Holiday Gingerbread

08 Dec 2011

I love gingerbread at this time of the year. Not the cookies. Not the houses. The kind of gingerbread which is more like a cake or a loaf. The kind of gingerbread that you slather deep and thick with homemade butter. Sweet, but not too sweet…more like a tea cake. In my producing days, a post production house in London once sent me a holiday gift of Grasmere gingerbread and the memory of that flavour still lingers on. In fact, it has persuaded me to bake at least one batch of gingerbread for the holidays each year here at the farm.

Since I was doing a charity butter-making demo last evening in Tipperary, I decided it would be festive to bake up some gingerbread to bring along to share with the audience. Once I had the honey-rum butter made, it could be lashed onto squares of gingerbread and passed around the audience. The response was overwhelming. The recipe requested. I was going to post about mince pies today, but they will have to politely wait their turn until next week.

In other news, I am crazy thrilled to announce the first of 3 holiday giveaways that I am doing on the blog this year. Weeee, I feel like Oprah! Giving is far superior than receiving at Christmas, such a wonderful feeling.

So, first up, with a million thanks to Pat Whelan, and following on in the spirit of celebrating Tipperary Food, is a FIRST CLASS BUTCHERY COURSE at James Whelan Butchers in Clonmel, County Tipperary on 21st of February at 6:30PM.  You will join myself and 10 other students to learn all about the meat, where it comes from, how and when it is used along with a range of hands-on butchery skills. James Whelan butchers are fully trained skillful professionals, well-versed in all aspects of cutting meat and the aging process. An in-depth insight into the techniques of cutting beef, lamb, pork and bacon will be covered on the evening.

During our summer in America, I was inspired by so many brilliant artisan butchery classes on offer around the USA that I really wished I could have participated in….now here’s my chance, and yours! Leave a comment below and I will be drawing a name next week.

My Holiday Gingerbread

350g/2 1/3 cups plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda

3-4 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp allspice

8 globes preserved stem ginger in syrup, drained and chopped

125g/ 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

100g/ 1/2 cup light muscovado sugar (brown sugar can substitute)

50g caster sugar

225g/ 3/4 cup golden syrup {there really is no substitute for this recipe}

1 organic egg, beaten

75ml/3 oz milk

Grease and line a loaf tin with non-stick baking paper. Preheat the oven to 160°C (320F)/fan140°C/gas 3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ground ginger and allspice. Set aside. Chop 4 globes of the ginger and add to the flour mixture. Finely slice the remainder and set aside.

Melt the butter, sugar(s) and golden syrup in a small pan. Set aside to cool slightly (this should take about 15 minutes)

Beat the egg and milk together. Stir the cooled syrup into the dry ingredients, followed by the egg and milk and beat well. Spoon into the tin and arrange the remaining ginger overlapping on top. Bake for about 1 1/4 hours until just firm to the touch. Cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy warm with lashings of butter and a cup of tea, coffee or a big glass of cold milk.

Slan Abhaile,


Photos and styling by Imen McDonnell

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

· · · ◊ ◊ ◊ · · ·

57 Responses to “Holiday Gingerbread”

  1. Wendy says:

    Imen, have made this gorgeous gingerbread twice now – once with crystallized ginger and once with the stem ginger. Both are equally lovely – albeit the stem ginger is easier to incorporate into the batter (but not cheaper!). My question is this – does your consistently fall in the middle? Mine has both times – its cooked all the way through – just seems that there isn’t enough structure to support the middle of the bread. Fallen bread or not – I have made new friends with this for sure! Thanks for the recipe.

    • imen says:

      Hi Wendy…glad to hear you are enjoying the gingerbread. Trying not placing the pieces of ginger across the top….keep it more blended in the mix. That may help. Yes, it has happened to me from time to time. All best, Imen xx

  2. I prefer gingerbread in a cake or loaf style too! Your recipe looks so delicious. Can’t wait to try it. You have a very lovely blog!

  3. andrea gentl says:

    love your blog! this gingerbread loaf looks lovely. I am going to make it Christmas morning!

  4. Catherine Cogan says:

    Hi Imen,

    I absolutely adore your blog, and the good work that you are doing in promoting Irish food and life in the countryside. I have a great love for Irish food and farming and would be thrilled to get the opportunity to participate in the “Butchery Course” with Pat Whelan. Looking forward to hearing about your mince pies!

