Feasting on Fiction Recipes

Ginger Cake from The Island of Adventure

Gingerbread recipe

There is something terribly Enid Blyton-ish about ginger cake. It’s not the most glamorous cake to look at, it is not terribly exciting but it is perfect for comfort, for filling hungry tummies and, best of all, for picnics. You can wrap one up easily, especially if baked like a loaf, and cut huge chunks off in the open air. And that’s when the ginger cake comes into its own. When you are outside picnicking you do get so terribly hungry. A piece of sticky ginger cake, scented with ginger and other spices, is just the right cake to round off sandwiches with tea from a thermos.

The Island of Adventure is the first in the adventure series for Philip and Dinah Mannering along with Jack and Lucy-Ann. Both sets of siblings live with an uncle. Jack and Lucy-Ann because they have no parents. And Philip and Dinah because their mum is working to support them.

When Jack and Lucy-Ann’s uncle cannot take them back after a few weeks of being coached at a teacher’s house, they decide, without permission of the adults, to travel with Philip to Craggy-Tops where his aunt and uncle live and Dinah was waiting for him to return.

And that’s where the adventure begins. From Craggy-Tops they can see the Isle of Gloom. And for Jack, a keen bird-watcher, it offered a wonderland of bird watching opportunities. They see a man sailing around and go and investigate. It’s Bill Smugs and he offers to take them out in the boat. Their aunt gives them sandwiches, ginger cake and tea in a thermos flask. Perfect.

The only trouble is, when they finally do land on the island, they find something other than birds…

Recipe for Ginger Cake


Small saucepan, mixing spoon, whisk and bowl, 2lb loaf tin and liner.


  • 125g butter
  • 125g black treacle
  • 75g golden syrup
  • 50g soft brown sugar
  • 3 heaped tsp ground ginger
  • 2 heaped tsp mixed spice
  • 150ml milk
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 140 fan.
  2. Weigh the butter, treacle, syrup, sugar, ginger and mixed spice into a small saucepan. Heat gently until the butter and sugar have melted.
  3. Add a squeeze of lemon to the milk. (It will make it lumpy – creating ‘buttermilk’.)
  4. Weigh out the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Give it a whisk to ensure its evenly distributed.
  5. Add the syrupy mixture to the flour. Whisk to ensure all lumps of flour have gone.
  6. Beat two eggs in with the milk mixture. Then add that to the cake mixture too. Make sure it is well combined.
  7. Pour into your lined tin and place in the oven for one hour.
  8. This cake will last ages as long as well wrapped or in an airtight container.


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  • Reply Penny

    Great looking ginger cake, and you are speaking to a fellow Enid Blyton lover! X

    28th August 2015 at 10:05 am
  • Reply Sarah @ say little hen

    I’ve never used treacle, do you think I could just substitute with more golden syrup?

    27th May 2016 at 11:10 am
    • Reply Helen Redfern

      Yes, I think that’d be fine. It’ll be a little lighter in colour.

      27th May 2016 at 11:23 am
  • Reply kate

    I’ve found you by way of Say Little Hen. I love this blogging thing. When you find your people it’s glorious. A lover of Famous Five and Enid Blyton and of the food those five scoff in all their adventures. I have found a love of lettuce and anchovy paste sandwiches thanks to Enid Blyton, and this, lime and ginger beer. You must try it. http://katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com.au/2011/09/bartender-gimme-famous-five-make-it.html

    6th June 2016 at 12:24 pm
  • Reply Nic Wilson

    Love the baking/novel combinations. My son has just finished reading The Island of Adventure for the first time this morning and he likes the idea of making the cake. My gran used to send me ginger cakes through the post when I was at university – happy memories!

    9th August 2016 at 8:36 am
    • Reply Helen Redfern

      Oh I’m so envious he’s just finished it for the first time, Nic. I’m loving seeing the joy on my daughter’s face as she devours the novels.

      17th August 2016 at 4:39 pm
  • Reply Sam

    We made this cake yesterday. It’s great. It has a hint of Christmas about it too. We’re halfway through the ship of adventure. Will Bill lead them to safety? Fortified by this excellent ginger cake, I think he will. Mrs Mannering would be proud. Great blog.

    13th August 2016 at 5:07 pm
    • Reply Helen Redfern

      Thank you so much, Sam! My daughter is currently devouring most of my Enid Blyton stash!

      17th August 2016 at 4:33 pm
  • Reply Sharon

    This makes me want to work my way through all those wonderful Enid Blyton stories again, accompanied by many many loaves of gingerbread. I’m now cursing myself for not replenishing my diminished supplies of treacle & golden syrup whilst out shopping today. The plan was to make an everyday chocolate cake today, but now all I can think about is Gingerbread! Though I must take you to task on that last point in the recipe, as the only possible way that this would last ages in my house is under padlock, with the key well and truly hidden. Have a lovely day.

    20th January 2017 at 1:14 pm
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