Ginger, ginger, fresh ginger cake, read all about it!


*Another post while travelling, from the Shan mountains in northern Myanmar!! Also sending this to Angie’s Fiesta on a bumpy but oh-such-fun horse cart, or maybe that water buffalo with birds standing on his back*

Looking through the SG archives, I couldn’t believe I’ve never written gushed about my love of fresh ginger cake. David Lebovitz’s fresh ginger cake.

But first, is it a proper ginger post without a ginger pun? No? Ok, here we go: “What do you call a redhead that works in a bakery? – A gingerbread man/woman.”

Ahem, now we’ve got that out of the way, onto the fresh ginger cake.

This cake is described by the great DL himself as one of his most popular recipes, and one that appears in a number of Bay Area cafes. From a pastry chef/cookbook writer who is famous for his books devoted to ice cream, chocolate, and other contemporary good Parisian things, it is a big claim to say that a favourite recipe involves neither ice cream, nor chocolate, nor anything particularly Parisian.

ginger-cake-06 ginger-cake-03

It is, indeed, a beauty of a cake. Especially if you like the zing, heat, tingly back throat warm, of fresh ginger. This is fresh ginger dialled up to 10.5, approaching 11.

And lest you worry about eating a mouthful of the root, the ginger is beautifully supported by equally strong flavours from the molasses and spices. I’ve tried a few variations on the spice mix, from the classic cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, to a generous dash of allspice in a pinch, to a light sprinkling of five spice powder (which adds a slightly deeper, savoury note). All of the above, happily, have been approved by family/friends/colleagues.

And a glaze! Let’s not forget the magic of a glaze on this cake. You may want something creamy, to sooth the fieriness of ginger. You may want something piquant to play tango with the ginger and spices on your tongue. I’ve paired this with a lemon juice and icing sugar glaze, or a richer lemon curd. In both cases, the tart lemon sinks into gingery spices, resulting in a beautifully harmonious whole that seems much more mellow than its parts. This time, I made a coconut-rum syrup borrowed from DL’s Bahamian rum cake (glaze recipe below), which made it almost taste like Christmas.


Did I also mention this cake stays moist for days? It is really quite marvellous, as I could make it on the weekend for a mid-week bash, and maybe no one would be the wiser.

‘What if I’m not a ginger fanatic?’, you ask? Well, give this a try, maybe with a bit less ginger than called for. I’ve also found that using very young ginger – the ones that are still juicy and tender, before it becomes a mass of fibre, and you can cut through a stalk as you do bamboo or an under-ripe peach – tones down the ginger impact, resulting in a softer-tasting spice cake.



Fresh Ginger Cake

(from David Lebovitz, Ready for Dessert. The recipe here is reproduced from the versions printed by the Guardian online and Epicurious, one provides weight measures for flour etc, and one provides American cup measures.)

Fresh ginger cake

Makes one 23-cm cake; 10 to 12 servings


115g / 4 ounces piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
250ml / 1 cup of golden syrup / mild molasses
200g / 1 cup sugar
250ml / 1 cup vegetable oil, preferably peanut
350g/ 2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
250ml / 1 cup water
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
2 large eggs, at room temperature


Preheat the oven to 180C / 350°F (gas mark 4). Butter the bottom and sides of a 23cm springform or round cake tin with 5cm sides (or 9 by 3-inch round cake pan or a 9 1/2 inch springform pan) and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade or with a chef’s knife, chop the ginger until very fine. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the golden syrup, sugar, and oil. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, and pepper.

In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil, then stir in the bicarbonate of soda. Whisk the hot water into the golden syrup mixture, then add the chopped ginger.

Gradually sift the flour mixture over the golden syrup mixture, whisking to combine. Add the eggs and whisk until thoroughly blended.

Scrape the batter into the prepared springform or cake tin and bake until the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed with a finger or a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 1 hour. Leave to cool completely.

Run a knife around the sides of the cake to help loosen it from the tin. Invert the cake onto a plate, peel off the parchment paper, then re-invert it onto a serving platter.

Storage: Because this cake is so moist, it keeps well for up to 5 days at room temperature. It can be frozen for up to 1 month.

Coconut-rum glaze


4 tablespoons (85 grams) butter, cut into pieces
6 tablespoons heavy cream
6 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon dark rum

Combine the butter, cream, salt and sugar together in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil.  Stir the mixture to dissolve the sugar – this should take about 90 seconds.  Remove from the heat, whisk in the rum, and let cool completely. 


