Behold, gingerbread.

(Gingerbread cake)

There are many occasions in my baking life when I’ve pulled from the oven, a cake only a baker could love. It is usually something dull and unrelentingly brown all over. Something that makes me feel slightly crestfallen because only brownies and celebrities on private yachts are permitted to be this brown.

When faced with such a cake, it is hard to resist the temptation to add a bit of glamour to it. Enter three tiers of chocolate ganache and artfully scattered silver nonpareils or that classic dribble of lemon icing.

But in the case of this gingerbread, simple is beautiful and even the tiniest dusting of icing sugar over its dimpled crust should be rejected. For all those times when a cup of tea and nothing overly sugary is called for, this cake is just the ticket with its gentle warmth and spices that form a slow release flavour dance on your tongue.

Brown it seems, may just be the new black.

Gingerbread cake :
(based on a recipe from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce)

1 1/4 cups wholemeal flour
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
56g (2 ounces or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup plain full-fat yogurt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce (or pumpkin puree)
1/4 cup unsulphured blackstrap molasses (or treacle)
1 egg
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

Preheat the oven to 175’C (350F).

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, stirring gently with a whisk to ensure the spices are well mixed.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, yogurt, brown sugar, apple sauce, molasses, egg and grated ginger. Add this to the dry ingredients and fold to combine. Pour the batter into a greased and lined 9-inch round cake pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

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  1. Rosa said,

    November 29, 2011 @ 6:01 pm

    It looks really delicious and smooth! It is impossible not to love gingerbread.



  2. Hannah said,

    November 29, 2011 @ 8:58 pm

    I’ve never been a big cake person, but gingerbread? Gingerbread is always a yes in my book, and this looks perfect. Perfect on its own, and perfect to cut into slice and create a cake peanut butter sandwich with ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Esz said,

    November 29, 2011 @ 10:30 pm

    Oh boy do I love ginger – and this looks like an awesome ginger cake. Yesss, I am making it. And so simple too.
    My cakes have never looked that flash – but everyone loves em. I don’t think cakes need to be beautiful to be delicious ๐Ÿ™‚ In fact, there are many many cakes that look amazing but let you down on taste. And usually for me they are those over-iced ones that are drowning in buttercream. Ugh.

  4. YaYa said,

    November 29, 2011 @ 10:36 pm

    I like the addition of the espresso powder, I guess that’s just instant espresso strength coffee?

  5. Caitlin said,

    November 29, 2011 @ 11:42 pm

    See, I think it’s the ugly cakes and breads that taste the best. But don’t tell anyone – while they’re homing in on the pretty things, I get cakes like this all to myself!

  6. Laura said,

    November 30, 2011 @ 12:36 am

    I never make gingerbread, I forget about it since it is not something I grew up with, but when I see a recipe I tell myself I should make it more often because I really like it. Time to get all the spices I need and bake one of these cakes. Yum!

  7. Hannah said,

    November 30, 2011 @ 4:06 am

    For as many times as I’ve made it, gingerbread is still one of my favorite cakes. It just has to be soft, moist, and spicy, and it’s perfect to me. This certainly looks like it would fit my criteria! I’ve got to try incorporating soy yogurt this year, that’s a great idea.

  8. The Sweetest Vegan said,

    November 30, 2011 @ 4:08 am

    Did you leave that slice for me? It looks delish.

  9. Xiaolu/6Bittersweets said,

    November 30, 2011 @ 5:02 am

    Looks delicious! And taste is what really counts despite what blogging tends to make us think ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. Emilia said,

    November 30, 2011 @ 10:17 am

    This gingerbread cake looks delicious! I love gingerbread during the holidays and this recipe looks quite intriguing, definitely making it soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Tina @ bitemeshowme said,

    November 30, 2011 @ 10:22 am

    This cake looks so good. I’ve never been a real big fan of gingerbread up until now. Guess my taste buds matured as I did.. hehe

  12. Andrea @ Roadhouse Roast said,

    November 30, 2011 @ 7:08 pm

    Yum, what a great a combination of spices & coffee too! Bet that pepper adds a nice little kick.

  13. grace said,

    November 30, 2011 @ 7:51 pm

    but i like my icing sugar! ๐Ÿ™‚
    no, this is lovely, y, plain and simple.

