Recipe of the Month: Sam Bilton’s Dickens Gingerbread with Yuzu Icing and Crystallised Ginger

Some years ago I acquired a copy of Dining with Dickens, described as ‘a ramble through Dickensian foods’, compiled by the novelist’s great-grandson, Cedric. Within its pages I found a recipe for Pussers Gingerbread (Pussers is a brand of rum) which is described as ‘an old Dickens recipe’. It’s easy to see why it was popular in the Dickens household as the hefty slug of rum takes this ginger cake to another level. The original recipe calls for the cake to remain as naked as the day it was baked but I believe the icing elevates it further still. I doubt very much that Charles Dickens would have ever encountered a yuzu but citrus and ginger have long been partners in crime so I thought why not?

110g/4oz unsalted butter

225g/8oz treacle

225g/8oz self raising flour

3 slightly rounded teaspoons ground ginger 

175g/6oz dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

75ml/2½ fl oz dark rum

75ml/2½ fl oz milk

175g/6oz icing sugar

2 tbsp bottled yuzu juice or fresh lemon juice

55g/2oz crystallised ginger, roughly chopped if in large chunks (ie sugar coated rather than the stuff in syrup, although this can be used if this is the only preserved ginger available)

Preheat the oven to 180℃. Grease and line a 900g/2lb loaf tin.

Gently warm the butter and treacle in a small pan until the butter has melted.

Sieve the flour and ground ginger into a large bowl. Stir in the brown sugar followed by the butter and treacle.

Beat the eggs with the rum and milk in a jug then mix this thoroughly into the cake batter. Pour the batter into the prepared tin then bake for around 40-50 minutes (a skewer will come out clean when inserted). Allow the cake to cool in the tin before turning out and removing the lining paper.

To ice the cake, sieve the icing sugar into a bowl. Stir in 1½ tablespoons of yuzu or lemon juice. Mix to a paste – you need the icing to be thick but spreadable. If it is too thick add the remaining juice (plus a little water if absolutely necessary). In the event that it becomes too thin (ie dripping consistency) add a little more sieved icing sugar.

Spread the icing over the top of the loaf then scatter with chopped crystallised ginger whilst the icing is still tacky. Wait until the icing has set before slicing and serving.