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46 thoughts on “Ginger, ginger, fresh ginger cake, read all about it!

  1. chefjulianna 7 July 2014 at 3:44 am Reply

    So looking forward to your posts on Myanmar! But also looking forward to making this cake, as I just adore fresh ginger! 😀

  2. jaywadams 7 July 2014 at 4:08 am Reply

    Wow!! This looks fabulous!!

  3. Butter, Basil and Breadcrumbs 7 July 2014 at 4:10 am Reply

    Oh how I would love to be on that bumpy cart.. Looking at Buffalo with birds on their backs!
    This cake looks so delicious Saucy.. I am totally up for that little bit of heat.. Along with that molasses… Yum. Just yum. ❤

  4. […] Saucy […]

  5. Loretta 7 July 2014 at 5:21 am Reply

    How delicious looking and I’ll bet it smells awesome too when baking. I’m a fresh ginger fanatic myself, and I like that you gave the non-metric measurements too :). I’m definitely making this next. Thanks, and enjoy your trip.

  6. Michelle 7 July 2014 at 5:29 am Reply

    this is definitely going on my to try list, I love ginger cake. there’s this premade Jamaican ginger cake, I think it’s made by mcvities, and it’s soooo good. And the baker in me knows it’d be better if i just made it myself, but I guess I’m lazy! But now i have no excuse not to give it a go!

  7. apuginthekitchen 7 July 2014 at 6:04 am Reply

    I love this cake its saved and will be made very soon. I LOVE ginger cake or spice cake in general. YUM1

    • saucygander 20 July 2014 at 9:00 am Reply

      Aghhh just getting to read all the comments now… I hope you like it if you do try the recipe, it has become one of our favourites!

  8. marymtf 7 July 2014 at 6:07 am Reply

    I don’t think that yummy cake needs a glaze. I’ll be drinking the rum when I make it.

  9. yummychunklet 7 July 2014 at 6:13 am Reply

    Decadent little cakes!

  10. Margot 7 July 2014 at 10:19 am Reply

    Hope you’re having a fab time away Saucy! This ginger cake really sounds wonderful… moist and packed full of ginger and spice! Looking forward to trying it.

  11. Ngan R. 7 July 2014 at 11:41 am Reply

    I’m not much of a glaze girl myself, but that fresh ginger cake has my name written all over it, SG! I’ve not had the pleasure of having this ginger cake, silly me, but I’m going to change that soon with this recipe. Hope you’re having fun on your travels. xx

  12. apsara 7 July 2014 at 12:55 pm Reply

    what an awesome cake with fresh spices, I will try an egg-free version of this! Love the rich brown colour too!

  13. lemongrovecakediaries 7 July 2014 at 2:30 pm Reply

    Hope you are having a brilliant time – I love this DL cake, I made it awhile ago and I can testify that it is brilliant.

  14. Liz 7 July 2014 at 3:19 pm Reply

    wowza–stunning and can practically catch its fragrance your photos. Total agreement re: glaze. Yum!

  15. lapetitecasserole 7 July 2014 at 3:38 pm Reply

    Saucy it sounds divine! The coconut-rum glaze is something that I have to try no matter what!
    Thanks for bringing it to FF!

  16. Daniel Etherington 7 July 2014 at 6:52 pm Reply

    Yum. I like chucking some pieces of crystalised ginger in my ginger cakes too, and in steamed puddings.

  17. lapetitepaniere 7 July 2014 at 8:28 pm Reply

    Your Ginger Cake looks very tempting Saucy 🙂

  18. Nancy 8 July 2014 at 12:05 am Reply

    Just the way we like it, rich, tender with body, and spicy. Excellent!

  19. Mary Frances 8 July 2014 at 8:08 am Reply

    This looks super moist. That glaze sounds awesome!

    • saucygander 20 July 2014 at 8:42 am Reply

      The cake was indeed super moist, and the glaze goes well with ice cream too!

  20. milkandbun 9 July 2014 at 6:16 am Reply

    Saucy, I love that rum-glaze.. and the cake itself is moist! yummy! Hope, you have an amazing time! 🙂

    • saucygander 20 July 2014 at 8:40 am Reply

      Thank you Mila! I liked the rum glaze too, it’s great with ice cream. 🙂 Just got back and settling into working life…but I have the memories of an amazing holiday.

  21. polianthus 20 July 2014 at 1:47 am Reply

    wow definitely making this for my mum, she loves fresh ginger cakes 🙂 – nigella lawson has one too that is nice – a ginger spice gingerbread 🙂 – I guess great cooks bakers think alike!