    Kind regards,


  5. Aoife Mc says:

    Gah! My favourite. I will definitely be making this loaf this holiday season 🙂

  6. Sinéad says:

    Hi Imen – you got me again – memories of my mum & sticky, sweet gingerbread. The great thing for me was, mum knew it was a favourite of mine and so would make it monthly as a special treat for me. I’d come home from school & indulge and you know, we live miles apart now but we’ve spoken about that time of gingerbread and home cooking and only last year she passed on some of her precious cookbooks and I must hunt out the gorgeous gingerbread and make it as a surprise for HER this Christmas when she visits!! Thanks AGAIN for the memories Imen. Take care Sinéad

  7. Ruth says:

    Have had a craving of late for good gingerbread and can almost taste the one I had as a child, but none of the recipes I came across seemed looked right. (Just occurred to me I could have just asked my mother!). But this one looks perfect, so I’ll definitely try it.
    But what I’d really like to try is Pat Whelan’s butchery course, so please please put me in the hat. Thanks

  8. Catherine Jones says:

    Love your blog, and this gingerbread sounds amazing! I’m having trouble getting hold of the stem ginger in syrup, could fresh ginger be used as a substitute? I’d love to put my name in the hat for the draw but would definitely have to send my husband in my place, don’t think I would have the stomach for the class!

    • imen says:

      The stem ginger in syrup is usually available at natural foods shops….like Nature’s Hand. It really does make the bread better…but someone else used crystallised ginger and said it was great so try that. Fresh ginger would not be advisable. Will put you in for the draw. Many thanks! Imen xx

  9. Brenda Smith says:

    Airfare included in this contest? Would so love to see you soon.

  10. Jill says:

    I just made this gingerbread, and it is wonderful! I’m not a fan of gingerbread cookies, but I LOVE this gingerbread. It tastes like such a classic Christmas dessert that you can imagine on the table at the type of big feasts you see in Christmas picture books. I couldn’t find stem ginger in syrup, so I used crystallized ginger instead and it worked perfectly. Thanks so much for this lovely recipe!

    • imen says:

      That is the greatest compliment! I am so delighted that you love it as much as we do! Thanks for the subsitution tip….it seems many people cannot source the stem ginger in syrup. I found it at Nature’s Hand. ~THANK ~YOU for your lovely comment! xx

  11. Nenaghgal says:

    Imen- this great to have! Where did you get the stem ginger in syrup- can you use fresh ginger as well or is this preferable? Wish I were able to cook this, this weekend but a busy Saturday baking for my daughter’s 11th Birthday. Could you also put my name in the hat for Pat’s Butchery course, I’d really love to find out more!!
    Let’s get a date set for meeting up soon! Best, Lisa

    • imen says:

      Thanks Lisa…I hope you get a chance to make the gingerbread…if you can’t find the stem ginger in syrup (but really try to source) you can sub crystallised ginger. Won’t be quite the same but will be lovely. Will email soon about date to get together! Happy Holidays, Imen xx

  12. Colleen says:

    I want to try the gingerbread, but what would “golden syrup ” in the States?

    • imen says:

      Hello Colleen, I have found Golden Syrup in the USA at supermarkets in the section of international foods. There really isn’t a comparable American product that will have the same result. I know you can also buy golden syrup on I hope that helps! xx

  13. Cat St.Clair says:

    Imen, the gingerbread was absolutely gorgeous! Please put my name in hat for the butchery class. Cathy

  14. Kate Packwood says:

    Hi Imen, your blog is brilliant, and please count me in to win a place on the butchery course. Many thanks! Kate

  15. imen says:

    Thank you so much for your comment. I had so much fun at the event, Tipp folks are lovely!

  16. Claire says:

    mmmm can almost smell the gingerbread from here, will be trying out the recipe this weekend. Count me in for the butchery course. Thanks for the food inspiration 🙂

  17. Would love to join you on the butchery course – so difficult to find a good one and such a small group too 🙂

  18. Annetje Roodenburg says:

    Would love to win an Irish butchery course. Irish meat has fantastic tast and structure and would love to learn the irish ways of cutting meats.

    The gingerbread recipe sounds lovely, the smell of gingerbread baking makes the house always smell so welcoming.

    Please post many typical irish recipes on your site, have been working for many years in ireland now and would love to return homein due course with a lovely set of Irish home-grown recipes.

