If I was allowed, I would eat Christmas cake, pudding and mince pies all year long, but I know there are some people who are not huge fans. That being said, if you are looking to make an alternative cake for entertaining over the festive season, my Caribbean treacle cake will not let you down.

It is rich, loaded with warm festive spices, really easy to make and like any spiced treacle cake, it ages gracefully, so you can make it a few days before it’s needed. Whether you decide to pair it with custard, cream or sliced with butter and a cuppa, I can guarantee there won’t be a single crumb left over.

Caribbean Treacle Cake

Serves: 8

For the cake:

280ml hot water

200g golden syrup

120g treacle

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

120g butter

120g brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tbsp ground mixed spice

½ tsp ground clove

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground cinnamon

350g self-raising flour

½ medium orange zest

5 tbsp Spiced Rum (optional)


200g icing sugar

Orange juice

½ orange zest

Chopped walnuts (optional)

1 Preheat your oven to 180°C/160°C fan.

2 Grease and line the base and sides of an 8-inch loose bottom tin. Set aside.

3 Place the water, golden syrup and treacle into a saucepan and bring to the boil.

4 Whisk in the bicarbonate of soda, take off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

5 In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until soft and pale.

6 Add in the egg and mix to combine.

7 In a separate bowl, sieve the flour and spices together.

8 Add half the flour and the cooled treacle liquid to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix well.

9 Add the remaining flour and treacle liquid and mix to form a smooth cake batter.

10 Finally, add in the orange zest and spoon this into the prepared cake tin.

11 Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 70-75 mins or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

12 Remove and while the cake is still warm, spoon over the spiced rum (if using)

13 Allow to cool before removing from the tin.

14 To decorate, whisk together the icing sugar and a small amount of orange juice to create a thick icing. Spoon this over the cake, allowing it to cover the top and run down the sides.

16 Decorate the cake with some chopped nuts, orange zest and serve with semi-whipped cream or warm custard.

*This cake is best made a day or two before you plan on serving. Once baked and cooled, wrap well and decorate with the icing before you serve.

Take the yule log out of the fridge about one hour before you plan to serve for best results / Shane Smith

Gingerbread Yule Log

Serves eight

For the sponge:

50g butter

50g black treacle

50g golden syrup

4 large eggs

100g dark brown sugar

100g plain flour

¼ tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground cloves

For the white chocolate

meringue buttercream:

120g egg whites

250g caster sugar

210g butter, soft

1 tsp vanilla essence

Pinch salt

80g white chocolate, melted

1 Preheat your oven to 190°C/170°C fan. Grease and line a 20cm x 30cm Swiss roll tin with greaseproof paper.

2 For the sponge, place the butter, treacle and golden syrup in a small pot and heat to combine, then set aside.

3 In a stand mixer, whisk the eggs and brown sugar on full speed for 4-5 minutes until thick and pale in colour.

4 To this, sieve in the flour, baking powder, salt and spices. Mix to combine.

5 Pour in the cooled butter mixture and carefully fold this together, trying to keep in as much air as possible.

6 Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and spread to level the mix into all four corners.

7 Bake in the pre-heated oven for 12-14 minutes, or until lightly golden brown and springy to the touch.

8 Once baked, turn out onto a sheet of parchment paper and allow to cool for a few minutes.

9 Once slightly cooled, remove the parchment from the sponge and from the small end, roll the Swiss roll up with the parchment paper inside and allow to cool fully.

10 For the meringue buttercream, place the egg whites and sugar into a bowl and whisk to combine.

11 Place this bowl over a pot of gently simmering water and whisk to heat the whites and dissolve the sugar (this will take approximately 3-4 minutes). Make sure the water is not boiling and the bowl is not coming into contact with the water as this will cook the eggs.

12 Place this warmed liquid egg white mix into a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk on full speed for 5-6 minutes, or until the meringue is thick, glossy and smooth.

13 Add the butter in two stages with the vanilla and whisk to combine.

14 Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the melted white chocolate. Whisk to combine.

15 To assemble the yule log, unroll the cooled Swiss roll and spread one third of the buttercream onto the sponge.

16 Re-roll the Swiss roll and cover the outside and ends with the remaining buttercream.

17 At this stage, I like to drag a kitchen fork through the buttercream to create a woodgrain effect.

18 Serve straight away or pop into the fridge until ready to serve.

*Top Tip: remove the gingerbread yule log from the fridge one hour before you plan on serving.

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