Sunday 17 August 2008

Dark Jamaican ginger cake

All ginger cakes are moist, but this one has to be the darkest, juiciest, tastiest most fragrant of them all! Two things attracted me to the recipe: firstly, the inclusion of evaporated milk and, secondly, the use of fresh grated ginger. When you grate ginger it seems to produce so much juice that I recommend grating into a bowl so you can capture all of this for your cake.

The CCM (Caked Crusader’s Ma) has a passion for ginger. Oddly, it can never be too hot for her. I say “oddly” because she doesn’t like spicy food – no chilli or peppers for her but, put a ginger cake in front of her and she can take it as strong as you like, usually commenting “I could’ve done with it a bit hotter”. So I’ve really stoked this one up! The original recipe only used fresh grated ginger but I have added some ground ginger too. If your tastebuds are more delicate then probably leave the ground ginger out. (Unsurprisingly, the CCM claimed she could have taken it hotter. Curses!)

You have to wonder about the great food discoveries in history. Ginger is a good example – I mean, who was the first person to look at this and think “yum, that looks tasty”?

This cake can be made either with or without the icing. Personally, I love the sweet white icing taking the heat out of the ginger – it’s a perfect combination.

One thing I did learn making this: as it is so squidgy and moist, I find that ginger cake sometimes sinks a little on cooling. It happened to me with this cake:

When the cake was still warm I turned it out of the tin and inverted it to cool – this was how I served the cake so the sunken bit was out of sight:

On cutting the cake the next day – lo and behold – the sunken bit had corrected itself. It must have been because I inverted it while it was still cooling. See, no sunken bit:

225g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground ginger (optional)
225g unsalted butter
125g light brown sugar
2 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh root ginger
125ml evaporated milk
125g black treacle (or molasses)
2 eggs

Optional: white glace icing
125g icing sugar
2-3 tablespoons water (start with 2 – you can always add more)

How to make:

- Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.
- Line a 900g loaf tin.
- Put the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, allspice nutmeg and the (optional) ground ginger into a bowl and mix together.
- Beat in the butter until well combined.
- Beat in the sugar and the grated ginger. Put to one side.
- Put the evaporated milk and black treacle into a saucepan and heat gently until the two have combined. Don’t wander off as the mixture shouldn’t be allowed to bubble. At first the liquids will stay separate even though you are stirring them and then, in an instant, they combine.
- Remove from the heat and pour into the cake mix. Stir until well combined.
- Beat in the eggs. The batter will be runny(ish) but don’t worry – ginger cake mix is always thinner than other cakes and this is what gives such a lovely moist cake.
- Pour the batter into the tin and bake for approximately 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out cleanly. Mine took exactly 50 minutes.
- Leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes as ginger cakes are particularly fragile on coming out of the oven. As they are so moist, ginger cakes do tend to sink a little on cooling. If this bothers you, invert the cake when you turn out onto the wire rack and no one will know! Leave to cool totally on a wire rack.
- If you decide to make an icing simply mix together the icing sugar and water and add more water if required. You are aiming for a thick, glossy consistency that will ooze over the cake but not run off. Spoon over the loaf as desired.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.


Beth (jamandcream) said...

Definitely with the icing. I love ginger cake. My Mum always made ginger cake when we were kids, it was yummy, as Im sure this one is. Like that it has grated ginger in it, you don't often see that

Mike of Mike's Table said...

I'd have to say keep the icing for sure--plus, it just looks so darn good on top of that dark cake. This sounds delicious!

glamah16 said...

I fell in love with a similar cake I made last year. One thinks of it as a winter cake, but I could eat it all year round. I wish more people liked ginger bread/cake.

Rosie said...

Oh my goodness C.C. what a wonderful ginger cake!! You have me drooling just thinking of sinking my teeth into a slice!!

Rosie x

Maggie said...

I love ginger cake too!

Lynda said...

Have to agree, iced ginger cake is the best! I usually add a handful of raisins in the mix too - divine!

Deborah said...

Of all the ginger cake recipes I have tried, this one is the best. I also added some crystalised ginger with a little of the syrup, added sultanas and as I had run out of icing sugar made some custard :) excellent as a warm pudding and then cool as sliced cake. Oh, I didn't have any brown sugar either so compensated by adding extra golden caster sugar and a tablespoon of G&B cocoa powder. I used buttermilk instead as I love it in chocolate cake :)

Anonymous said...

this looks good i am definately going to try it, been looking for a recipe for ages drooling at the thought of eating it the hardest part will be stopping my husband fromm eating it before it is cool enough to cut.

Anonymous said...

Hey Caked Crusader!
Just made your Dark Jamaican Ginger cake and the texture and taste were delicious! I was trying to emulate a ginger cake that I tasted in Crixa Cakes (in San Francisco) and your recipe is the nearest thing.
Few questions?
My cake was done in forty mins and predictably it was 'sunk' in the middle (baked mine in an 8 inch round tin), did your trick of turning it upside down and that worked to flatten the top. Is there a way of baking the cake to avoid the crater?
My cake cooled with a very thin crunchy crust, is there a baking method to avoid the crust?
When I plated the cake it fell apart, is that the result of too much butter (is there such a thing!!!!).


