A classic gingerbread cake recipe that is dark, aromatic, and dense but moist cake. This is how gingerbread should taste and smell. An easy melt and mix recipe, which means no need to drag out the electric mixer.
This is one of my all time favourite cakes. I've been eating it since I could eat solids. A family recipe, and as you may have guessed, it was my late Aunty Tilly's. I go more into that further on.
If you love ginger cakes, this gingerbread cake is the alpha of them all. It has an intense balanced ginger flavour and is extremely aromatic. So much so that your house will smell like gingerbread 24 hours after you have baked this sucker. It's is completely heavenly to have the house smell like Christmas.
I personally enjoy a slice slathered with a copious amount of butter. You could serve it warm with vanilla ice cream, custard, or whipped cream.
When it gets a little long in the tooth, toast it. I hope you love this old-fashioned gingerbread as much as I do.
- Sugar: Caster sugar/superfine sugar. You could also use raw caster sugar. As treacle is used in this recipe there is no need to use brown sugar.
- Butter: Salted butter, if you use unsalted butter add a pinch of salt to the rest of the dry ingredients.
- Baking Powder: See flour note below. Baking powder acts as a raising agent in the gingerbread cake.
- Flour: I use plain all purpose flour in this recipe. You can use self raising flour, but if you do, leave out the baking powder.
- Ginger: Ground ginger is the star, and the important ingredient of this recipe, make sure that your ginger is fresh. If your ground ginger has been sitting in the back of your pantry for years, go buy some fresh stuff. Ground spices lose their fragrance and taste over time. There isn't a place for fresh ginger in this recipe, but you could mix through a ¼ cup of finely chopped glace or crystalised ginger.
- Bicarbonate of Soda: Also known as baking soda.
- Milk: I use whatever milk I have on hand, and 9 times out of 10 that is low fat. Feel free to use what you have in the fridge.
- Treacle: This, along with the ginger, is what gives this cake its powerful flavour profile. You could use golden syrup, honey, or even maple syrup, but you will be making a different cake. Make this gingerbread cake recipe without molasses as it is not as sweet as treacle, and is slightly bitter.
- Cinnamon: Ground cinnamon is used in this recipe.
- Eggs: I use large eggs, and as always, go for happy free range chook eggs if you can, at room temperature.
- Allspice: Ground allspice, not to be confused with mixed spice. They are two totally different things.
The Original Recipe
Above is my Aunty Tilly's original handwritten recipe. It lives on the last page of her handwritten recipe book, one of my most cherished possessions.
As you will see I have updated her recipe a little to bring it in line with current times. Not many people would know what a dessertspoon measurement was these days. Plus I loved how she used the measurements "small cup" and "large cup".
Aunty Tilly didn't make this specifically for Christmas, and as you can see above she simply called it Ginger Cake. She made it right through the year. But I think it particularly shines at Christmas.
She also made it in a large square baking pan. Which I do too, but I also like to make it in a large 12 x 26cm (5 x 10 inch) loaf pan, which results in a gingerbread loaf.
How to Make Gingerbread Cake
Scroll to the bottom of the page for a printable version of this recipe.
Grease and line a 12 x 26cm (5 x 10 inch) loaf pan. You could also use a 20cm x 20cm (8 x 8 inch) square pan. I use a non-stick tin (as above) and only line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, but I grease the tin completely.
Move an oven rack in the middle of the oven and pre-heat the oven to 175°C/350°F.
Place milk and butter in a pot or large saucepan over medium heat. While stirring, warm the milk (don't bring to a boil) and melt the butter. Once the butter has melted add treacle and mix through until combined. Then stir in the bicarbonate of soda (baking soda). Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a large bowl add flour, baking powder, sugar, ginger, allspice, and cinnamon. Whisk ingredients to combine and remove any lumps.
Pour the treacle mixture into the bowl and mix a few times. You aren't trying to incorporate it all together at this stage.
Then add two beaten eggs (shown above as whole eggs for visual effect).
Mix all ingredients until everything is completely mixed together and you have a dark glorious gingerbread batter.
Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until cooked through when tested with a skewer in the center of the cake.
Once baked remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from tin and allow to finish cooling on a wire rack.
More Christmas Baking Recipes
- If you love baked ginger goodies then you will love my gingerbread cookies.
- My stained glass window cake is packed with glacé fruit, and stunnin to look at.
- Or maybe a more traditional Christmas cake like my mum's traditional Christmas cake.
- If you are after easy recipes try my Aussie white Christmas or white chocolate mint truffles.
Sara's Helpful Tips
Yes, you can freeze this cake. Wrap it well in a couple of layers of plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminium foil, and place it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
This is a very hardy cake and will keep for up to 2 weeks wrapped well and sealed in an airtight container. If the weather is particularly warm keep the cake in the fridge.
If you want to make this recipe for gifting you could make 2 or 3 smaller cakes from this recipe. Use two smaller capacity bundt tins, alternatively 2 or 3 smaller cake pans. Just remember that the cakes will need less time in the oven, reduce the baking time to around 30 minutes.
It can get a little confusing, but allspice and mixed spice are not the same things, they are completely different.
Allspice is a single spice, the dried unripe berries of a tropical evergreen tree native to Jamaica called Pimenta dioica. The taste is like a mild and somewhat fruity clove.
Mixed spice is as it sounds a blend of spices. Usually, cinnamon, ground cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice.
Molasses and treacle look similar and are both by-products of the sugar refining process, but they are a little different.
Molasses is very dark in colour and have a bittersweet flavour. It is best used in richer savoury food and is great to colour food.
Treacle is usually lighter, colour can vary greatly, and is sweeter. It is perfect for sweet recipes like fruit cake and gingerbread.
Rule of thumb, you can substitute molasses with treacle, but never treacle with molasses.
Aunty Tilly's Gingerbread Cake
- 1 cup milk
- 80 grams (3 tablespoons) butter
- 1 cup treacle
- 1½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
- 3 cups plain flour
- 6 teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ cups caster sugar/superfine sugar
- 2 tablespoons (8 teaspoons) ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 eggs | beaten
- Grease and line a 12 x 26cm (5 x 10 inch) loaf pan. You could also use a 20cm x 20cm (8 x 8 inch) square pan. I use a non-stick tin (as above) and only line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, but I grease the tin completely.Move an oven rack in the middle of the oven and pre-heat the oven to 175°C/350°F.
- Place milk and butter in a pot or large sauce pan over medium heat. While stirring, warm the milk (don't bring to a boil) and melt the butter.
- Once the butter has melted add treacle and mix through until combined. Then stir in the bicarbonate of soda (baking soda). Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a large bowl add flour, baking powder, sugar, ginger, allspice, and cinnamon. Whisk ingredients to combine and remove any lumps.
- Pour the treacle mixture into the bowl and mix a few times. You aren't trying to incorporate it all together at this stage.
- Then add two beaten eggs. Mix all ingredients until everything is completely mixed together and you have a dark glorious gingerbread batter.
- Pour cake batter into the prepared tin. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until cooked through when tested with a skewer in the center of the cake.
- Once baked remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from tin and allow to finish cooling on a wire rack.
- 1 teaspoon equals 5ml
- 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml (Nth America, NZ & UK use 15ml tablespoons)
- 1 cup equals 250ml (Nth America use 237ml)
- 4 teaspoons equal 1 tablespoon
- I use the below unless specified in my recipes.