Spicy Gingerbread with stem ginger (GF, DF options)

My grandmother Miffi, used to make gingerbread every time we visited in the summer holidays. I would walk into her pantry and inhale the intoxicating smell of ginger and spices. However her recipe didn’t add stem ginger, in those days it would have been seen as an extravagance, but this does give the cake extra bite and makes it really delicious. Be warned that it is a peppery recipe, so small kids probably won’t like it. You can also make it as muffins or small cakes.

This recipe is adapted from Miffi’s recipe and that of the Hairy Bikers, with some changes. I sometimes ice my gingerbread to tart it up a bit, in which case I make an orange icing with orange juice, a squeeze of lemon juice, and icing sugar. This icing, if kept stiff, would be perfect for the gingerbread muffin option. I have also made it as mini loaves, (left) which make great presents. I have added gluten free, dairy free options – the recipe works well with these changes. Gingerbread, if wrapped well, keeps for several days Hairy Bikers:


  • 300g plain flour (or gluten free flour)

  • 2 tbsp ground ginger

  • ½ tsp ground black pepper, or Tasmanian pepper berries (optional)

  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon

  • ½ tsp ground allspice

  • ½ tsp nutmeg

  • generous pinch ground cloves

  • 150g butter (or DF Nuttelex)

  • 125g dark brown muscovado sugar

  • 150g golden syrup. (If possible buy the syrup, treacle and honey in a squeezy bottle to make it easier to use.)

  • 50g honey

  • 200g/7oz black treacle

  • 250ml milk (or DF almond, oat or cashew milk)

  • 1 heaped tsp bicarb soda

  • 2 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten

  • 200 gms crystallised or stem ginger. If using crystallised ginger soak in very hot water to remove the sugar, if using stem ginger drain the syrup. Chop ginger finely.


  • 500 gms icing sugar,

  • I orange

  • squeeze of lemon

  • orange zest for decoration.


NOTE: As this recipe has many ingredients line them all up in a row in the order they are in the recipe. When you have added them move them to one side. This way you won’t forget anything. I once left out the treacle!

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper on the bottom, spray the sides with a rice oil or similar spray.

  2. Sieve the flour into a large bowl along with the spices and mix lightly to combine.

  3. Put the saucepan on some weighing scales and weigh the butter, sugar, syrup, honey and treacle directly into a saucepan. This makes it easier to dispense. Put the pan on the stove and melt everything together over a gentle heat. Meanwhile whisk the milk and eggs in a bowl.

  4. Remove from the heat. Whisk the milk and eggs into the mixture in the saucepan. Add the bicarbonate of soda ( it will froth a little). Stir. Gradually add the contents of the saucepan to the flour, making sure everything is well combined. You will end up with a very wet batter. Stir through the stem ginger.

  5. Pour into the loaf tin. You can also make these as muffins in a muffin tray and then freeze some for later. Bake in the oven for between 45 minutes and an hour. When the edges have pulled back slightly from the side of the tin and the gingerbread is springy to touch, it will be done.

  6. Cool in the tin for half an hour and then turn out onto a wire rack.

  7. If icing the cake, sieve the icing sugar and slowly add the juice until the icing is mixed but not too runny.

  8. Spread a piece of baking paper under the wire rack to catch any icing drips. Spread icing on the top of the cake with a palette knife which has been dipped in hot water. Decorate with orange zest

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