Adding ginger for warmth

Ginger’s warming magic makes it a great edition over the winter months, writes Penelope Maguire.

Ginger is such a wonderful spice to use in the colder months of the year and I often reach for it for both savoury and sweet dishes. Part of its warming winter magic comes from its ability to increase circulation, helping the blood to flow around the body and warming up those fingers and toes. Ginger is also a lovely digestive tonic and can be especially beneficial by helping us uptake nutrients from our food when digestion can become a little more sluggish due to cold weather and heavier winter dishes. In herbal medicine making, I add ginger to most of my formulations as it has a unique ability to synergise other herbs in the blend as well as helping otherwise bitter-tasting remedies tastier. All in all, ginger is a wonderful, tasty and easy addition to your winter treats and meals.

Pear and ginger layer cake with chocolate ganache

This is a beautiful cake that is reminiscent of sticky ginger toffee pudding (and is equally good served warm with vanilla ice cream) but is re-imagined as a sophisticated layer cake sandwiched between rich dark chocolate ganache.


340g butter

1½ cups firmly packed brown sugar (300g)

1½ cups golden syrup (540g)

3 ¾ cups flour (450g)

2 Tbsp ground ginger

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1½ tsp baking powder

1½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1½ cups of milk (375ml)

3 eggs, lightly whisked

4 large ripe pears, sliced


Preheat oven to 180°C and grease and line two deep 20cm cake tins.

Melt butter, brown sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan until smooth and combined.

With a whisk, stir together flour, salt, ginger and cinnamon then sift in the baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl.

Mix eggs and milk in a separate bowl. Then very gently combine the eggs and milk with the dry ingredients and butter/sugar mixture in the large bowl, folding until combined.

It should be a reasonably wet mixture.

Pour batter into the cake tins and top with sliced pear, then bake for 50-60 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool in pan for 20 minutes before turning out on to a cake rack and allowing to cool completely before layering together with the whipped chocolate ganache (see below).

Whipped chocolate ganache


375g 70% dark chocolate, finely chopped

1½ cups cream


1. Place the finely chopped dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl.

2. In a saucepan, heat the cream until it barely comes to a simmer, but do not let it boil.

3. Pour the heated cream over the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for about 2-3 minutes to soften the chocolate.

4. Gently stir the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy.

5. Allow the ganache to cool completely in the fridge then whip in an electric mixer on high till doubled in size before topping each cake and sandwiching together.

Triple ginger and cardamom kisses

Similar to the classic; however, I like to do these ginger kisses in a lined muffin tray, simply because it’s easier and tidier than piping on to oven trays and sandwiching with butter cream, but you can do that too. Topped with fluffy ginger buttercream and glace ginger, these pack a gingery punch.

Makes 12 medium cupcakes


2 cups flour (240g)

¾ tsp baking soda

¾ tsp baking powder

3 Tbsp ground ginger

2 tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp ground cinnamon

115g butter, softened

¾ cup white sugar (150g)

4 Tbsp golden syrup

3 large eggs

½ cup milk

Ginger butter cream and glace ginger to serve


1. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 12-cupcake tin with paper liners.

2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter, sugar and golden syrup until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.

3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, ground ginger, ground cardamom, ground cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.

4. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, add milk and mix until just combined.

5. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each cup about ⅔ full.

6. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

7. Allow the muffins to cool in the tin for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Then pipe on big dollops of the buttercream (see below) and top with glace ginger.

Ginger buttercream


225g softened butter

4 cups icing sugar, sifted

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp vanilla extract

2-3 Tbsp milk or cream


1. With the whisk attachment, beat softened butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy and gradually add icing sugar, beating on low, then medium speed until well combined.

2. Add salt and vanilla extract, beat until combined.

3. Add cream or milk, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

4. Beat on medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.