This is a deep and delicious gingerbread tray bake, dotted with star-shaped puddles of salted caramel sauce.
Tray bakes are among the easiest types of cake to make, and this rich, moist creation is no exception. Dark and sweet with treacle, the high sides of the baking pan keep the sponge moist and you don’t have to worry about wonky rising or soggy bottoms. In fact, the only tricky part is removing the stars of ginger sponge to pour the caramel sauce into. If yours don’t lift away easily, just use a butter knife to help you extract the star shapes.
- For the cake:
- 350g plain flour
- 4tsp ground ginger
- 1½tsp ground cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 1½tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 110g butter
- 150g light muscovado sugar
- 3tbsp golden syrup
- 3tbsp black treacle
- 3 med eggs
- 7tbsp milk
- For the salted caramel:
- 150ml double cream
- 100g light muscovado sugar
- 30g salted butter
- Pinch of sea salt
- To decorate:
- Icing sugar
- Star cutters (small, medium, large)
Preheat the oven 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and line a deep baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Gently heat the butter, sugar, golden syrup and treacle in a saucepan on a low heat. Whilst you wait for the butter to melt and the sugar to dissolve prepare your dry ingredients.
In a large mixing bowl sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, ginger and cinnamon into a mixing bowl.
Once the sugar has dissolved, take off the heat and continue to stir to cool the mixture down. Gradually beat in the eggs and milk. You can use a whisk at this point or you can beat with a wooden spoon.
Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture and stir/fold until smooth and thoroughly combined.
Next pour the mixture into your baking tray and cook in the oven for 30-40 mins until golden and springy to touch. If your cakes cook outside in and seem a little wobbly on top, just cover with tin foil and continue to cook for a further 5 mins checking every time.
Meanwhile make the salted caramel by placing the cream, sugar and butter in a small pan. Gently cook on a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted completely. Once you’ve reached that stage, bring to the boil and simmer for 2 mins until smooth and thick. Stir and gradually add in the salt, tasting as you go. Pour into a bowl and leave to one side to cool and thicken.
Once your tray bake has cooked, take out of the oven and leave on the side to cool. Run a knife around the edges of the tin and pop the tray bake out onto a wire rack to cool.
Place your tray bake onto a wooden board or cake board. You can tie a bow around the board to make it look festive. Using the smallest star cutter, cut out 8 small star shapes evenly across the cake. You can score marks into the cake to make this easier to judge. Push the star cutter half way down into the sponge and then pull out removing some of the cake. You can use a knife to scoop out some of the cake too.
When you’re happy with your star shapes, spoon some of the salted caramel into each hole filling to the top.
To make the star pattern on top lay all of your star cutters (different sizes) randomly on top of the tray bake. Pour some icing sugar into a sieve and dust the cake at a slight angle over the cutters. Gently take off the star cutters.
Your tray bake is now ready to be served. To store cover in tin foil and wrap in a plastic bag. It should keep for up to 3-4 days. Any salted caramel leftover is perfect served alongside the cake with a dash of cream.
Top tips for making this gingerbread tray bake
Check the best before date on your ground ginger. Most spices don't have a 'use by' date, because they don't go off in the traditional sense. But some, ginger in particular, lose their potency the older they get. If it's a couple of months past the use by and it still smells nicely potent, it's probably fine. Any older and it's likely you'll get a much better flavour if you buy a new jar.