Sarah Mellersh’s Gingerbread

With Christmas approaching, I had a fancy to include a cake recipe. Not a traditional Christmas cake - for me it has too much similarity to Christmas pudding, the true highlight (after the roast potatoes) of Christmas dinner. I acquired a stollen recipe from a friend, but I'm suspicious of the yeast quantities given. Not for publication till I've experimented more.

So today we have a really good gingerbread, one of the relatively rare staples in my cake repertoire. Much lighter than traditional Christmas confections, but with festive spice. That's one of the problem with most ginger loaves - they're light on spice. And many of them go dry very quickly. Bizarrely this is one of the very few of Sarah's recipes which she gave me in Imperial measure. I've translated it on the basis of 1 ounce being 30 grams, and a pint of milk as 580ml (it being tricky to measure out 142ml).

You will need a standard 2lb loaf tin, greased and lined. The easiest way of measuring your ingredients with minimum fuss and waste is to put your pan on the scales. Top Tip. When spooning treacle, use a metal spoon warmed in a mug of boiling water, and redip as necessary while measuring.


120g soft butter, plus extra for greasing the tin; 120g soft brown sugar; 120g black treacle; 1 egg, lightly beaten; 145- 150ml milk; 180g plain flour; 2 level tsp ground ginger; 2 level tsp ground cinnamon; 1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda.


Prepare the loaf tin. Preheat the oven to 170˚C.

With the pot on the scales (if possible) measure the butter, sugar and treacle directly into it. Place on a gentle heat and stir until everything is melted. Sieve the dry ingredients into a large baking bowl. Add the melted ingredients to the dry, then add the egg. The pan will have sticky residue, so pour the milk in and heat it gently. Using spatula to free the residue, transfer the milk and remaining sticky bits (a technical term) into your bowl.

Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is completely smooth, then transfer to your tin and cook for 45 minutes.

You can have this plain as a cake, or ice it or spread with butter. Or why not serve as a dessert? Toast slices very lightly under the grill, top with coarsely chopped stem ginger and ice cream.

Store it well wrapped up in an air tight tin. The flavour will improve after a couple of days - if it lasts that long.

As ever, thanks to Sarah for giving me permission all those years ago to reproduce her recipes.


  1. Robert Corrigan on 2nd December 2022 at 11:01 am

    Lightly oil your spoon and the treacle will slide off without sticking.
    Crumble ginger cake into soft ice cream, mix and freeze
    Love the recipe. 👍

    • Tom Johnston on 2nd December 2022 at 10:16 pm

      On an annual basis I make Christmas pudding ice cream in the same way, sometimes with the leftover brandy butter as well.

  2. Anne Hillerton on 2nd December 2022 at 9:39 pm

    If you have it in Imperial, please can you publish it in Imperial?
    Using my baking tablespoon I can measure by eye an ounce of flour and an ounce of sugar, and I my eye is also good for ounces of butter so I bake in Imperial without scales.
    Your dinosaur friend

    • Tom Johnston on 2nd December 2022 at 10:19 pm

      I’ll scan it and send it to you tomorrow. But if you’re desperate, the 120g were 4 oz, and the milk was quarter of a pint.

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