I was pleasantly surprised by this Ginger Cake recipe. It came from a vintage cookbook that had no pictures to accompany the recipes so I had little idea what the cake would be like. Turns out, it’s a lightly spiced ginger sponge cake with a retro chewy caramel topping. This ginger cake might have been served at garden parties at the historic “Nyamutin” country homestead in Western Australia, dating from 1893.



Makes: 16-20 slices    Difficulty: Easy


  • Deep Baking Tray 30 x 22 x 4.5 cm; 12 x 9 x 1.7 in)
  • Electric mixer / stand mixer
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Rubber spatula
  • Wire cooling rack


Ginger Cake

  • 200g (7 oz) Self Raising Flour
  • 200g (7 oz) Brown Sugar
  • 160ml (5.4 fl oz; 2/3 cup) Vegetable Oil
  • 160ml (5.4 fl oz; 2/3 cup) cold Water
  • 3 large Eggs, separated
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3 teaspoons ground Ginger

Fudge Caramel Frosting

  • 60g (2 oz) Unsalted Butter
  • 60g (2 oz) Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Golden Syrup
  • 4 tablespoons Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Finely chopped walnuts, to decorate


  • Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius (170 fan-forced; 375F). Grease the base and sides of the baking tray with butter and line the base with baking paper.
  • Add the egg white and salt to the bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk to stiff peaks. Start on low speed until foamy bubble form, then increase speed slowly every few minutes until you reach medium-high speed. The egg whites are ready if you can tip the bowl upside-down and they don’t fall out.
  • In a large mixing bowl add the oil and brown sugar. Beat together until combined. Add the egg yolks and beat until evenly mixed. Add the flour and water and beat together until the batter is smooth.
  • Scoop the whipped egg whites into the mixing bowl. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter until smooth.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tray. Bake for 30 minutes or until done. The cake will be golden brown on top, a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean, and the top springs back when lightly touched.
  • Remove the cake from the oven. The sides of the cake will shrink away from the tin. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert it onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • To make the frosting, add the butter, brown sugar, golden syrup and condensed milk to a small saucepan. Use low heat to melt the ingredients together. Increase heat to medium and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent burning at the bottom of the pan. Beat until smooth. Quickly pour the caramel frosting over the cake and spread it to the edges. The caramel will start to set quickly.
  • I like to finish the top with a sprinkle of walnuts to add crunch to the sticky topping.

Recipe adapted from  The Nyamutin Farm Cookbook (1973), attributed to P. Mudd.



  • The key to stopping a spongy cake from collapsing is to whisk the egg whites properly. It’s best to start on slow speed and whisk until the egg whites become foamy bubbles. Increase the speed a fraction every couple of minutes until you reach medium-high speed if you’re using a stand mixer. Egg whites are at “stiff peaks” when you can tip the mixing bowl upside-down and the egg whites stay in the bowl.
  • If your cake has turned really dense and soggy at the base then the sponge collapsed. Try beating the egg whites to stiff peaks and gradually. If you go straight to high speed when whisking the eggs the air pockets in the foamy eggs are too large. These large air pockets make the cake collapse in the oven, or as the cake is cooling.
  • The frosting can be as sticky or chewy as you prefer. If you boil the frosting mixture for a shorter period you’ll have a sticky frosting. If you boil it longer and let it change colour to a darker golden brown you’ll get a chewy soft caramel topping.