Laurie Colwin’s Damp Gingerbread

December  7, 2015
9 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Makes one 9-inch round cake
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

What You'll Need
  • 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
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • tastysweet
  • Regine
  • Margaret Brown
    Margaret Brown
  • Lindsay-Jean Hard
    Lindsay-Jean Hard
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.

99 Reviews

Monika July 21, 2023
I have Lauri Colwin's book, and have been making the version in that book. Interestingly, while everyone is anxious to find Lyle's syrup, Laurie Colwin specified Steen's Cane Syrup, which comes from Louisiana, and should be easier for Americans to procure.
Delia specified Lyle's, and being Canadian, it is readily available here. So of course I went to great trouble to buy Steen's (she sang its praises in her recipe!)! :)
Sandy W. November 21, 2022
This has become our family's most requested holiday dessert. It's simple to make and the favors are memorable. The Lyle's syrup is worth the hunt, if your store doesn't sell it. I find it at Kroger in Kentucky.
Heather D. February 12, 2021
This is the identical recipe to the Damp Gingerbread cake by beloved British food writer Delia Smith except that Delia bakes it in an 8 inch by 10 inch tin. Such a shame that Delia was not given the credit she so rightly deserves.
Robin February 12, 2021
There is a quote from Laurie Colwin at the beginning of the recipe where she mentions Delia Smith.
Hoskins S. December 25, 2020
Stop and Shop carries the Lyle's Syrup
tastysweet December 25, 2020
Shucks, no longer in MA. Though so glad to be in sun country Bonita Springs, FL.
ndaros December 22, 2020
I have been making this cake since the early 1990s. It is a delight in every way. Wish that Laurie Colwin was with us still. Her writing was breathtaking.
tastysweet December 22, 2020
I made this several years in a row for Xmas with my daughter’s help. Alas, this year she has to stay in NY.
Won’t make it until she and the world can travel.
The only problem was the Lyle’s syrup. I think the bottle comes in 11 Oz.
So two bottles are necessary.
Ann @. December 21, 2019
RE: Lyle's availability. My local Whole Foods used to carry it, but discontinued stocking this year. Luckily, there's an excellent market (Roche Brothers in MA) nearby with a good speciality department and, voila, they have it!
Robin December 3, 2019
I order the Lyle’s syrup on Amazon but our Wegman’s also carries it. Happy baking!!
Susan P. February 16, 2019
This is a family favorite recipe, unfortunately surpassing my grandmother's recipe. And I love Laurie Colwin's writing.
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.
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
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.
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.
Happy Holidays to all this year and hope it is a healthy and safe one.
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.
Interestingly enough, I am glad I checked the cake before the allotted time. It
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.
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.
*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?
How was your cake tonight. Last time time I made it served it with fresh whipped cream.
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!
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.
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!!
Again, thanks so much.
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.
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.