By Jen Inglis
This recipe is easy peasy and makes a very moist dark cake with a spicy grown up kick that’s just perfect and guaranteed to warm down to your toes at about 3-4pm on these early chilly winter evenings.
This should not be confused with gingerbread men or the edible art gingerbread houses that are everywhere and looking beautiful this time of year. Nor is it like Parkin because it’s definitely not a bread. Nor even like a Herman friendship cake (look up these if you have time, they are such a lovely idea and now everyone’s got the hang of starters again after lockdown I think they are absolutely due a resurgence - I’m working on a vegan version).
Even though we’ve named it gingerbread, this is strictly speaking a ginger cake.
The treacle makes a darkly bittersweet and sticky dense crumb and the combination of spicy ginger flavours and zingy fresh lemon icing mean this is the kind of cake best served as a slab rather than a slice. Total bliss with a hot coffee and perfect for sharing, gifting and potential Christmas cake replacement for the anti-fruitcake and marzipan crowd (me!) as it keeps amazingly well in an airtight container.
100g caster sugar
115g dairy free spread
3 tbsp applesauce (You can buy in jars but its really easy to make your own. Just peel and core 2 large cooking apples. Cut into chunks and then heat in a pan with a lid along with 1tbsp water. They’ll soften really quickly and once soft you can either use a hand blender for a really smooth puree or if just using for this recipe you can quickly mix with a fork or wooden spoon till no large chunks. Make sure to cool before using.)
250g treacle (can be replaced with golden syrup if you prefer a lighter more kid friendly option)
350g cups plain flour
1 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsps ground ginger
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp salt
250g hot water
For the Lemon glaze
225g icing sugar sieved
3-4 tbsps lemon juice
Zest of a lemon
Pan to make applesauce
Mixer (or bowl and wooden spoon)
Baking tin (can be baked in square brownie tin or loaf tin)
Jug for drizzling
Cream spread and sugar together until fluffy then beat in treacle and apple sauce. Sieve together dry ingredients then mix in to creamed butter mixture. Slowly add hot water. This is very important if using an electric mixer (the last time I forgot to turn down the mixer the worktop ended up covered in a light rain of watery cake mix). Finally transfer the cake batter to your greased and lined tin.
Bake at 180 C for 45 mins. Allow to cool. Mix glaze ingredients till lump-free but thick enough not to run straight off. Once the cake is completely cold, drizzle the glaze all over.
This cake keeps really well and probably tastes even taste better after sitting for a day or two in an airtight container which allows the flavours to develop and intensify.