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Sticky Chilli Ginger Sponge

The combination of ground ginger, allspice, stem ginger and chilli makes an intensely flavoured sponge cake, irresistibly slathered in toffee sauce.


  • 125g/4½oz butter, plus extra for greasing

  • 125g/4½oz soft dark brown sugar

  • 125g/4½oz black treacle

  • 125g/4½oz golden syrup

  • 275g/9¾oz self-raising flour

  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

  • 4 tsp ground ginger

  • 1 tsp ground allspice

  • 4 stem ginger balls in syrup (roughly 75g/2½oz), drained and coarsely grated

  • 1½ long red chillies, seeds removed, finely chopped

  • 200ml/7fl oz semi-skimmed milk

  • 2 large free-range eggs, beaten

  • For the sauce

  • 3 stem ginger balls in syrup (roughly 55g/2oz), drained

  • 200ml/7fl oz double cream

  • 100g/3½fl oz dark brown soft sugar

  • 75g/2½oz butter

  • To serve

  • well-chilled crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream

  • finely grated or pared lime zest


  • 1.

    Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Butter a 2½ litre/4½ pint shallow ovenproof dish – a lasagne dish is ideal. Put the butter, sugar, treacle and syrup in a medium saucepan. Melt together over a low heat, stirring regularly until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat a little and simmer gently for a minute, stirring. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for five minutes.

  • 2.

    While the butter mixture is cooling, put the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices in a large heatproof mixing bowl. Add the grated ginger and chilli and toss lightly together. Make a well in the centre.

  • 3.

    Stir the milk gradually into the warm treacle mixture and then add the beaten eggs, stirring vigorously. Pour the treacle mixture slowly into the flour mixture, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to form a thick batter. (If there are a few floury lumps, give a good stir with the metal whisk.)

  • 4.

    Pour the batter into the prepared dish. Bake in the centre of the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the cake is well risen and a skewer inserted into centre comes out clean.

  • 5.

    While the sponge is cooking, make the toffee sauce. Put the ginger balls on a board and slice thinly. Pile the slices from each ball up and cut through them to make thin matchstick strips. Scrape off the board into a medium non-stick saucepan.

  • 6.

    Add the cream, sugar and butter to the stem ginger matchsticks and place the pan over a low heat. Cook together, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring the sauce to a very gentle simmer and cook for 30 seconds more, stirring constantly.

  • 7.

    Take the pudding out of the oven and pour the hot sauce over the top, spreading the ginger pieces over the surface with a spoon. Serve topped with well-chilled crème fraîche or scoops of ice cream and a sprinkling of finely grated lime zest.

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