Guinness Gingerbread

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I adore the deceptive plainness of gingerbread. It is definitively unfancy, and yet the flavor is so rich, and its deep-toned tang so subtle. Here the tang is a little more emphatic, as sour cream and licorice-evocative Guinness give heady lift, but still this is for all the treacly sugar and pungent spices gentle and cozy-making, though almost alarmingly addictive.
So although this started life in my kitchen as a spot-hitting accompaniment for a hot drink, I find that a small square with some diced mango makes for a fantastic end to a simple kitchen supper and, eaten still warm with some sour and scarlet plums on is a perfect easy weekend dessert.

  • 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) butter, plus some for greasing
  • 1 cup golden syrup (such as Lyle’s)
  • 1 cup (packed) plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup Guinness
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 x rectangular aluminum foil pan or cake pan, approx. 13 x 9 x 2 inches


1. Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line your cake pan with aluminum foil and grease it, or grease your foil pan.

2. Put the butter, syrup, dark brown sugar, Guinness, ginger, cinnamon, and ground cloves into a saucepan and melt gently over a low heat.

3. Take off the heat and whisk in the flour and baking soda. You will need to be patient and whisk thoroughly to get rid of any lumps.

4. Whisk the sour cream and eggs together in a measuring cup and then beat into the gingerbread mixture, whisking again to get a smooth batter.

5. Pour this into your cake/foil pan, and bake for about 45 minutes; when it’s ready it will be gleamingly risen at the center, and coming away from the pan at the sides.

6. Let the gingerbread cool before cutting into bars or squares.

Make Ahead Note: The gingerbread can be baked up to 1 week ahead. Wrap in parchment paper followed by layer of plastic wrap and store in airtight container in a cool place. Keeps for a total of 2 weeks.

Freeze Note: The gingerbread can be frozen, wrapped in layer of parchment paper and double layer of aluminum foil, for up to 3 months. Thaw on wire rack at room temperature for 3-4 hours and cut into squares.

From Nigella Kitchen by Nigella Lawson. Copyright © 2010 Nigella Lawson. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

Prep time: 
15 minutes
Cook time: 
45 minutes
Total time: 
About 1 hour
Makes 24 small, squat squares or 16 generous rectangular slabs
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