    • saucygander 20 July 2014 at 2:19 am Reply

      Oh I haven’t seen the Nigella recipe yet, will look it up. It’s winter here and perfect weather for spiced gingerbread. 🙂

      • polianthus 20 July 2014 at 7:58 am

        oh good I think it is in the domestic goddess cookbook -the cake with white icing that she sells at her daughters school fair, she also had a recipe I seem to remember for ginger biscuits with grated ginger …I LOVE ginger, so warming so comforting so homely! Enjoy the winter dear Saucy

  22. Mac McPherson 20 July 2014 at 11:44 pm Reply

    Looks like another episode in the kicthen as Rachel adore’s ginger – the more flavoursome the better.


    • saucygander 20 July 2014 at 11:47 pm Reply

      Excellent, I can’t wait to hear about the ginger cake episode…

      • Mac McPherson 21 July 2014 at 2:30 am

        Rachel has already had me load a icon link onto Oliver the iPad. She has also found some of my “Jack” ( Rum is called Jack after Jack Sparrow, as all pirates drink rum). Problem is that this was my sipping run rather than some overproof Bundy….oh, and she has christened you “Goosey” as she can’t manage Saucey Gander.

        Looks like I will be making it this week. Will Rat and me survive to post?….

      • saucygander 21 July 2014 at 4:15 pm

        Rachel is a hoot!! Goosey is a good nickname, as is Jack (who doesn’t want to be named after Captain Jack Sparrow?). I hope you do survive the baking this week, and live to tell the tale. Have fun!

      • Mac McPherson 25 July 2014 at 12:29 am

        Survived just about. Cakes all gone! Both me and my wallet need some R&R time though 🙂

  23. Patty Nguyen 22 July 2014 at 6:36 am Reply

    My mom loves ginger. I’ve bookmarked this recipe!

  24. Lily 23 July 2014 at 7:26 am Reply

    Oh wow, just looking at your photos, I can almost taste this cake, moist, spicy and sweet – yum!

  25. Thalia @ butter and brioche 23 July 2014 at 12:30 pm Reply

    this looks seriously so good… i am craving a slice right now! love ginger, definitely a recipe i will be recreating in my kitchen. love it!

  26. wuwutina 23 July 2014 at 1:31 pm Reply

    Hi! Love your site and your stories! I nominated you for a Liebster Award!
    Congrats 🙂

  27. […] We made mini-cakes as only Rachel and Carole like ginger. It is a spice that I have never been able to tolerate since becoming coeliac. No rhyme or reason, just one of those things. Apologies to saucygander for not following her recipe exactly – the original is found here at Saucy Gander Ginger Cake.  […]

  28. Kate Vista 27 July 2014 at 6:35 pm Reply

    Looks mouth watering! K xx

  29. 29 July 2014 at 2:33 am Reply

    I love all things ginger. I’m saving this for a Fall indulgence. It’s been too hot in Nevada to bake this summer. Thanks, Saucy

    • saucygander 3 August 2014 at 5:14 pm Reply

      This cake would be great way to finish a Fall dinner party! I hope you like it if you do try this recipe, and thank you for visiting!

  30. fretwellcrump 29 July 2014 at 4:58 am Reply

    Yum! Can’t beat ginger cake! Is it the type that tastes better the longer you leave it to mature? Myanmar looks amazing 🙂

    • saucygander 29 July 2014 at 8:15 am Reply

      This cake lasts for a few days, and was really good even on day 2 or 3. It’s not a dense Christmas fruit cake that can be left for months though – it’s lighter and made for a compote or rum glaze. Glad you like the Myanmar photos!

  31. Chez @ Chez Moi 29 July 2014 at 10:04 am Reply

    I’m a big fan of DL and his book Ready for Dessert is the one I always turn to for baked goods. I haven’t made this cake yet, but I used to love making homemade gingerbread as a teenager. This recipe sounds like a lovely, more adult, version.

    • saucygander 3 August 2014 at 5:12 pm Reply

      Yes, this is a lighter, more adult version of gingerbread. The fresh ginger really packs a punch! Thank you for visiting!

  32. laurasmess 4 April 2016 at 2:12 am Reply

    This sounds so, so delicious. I love ginger, particularly in baked goods, and that rum glaze just takes it all up a notch! Seriously gorgeous post, I am putting this on my to-bake list. Oh, and ditto the praise of David Lebovitz!

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