Holywake bake cake
Holywake bake cake

and gingerbread go together like Bonfire Night and toffee apples or Bonfire Night and candy floss or Bonfire Night and anything involving a great deal of sugar. It’s probably all the excitement of burning Catholics and frightening dogs that has people craving a boost in their blood stream.

I first came across Holywake Bake Cake on the now apparently defunct Baking for Britain. According to BFB, Holywake Bakes originated in the Cotswolds and were sold at cheery gatherings where heretics were piled on top of bonfires and burnt alive, which only goes to show that there is a cake for any occasion.

This recipe comes from The Cotswold Cookbook by June Lewis (with a few adjustments here and there from me). It’s a damp gingerbread, akin to parkin, and it improves for being wrapped in foil and kept in a tin for 1-2 days after . I’ve added a heretical white chocolate decoration that looks pretty and adds some creamy cooling flavours to the spicy ginger cake. Decorate it a few hours before you want to serve it.

Holywake Bake Cake
Serves 8–10

75g unsalted butter plus extra for greasing
175g self-raising flour
50g porridge oats
11/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp ground ginger
110g raisins
2 tbsp golden syrup
2 tbsp black treacle
75g brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
150ml whole milk
50g white chocolate, chopped

1 Preheat the oven to gas mark 3/170°C/fan oven 150°C. Grease a 450g loaf tin with butter and line the base with baking parchment. Sift the flour into a large bowl and stir in the oats, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and raisins. Set aside.

3 Place the butter, syrup, treacle and sugar into a small saucepan and melt over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth and blended. Pour into the dry ingredients and beat well with a wooden spoon to mix.

4 Beat in the egg and then beat in the milk. You’ll need to be gentle but firm with it to get the ingredients to combine, which is why a large mixing bowl is a good idea – it gets a bit splashy. Pour  the cake batter into the prepared tin and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. The original recipe says it will take 1 hour, but I’ve never crept above 30 minutes.

5 Cool the cake in the tin. Either wrap it in foil and store in a tin for a couple of days or decorate immediately. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Dip a fork in the melted chocolate to coat and then flick it back and forth over the cake to decorate. Repeat until the chocolate is used up. Leave to set and serve in slices.

Tagged with: BakingBonfire NightCakesEnglish

17 Responses to Holywake Bake Cake

  1. Ailbhe says:

    Two of my favourite ingredients, ginger and chocolate. Not sure if the concept of a cake to eat while watching heritics burn seems quite right and to think that some people long for the ‘good old days’ : ) Nice post

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      Thanks – just wandered through your blog and saw the recipe for Barm Brack. Yum. ‘Tis the season for spiced cakes with bits of dried fruit in. I love winter.

  2. Nora says:

    That looks fab! Just the ticket for Bonfire Night (though I’m sure you’ll forgive me for skipping the heretic burning!) I’m not the biggest fan of white chocolate but I love the look of it with the white, so I might have to give it a try with normal icing. Either way, I really wanna give this one a go!

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      It can survive without the white chocolate, but it does look nice. Glacé icing would definitely work just as well. And it keeps for ages – I made this on Friday and we’re still eating it now.

  3. Mr B says:

    Let me add a personal recommendation here, for me the G&C Holywake Bake Cake is the reason the good lord gave us ginger (apart from disguising the flavour of home made vegetable smoothies that have gone horribly wrong, ie all of them).

  4. random question, i’m in London (around the Tate Modern) tonight, where should i go for good cheapish food!

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      I’m going to be on the South Bank too tonight, but at Pizza Express using a voucher for a cheap meal. That’s probably not what you mean by tasty and cheap, is it.

      Am having a panicked brain freeze but thinking Boroughwise, there’s Tito’s on London Bridge Road. It’s Peruvian and I haven’t been there for ages but it still gets good write-ups on Chowhound, so assume it’s still going.

      A bit closer to the Tate, there is a little stretch of chain restaurants right next to the Globe. Best of the bunch is Tas Pide on new Globe Walk. They specialise in Turkish pizzas and are pretty cheap.

      On Canvey Street behind the Tate there is Vina Verde for Italian. It calls itself a proscuitto and wine bar, but what it means is funky trat: http://www.vivaverdiwinebar.com

      Um, is that enough options? Near the Tate, it’s much easier to tell you where not to go than where to go.

  5. you never know the lass i’m meeting loves pizza express…..!

    i’ll be wearing red checky shirt, blue jeans, brown shoes and talk with a Northumbria brogue (plus i have a right stylish slightly overgrown beard!)…..come and scare me if you think you see me ha ha!

    cheers tho for the advice tho.

    Tonight should be fun, tomorrow is all about project management training….whoop whoop!!

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      Ah, project management training. Now there’s a reason to come to London. Hope the suggestions I’ve made don’t turn out to be horrible – I always fret when people ask for tips. Are you taking a gang of project management trainees out on those tips or will it be just your evening I ruin?

  6. just me and an friend…..

    …the training as always is an add on ha ha.

    don’t worry i won’t shout at you!

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      Phew. Well, if I see a man in a red checky shirt, blue jeans, brown shoes with a right stylish slightly overgrown beard and talking with a Northumbrian brogue I won’t be too afraid to approach and ask how the evening is going.

  7. Rampant Chutney Consumerism says:


  8. Natalie says:

    I want to eat it all. Even the leaf in the background as it’s so well placed.

  9. Rachel says:

    I would do a lemon icing on that, a la American gingerbread cake. Have you ever tried or made molasses cookies? One of my favourites.

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      Lemon (or lime) icing would be delicious. I love gingerbread and citrus. Now googling molasses cookies to see if they’re something I can make for this weekend’s bonfire party!

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