The Caked Crusader said...

Hi anonymous

I think that if you used a round tin maybe you should've baked it a bit longer. I have made ginger cakes in round tins and find that even the slightest undercooking can result in sinkage. Often now when I make ginger cakes I'll give it an extra 5 mins after it's actually done and this stops it.

The crust is usual - it's such a dark cake that I think it will always happen.

The falling apart has stumped me. Did you plate it soon after baking so it was still warm? Cakes can be vulnerable at this stage and I always leave them to cool completely before moving them or plating them.

Hope this helps!

Twinki P said...

Hey this cake is AWESOME!I made it for a friend's birthday with the icing....and everyone devoured it saying it was the best Ginger Cake they had ever had. Result!I am making another and it's in the oven so fingers crossed it comes out as good as the last one!I did bake it for about an hour too....just covered with tin foil to stop overbrowning.
Thanks for a great recipe!

bex said...

ive only ever eaten shop bought ginger cakes , and realy want to make my own so im going to try this recipe and hopefully the shop stuff can stay on the shelf .

Anonymous said...

This is a poor recipe. It is not as moist as you would think and leaves a nasty aftertaste. I was very disapointed with this recipe.

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Anonymous

As you will see from comments above many people have made this recipe and enjoyed it, so I don't think there's anything wrong with the recipe. I'm wondering if you baked the cake for too long? That would explain the dryness

Blue Rock said...

I've got lots of root ginger and a husband with an egg allergy (yep I know - it's a pain when you love all things cakefied...) Do you reckon this would work with sunflower oil instead of eggs as in a carrot cake ? It's just the photo of the cake with the icing dripping down the sides is making me drool..

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Blue Rock

I reckon it would work but the cake texture might come out lighter. I'm sure it will be lovely and sticky though!
Let me know how it goes

Delyth said...

I typed into google "Jamaican ginger cake" and got your blog as the no.1 hit. I am planning on making this for Christmas, thank you for a lovely, nostalgic recipe. I live in Canada and cannot buy the McVities version I used to eat regularly in the UK.

Anonymous said...

Depending where you are in Toronto, you can find the original McVites Jamaica Ginger cake in most British goods stores or Scottish Bakers. Mmmmmmmm

Delyth said...

Delyth @

I made this cake as a present for my husband for Christmas. It was a huge hit. Here is a link to my blog post.
Thank you

Delyth said...

PS. Anonymous, I'm not in Toronto. I'm in Vancouver, I've been to many British shops. It is available occasionally, but is very expensive and not on sale regularly enough for our love of it to be satisfied.
Thank you for your comments

jenny said...

am debating whether or not to make this today. yum!

Anonymous said...

How many does this recipe serve? Looks great!!!

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Anonymous

That's a tricky question as it depends on your portion size. I'd say you'd get 8 slices out of it easily

Anonymous said...

Ok thank you, it is just for girl guides to have a try and see what they think of it. Just wondering how many to make. Thanks for the advise.

Anonymous said...

It's 12.30 am i cant sleep so I'm gonna give this cake a go to give to hubby for valentines tomorrow. I will let you know how i get on

Mr M said...

Hiya CC, just made this cake (currently waiting on the cooking so cant say if it's successful -- I'm quite cavalier on quantities of ingredients! ) but just an idea - I've made some Orange icing; orange juice rather than water and this is delicious on a number of other cakes so i've made it up for this one , as well as having a fun orange taste it also has a nice glow to the near white colour :)

waiting 20minutes to see how it turns out.....

Anonymous said...

My boyfriend made this cake today and its the best ginger cake I've ever tasted. Love the grated ginger. Can't understand the negative comment saying its too dry coz ours was lovely and moist. They must have done something wrong.Thanks for a fantastic recipe!

Lady Woo said...

This cake is amazing, so moist and yummy - it kept beautifully for three days (probably would have lasted longer but it was too delicious and I ate it all). I used lime juice in the icing to add a bit of zing but as the cake was so moist the icing isn't really needed, just an added naughtiness! I'm making it again this afternoon - thanks for the recipe

Unknown said...

Hi i love this recipe i have a close friend who loves this recipe but due to hm having type 2 diabetes, it severely restricts his sugar and fat intake, i want to modify it to make it low in fat and low carb, i was thinking of substitutng agave and stevia and maple syrup for the sweeteners and applesauce egg whites and cream of tartar and meringue powder to for the binding and also trying ground pecan and almond flour ,coconut olive blend oil instead of butter, to find an alternative flour, i was thinking of ground oatmeal flour (finely pulsed quick oats in a blender) and focus on the flavors of the ginger and also maybe put in a little unsweeatened coconut. has anyone tried making a diet sensiitive version of this cake. I haven't yet tried it planning this as a holiday gift. any suggestions would be helpful.

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Meena

I have to confess I'm out of my depth regarding some of those ingredients you mention - can any of my other readers help? Any comments, suggestions welcome!

