This recipe was a request by a family member. They’d been flipping through a copy of Nigella’s Feast and had happened upon her chocolate gingerbread cake, a very Nigella recipe – rustic and erring on the side of gluttony! With a family event coming up they’d asked if I’d mind making this as a lunchtime treat and I’ll admit that when I saw the ingredients I was a little sceptical. Even as I was putting it together, the amount of spices (I’m not a fan of cloves and even the small ¼ teaspoon seemed overpowering as it went into the mix), the consistency of the gingerbread and the ginger beer in the icing all seemed wrong. At each stage I was convinced the end result would be a disaster. I couldn’t have been more wrong. This became the centre piece for a family gathering on a typically British day (cold, drizzly, grey skies) and was an absolute wow. The soft, sticky texture with the warm heat of the icing (the spice was perfect) was spot on and everyone seemed to love the hidden extra of the chunks of chocolate.
- 6 ounces / 175g unsalted butter
- 4½ ounces / 125g dark muscovado sugar
- 2 tablespoons of caster sugar
- 7 ounces / 200g golden syrup
- 7 ounces / 200g black treacle or molasses 
- ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons of ground ginger
- 1¼ teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
- 2 tablespoons of warm water
- 2 eggs
- 8¾ fluid ounces / 250ml milk
- 9¾ ounces / 275g plain flour
- 1½ ounces / 40g cocoa
- 6 ounces / 175g chocolate chips
- 8¾ ounces / 250g icing sugar
- 1 ounce / 30g unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon of cocoa
- 2 fluid ounces / 60ml ginger ale
Pre-heat the oven to 170°C / gas mark 3.
Line a roasting tin of around 30 x 20 x 5cm (about 12 x 8 x 2 inches) with baking parchment, bottom and sides.
In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter with the caster and muscovado sugars, the golden syrup, and the molasses (or black treacle), cloves, cinnamon, and ground ginger.
Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in a cup with the water.
Take the saucepan off the heat.
Beat the eggs into the saucepan together with the milk and the dissolved bicarbonate of soda.
Stir in the cocoa and flour.
Use a wooden spoon to mix thoroughly.
Add the chocolate chips and fold them in.
Pour the mixture into the lined roasting tin and bake for around 45 minutes. The gingerbread should have risen and become firm. The bottom should still be a bit soggy.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
When cool, make the icing, as follows:
Sieve the icing sugar.
Heat the butter in a heavy-based saucepan together with the cocoa and ginger ale.
When the butter is melted, whisk in the icing sugar.
Lift the cake from the tin and remove the paper.
Pour the icing over the top of the cake spreading it fully to the edges.
Cut into slabs when set.
I cut this into 24 pieces (a little more restrained than Nigella’s 12) and without exception (I’m not saying this for effect) everyone came back for seconds.
Queen Elizabeth I of England was a great fan of gingerbread cookies. Her party trick was to have the cookies shaped to look like her guests.