A Quest for Gingery Perfection

I’m slightly obsessed with turning this antler-esque, sweet and savoury recipe straddling root into the most perfect cake. There are photos on my iCloud storage depot of failed efforts galore that have not made it to my Facebook page let alone my blog. Not that any of them are inedible by a long mark but still, not until today do I feel ready to share a ginger cake recipe with you all. This scorched savannah sunset of a cake is almost there. So close in fact, I have to share it now before I fiddle and make it truly my own.


I stumbled upon the recipe during my hunt for an official Dan Lepard link to the carrot cake recipe I blogged about last here. I almost made it before the carrot cake but I just had to make that one first (it’s the best big cake I’ve made in a very long time). But instead, I saved it until we had been without cake for a few days so I felt justified in making another one, hehehe.

What can I say?

It keeps exceptionally well so me and Hungry Hubs have been sneaking a little slice here, a slightly bigger slice there for at least four days and it just gets better each time. (Those readers who are also part of the weight loss group I administrate on Facebook, please close your ears to this post – it’s a moment of weakness born from the impending doom of my just completed set of nights at work. I’m very human after all it seems lol!).

The crumb is oh so moist by the virtue of using stacks of finely chopped ginger rather than the more classical stem ginger with/without the pungent dried and ground ginger, plus instead of butter, one uses a flavourless oil. I use rapeseed. We’ll just ignore the quantity of both the oil and the golden syrup also employed to sweeten and moisten the crumb and reassure ourselves that lesser recipes would have us pour over some form of syrup to impart such a crumb and stickiness to the cake on baking. Oh, I’m so naughty!


The unusual use of fresh ginger in such a large quantity together with not only a small amount of the warming spices of cinnamon, cloves and ginger but a hefty half teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper lifts the cake to a whole new and fresh tasting level. Don’t be scared – the pepper adds to the heat of the ginger rather than coming through as a taste in itself. Think of it as a flavour enhancer in the way sea salt lifts savoury dishes or even caramel, making it sweeter – a slightly counterintuitive addition but one that has only to be experienced once to convert any sceptic.


As for the texture if the cake, well, as this is an oil cake, it straightaway produces a lighter, softer bake than one made by traditionally creaming butter with sugar does. In fact, it is almost a gingerbread recipe as it utilises the addition of bicarbonate of soda, whisked rapidly into boiled water then poured quickly into the syrup and oil mixture. It gives a bounce to the cake which belies the lack of creaming as well as the lack of whisking the eggs beyond breaking them down and incorporating them into the batter.

chopped ginger

David Lebovitz, whose recipe this is, advises the cake may keep for up to five days or may be successfully frozen for up to a month. Which is a good thing as it is a monster – 9 inches in diameter and boy does it puff up on baking! It eats very well still warm from the oven but as all syrup sodden cakes, they get more sticky upon keeping wrapped well for a few days. I’m never very good at waiting for such things though so it can only be a good thing that it is such a large cake ;).

more ginger_

Plain and warm, it would make an excellent addition to any afternoon tea table. It would make a heartwarming gift too especially for us in the northern hemisphere are inching (in my summer-loving case a little hesitantly) ever closer to winter. Ginger and its slow-burning spicy heat always remind me of cooler days where an extra jumper or cardy are mandatory to get through the day. Days where you’ve wrapped up warm and been for a bracing walk, your cheeks pink from the chill wind in the nippy air, ice blue skies abounding with the odd fluffy white cloud. You put the kettle on, I’ll get the tea pot and we’ll both have a steaming hot cuppa and a sticky slab of this cake. Makes it worth your while saying goodbye to summer for another year, doesn’t it?

cut slice

A scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side is ever our favourite accompaniment to an otherwise plain but freshly baked cake though. David himself recommends a lemon curdy mascarpone cream on the side or for those wishing to go the extra mile, a plum and cinnamon compote on the side. My fuzzy orange hubby and I are currently running on storecupboard rations as my first month at work has seen me be a little too extravagant but believe me, next time – that compote will be mine!

ginger cake

And lastly if you have a ginger cake recipe which you love, I’d love you to share it in the comments section below this post. Whilst this cake is absolutely lovely, an easy bake and definitely satisfies my ginger-addiction, I feel out there, somewhere, lies the Ne Plus Utlra ginger cake recipe, waiting to be baked at Casa Blogs! If it has lemon in there somewhere too, I’ll be extra interested in it. Just saying. ;)

Fresh Ginger Cake
Servings: 10
Author: Just Jo
  • 115 g piece fresh ginger peeled
  • 250 ml golden syrup
  • 200 g sugar
  • 250 ml vegetable oil
  • 350 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 250 ml water
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Grease and line a 23cm springform tin.
  2. Turn the ginger to a rough purée with a small food processor or mince finely with a knife.
  3. In a big bowl, whisk together the golden syrup, sugar, and oil.
  4. In another, whisk together the flour and spices.
  5. Bring the water to a boil in a small pan then stir in the bicarbonate of soda, whisking immediately into the larger bowl with the syrup mixture. Add the ginger.
  6. Whisk in the flour mixture then pour into your prepared tin and bake for approx 1 hour - it will be well risen and will spring back o the touch when pressed gently.
  7. Cool in the tin then slice and serve.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from David Lebovitz

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By | 2018-02-19T20:10:46+00:00 September 18th, 2012|Categories: Cake, Home Baking|Tags: , , , , , , , |9 Comments


  1. Allison 18/09/2012 at 17:59 - Reply

    Ginger and lemon go so well together! I love ginger but I’m really not a cake person– maybe no one else will understand my strange perspective here, but it just looks like too much uninterrupted CAKE to me… and since you’re looking for suggestions… What if you baked it in two separate layers and then spread some orange (or other citrusy) marmalade in between?

  2. The Spicy Saffron 19/09/2012 at 16:16 - Reply

    lovely photos and yummy yummy cake!! a must try recipe for me!

    • Jo Blogs 19/09/2012 at 21:20 - Reply

      Thanks Spicy! I took one into work today and I can’t tell you how indecent the groans where that were emitted from our ward office – I loved the cake myself but it seems others *really* loved it! Very satisfying indeedio it was to hear :D

  3. frugalfeeding 20/09/2012 at 15:27 - Reply

    Sounds great, Jo! Can I suggest trying a version that uses ground ginger and black treacle? Just as a point of comparison – it’s how I make mine and It’s delicious, really dark and flavoursome. Perhaps I ought to try a golden syrup version :D

    • Jo Blogs 20/09/2012 at 20:14 - Reply

      Oh don’t you worry frugal – I’ve made those versions already ;). This one is more zingy and zesty with more heat and almost tastes juicy to me – a whole different sort of animal to your trad sticky ginger cakes.

  4. Allison 20/09/2012 at 21:18 - Reply

    What if you used Bhakti Chai, already full of fresh organic ginger, to spice this up? We’d love to include your recipe on our website so let us know!

  5. PatriciaCK 21/09/2012 at 07:44 - Reply

    Now that’s something I don’t think I’ve seen before! I am intrigued by the addition of black pepper – must try this out. Thanks.

    • Jo Blogs 21/09/2012 at 07:47 - Reply

      Not a problem Patricia. Think warming heat with regards to the black pepper here – no one of the spices speak alone here, they all work together in harmony perfectly :)

  6. eat, little bird 08/10/2012 at 07:55 - Reply

    I have a soft spot for anything with ginger and I love the use of fresh ginger in this cake! This cake certainly reminds me of gingerbread … and with Christmas only a few months away, I can’t wait!

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