Julia's Ginger Cake With Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

Just as Victorians settle into the rhythm of another long lockdown, we can count on Julia Busuttil Nishimura to lift our spirits, with just the kind of comfort food that can brighten even the dreariest winter’s day.

This morning Julia brings us a heartwarming ginger cake, made with a range of spices, and topped with a deliciously nostalgic brown sugar cream cheese icing and a scattering of pistachios. As always, things can be swapped out, added or reduced to suit individual tastes and cravings.

Thank you Julia, for being someone we can faithfully rely on for moments of joy, no matter what!

Julia Busuttil-Nishimura

This spiced ginger cake is taken back to nostalgic territory with a brown sugar cream cheese icing. Photo – Julia Busuttil Nishimura.

A freshly baked ginger cake, ready to ice. Photo – Julia Busuttil Nishimura.

Allow the cake to cool completely before icing. Photo – Julia Busuttil Nishimura.

This cake is made with a combination of fresh and ground ginger, plus a variety of other spics. Photo – Julia Busuttil Nishimura.

In the depths of winter, I crave food that is comforting and warming. Whilst often this comes in the form of slow braises, hearty meals and classic comfort food, sometimes it is simply the warmth which spices provide. Here, fresh and ground ginger, along with a few other spices flavour this beautiful cake, which is a cinch to put together. Topped with a brown sugar cream cheese frosting, it reminds me of those old fashioned cakes you find, wrapped in clingfilm, icing all squished, at your primary school’s cake stall.

Feel free to swap the spices to suit your tastes. Add more or less, depending on your preference. This cake is best eaten on the day its made, and once topped with the frosting, should be stored in the fridge. Just be sure to bring it to room temperature before serving. I like chopped pistachios on top but other nuts like walnuts, hazelnuts or flaked almonds would be lovely too.

Topped with pistachios, this not-too-sweet ginger cake is an unconventional winter warmer! Photo – Julia Busuttil Nishimura.

JULIA’S Ginger with brown sugar cream cheese frosting

100g Demerara sugar
3 eggs
150g golden syrup
150ml light olive or vegetable oil
50ml full cream milk
60g fresh ginger, grated
250g self-raising flour
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly ground cloves
1 tsp freshly ground cardamom

Brown sugar cream cheese frosting
125g unsalted butter, softened
250g full fat cream cheese, room temperature
100g brown sugar
2 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
Zest of a lemon

Roughly chopped pistachios, to serve.


Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line a round 21cm cake tin.

Whisk the sugar and eggs until pale and well incorporated. Pour in the golden syrup, oil, milk and ginger and continue to whisk until smooth. Gently whisk in the remaining dry ingredients until just incorporated. Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. A few crumbs on the skewer are fine too. Allow to cool for ten minutes in the tin then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Make the frosting by beating the butter and cream cheese together in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until smooth. Add in both the sugars and continue to whisk on a medium setting until all combined and light, around 3 minutes. I don’t like my frosting super sweet, but if you want it a little sweeter, simply add some more icing sugar until it is to your liking. Fold through the lemon zest and spread the frosting onto the cooled cake. Top with pistachios and serve.

What else I’m eating this month:

Pumpkins simply cut into wedges and roasted with salt and olive oil. Similarly, roasted carrots tossed with parsley, almonds, olive oil and lemon. Also lots of citrus!

What else I’m cooking with:

An Attica take-home meal! I went for the family meal option which was a lasagne for two, garlicky pull-apart bread, and a house salad. We also indulged in one of their Basque cheesecakes and it was incredible.

You can follow Julia’s food adventures on Instagram and find more fab recipes via her website

Julia Busuttil-Nishimura
16th of July 2020

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