Ena’s Gingerbread

A few weeks ago I purchased a beautiful loaf tin, which is actually made of tin, as part of my graduation present. I’ve been so excited about using it, but for some reason didn’t actually get round to doing so until today. However, it turns out that it works just fine – I have already decided what my next loaf cake shall be. This is a favourite recipe of Katherine’s grandmother, Ena, who lives in Sunderland; though I think the recipe was originally taken from an old Be-Ro cookery book. Wherever it comes from it is utterly delicious and incredibly dense and sticky; just how gingerbread ought to be. Just remember that any cake recipes those of a certain age make use of are generally sound, simply because they’ve been tested so many times they must be delicious.

The black treacle used in this recipe gives the cake an almost dark and intensely rich flavour. Despite this being a ginger cake I must say that the treacle really is the star of the show – it defines every positive characteristic of this cake, except for the flavour of the ginger. However, I must say that the inclusion of golden syrup was a stroke of genius on behalf of the author of the recipe. The flavour of the treacle is just about perfect, any more and it would perhaps have been a little overpowering – this is gingerbread after all.

I think I shall try to incorporate some more hand-me-down recipes as they are, in general, fantastic. Hopefully, though I’m not certain I’ll be able to, the next one shall be the family recipe for Christmas pudding. Gran wants me to help her make some as her arms are a little dodgy this year; she could probably cope if she was making just the one, but she’s actually making six – absurd.

Edit: For you Americans who live in America, a place where nothing is as it should be, black treacle is essentially molasses. Golden syrup, however, appears to be a rarity in America. Though, I suppose one could use any type of pale refined treacle or mosey on down to a specialised baking shop. Mixed spice is similar to what you would call pumpkin pie spice in America, according to a certain internet based encyclopedia. 


Fills a 2lb loaf tin


• 225g plain flour

• A pinch of salt

• 2 tsp ground ginger

• 1 tsp mixed spice

• 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

• 55g light muscovado sugar

• 110g margarine or butter

• 165g black treacle

• 55g golden syrup

• 150ml milk

• 2 eggs


1. Heat the oven to 150C. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin. Sieve together the flour, salt, ginger, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda, before stirring in the sugar.

2. Melt together the margarine, treacle and syrup over a gentle heat. Gradually beat in the milk and allow the mixture to cool a little. Beat the eggs before stirring them into the treacle mixture. Stir the wet mixture into the dry, tip into your loaf tin and bake for 1 ¼ hours.

Cost: Things like treacle and golden syrup really are very inexpensive – a whole tin of the golden syrup, which was roughly 5 times what I needed, set me back a mere 55p. In fact, every ingredient in this cake is reasonably priced – the entire cake should do one’s wallet out of a mere £1.20. That’s really quite unbelievable.

100 comments on “Ena’s Gingerbread

  1. Food, Flowers, Herbs and Life!
    October 25, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    I love gingerbread – and this looks very yummy! Is black treacle like sorghum or molasses? And what is the golden syrup? Thanks for a lovely recipe – and especially good for this time of year!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 28, 2011 at 11:07 pm

      It is very similar to, if not the same as, molasses. Golden syrup is hard to find in America apparently, but a good replacement is corn syrup.

  2. countrywoodsmoke
    October 25, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    That looks really delicious. I was always a fan of Jamaica Ginger Cake as a kid, but this looks even better, definately one I will try, thanks for sharing this recipe.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 28, 2011 at 11:06 pm

      Jamaica ginger cake is delicious, I hope you enjoy it.

  3. Jereme's Kitchen
    October 25, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    i wonder what i could use instead of the treacle and golden syrup since i can’t really find this across the pond. but it’s not something i normally have on my list of ingredients, so maybe i can just get some at the grocery.

    • Dan McCullough
      October 25, 2011 at 5:20 pm

      I think molasses would be the same as treacle, but I’m not sure. Golden syrup I have no idea.

      • frugalfeeding
        October 25, 2011 at 5:27 pm

        I think they are, yes. Golden syrup is also known as inverted sugar syrup, it’s just a pale type of treacle. Apparently it is hard to find in America – perhaps try a specialist store?

      • Jereme's Kitchen
        October 25, 2011 at 5:42 pm

        molasses is probably the closest thing, but it’s not as sweet. i really don’t think there is a substitute for Golden Syrup though

        • frugalfeeding
          October 28, 2011 at 11:04 pm

          Treacle isn’t that sweet, it’s very hard to eat alone. Corn syrup apparently is good for golden.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 28, 2011 at 11:05 pm

      See the edit!

