Fresh Ginger Cake

One of the very first things I learnt to bake when I was a girl was ginger gems. They were simple to make and there was nothing better than the smell of golden syrup and ginger wafting in the air of the home economics class at school as they baked. We used a classic recipe featured in the “Edmonds Cook Book“. This is a cook book that resided in pretty much every New Zealand household at the time and I made ginger gems over and over again in my teenage years.

It has been years now since I have made ginger gems, but I happened to see them mentioned the other day. At the time I was busy contemplating trying the ‘fresh ginger cake’ featured in David Lebovitz’s book Ready for Dessert, but the one sticking point for me was the addition of molasses. Now it turns out that I am not a fan of molasses. This is a recent discovery based on a disastrous recipe experience for none other than ginger cake (not David’s I hasten to add). Understandably, I was a bit apprehensive about delving into the dark sticky and rather smelly substance again. So with ginger gems still on my mind, I decided to make a couple of small adaptions to David’s recipe. The major adaptation was to substitute the molasses with golden syrup and I also used slightly less ginger than the original recipe. The end result was delicious; a rather grown up version of my beloved ginger gems. Served warm from the oven with honeycomb and caramel ice cream it was an absolute winner!

Fresh Ginger Cake

Adapted from David Lebovitz “Ready for Dessert“.


Makes 4 x 4″ small cakes (Double the recipe to make 1 x 9″ cake).

  • 50gm piece of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 cup golden syrup
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 175gm plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg at room temperature.


Preheat oven to 175°C.

Spray cake tins with vegetable oil and line the bottom of each tin with baking paper.

Peel ginger and slice finely then chop slices until very fine small pieces.

In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and vegetable oil. Once mixed, add the golden syrup and mix again.

In a medium bowl place the flour, cinnamon, cloves and pepper and mix together.

In a medium saucepan place the water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, add the baking soda and mix.

Add the water and baking soda to the golden syrup mix and stir until combined.

Add the ginger to the golden syrup mix and stir to combine.

Gradually add the flour mix to the golden syrup mix and whisk together until completely combined. Add egg and mix until combined.

Pour evenly into the cake pans.

Place the cake tins on a baking tray and bake at 175°C for approx. 35 minutes or until the top of the cake springs back when touched and a cake tester comes out clean.

This cake can be served cold, but I found it was best when served warm from the oven with honeycomb and butterscotch ice cream


22 thoughts on “Fresh Ginger Cake

    1. lemongrovecakediaries Post author

      Thank you! I use electronic scales I just find they are more accurate, luckily you can pick them up fairly cheaply if you hunt around. I don’t use anything fancy, I think from memory I paid AUD15 for my set.

  1. saucygander

    I am a huge fan of DL’s ginger cake! The first time I made it, I gave it a thin lemon glaze and all my colleagues (even those who don’t like ginger) raved about it. Good to know that golden syrup is a good substitute as I don’t use molasses often.

  2. TheKitchenLioness

    Karen, I do not think that there is any smell that is more wonderful than the smell that eminates from the kitchen when there are fresh ginger cakes baking in the oven. Unbeatable – I love the smell and taste of cinnamon and cloves and your cakes came out moist and with such a lovely warm color! Fabulous idea about replacing the molasses with golden syrup!

  3. David

    While I like molasses, I also love using Lyle’s golden syrup, as it is so much more subtle. And, as both of us LOVE ginger cake, we will be having these soon! I love the spices you combine in here, too. Yum!

  4. Paula @ Vintage Kitchen Notes

    I´ve made DL ginger cake a few times and I understand your concern about the molasses. I had the same issue, because molasses has a very strong flavor here, so now I always use half honey or golden syrup, or even more than half. And not just in this recipe. After reading this I want to make it again! It looks so perfect!

  5. Jas@AbsolutelyJas

    These ginger cakes sound heavenly, and I would be intrigued to try them with molasses. I’ve always loved molasses – I think it’s because I’ve always used molasses to sweeten up horse feed for my fussy horse, and have always loved the smell, and dipping my finger into the stream of molasses to steal a bit every now and then. Did you need to pull back on the sugar in your recipe to compensate for the sweeter golden syrup or was the sweetness level spot on?


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