  14. Snippets of Thyme said,

    December 1, 2011 @ 4:32 am

    This does indeed look like the perfect cake to have with a nice hot cup of tea!

  15. InTolerantChef said,

    December 1, 2011 @ 9:53 am

    Gingerbread cake is my daughters choice for birthday cake every single year. Maybe I’ll mix it up a bit and try this recipe, yumm…

  16. Malin said,

    December 2, 2011 @ 3:55 am

    The plainest cakes are the best! And to me, also very appealing! (I guess youยดre right – cakes only a baker can love, though Iยดm not a baker, I love all cakes, not matter what they look like! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. Tian said,

    December 2, 2011 @ 8:16 am


    Just wondering if allspice can be replaced with asian five-spice?
    And if the liquid sweetener be honey or maple syrup, im aware the flavour might not be as in depth


  18. Y said,

    December 2, 2011 @ 8:19 am

    Hi Tian, well I suppose it’s up to you really, which spices you prefer in the cake. You shouldn’t encounter any problems with substituting the treacle/molasses either. The baking time may alter slightly, if anything.

  19. Helene said,

    December 2, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

    I cannot look at a gingerbread and not taste it. What is wholemeal flour? I haven’t seen it in Canada.

  20. Tian said,

    December 2, 2011 @ 3:10 pm

    Thanks Y

    I just googled and only then realised allspice is not a mixture of spices, but made from berries of a pimento tree. knowing that now, will definitely go buy allspice just for this recipe

  21. YaYa said,

    December 2, 2011 @ 5:35 pm

    Just finished baking my version of this cake and it’s cooling RIGHT NOW! It’s a beautiful cake and has made the house smell so beautiful, can’t wait to actually taste it!

  22. Y said,

    December 2, 2011 @ 6:20 pm

    Helene : Perhaps you know wholemeal flour as whole wheat flour? In any case, if you can’t get it, you can just use spelt flour, or plain flour.

  23. Anna said,

    December 5, 2011 @ 3:01 am

    Yum! I made this just as directed, except for the fresh ginger, which I didn’t have, and took it to my parents house for tea. It was great! I used coarse salt and it added a nice salty contrast in each bite and had a slight lingering burn from the pepper. Really good, thank you for sharing!

  24. Patricia said,

    December 5, 2011 @ 3:15 pm

    Just finished baking this. It’s cooling now. Omitted the espresso power because I didn’t have any. Can’t wait to taste it!

  25. Julia @ Mรฉlanger said,

    December 6, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

    It is wonderful to read the virtues of simple baking. My favourite kind, to be perfectly honest.

    I haven’t made a gingerbread cake for over a year. Shame on me. I need to try this. How do you like the book?

  26. Tian said,

    December 16, 2011 @ 7:51 am

    Hi again, my first attempt failed. We were worried bout the spices being too strong, so we reduced the pepper and because I didnt buy nutmeg, we upped the other spices and I was too lazy to grate fresh ginger too! It ended up being quite tasteless.

    This weekend Im gonna follow the recipe to the T, minus the molasses still.

  27. Y said,

    December 16, 2011 @ 8:22 am

    Hi Tian,

    Surprising to hear that the cake turned out tasteless, with all those spices. If you want it to be more fragrant, maybe increase each spice measurement by a half teaspoon. Pepper merely adds a kick to it. If you don’t like too much of a kick, you can replace it with more cinnamon or ginger. What did you end up using instead of molasses? I would recommend golden syrup, treacle or a nice strong flavoured honey.

  28. Tian said,

    December 16, 2011 @ 5:47 pm

    I used rice syrup. And I twisted the pepper shaker 3 times only heh
    I increased the allspice, cinnamon, ground ginger by a 1/4 tsp each. Too little?

    The cake was moist and became more moist over time. I would like to point out now that after about 4-5 days, some flavour did appear but mild.

    I do wish the crust of the cake (and all the banana breads we make!) wouldn’t start turning limp the next day.

    2nd attempt soon! Cheers

  29. Saffron said,

    December 29, 2011 @ 6:08 pm

    Looks very softy, smooth as well delicious ๐Ÿ™‚

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