  4. thekalechronicles
    October 25, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    I love gingerbread of all kinds, For a real treat, grate some fresh ginger root into your batter — three or four tablespoons is enough.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 28, 2011 at 11:05 pm

      I’m not sure I agree I’m afraid – it would spoil the nice smooth consistency somewhat and the taste of it is rather more delicate – gingerbread should be like a punch on the tongue.

  5. Juls
    October 25, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Oh man, the black treacle in this must make it amazing! I love gingerbread loaf/cake/men – anything! Great recipe and lovely pics 🙂

  6. Savory Simple
    October 25, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    The gingerbread looks incredibly moist! Love the photos.

  7. Just A Smidgen
    October 25, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Very pretty tin:) Is treacle the same as molasses? I had my first “real” slice of gingerbread on a hike in the mountains.. it’s a favorite of mine. I’ll have to bake this one up!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 28, 2011 at 11:03 pm

      Yes it is the same. Oh yes it keeps one going!

  8. Jenny
    October 25, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Super Lovely! I’ve unfortunately been accustomed to dry and relatively tasteless or over-cloved gingerbreads. I’m definitely giving this one a shot. When looking for the golden syrup I found that it can be ordered here: http://www.englishteastore.com/ckg001.html (they’ve also got the black treacle)
    and these people seem to have a lot of opinions about substitutions: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/269518
    I’m going to have to order the real thing and try it out =)

    • frugalfeeding
      October 28, 2011 at 11:36 pm

      Well, give it a go! I hope you like it if you manage to gather the requisite ingredients.

  9. Dalai Lina
    October 25, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    I love your recipes but what is “golden syrup” (anything in US that is similar? Maple syrup?) and “black treacle”.

    Even English ingredients sound sexier…

  10. Jen
    October 25, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    This looks fantastic! I know the U.S. gingerbread recipes I’ve used call for molasses, so I think that would probably be OK as a substitute for black treacle. Not sure on the golden syrup though. I will have to check at some specialty stores.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 28, 2011 at 11:02 pm

      Yeh, definitely. Hope you find the requisite ingredients.

  11. Smedette
    October 25, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Mmmm….I love gingerbread. I have found golden syrup on specialty shops (was always creeped out by the dead lion being swarmed by flies on the label).

    What is in “mixed spice”?

    • frugalfeeding
      October 28, 2011 at 11:01 pm

      Ahha! It’s similar to pumpkin spice apparently.

  12. Kay aka Babygirl
    October 25, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    I took one look at this V and fell in love. I mean this looks absolutely amazing. I’m not a huge bread person of course, but I may try this. Thanks for this recipe

    • frugalfeeding
      October 28, 2011 at 10:59 pm

      Thanks so much! It’s more of a cake. No problem.

  13. spicebox travels
    October 25, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    Lovely gingerbread recipe. Thanks for the “like” on my naan post today. I am a fan of British food (you may want to look back in my archives for a tongue-in-cheek glossary I wrote about Brit food). I will be following you on Twitter! Hope to see you there.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 28, 2011 at 11:35 pm

      Absolutely no problem! I need to get back into twitter – I don’t really understand why it exists…

  14. spinach&spice
    October 25, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    I wish I had those ingredients on hand (not to mention an oven!). This looks stunning. Aren’t grandma’s recipes always the best? 😉

  15. ionelou7
    October 25, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    The Lyle’s golden syrup label shows bees (not flies) around a lion. It’s a biblical myth – bees created honeycomb inside a lion, hence the Lyle’s slogan ‘Out of the strong came forth sweetness’, as golden syrup was discovered as a lucky byproduct. Can’t believe golden syrup isn’t available in the US…but I guess it is classic British – reminds me so much of being a kid, my mum having to wrench open the sticky lid with the end of a knife, drizzling loads of it into flapjacks and then giving me the spoon to lick.

  16. Anna @ Food Fitness Frolicking
    October 25, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    This looks fantastic! I am a huge fan of gingerbread anything!

  17. thebigfatnoodle
    October 25, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    I’ve always made gingerbread cookies (am planning to make them soon to post) but i’ve never seen gingerbread. I am definitely trying your recipe as I know my husband and family will love the look of your gingerbread. Cheers!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 28, 2011 at 10:58 pm

      I plan to make the biscuits. I really hope you enjoy.

