Steph Blackwell Mum’s Sticky Gingerbread with Brandy Toffee Apples

Most bakers already know the joys of creating in the kitchen. Steph Blackwell celebrates this notion in her new book Bake Yourself Happy. A great example is her mom’s gingerbread recipe, which she always thought would be boring… but she was happily proven wrong!

Here is what the author notes:

It’s no secret that my mum has never been drawn to the kitchen – in fact, she quite likes it kept clean, neat and tidy. Nevertheless, she’s got a talent for just about anything and baking is no exception. She must have mentioned this gingerbread recipe to me on countless occasions, but every time I brushed it off as being ‘old fashioned’ and boring… well, I was wrong… it’s wildly wicked. Spiked with a hint of warming gingery spice, light as candy floss and moist for days, this super-simple to prepare cake is a winner. What makes this cake even better is its adaptability; it’s perfect as is for afternoon tea, or can be served as a dinner-party pudding, paired with brandy toffee apples and a hefty dollop of crème fraîche.

Serves 9



  • 50 grams (2 ounces) black treacle
  • 50 grams (2 ounces) golden syrup
  • 120 grams (4 ounces) light brown muscovado sugar
  • 120 grams (4 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 175 grams (6 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 140 milliliters (4¾ ounces) whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 120 grams (4 ounces) crème fraîche, to serve (optional)

Brandy Toffee Apples 

  • 2 medium Pink Lady apples (about 200 grams/7 ounces), peeled, cored and cut into 1-centimeter (1/2-inch) slices
  • 35 milliliters (1¼ ounces) double cream
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • ½ tablespoon lemon juice
  • 25 grams (1 ounce) unsalted butter
  • 25 grams (1 ounce) dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon black treacle


Make the Gingerbread:

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/130°C fan/300°F/Gas 2. Grease an 18-centimeter (7-inch) square tin and line with baking parchment.
  1. Put the treacle, golden syrup, sugar and butter into a large saucepan and melt over a gentle heat. Sift the flour, salt, ginger and cinnamon into a bowl and gently mix to combine. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in three stages. Beat in the egg.
  1. Warm the milk a little, add the baking soda and lightly whisk to combine, then gently stir the milk mixture into the batter until homogenous and you have a syrupy, loose batter – be patient, it takes a bit of persistence.
  1. Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 50–60 minutes. Once cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin.

Make the Toffee Apples:

  1. Place a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, add the apples and sear each side for about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  1. Pour the cream, brandy and lemon juice into a small jug. Combine the butter, sugar and treacle in a small saucepan over a low heat, stirring to combine; once a syrupy mixture has formed, stir in the cream mixture. Bring to a bubbling boil over a medium heat and simmer for 2–3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool a little.
  1. Finally, add the apples and leave to infuse for at least 30 minutes, if possible. Gently reheat the apples before serving with the cake and crème fraîche, if using.

Additional Notes:

Mum also mentioned that when she used to bake this at university, she and her friends would cool the cake in a cake storage tin – apparently it yields the stickiest masterpiece. Just leave it in the baking tin when it comes out of the oven and immediately transfer it to a heatproof airtight container.

This is the perfect autumn/ winter bake. From September to December, I love using apples picked from my neighbor’s tree – they are so perfectly sweet yet crisp. If you can find some in-season British apples they’re always going to top any other variety; just make sure they’re sweet eating apples, not cooking apples.


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