Why I Love Gingerbread

At KinkForAll Providence, I spoke about sensuality and joy, and I mentioned how I love baking gingerbread in part because of how it perfumes my apartment. And that’s true. That is part of why I love gingerbread. But it doesn’t begin to cover it.

Gingerbread – this gingerbread, made with this recipe*, with lemon drizzle icing – is probably my ideal desert. I love  fancy deserts like creme brulee and seasonal treats like berries and cream, but I would eat gingerbread any time of day, any time of year. In fact, I’d eat it several times of day. It is the perfect teacake for an old fashioned tea party, with little watercress and cucumber sandwiches. It is delicious on a hot summer afternoon with a big glass of minted lemonade or iced tea, but I crave it most of all in the winter time, when that warm, deep spice strikes a cord of home and safety within me.

The truly brilliant thing about this gingerbread is that it is one of the few deserts I can make and eat all by myself. This is because its so moist that properly covered it will last as much as a week (if you can keep away from it that long), and as it sits, the flavors mellow and it gets denser and – if anything – even better. I find a slice of gingerbread a marvelous breakfast, afternoon snack, desert, and treat before dinner. Bit by bit it all disappears, and then I smoosh the crumbs together, gobble them up and check to see if I’ve got the ingredients to make gingerbread again this week.

Damp Gingerbread

You Will Need

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (plus a bit for greasing)
  • 1 1/4 cups Lyle’s Golden Syrup**
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1¾ tsp baking soda
  • Ground Ginger To Taste***
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg, beaten with
  • 1 cup whole milk


  • Small pot or sauce pan
  • Large mixing bowl
  • 9 inch round cake plate or spring form pan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Whisk
  • Measuring cups
  • Parchment paper

Preheat your oven to 340 degrees (f). Coat the inside of your cake pan with butter, making sure to get the corners and sides well covered. Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper cut to fit.

Melt the butter, Lyle’s and molasses in your saucepan until combined. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves and whisk until entirely combined and free of any lumps – a little longer than you think you need to whisk it. Pour in the butter and syrup combination and mix with wooden spoon until smooth. Add the milk and egg and mix again, starting slowly, until smooth and combined.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for between 45 and 60 minutes, until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

I think this is particularly delicious with lemon drizzle icing, for which you need:

  • The juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • bowl to mix in
  • fork to mix with

Place the confectioners sugar in the bowl and add lemon juice, a little bit at a time, until it becomes a thick paste – you will only need a few teaspoons of juice.

When the cake is cool, remove from it’s pan and set on plate. Pour the icing over the top so that it will drip down the sides relatively evenly, let sit until the icing has set a bit, and enjoy – all day, every day, until it disappears.

* This recipe comes from Laurie Colwin’s “More Home Cooking” one of my favorite books by arguably my favorite food writer. She says that she got it from Delia Smith’s “Book of Cakes,” and made a few adjustments, and I have made a few adjustments of my own.

** Lyle’s Golden Syrup is a British light treacle. It has the consistency of molasses with a golden color a little darker and richer than honey.  It’s available in most American grocery stores in the either in the International Aisle or with other syrups. If you can’t find it, you can replace it with light cane syrup (not corn syrup) or all molasses (this will make a much darker, more strongly flavored cake). I have used all of these options, and find that the combination of Lyle’s and molasses listed here is far and away the best – but they are all good.

*** I like my gingerbread pretty spicy, so I use about 2 tablespoons of ginger. You can use as little as a 2 teaspoons or as much as you like – make a batch, see what you think, and adjust it for next time.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.