  18. thebigfatnoodle
    October 25, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    Oh and I was told that corn syrup is the perfect replacement for golden syrup…

  19. Kimby
    October 25, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Congratulations on your graduation (Master’s degree, yes?) — what an accomplishment! It made me smile to know that you treated yourself to this baking tin for a gift — what a treasure. (Your bread knife is wonderful, too — worthy of the job!)

    I was fortunate to inherit my grandmother’s recipe box, along with many of her utensils and baking pans — can’t tell you how much I love using them. I think of her when I do and feel “hugged.” You (& your Gran) will have your work cut out for you during the holidays, but what a special time, baking together. Looking forward to your/her pudding recipe if your Gran will part with it! 🙂 By the way, I made your butternut squash risotto last night — my husband took one bite and said: “I could make a meal out of that.” 🙂 We did! It was fabulous!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 28, 2011 at 10:56 pm

      No, not masters yet! That’s next year. I love that bread knife. I hope I manage to find time to make them with her. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  20. Jen R
    October 25, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    Thanks for another lovely looking sweet treat, the kids and I will be trying that on the weekend….wish I had a tin tin though beautiful!!

  21. Abby Kelly
    October 25, 2011 at 10:52 pm


  22. Trish
    October 25, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    yes, I would try corn syrup for golden syrup. but what is mixed spices? maybe like allspice?

    • frugalfeeding
      October 28, 2011 at 11:33 pm

      It’s similar to pumpkin spice apparently.

  23. Out Of Our Minds To Yours
    October 25, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    I love gingerbread! My kids and I will be making some during the Holidays!

    Thanks for the recipe

  24. Kelly @ Foodie Fiasco
    October 25, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    Yum! This bread looks delish! 😉

  25. mizunogirl
    October 26, 2011 at 12:19 am

    this looks so nice and moist. I have recently had a recipe for gingerbread with pears, you put the pears at the tops on a bundt pan, and then gingerbread under the pear slices. I do think that Iwill try out your gingerbread recipe rather than the one they gave, this one sounds great!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 28, 2011 at 11:33 pm

      That’s exactly what it is 😀 That’s a lovely idea.

  26. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide
    October 26, 2011 at 3:52 am

    Looks amazing!

  27. Arturo Féliz-Camilo
    October 26, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Oh yes! double for me please!

  28. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial
    October 26, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    That looks seriously dark and luscious. Great recipe! I’m impressed it uses treacle AND golden syrup!

  29. cityhippyfarmgirl
    October 27, 2011 at 2:16 am

    Makes me want to go and hunt down my grandmothers gingerbread cake recipe. Yum!

  30. movita beaucoup
    October 27, 2011 at 2:35 am

    Oh how I love gingerbread! Is it too late to make some before bed?

    • frugalfeeding
      October 28, 2011 at 10:43 pm

      Depends how long it is until bed I suppose 🙂

  31. Yasmeen @ Wandering Spice
    October 27, 2011 at 4:12 am

    That is a beautiful loaf! I love the rich color – it really says ‘autumn flavors’ to me. Treacle is something I don’t get round to eating often, but is something I really do enjoy. I think I’ll add this recipe to my “Thanksgiving in Australia” menu this year 🙂

    • frugalfeeding
      October 28, 2011 at 11:28 pm

      Thanks so much, Yasmeen! I hope it goes down well.

  32. Yasmeen @ Wandering Spice
    October 27, 2011 at 4:13 am

    By the way, I also like your tin + pot! Is that weird? ha

  33. thelittleloaf
    October 27, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    This looks so good – dark and rich and sticky. Gingerbread proper is so much more exciting than biscuits!

  34. nicole
    October 27, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Yum! This looks so good. I have been dying to make gingerbread and this seems like the perfect recipe. Maybe a little candied ginger mixed in would add a touch extra of goodness. Cant wait.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 28, 2011 at 11:27 pm

      It’s a lovely recipe. You could add it, but it really doesn’t need it. I’m not sure it would even benefit.

  35. leduesorelle
    October 28, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Yes, more hand-me-down recipes like this one!

  36. Susan
    October 30, 2011 at 9:11 am

    This looks moist and utterly moreish, and like it would be heavenly with clotted cream.

    • frugalfeeding
      November 8, 2011 at 4:29 pm

      I’m fairly certain everything is heavenly with clotted cream.

  37. bitsandbreadcrumbs
    October 31, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    That is some truly wicked-looking (as in awesome) gingerbread! I want some right now.

  38. ashleychiaradio
    November 1, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Yum! This made me hungry.

