Sticky ginger cake with a clementine glaze

Signe Johansen, author of How to Hygge, shares a delicious cake recipe inspired by 'fika', the Swedish tradition of coming together over cake and coffee.

3 minutes to read

Signe Johansen, author of How to Hygge, shares a delicious cake recipe inspired by 'fika', the Swedish tradition of coming together over cake and coffee.

Always a favourite during the yule season, Serves 8-10 I baked this on Kirstie Allsopp's Handmade Christmas TV programme and it was so popular I decided to include the recipe here. I'm not wild about sickly sweet marzipan or toothbusting sugar icing on traditional British Christmas cakes, so this is my Nordic alternative - festive colours, flavours and just the right amount of sweetness to feel celebratory…'

Serves 8 - 10


125g butter, plus extra for greasing

175g molasses sugar (or dark brown muscovado)

150ml treacle

250ml buttermilk

2 medium eggs, lightly beaten

175g refined spelt flour (or plain flour)

75g wholemeal spelt flour (or rye, wholewheat, oatmeal flour)

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp freshly grated root ginger

1 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 nutmeg, freshly grated

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

For the glaze

150g icing sugar

Zest and juice of 1 clementine

Juice of 1 lemon

To decorate

Seeds of 1 small pomegranate

Bright green raw pistachios


Preheat the oven to 170˚C/gas mark 3 and lightly grease a 900g loaf tin.

Melt the butter, sugar and treacle in a medium saucepan, stir through and remove from the heat. Cool slightly then add the buttermilk and eggs.

Sieve the flours, raising agents, spices and salt into a medium bowl. Add to the liquid ingredients in the pan in stages, stirring thoroughly after each addition until evenly mixed.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 45 minutes, then cover with aluminium foil to prevent the top from scorching.

Bake for a further 10–15 minutes or until the loaf has risen and feels firm to the touch. If in doubt, insert a metal skewer into the centre and if it comes out clean the cake is done.

Place the cake on a wire rack and allow to cool for a few minutes before turning it out and piercing the top in several places.

Make a clementine glaze by mixing together the icing sugar, clementine zest and juice, and lemon juice until you have a sticky icing. It shouldn't be too runny or the glaze will just pour right off the cake.

Drizzle the glaze over the ginger cake and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and pistachios to decorate.

How to Hygge

by Signe Johansen

Book cover for How to Hygge

Hygge is central to the Nordic sense of well-being. Roughly translated as 'cosiness', it implies warmth, conviviality and community.

With fifty recipes and glorious imagery, Johansen explains how to enjoy the outdoors the Nordic way, the joy of fika (coming together over cake and coffee), how to collaborate to achieve a sense of community and why alcohol is integral to the healthy hedonism of hygge.