Laurie Colwin’s Damp Gingerbread

December 7, 2015

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes:

This recipe comes from More Home Cooking (Haper Perennial, 1995).

Of it Colwin wrote: “After a while I began to long for something new, and in another English book, Delia Smith’s

Lindsay-Jean Hard

Makes: one 9-inch round cake


  • 9 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) Lyle's Golden Syrup
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
In This Recipe


  1. Heat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Butter a 9-inch round pan (2 inches deep) and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the Lyle’s Golden Syrup.
  4. Into a bowl, sift the flour, salt, baking soda, ground ginger, ground cloves, and cinnamon.
  5. Pour the syrup and melted butter onto the dry ingredients and mix well.
  6. Add the egg and the milk and beat well. The batter will be very liquidy, not to worry.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 to 55 minutes. The middle should be just set, with the edge pulling away from the pan, and a tester will bring out a few crumbs. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out.

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Reviews (89) Questions (0)

89 Reviews

Susan P. February 16, 2019
This is a family favorite recipe, unfortunately surpassing my grandmother's recipe. And I love Laurie Colwin's writing. <br />I found an unexpected source of Lyle's syrup - Arax Middle Eastern grocery in Chicago has some, so you might check your local shops, to get the Lyle's syrup and olives and Za'atar all in one trip.
Marti December 31, 2018
After visiting four or five stores searching for the Lyle's syrup (two days before Christmas, my bad!) I finally gave up on this annual tradition--for this year--and made another dessert! Next year, I will order it earlier or if I see it at the local store, will snatch it up sooner! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to some of the best cooks and bakers I know!!
tastysweet December 31, 2018
Marti, I know how you felt. Almost couldn't bake ours either. Lucked out.
tastysweet December 26, 2018
Hope you all had a gear Xmas. <br />My daughter baked the cake for our dinner. Once again.....delicious. Made whipped cream. A perfect topper.
Regine December 9, 2018
Hi Tastysweet. I have not but in other recipes that asked<br />for Lyle, I once used honey instead.
tastysweet December 16, 2018
Almost had a heart attack😭 Amazon wasn’t shipping any Lyle’s until Jan 3rd. What was I to do!!! I looked up how to make it. But didn’t want to go there. No one around here in the Naples/ Bonita Springs, FL. area carried it. <br />My daughter to the rescue. She lives in Manhattan and today went to the the store that carries British stuff. They have it in 16oz cans. She is bringing 2 cans of them here when she comes for the holiday. Whew🙏☺️ Besides she makes it for me. Tradition continues on.
Regine December 9, 2018
Tastysweet, the Lyle syrup is also good on pancakes. Or you can use the leftover syrup and add honey to it to make another cake. I am sure cake will still be in good.
tastysweet December 9, 2018
Thanks Regine. Maybe during the year I will make it and use the left over Lyles with the honey. Have you tried it this way?
tastysweet December 9, 2018
Well another year has come and gone. Getting ready for Xmas dinner again. Tradition calls. Our daughter has insisted we make this fabulous cake again. And again I will have to order the Lyle’s syrup. Maybe if we all write the company, they will start making it in 12oz instead of 11. I just don’t know what else I would use the left over bottle for. <br />Happy Holidays to all this year and hope it is a healthy and safe one. <br />
tastysweet December 26, 2017
I made this the day before Xmas. I bought the 9"x2" cake pan from Amazon. Wonderful heavy pan and is really 2"H.<br />Interestingly enough, I am glad I checked the cake before the allotted time. It <br />was done at around 38 minutes. And it came out perfectly. Buttered the inside and sides and the parchment too. It was moist and delicious with homemade whipped cream. Oh my. Came out better than the last time I made it. It will be my go to cake. Thanks for all the suggestions. They sure did help.<br />
Margaret B. December 22, 2017
Could this be made in a bundt pan? Would any adjustments need to be made?
nina B. December 20, 2017
Hi could I make this in a loaf form if I don't have a cake pan?
tastysweet December 14, 2017
Thanks Marti. I will try and find a 2" tall cake pan or check with a good friend who bakes a lot. And thanks for the tips. Have a wonderful and safe holiday.
Marti December 14, 2017
Ironically, I JUST made this cake last night! I used a new 9 inch round pan, two inches high and the cake came out perfectly! Important to remember to use the parchment paper in the bottom of the pan (I butter the pan first, add parchment to bottom, and add a little more butter on top of parchment)--my cake literally slid out of the pan! Joy! I made the cake yesterday, for dessert tonight and stored it wrapped in cellophane as directed. Can't wait to enjoy.<br />*One other comment--I've made this cake a number of times before, always in my springform pan and haven't always had consistent results with the "doneness" of the cake in the middle. I think the best pan to use is the 9 inch round, with two inch high sides. Merry Christmas--and make this cake! It is wonderful.