    • frugalfeeding
      November 9, 2011 at 1:00 pm

      It’s probably best to eat something then 😀

  39. Pam
    November 2, 2011 at 6:59 am

    I’ve got a loaf in the oven right now. Luckily treacle, golden syrup nd mixed spice are all staples in my Aussie pantry, so didn’t even have to go shopping. I’m sure the finished product will be as delicious at the batter. So happy I stumbled upon your blog.

    • frugalfeeding
      November 9, 2011 at 12:59 pm

      Fantastic. I hope you really enjoy the loaf.

  40. alisonamazed
    November 3, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    I have to try this recipe. But where did you find Golden Syrup for 55p? Was it Lyle’s? The small tins here cost about a pound. I grew up in Canada and Dad used to moan that he had to use corn syrup for flap jacks, though I seem to remember seeing Lyle’s in some shops in the late 90’s before I left.

  41. theplaidplatypus
    November 5, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    This looks absolutely heavenly, but I have to say you sent this crazy American on a google search to learn what black treacle and muscovado sugar are!

    I absolutely love “grandma” recipes like this. Thank you for sharing.

    • frugalfeeding
      November 8, 2011 at 4:58 pm

      Haha, I thought as much :D. Grandma recipes are perhaps the best.

  42. hiccupsarefatal
    November 15, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Oh wow, this looks lovely and homely, very much ‘comfort food’. I must make it, my loaf tin is sitting unloved in a cupboard somewhere!

    • frugalfeeding
      November 20, 2011 at 1:19 pm

      Oh yes, it surely is comforting. One simply must love one’s loaf tin.

      • hiccupsarefatal
        November 20, 2011 at 4:31 pm

        I made this during the week and it was amazing but I’m curious – how on earth do you measure out the treacle and syrup? It got very messy very quickly.

        • frugalfeeding
          November 20, 2011 at 4:58 pm

          It did for me too, just take an educated guess… It’s what I do most of the time anyway.

  43. mmarnall
    December 1, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    This looks absolutely perfect for Christmas morning. I can’t wait to try it 🙂

  44. narf77
    December 2, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    This is why you shouldn’t sign up for over 400 amazing blogs in your rss feed reader… I am flat out just keeping up with day to day posts let alone amazing back posts…sigh…I think I am going to have to stop sleeping and just spend my life reading posts if I am missing AMAZING recipes like this. This has to be the reason that I trawl online food blogs. This particular recipe is a sort of Holy Grail moment to me. When I find something like this it reinforces my blog hoarding and gives me a reason to keep stumbling out of bed at 5am every day because it would be more than a sin to miss something as fundamentally beautiful as this perfect recipe. Can you please thank Katherine proffusely for sharing this wonderful family recipe. My gran had that be-ro book…time to hit my sister (keeper of the family treasures) up for it methinks!

    • frugalfeeding
      December 2, 2012 at 11:18 pm

      Haha! It’s difficult and VERY time consuming! I shall indeed! Get it… it is so good!

      • narf77
        December 3, 2012 at 1:57 am

        Past good…entering my blood stream at a date coming VERY soon (need to get treacle and some more golden syrup in town). Until then I am boosting my need for more ginger (exponentially more ginger…) by starting a ginger and chilli beer plant to make some knock your socks off Christmas explosions for our no-doubt overheated day. Can you imagine it being hot on Christmas day? Blue sky…sun burning (doesn’t shine here in Tassie…we have no ozone layer left thanks to the “rest of the world”…sigh…) cicada’s so happily stinking hot that they actually unite their clicking into something approximating a soundtrack from a Stephen King movie? Neither can poor Steve :(. He says that he will NEVER get used to our Aussie Christmases no matter how much turkey and plum pudding I make.

        • frugalfeeding
          December 9, 2012 at 1:00 pm

          Oh good – enjoy :D. I’ll have to make these again for Xmas day! I’d never get used to it either…

  45. petit4chocolatier
    December 2, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    This looks so moist!!

  46. Anna Watt
    August 27, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    Not sure what I’ve done…..followed the recipe to the T and there’s way too much mixture for a 1lb loaf tin – it came to the top when it went in….1/3 of it is now on the bottom of the oven

    • frugalfeeding
      October 7, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      I’m not sure what to say. The recipe is correct and has worked perfectly for me! Sorry it dirtied your oven…

      • Anna Watt
        October 8, 2014 at 5:52 pm

        I’ve just done it halving the ingredients and it’s perfect for a 1lb loaf tin. Thanks…..got something to take to our Great British Bake – off gathering tonight!

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