    • imen says:

      Thanks a million for your kind comment….I love experimenting with traditional Irish recipes…it’s really helped me to settle in here! xx

  19. I love gingerbread too but Brian doesn’t like it at all so I rarely make it. Lovely recipe.
    Butchery course sounds great – not for the fainthearted but really interesting 🙂

  20. Orla Clancy says:

    Really looking forward to trying this recipe, sounds really moist. We have an organic farm – Clanwood Farm – in Offaly. I would really love an evening with an expert like Pat to get some fresh ideas for our beef and pork which we sell direct from the farm. x

    • imen says:

      I must look up your farm…sounds lovely and well done to you and all the hard work it takes to farm organically. We appreciate it! Your name is in for the draw =)

  21. Andi Plaster says:

    Very impressed at what Pat is doing – Irish meat amongst the best in the world – Irish craft butchery is amazing – just need to get the message avross that the locsl butcher is an invaluable resource. People think very little of spending €4.50 on a standard pint in ghe pub & then buy imported supermarket meat ! – how id love to go on a learning journey with Pat & ad they said in the 60’s ” share the love”

  22. My mother used a turkey tin to keep us in gingerbread! Our obviously, she quadrupled the amounts to fill the tin, and used some molasses along with the golden syrup.

    • imen says:

      I love the idea of using a turkey tin! I am not a fan of molasses but you could split and add it to this recipe if you like.

  23. Rose says:

    Right, off to bake gingerbread then!

  24. KathleenC says:

    Thank you for this wonderful sounding recipe! I love the warm moist sweet/spicey that is good gingerbread. i will definitely have to give this a go!
    And how I wish I could be in the draw for the prize… not for myself but for my husband who would very much like to learn some butchering (and while he’s doing that I could fins a good pub with live fiddling and maybe sit in a tune!). However, I’m afraid it’s a little too far away for us, but best of luck to those close enough to take advantage!

  25. Iman, I had the pleasure of tasting your gorgeous butter and gingerbread last night in Clonmel. It was absolutely lovely and I was thinking about it all day so I was just coming on to your page to ask for the gingerbread recipe when you’d beaten me too it! Yay! Cant wait to try it with the homemade butter! Thank you

  26. Maggie says:

    Really would love to learn about butchering. Pick me!

  27. Shane says:

    Fab prize! Have to say I’ve much respect for Pat Whelan, he’s doing some great online stuff and seems a real geniune guy with a love of food!

    Hope the Tipp Extravaganza went well?


    • imen says:

      The Tipp Extravaganza was brilliant! Thanks for your piece on =) Pat is such an inspiration, doing amazing stuff!

  28. Kristin says:

    After all your talk of gingerbread this past week, I’m making a batch myself soon (sadly, minus homemade rum butter) – I can’t stop thinking about it! I’ll go ahead and add my name to the pot for the butchery course giveaway. It would be good to push my boundaries in the new year!

    • imen says:

      But, I believe you will be adding in the Guinness, no? Your name is in the hat…even if you’re not the lucky winner you should join us!!!!! We’d have some fun with it for sure =) xx

  29. Móna Wise says:

    What a gorgeous recipe Imen. I look forward to making this cake. I love this too but we always make the hard n’ crunchy cookies :0)
    Please omit me from the drawing though, I would not be able to attend but it is a lovely giveaway and I will tweet about it later tonight!

  30. Catherine says:

    Wow, what a fab prize, Imen!

    We used to get slices of fresh buttered gingerbread in our school lunchboxes as a treat – always melt-in-the-mouth. It got to be pretty popular among our classmates, to the extent that Mam sent in a couple of loaves with us one day! We still fall upon it with gusto in my parents’ house today – I must make some honey-rum butter for Mam to say thank you…

    • imen says:

      Oh my gawd. Your mother is a saint! How lovely. Add some grated orange zest to the honey rum butter…makes it even more flavourful, great contrast to the gingerbread! xx

  31. SJ says:

    I would love love love to do a butchery course and especially on with Whelans! My fingers shall be permenantly crossed on this one x

  32. Arlene says:

    Imen, I have such wonderful childhood memories of gingerbread, and it really is suited to the festive wintery months. I will be sure to give your recipe a go!

    PS The butchery course sounds amazing! Count me in please x

· · · ◊ ◊ ◊ · · ·

Leave a Reply

Saveur Sites We Love
Recent Posts