Please Pass the Recipe

sharing recipes from one generation to the next

Grandma’s Gingerbread Cake

Grandma Bowers Gingerbread thingsMy maternal Grandma Lois Bower lived well into her 99th year. Her father died aged twenty two, her mother at twenty four, her brother, twelve. Thankfully she managed to defy the odds and I am here to tell her story and share her recipes.

Grandma cooked instinctively, she only owned one recipe book, a 1907 edition of “Mrs Beeton’s Family Cookery”. She learned most of her repertoire from her own Grandmother and from the cooks in the homes where she worked as a scullery maid, before she was promoted to the role of cook. Grandma took a bold step for a single woman and in 1924 she came to live in Melbourne. Family rumour is that she migrated on the promise of marriage, but by the time she arrived her suitor had disappeared. She met my Grandfather on the sea voyage from England and they married later that same year. There was fifteen years difference in their ages.

Australian food in the early part of the 20th century was plain. Austerity forced upon the population by the great depression and two world wars then limited the variety and availability of ingredients, and to be skilled in the kitchen meant being thrifty and using what supplies you could procure, well.  My grandparents were of limited means, honest working class people who grew their own vegetables and kept a few chickens in the back yard. Meals with Grandma were meat and two vegetables, followed by a simple dessert, often milk based, she was the queen of silky baked custard, junket and blancmange.

As Grandma aged she gifted to me her treasures, the small things that spelt refinement to her, a silver cake knife, boxed silver teaspoons, her fine china gold edged tea set.  Among my most treasured possessions is a natural linen tablecloth, embroidered with cream silk threads. Grandma had spent hours stitching her love into that cloth, it was her wedding gift to Mal and I.  See them in the photos.

Grandma called this cake “Parkin”.

125g butter

1/2 cup treacle

1/4 cup golden syrup

150 mls milk

2 eggs

2 cups plain flour

1 teaspoon mixed spice

1 1/2 tablespoons dried ginger

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Pre heat the oven to 150C. Grease and line a loaf tin.

Warm the treacle, golden syrup and butter, beat in the eggs. Sift the flour and spice and bicarbonate into a bowl, make a well in the centre then beat in the wet ingredients. Pour into prepared tin and bake for approx 1 hour. Keeps very well.



About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

10 comments on “Grandma’s Gingerbread Cake

  1. Nina Gerber
    October 12, 2017

    I used to make this cake for my mum when I was a young girl. Recently I wanted to make it for my daughter but didn’t have mums book to hand.
    Thank you now I can make it again.


  2. StefanGourmet
    March 5, 2015

    Great story about your grandmother. I had to look up treacle, but it appears I already have it in my pantry as ‘pancake syrup’. Thanks for the link to the version with gluten. I’ll give it a try!


    • ladyredspecs
      March 6, 2015

      Australian treacle is mid colour molasses, much darker than Golden syrup, but not nearly as dark as blackstrap molasses. It would be too bitter and syrupy to top pancakes with. If you are unable to source treacle, I’d substitute half honey, half molasses.


  3. Pingback: Spicy Buckwheat Gingerbread Cake | Please Pass the Recipe

  4. marymtf
    May 8, 2014

    That’s definitely passing the recipe down. I’m going to have a go at it this weekend.


    • ladyredspecs
      May 8, 2014

      We love this cake Mary. It’s plain but the spicy flavour and slightly sticky texture make it delicious.


  5. thehungrymum
    March 29, 2013

    This looks incredible! Love gingerbread cake x


    • ladyredspecs
      March 29, 2013

      Thanks, we love it too especially because of my sadly missed Grandma who lived until 99 yrs old.


  6. Leah
    May 29, 2012

    beautiful Mum x


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This entry was posted on May 29, 2012 by in Baking, Cakes, Food and tagged , , , , , , .
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