english gingerbread man
from Rose's Celebrations, William Morrow, 1992

Kyle Cathie, the clever and discerning British editor of the UK version of The Cake Bible informed me in no uncertain terms that a book could not be called a cake "bible" in England if it did not contain the beloved gingerbread. When I went to England to retest all the cakes using British flour and ingredients, I developed this gingerbread recipe. Now that I have tasted it, i quite agree with Kyle. It is a moist, spicy cake with an intriguing blend of buttery, lemony, wheaty and treacly flavors.

Preheat the oven to 325 F
Baking time: 50 to 60 minutes

  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 liquid cups golden refiner's syrup
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed (2 oz) dark brown sugar, preferably unrefined
  • 1 heaping tbsp. (1.5 oz) orange marmalade
  • 2 large eggs weighed
  • 2/3 liquid cup milk
  • 1 cup lightly spooned (4 oz) cake flour
  • 1 cup minus 1 tbls. lightly spooned (4 oz) whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. powdered ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • a pinch of salt
lemon syrup
  • 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter (softened)
  • 3 tbsp. (1.3 oz) sugar
Equipment: One 8-inch square cake pan, preferably metal*, greased, bottom lined with parchment or waxed paper, then greased and floured. In a small, heavy saucepan, on medium low heat, stir together the butter, golden syrup, sugar and marmalade until melted and uniform. Set aside until just barely warm, then whisk in the eggs and milk. In a large bowl, whisk together all the remaining dry ingredients. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring with a large spoon of rubber spatula just until the batter is smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin, no more than 1/2 full. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven. To make the syrup: In a small pan, stir together the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of softened butter and the 3 tablespoons of sugar. Heat stirring, until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolved. Brush half the syrup on to top of the cake. Let the cake cook in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto a greased wire rack**. Brush the bottom with the remaining syrup. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the top is up. For extra moistness, cover the cake with plastic wrap while still hot and allow it to cool. Wrap airtight for 24 hours before eating.

* If using glass, turn down heat to 300 F.
** The British like their gingerbread moist and sticky. To achieve this consistency, invert it instead onto a large flat plate covered with a larger piece of plastic wrap. brush the cake with the remaining syrup and cover it with the plastic wrap.

Pointers for Success:
Some metal pans slope inward and are less than 8-inches at the bottom. In this case it is better to use a 9-inch square pan or fill the pan 1/2 full and bake the excess batter as cup cakes. The capacity of the pan should be 8 cups. Use cake flour without leavening. Use unsalted butter for the best flavor. Use fresh baking powder under 1 year old. If using a hand-held mixer, beat at high speed. For very even layers, wrap the cake pans with Magi-Cake Strips (available at Maid of Scandinavia 800-328-6722. Do not overbake the cake.
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