Helen Goh’s gingerbread with brandy and creme fraiche

Photo: from Sweet by Helen Goh

This cake can be served warm, as a dessert, with the sautéed apples and crème fraiche, or on its own at room temperature, with a cup of tea.

If you want to hear more from Helen, take a look at our conversation with her during Melbourne Food & Wine Festival: The Online Edition. The video is available on our Instagram TV now.

Serves 9 warm as dessert or 12 at room temperature


220g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus extra for greasing

300g black treacle (or blackstrap molasses)

100g soft light brown sugar

120g caster sugar

3 large eggs

Finely grated zest of 1 orange (1½ tsp)

400g plain flour

1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda 

1 tbsp ground ginger

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

300ml just-boiled water

100g stem ginger, roughly chopped into 5mm pieces


5 Golden Delicious or Pink Lady apples (700g)

50g unsalted butter

120g caster sugar

1/2 vanilla pod, sliced open lengthways

Strips of peel of 1 large lemon

50ml brandy

50ml lemon juice

1/8 tsp salt


Tip: This is best made in a high-sided (9cm-10cm high), 20cm square springform tin, but if you don’t have one then use a high-sided 20cm round springform tin instead. If you go for the round option, you’ll make 8 large slices or 12 regular slices. It also looks great made in a 23cm bundt tin.

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/ gas 6. Grease a 20cm square (or round) springform tin and line with baking parchment, leaving an overhang at the sides to help you remove the cake from the tin later on.

2. Place the butter, treacle, brown sugar, caster sugar, eggs and orange zest in a medium bowl and whisk together by hand or using a handheld electric whisk until combined.

3. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt together into a separate, larger bowl, then pour over the treacle mixture. Stir to combine and add the just-boiled water, whisking immediately to combine. Stir through the stem ginger, then pour the mixture into the cake tin. Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a serving platter.

4. The cake can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept at room temperature in an airtight container.

5. While the cake is cooling, peel and core the apples and cut into 1–1.5cm slices. Place a large non-stick sauté pan over a high heat and, once hot, add about a third or half of the apples (depending on the size of your pan: you don’t want them to be overcrowded as this will prevent them becoming golden). Sear for 2 minutes, turning regularly, until they are a nice golden colour. Remove from the pan, wipe clean and repeat with the remaining apples. Add these to the first batch and return the pan to a medium heat. Place 50g unsalted butter in the pan and, once melted, add the sugar, vanilla pod and lemon peel. Return the apples to the pan, stir well to coat and cook for 5 minutes, until the apples are soft but still holding their shape. Pour over the brandy, lemon juice and salt and reduce for 3 minutes over a medium-high heat, until the sauce is thick but not caramelized.

6. If serving warm, spoon some of the warmed apples on top of each portion of gingerbread and add a spoonful of crème fraîche alongside. The apples are best made on the day of serving.

This is an extract from Helen Goh’s Sweet (2017, Ebury Press), RRP $55, available where all good books are sold.