Happy baking

Anonymous said...

Can you please put ingredients in imperial measurements.

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Anonymous

This is a good converter site:

Happy baking

medisin said...

Just wanted to say thanks for this recipe! My friends bribe me to bake for them & this is our favourite ginger cake. Two different people have told me its even better than the ones their Jamaican mums make - that's some high praise! I can't understand the comment about dry cake, this always comes out perfectly moist and sticky, just how it should be.
I like to add stem ginger as well as fresh & ground - you can never have too much ginger. My friend likes dark chocolate chips in it. We never use icing cos it's sweet enough on its own. I love this cake!

@meena - I'm type 1 diabetic so I can just inject for this, but I've made lots of cake for type 2s. Unfortunately ginger cake is damn near impossible to make low carb. You need a really thick syrup like treacle to get the stickiness, and substituting the eggs & flour will obviously do weird things to the texture. You might be better off making a carrot cake, there are lots of good recipes around for egg-free sugar-free carrot cake, add loads of extra ginger instead of the usual cinnamon, and top with a low-fat cream cheese frosting made with your choice of fake sugar and juice from grated ginger. That works well :)

Mandy_C said...

Hi Caked Crusader. I really want to try this gorgeous sounding recipe. I too am a sucker for McVites Jamaica Ginger cake and this looks like a fantastic version. One quick question - do you think it will freeze OK? I want to make it for an event in a few weeks time, but am on holiday until the day before I need it. Do you think it will survive being frozen and defrosted?

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Mandy C

I'm sure the cake will freeze but I'm not so sure about the frosting. I'd freeze the cake un-iced and then add the icing when the cake has thawed

Hope this helps

Happy baking!

Mandy_C said...

Hi CC, I just wanted to let you know that the cake froze beautifully. I made a few tweaks to the recipe to suit my personal tastes. I subbed half the treacle for golden syrup (and a little syrup from a jar of stem ginger), increased the ground ginger to 2 tbsp ( can't get enough!), added two balls of chopped stem ginger and left off the icing. Instead I brushed the top of the cake with syrup from a jar of stem ginger to make it nice and sticky. It's a great cake, thak you so much for sharing it.

Nat said...

Just made it for people at work - went down a treat!
I sliced it length ways and then into little chunky fingers - got 20 out of it!

Anonymous said...

Hi cake Crusader...seeing as you have so much brilliant feedback i will be making this cake for a friend that is leaving for Jamaica end of the month. Just a quick question...What size egg's did you use? thanks x

Kirsti said...

Hi Cake crusader. Im really looking forward to making this cake for a friend. Can you just let me know what size eggs you used please. Thanks x

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Anonymous & Kirsti

I used large eggs - I always use large eggs in my recipes.
Hope your cake is a triumph!

Happy baking

Anonymous said...

In honour of Usain Bolt, I made this cake today and am sure the family will devour by tomorrow's Olympic closing ceremony! Thank you for this recipe!

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Anonymous

If anyone deserves cake in his honour it must be Usain Bolt! I'd like to think you could spare a slice for his compatriot Yohan Blake!
Hope you enjoy

Happy baking

Anonymous said...

Hi i am making this for the top layer of a wedding cake,i hope it goes well will come back and let you know.x

Anonymous said...

My first ever attempt at baking a ginger! What a lovely tasting cake! Thank you so much for the recipe :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi The CC

I baked this cake this week after trawling through many recipes. I increased the ingredients by half again and baked in a 13 x 9 inch cake tin. Also used half butter and half yogurt and added some chopped crystallised ginger. Cooked much quicker due to the pan type, approx 30 mins. Did not ice.
My husband and four children absolutely devoured it as did I. It was moist, sticky and perfectly gingery.In Australia we don't get the McVities one which I love as had in the UK for many years. After baking this one I would never buy what I can make just as good or even better myself! Thanks for sharing a truly wonderful recipe.

Anonymous said...

This ginger cake is amazing! I added a handful of rum soaked sultanas and next time will double the amount of fresh ginger - you can never have too much ginger in my opinion :-)

cathy said...

I made this today it was so easy cooked it for 50mins and it turned out great...its a really nice moist only gripe really was it wasn't Gingery enough for me even though I used Ground Ginger as well as Root Ginger...sonext time I make it I will increase the amount that I use...but ide give this cake a def 10/10....

Anonymous said...

Amazing recipe! I used half salted half unsalted butter and mixed the butter in melted. Also i turned the heat down a little to cook longer and i have no sunken bit... Its perfect! Thanks :))) *****

Anne said...

I made this wonderful cake in the food mixer and it was so easy. My dear friend and family who I also made one for were delighted with the cake. I have made a good few since and have pasted on the recipe as it is so good. I am going to try it with raisins next. Thank you so very much for this cake. I am going to have to up the activity I do mind ha ha. Enjoy with butter, custard or just by itself.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone made this in a 20cm cake tin and if yes, how long and at what temperature did you bake it? :D Thanks! Chloe