tastysweet December 14, 2017
My baker friend has a 9" springform. Her others are every size except the 9" x2" round cake pan. What's your take on this one? Do I just go out and find and buy a 2" h x9" rd?<br />How was your cake tonight. Last time time I made it served it with fresh whipped cream.
Author Comment
Lindsay-Jean H. December 14, 2017
I'm not Marti, but the cake has worked fine for me in my 9-inch springform pan!
Marti December 14, 2017
Cake was fabulous! What a great recipe and becoming an annual tradition in my house at Christmastime! I agree with Lindsay-Jean, a springform will do the trick just fine and release is problem free. I treated myself to a new 9 inch pan with two inch sides from Crate and Barrel and when I read the recipe, that is the size pan it suggested, so I had to try it out! Results were great, it is a delicious recipe!<br />
tastysweet December 14, 2017
Thanks Lindsay
tastysweet December 14, 2017
So glad Marti. I will get a new pan just to have. As I will likely make this an annual dessert. Meantime I will use my friend's 9" SF for this year. You all have been so helpful. Thank you so much. Have a super holiday.
tastysweet December 16, 2017
Marti, I don't have cellophane, but have Saran Wrap. Are they one of they one of the same? Did you grease the sides of together pan as well. I'm thinking I did that when I made it before. <br />I ordered the 9"x2" Rd pan from Amazon. Get it tomorrow. If it turns out it isn't 2" back it goes and will use the springform.
Marti December 17, 2017
Saran wrap is great and yes, I greased the sides of the pan as well as the bottom, then put parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, then greased the parchment paper a little also--cake out of pan effortlessly.
tastysweet December 17, 2017
Perfect Marti. And received the pan today and it is 2"h. Yea!! <br />Again, thanks so much. <br />Using the spring form pan for a flourless chocolate cake from Once Upon A Chef blog. She has a lot of nice recipes. Just found it today. Two desserts ought to be enough. <br />Again, thanks a bunch for your help.
tastysweet December 14, 2017
One other question. Who ever used the springform pan, which size did you use?
tastysweet December 14, 2017
Not sure I can remember, but how far in advance can I make this? And can it sit out on the counter unwrapped or Saran wrapped. Hope some is out there to answer. It's a great cake.
Gary S. October 28, 2017
I added the extra ounce of sweet sticky stuff using pomegranate molasses and I think the tangy fruity taste adds something nice to this fantastic recipe. You can buy it at any middle eastern deli.
frances S. February 2, 2017
What adjustments would you all suggest for using this recipe for cupcakes? I'm shipping using paper baking cups that are wider than tall.
Bev January 6, 2017
Yes, all the same issues. My pan wasn't 2", so I ordered one from Amazon, it arrived, and was less than 2", so I tried it in cast iron skillet, same thing, not quite big enough. I think Marti has the answer, the springform pan. I ordered multiple jars of Lyle's so there is no chance of running short. This cake is so good, it's a classic.
Marti January 6, 2017
Meg, I made a single batch cake and baked it in a springform pan. The cake "domed" up above the pan, but it released beautifully from the pan and made a really pretty presentation on a cake platter. I may have undercooked it a tiny bit as it was a little wet in the center of the cake. Next time I will cook for the maximum cook time. Also, this cake produces a lot of batter to begin with and that is why you need a 2 inch deep pan. I think if you were to double the batch, like you did, it would produce enough batter for possibly three cakes in 1.5 inch pans. It is a wonderful recipe, I hope you will make it again!
Meg N. January 6, 2017
This makes sense! I was baking them as gifts for friends and was bummed I didn't have enough syrup for three cakes. Looks like I could have made three anyway. Oh well! I'll definitely give it another go. Thanks!
Meg N. January 5, 2017
Did anyone else have an issue with the batter overflowing the pan about 25 minutes in? I doubled the recipe and split it between two standard cake pans (which it looks like this calls for), but it wasn't nearly enough room. I'll make it in a spring form next time, I was just wondering if anyone could enlighten me.
Author Comment
Lindsay-Jean H. January 6, 2017
Oh no! The only thing I can think of is if your pan is 1.5 inches deep instead of 2.
Meg N. January 6, 2017
I think you're right. Thanks!
Marti January 5, 2017
Made it for the second Christmas in a row and it is so delicious. Lyle's syrup is not available in our local grocery store, however found it on the shelf of a local specialty market! It is a delicious recipe, thank you!<br />
Emily December 21, 2016
Mine is in the oven! I had no Lyle's, so I used 1.5 cups of gingered simple syrup I had around after making candied ginger! Mine is also gluten free. Crazy! Fingers crossed!
Emily December 21, 2016
Update! Delicious! It won't last until Christmas...
Author Comment
Lindsay-Jean H. December 22, 2016
Oh hooray! Thanks for the update, I'm so happy to hear it turned out well.