5th Jan, 2017
Made this for Christmas tea, so made in a fir tree bunte tin ( ala Nigella's Vanilla cake) came out well and tasted great, finished with icing sugar and glitter. Cooked for less time as hole in middle of tin. Real old fashioned ginger cake, cut up ginger then finished in Thermomix with flour, so finely chopped and mixed in well with batter. No sinking of ginger or the cake in my case. Would reccomend, still good days after cooking.
26th Dec, 2016
5 star
26th Dec, 2016
Beautiful moist sticky. Memories of childhood and very easy to make. Did sink in the middle but not a problem for me.
18th Sep, 2016
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!
20th Aug, 2016
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!
18th Aug, 2016
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!
29th Jun, 2016
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 :)
17th Jun, 2016
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!


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. 
19th Jul, 2014
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!
7th Jul, 2014
Mine curdles in the pan please can you help good food, otherwise it is an amazing cake which everyone loves
18th Jun, 2014
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?
24th Mar, 2014
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!!!


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!